Date Night Menu
The nuances of cooking for a date are endless. Serve too few courses you’ll seem amateur and dinner will be over in 30 minutes, whilst too many screams desperate for sex and trying too hard. Then there’s the need to opt for a menu that’s quick to cook and assemble, so you don’t spend the evening with your face inside a pan, whilst simultaneously making you look like a pro.
Short of going for a Deliveroo in disguise, it’s a nightmare. Enter stage right – our foolproof date night menu.
Crab Butter and Fizz Fettuccini, Buttermilk and Tarragon Panna Cotta with Stewed Rhubarb
The structure of serving a main and pudding gives plenty of opportunity to break up the evening, and most elements here can be prepared the night before, so this menu can be executed on a work night.
We suggest beginning with a fizz cocktail (always). It’s outrageously easy and you’ll look like a boss.
Adding crab and fizz completely elevates a humble bowl of pasta, whilst still seeming understated. The sweetness of the Prosecco enriches the crab and butter sauce while the crumb and samphire add colour, texture and a bit of a kick.
Don’t cheat on using the fresh pasta. It’s delicious and you’ll only be at the out of action for 3 minutes. Fettuccini works best as the thin strands collect maximum crab and fizz butter sauce.
Rhubarb and panna cotta is a match made in heaven, with rhubarb’s tartness cutting through the creamy sweetness. This can also be made the evening before.
Champagne (if it’s the week before payday Cava’s fine. Don’t use Prosecco.)
Sparking Wine and Crab Fettuccini
160g Fresh egg Fettuccini
1/2 bottle Prosecco
2 Shallots, finely chopped
60g White crab meat
30g Brown crab meat
1 small pack Samphire
Small bunch of parsley
Squeeze of lemon juice
Scotch Bonnet Crumb (optional, but you’d totally be missing out)
Big handful Panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp our scotch bonnet chilli oil – recipe here
Buttermilk and Tarragon Panna Cotta with Stewed Rhubarb
40g Caster sugar
75ml Double cream
1 gelatine leaf
20ml Apple juice
(measurements lend best to doubling the recipe and making four. Why not, and then you’ll have breakfast sorted).
Brown Butter Crumb (optional but you’d be totally missing out):
75g plain flour
25g ground almonds
Method: The Night Before
Make the crumbs, rhubarb and tarragon panna cotta
1 – Scotch Bonnet Crumb
In a frying pan on a medium heat, warm the flavoured oil through, when hot add the Panko. Toast until crispy and golden brown and leave to cool on kitchen paper. Keep in a sealed container.
2 – Brown Butter Crumble
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Rub the ground almonds, butter, sugar and flour together until rough breadcrumbs. Pop into the oven and toast until light brown. Cool and keep in sealed container.
3 – Roasted rhubarb
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Cut the rhubarb into 2cm chunks and place onto a roasting tray. Sprinkle with the sugar and pour over the apple juice. Roast for 8-12 minutes, or until tender. Blend the roasted rhubarb in a food processor or Nutribullet. Cool and keep in a sealed container.
4 – Panna Cotta
Soften the gelatine leaf in cold water. Bring the sugar, cream and tarragon to a simmer in a pan, stirring continuously until all of the sugar has dissolved. Add the softened gelatine leaf and continue to simmer until it’s dissolved. Remove from the heat and mash the tarragon in and leave to infuse and cool for 5 mins.
Remove the tarragon using a sieve. Add the buttermilk and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into two ramekins and chill in the fridge overnight or until set.
Method: Date Night
Chill, you’ve virtually made it all already
1 – Pasta (begin 60/80 mins before arrival, depending on your chopping skills)
Sweat the shallots in 15g of the butter until translucent. Pour in the fizz and boil down until you are left with a glaze. Try not to get drunk on the fumes. Whisk or ‘mount’ the remaining cold butter into the shallot and Prosecco glaze until you have a buttery sauce, add a squeeze of lemon juice and season.
Tip a boiled kettle into a second pan, blanch the samphire in the water for 30 seconds, drain in colander and run under cold water to stop it cooking further or going brown.
2 – Have a glass of wine, clean your bathroom
3 – Welcome your date
Pour them a champagne cocktail. Place a sugar cube in a champagne flute and add a few drops of bitters. Top with fizz. Hang out, don’t get too drunk.
4 – When you feel like the main course
Re-heat the sauce over a low heat and chop the parsley. Bring a pan of salted boiling water to a rolling boil and add the fettuccini, cook for 2 mins.
Transfer the Fettuccini to the pan with the sauce, reserving some of the starchy pasta cooking water. Stir until all of the pasta is fully coated and add a slug of the water to loosen. Also throw in the crab, samphire, chopped parsley and mix well.
Divide the pasta between two bowls, topping with Scotch bonnet crumb.
5 – When you feel like dessert
Boil a kettle. Pour hot water into a dessert bowl, and top with a little cold.
Remove the Panna cotta from the fridge. Dip the bottom of each into the hot water and run a knife around the outside if needs be to loosen the dessert. Place a plate on top and do your best quick flip 180 degrees so the panna cotta drops out nicely. You look well pro right now FYI.
Spoon over the roasted rhubarb and top with the crumble.