The ThursDater: First Dates for Foodies

Hello, hungry people of Hinge! We like eating (almost) as much as we like great dates, so we brought in a pro to help you strategize your first food-focused romantic encounter! This week’s ThursDater is guest written by Lindsey Becker of The Date Dish. But we added the GIFs (obviously).

Congratulations! You scored your first date with an amazing match on Hinge! You’re thrilled, excited, already worried about what you’re going to wear, but the real question has yet to be answered: what are you going to do on your first date? We’ve all gotten to a point where going to restaurant after restaurant can wreak havoc on the spontaneity of dating.  You never know which place to go, it’s expensive, and bad service can absolutely ruin your night (“It’s not like we NEED bread, but I mean.. if it WAS here…”)

liz-lemon-eatingAnyway, for a first date, you want to make something that’s simple, looks great on a plate (no casseroles!) and is hard to screw up. Let’s face it, no matter how great of a cook you are, you’re going to be worrying about getting ready, making sure the apartment is clean, and texting your friends for advice until the minute he or she arrives. Keep it simple and quick for a first date so you can focus on having a good time with your hot new date.swedishchef

For this delightful little evening, I would recommend The Date Dish’s Chicken Milanese, which is a fancy Italian name for sexy fried chicken.  It takes all of 15 minutes, is budget-friendly, and pleases any palate. Crispy chicken cutlets topped with a fresh arugula salad and shaved Parmesan is a perfect date dish for a summer dinner.  Recipe and video are below.

OK, so we’ve got the first date down. But what if you’ve already been out on a few of dates, but still want to wow your new catch in the kitchen?  Well, I look at food in two categories, pre-date and post-date. Sometimes cooking post-date can be the best thing in the world for taking your relationship to the next level.  And by next level, I’m talking breakfast in bed– there is nothing more satisfying. Actually, of course there is, but today’s topic is food. So let’s get our minds out of the gutter and cook, shall we?

You want to make a dish that doesn’t make it look like you’re trying too hard but still says loud and clear that  you know what you’re doing.  So, we’re back to the morning after. An absolutely delicious brunch dish that everyone goes crazy over is my strawberry stuffed French toast with mascarpone cheese (basically Italian cream cheese).  Known as an aphrodisiac since the times of ancient Rome, the strawberry is the perfect fruit to feature in French toast.  It’s also in season right now! Lucky you and your date.  One bite of this and you may be staying for a while. (Recipe below!)

If you do in fact go out to dinner, please feel free to follow my Do’s and Don’ts below.

Ladies:

Do NOT…

  • Order the most expensive thing on the menu. Wait until the 4th or 5th date to get a sense of their budget before you go for the lobster and truffles.
  • Whip out your iPhone or camera to take pictures of the plated food. You don’t want to be “that girl” on the first date.

Do…

  • Let them choose the restaurant for the first date. If you come back with a better recommendation it might seriously deflate their self-confidence.
  • Offer to split the bill. Your date will almost always insist on treating you.  If they suggest splitting it on the first date, run away fast– they can only get cheaper from there.
  • Order an appetizer if they order one.  You will always want to have the same number of courses.  It is simply awkward if one person is eating while the other is just watching them.

Gentlemen: Do NOT…

  • Order a pricey entree without expecting your date to do the same. You will be guiding the menu decisions so make sure you’re comfortable with the bill.
  • Take home leftovers.  I don’t care how good your meal was, all asking for a to-go box does is make you look like a cheapo.

Do…

  • Suggest a restaurant.  If you are unsure about your date’s tastes, offer two selections and let them choose one.
  • Leave a good tip

Now, on to the recipes! Chicken Milanese

milanese

(original recipe post here)

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and thyme

2 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless and skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups lightly packed arugula

2 oz. fresh Parmesan

Directions

  1. Using 3 wide shallow bowls, add the flour to one, the eggs to another and the panko bread crumbs to the third. Stir the dried herbs into the panko until evenly dispersed.
  2. Line a large cutting board with plastic wrap.  Place 2 chicken breasts on plastic wrap, a couple inches apart. Place another sheet of plastic wrap over the chicken. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently flatten the chicken to 1/4-inch thick. Remove top plastic wrap and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly, and then dip into the beaten eggs, allowing the excess egg to drip off. Coat the chicken with the bread crumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
  3. Heat 1/4 cup of canola oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Place 1 chicken breast in the pan and cook until golden and crisp and just cooked through in the middle, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel lined cooling rack set on a baking sheet and lightly tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining chicken breast.
  4. Whisk the lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil together to blend, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle over the arugula and toss lightly to coat. Transfer the chicken to plates. Top with the salad and then shave fresh parmesan over the dish.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.

*Note: You can usually purchase chicken breasts that are already pounded out to 1/4 inch thick at your local grocery store.

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast frenchtoast

(original recipe post here)

Ingredients

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

4 ounces mascarpone cheese

1/2 of a day-old baguette, sliced diagonally into 1.5″ thick pieces

1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced thinly

Butter, for cooking

Sliced almonds

Maple syrup, for serving

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar.  Set aside in shallow square pan.
  2. Take each baguette piece and make a small slit on the side of each slice to make a deep pocket for stuffing.
  3. Spread the mascarpone cheese inside the pocket and stuff with strawberry slices. Press to close and seal.
  4. Melt butter on a griddle over medium-low heat. Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture for 10 seconds on each side. Cook the sandwiches until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  5. Garnish with fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, and a sprig of mint.  Serve with maple syrup or confectioners’ sugar.

