Ah winter. Rain, wind, our California version of cold. There's nothing like a roaring fire in the fireplace to take the chill off a winter night - on non-Spare-the-Air days of course. And then there's that important day in February coming up, when you and your honey both deserve some romance after a hard day at work (it's on a Thursday this year). Seems like dinner-for-two in front of a warm fire with a bottle of bubbly could be just the thing.
Let's start by suggesting that food eaten with your hands is slightly more romantic than using utensils. Well, this list contains options - most could be hands-on if you use your imagination!
Five romantic meals to eat in front of a fire:
1. Lamb chops with mashed sweet potatoes. This meal definitely can be eaten with your hands, although the mashed potatoes will be a teensy bit messy and wonderful. Pick up the chops by their bones and gnaw on them, just like a medieval knight and his lady. Use the bones and your fingers to manage the sweet potatoes. Mmmmm.
2. Loaded baked potatoes. Definitely finger food and definitely delicious. Here are some ideas for loading the potatoes after they're baked and buttered and stuffed back in:
- Three cheeses with green onions (cheddar, Maytag blue, Havarti, grated and crumbled)
- Smoked salmon and baby Romaine leaves dressed with sour cream and fresh lemon (a little salt and freshly ground black pepper over top)
- Cooked shrimp and Marie Rose sauce (mixture of 2 tablespoons mayo, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 teaspoon brandy, pinch of cayenne pepper)
- Sauteed crimini, shiitake mushrooms, and garlic with sour cream (or with homemade blue cheese dressing)
Instead of two large baking potatoes, bake four medium ones and make one with each "load". You can experience them all...starting at each end, you and your sweetie are bound to meet in the middle!
3. Tuna noodles and dill pickle slices. OK, this one will be a challenge to eat without utensils, but it's so delicious! How can you do it? If you have a couple of hot damp cloth napkins (heated in the microwave), like you'd have in the finest overseas First Class flight service, you could use a serving spoon to put the noodles on your plate and then pick them up with your hands and delicately slurp. Use hot napkin and proceed - it'll be a new taste sensation. And the dill pickles? They're a great foil for the noodles - Clausen's pickles in the refrigerator case at better markets is the best!
4. Cuppa creamy tomato soup with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. This one's easy - put the soup in mugs and the sandwiches on a plate. This is just like a picnic in your home, minus those pesty ants. Put some cool music on the iPod, light the fire, put down a blanket and the mugs and sandwiches, and pour the bubbly. Cozy and fun!
5. Sausage dogs and calico beans. Get some awesome sausages from Taylor's Sausages in Oakland, like hot Cajun chicken sausages or Boudin Blanc. Buy good hoagie buns. Warm up saurkraut (Clausen's in the jar is good), chop some onion and grate some sharp cheddar cheese. Put out mustard and catsup and whatever else you like on your dogs. Put the calico beans in mugs. The beans will slide right down your throat - no spoons needed. This meal might call for a good cold beer (in chilled beer mugs) instead of bubbly - your choice.
Strawberries dipped in sour cream and brown sugar make a fine dessert for any of these tete-a-tetes, or a pretty dish of cantaloupe slices wrapped in prosciutto. Both are simple to eat out of hand.
A little romance doesn't have to be complicated! A loaf of bread, a glass of wine, and thou...easy as the proverbial pie.