6 Tips for a Hot Dinner Date at Home

Along with easy recipes--for easy cooks! From the author of "The Art of Eating In."


As some of you know, I recently moved to a (great) new apartment. It's slowly but surely coming together: Last night, I got some sexy white leather dining room chairs, thanks to Craigslist* ... and last week I brought home a lovely little herb garden from Trader Joe's ... and I'm feeling eager to have some friends come by for dinner.

All the same, I do wish there was a hot, hot man in my life so I could make him a hot, hot meal ... and wear my apron.

Whenever I meet someone new, and IT is starting to cook, it makes ME want to cook. Admittedly, part of the appeal is the ease of accessibility to the bedroom--because, you know, I always like to crawl right into bed and have a good long sleep after filling my belly.

But when is the right time to have someone you're dating over for dinner? And is having him for an intimate meal at your place basically an invitation to have sex?

I took these burning questions--and a few others--to Cathy Erway, author of The Art of Eating In, a book, and the popular blog, Not Eating Out In New York.

(that's Cathy, on our right. ain't she cute?)


MAURA: If you've just started dating someone, when's a good date to have him over for dinner? Should he make you dinner first, before you make dinner for him, or what?

CATHY: Date #3. As for who should make dinner, don't force another person to cook, please! If you want to do it, just go ahead and do it; it doesn't matter what gender you are.


MAURA: If you've just started dating someone and you invite him or her over for dinner, the assumption is that you're going to have sex afterward ... right? But let's say you're not me, and you want to cook but don't want to have sex. Is there a decorous way to mention that in the invite?

CATHY: They say a good meal is better than sex. So I wouldn't mention it beforehand. Not a word. If a guy or girl assumes there's a "happy ending," and that's not your desire, you can just transition to that excellent dessert you've made--and leave it at that.


MAURA: When your date asks what he can bring, should you suggest something ... or just tell him to bring himself?

CATHY: I think it's nice for the date to bring something. So why not take him up on his offer? If you've got the food under control, tell him what your main dish is, and suggest he get wine to pair.


MAURA: For sure, candles--yes? Any thoughts on what kind?

CATHY: I like the subtle aroma of beeswax candles which is totally natural and not overpowering like most scented candles. I also like vanilla scented candles. Place one on the table for a little ambiance, but don't go overboard placing votives all over the apartment.


MAURA: Any soundtrack do's and don't's? Like: any kind of jazz or classical is fine, but you don't want to be playing the newest Ricky Martin album? Will anything too pop-y will distract from the meal and convo?

CATHY: Something relaxing is probably preferable. But there are no real don'ts except for acting like an obsessed disc jockey and commenting on every track that comes on. If your date likes the music, he or she will ask.


MAURA: Let's say I'm a terrible cook ... since I am. Can I really pull off a decent home-cooked meal, enough to impress a date with it?

CATHY: I think anyone can surprise themselves by cooking really great food using a few terrific ingredients fresh from the farmers' market. But let's say you're still unsure, or you're out of ideas about what to make. Why not consult him, and make it a collaborative effort? It could be a lot of fun.


Also, if you need some inspiration, here are some recipes for beginners from Cathy's site:

1. Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Arugula and Hazelnuts

2. Roasted Mackerel with Potatoes and Yellow Squash

3. Tuscan Kale Salad

4. Lemon Thyme Bars

(For more spicy talk, please check out my Fbook fan page.)


*I purchased the chairs from the very nice people who have started this very worthy non-profit--which will be using green technology and environmentally-ethical principles to help small business owners in Indonesia get started. And hey, they're looking for volunteers! They could probably also use a donation. Please tell them the chick who purchased their chairs and adopted their plant sent you.