Valentine's Day From Him to Her Menu
When romance is in the air, a guy wants to show his best girl that he can be thoughtful and step out of character to deliver a culinary surprise that will have her swooning. When I wrote The book on cooking for men I pointed out that the key to impressing women is to use recipes with French sounding names. I wrote that book a couple of years ago and now realize that there is more to it. We can reach into a woman's soul by presenting a meal that conforms with her idea of quality that goes beyond the mere palatable. Women love to suffer under the delusion that we love them for their minds or personalities or even the content of their character. They want to believe that their very presence has somehow changed our manliness to mush. I say, give them what they want. Be romantic one day of the year! This small indulgence may allow you to grunt like a grognard the other 364. Besides you might ultimately find out that making her happy, in some strange and inexplicable way, also makes you happy.
A nice dish to offer up as a main course is Valentine's Day Shrimp and Pasta. Use a nice dry white wine in the sauce that can also be served with the meal in a very complimentary fashion.
The nice thing about a pasta dish is it generally solves two problems at once. It serves as both a starch and as a meat. Now, we need to root out a vegetable that will set off the pasta to perfection. Green beans do not see near as much action as they ought at meal time. Fresh green beans with excellent color set off by bits of bacon rounded off with chopped onions fried ever so lightly in bacon grease (if you can do anything lightly with bacon grease) should do the trick.
A lightly tossed salad should be sufficient for before the main course. But a creamy dessert is a must. We have created an Italian vanilla cream with fresh fruit that is pretty easy to make. It only requires a bit of forethought because it must chill for a few hours in the refrigerator before it is served.
As noted above, there is no question that what you call a dish can make a huge difference in perceptions. In this menu we have affected an Italian air. Therefore presentation should include Italian names for the dishes. When the object of your affection asks what she is being served, simply tell her it is "Shrimp ala Pasta con Green Bean Baconini". Truthfully, I don't know if "baconini" means anything in Italian or not. If she goes so far as to ask, just say that it means say "little pieces of bacon" with a confident air. This meal calls for the best dinnerware you can muster, coupled with two reasonably delicate looking wine glasses. The wine should be the same dry white used in the Shrimp recipe. (If she doesn't like wine, a sparkling juice might also do very well though not in the sauce.) Cloth napkins are a plus, but folded paper towels will do in a pinch. Don't opt for the long-sleeve method of face wiping. Bread sticks go well with the pasta. They can be purchased in a rolled tube or if you have the time, make your own bread by hand. And for heaven's sake, don't forget the candles (two tapers should do it)... oh yeah, and flowers!