Happy cooking! For more date-friendly recipes, be sure to follow The Date Dish on Twitter and Instagram at @thedatedish.

The ThursDater: Make out for ‘Merica

Happy Fourth of July! Since we’ll be out celebrating America’s birthday tomorrow, we thought we’d send out the ThursDater a day early this week. Plus, you’ll need this ThursDater to study up for tomorrow– it’s a guide for all your potential makeout opportunities on July 4th.

The Fourth of July is our favorite holiday. Sure, it’s kind of about our forefathers establishing the freedom-mongering country we all enjoy, but momentarily, let’s put aside life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There’s another important trio that’s really madeJuly 4th into what it is today: getting a day off work, partying like your brain is on vacation, and blowing shit up.

Add a little hot, steamy July weather to that slew of terrific things, and you’ve got perfect conditions to indulge in a night of summer debauchery that would make your college-self proud. And nothing screams/slurs college-self like an impromptu makeout; preferably in public.

In case you’re out of practice, we’ve brainstormed some opportunities you may encounter that are absolutely primo for July 4th makeouts, even if you might not think so at first glance. So heed our very professional guidance, should you find yourself in any of these circumstances with someone you want to kiss.

At your parents’ beach house. Sure, your childhood seashell collection has been scattered all over the floor, thanks to a “wizard’s staff” made of taped-together Coors Light cans. But, that’s an expected casualty when your parents give you the place for the weekend. Deal with cleanup tomorrow morning. This is the perfect opportunity to escape your belligerent friends for a hot second, and offer your crush a private, personally escorted tour of “Ocean Fantasea.” The key opener for a makeout here is to say something architecturally relevant AND romantic, like, “We just added a storm-resistant formal balcony in 2006… but mostly because I really like have time alone with the sea…” and dreamily stare out at the horizon. Then, switch on some sudden, penetrating eye contact– all systems go. Engage makeout.

While comparing patriotic ensembles. Walk into the party. A sea of girls in white sundresses and guys in red polos. You: a cowboy hat made of PBR boxes, and a NASCAR t-shirt that says “Loud ‘N Proud” with a screaming eagle swooping across it. You’re suddenly unsure of your outfit, but then you see them: acid-wash jorts and a huge American flag worn as a cape, holding a mass of blue cotton candy they’re eating nonchalantly (straight to the face). Go to them, my child. Kiss and enjoy Budweiser beer.

The eating contest at a BBQ/Picnic. Did you know watermelon is an aphrodisiac? Well that’s ‘cause it isn’t… unless you’ve just challenged your crush to a melon scarf-down and they totally destroyed you, leaving both of you with the feisty high that only competitive binge eating can bring on. When the two of you go to clean up, gently brush away the pink chunks still lingering in their hair, congratulate them on their win, and make those come-hither eyes you’ve been practicing in your mirror before bed every night. The smooching conditions are perfect, now just try to ignore the part where you recently consumed your weight in fruit and might throw up.

After your sparkler performance. You thought that an impromptu Michael-Flatley-meets-fire performance would impress. And for good reason– who could resist you whipping that fire-stick around like a rhythmic gymnast going for the gold? Sure, at some point during this Jim Beam-induced sparkler showcase, you totally lost control, and badly scorched the mate of your dreams on the shoulder. But fortunately, here on earth there’s a liiiittle bit of love magic known as the Florence Nightingale Effect. As you affectionately apply Neosporin and a crazily unnecessary number of band-aids to their charred skin, the romance will be undeniable. You mended their hurt: guaranteed canoodling. Just try and avoid the lesion.

While watching fireworks. One weekend back in May, you and your friend found a roadside stand in North Carolina whose only products were fireworks, and some sort of alcohol/helicopter fuel that was packaged in an old coffee can and sealed with duct tape. But a 2-for-1 special on fireworks is not to be ignored, so naturally you both started stockpiling like your lives depended on it. Fast-forward to this year’s July 4th party, in the backyard of said friend’s apartment complex… watching them dangle a lit match over the entire haul. As soon as you spot the glimmer of fear in your special someone’s eye, gently seize their hand and ask if they’d like to go somewhere “a little quieter, away from the noise.” Then go there. Quickly. Feelings of relief and physical safety will quickly escalate into other feelings, and then… make out.

We know these kind of “fairy-tale” romantic situations are rare, so don’t beat yourself up if they don’t happen exactly like this. In fact, a much better (and generally safer) solution is to ask one of your Hinge matches to meet up for some patriotic festivities. Maybe hit a nice rooftop somewhere, eat firecracker popsicles and be merry. While not as exciting as a fruit binge or fire-dancer routine, a kiss is still probably in the cards. After all, this is America.

And, we can’t forget to mention– in order to help you out even more, we’ve just released a brand new feature that will help you get plans with your matches in motion faster! Hinge now lets you message your matches right from the app, making communication a much smoother and easier process. So make sure you download the update and go message those matches. Makeouts are waiting!