We all know and love the Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me. Contestants take part in providing a dinner party for guests they have never met before and throughout the week each person has the chance to cook. The contestants are scored from 1-10 on the overall night and they must pull out all the stops in making their dinner party a night to remember.
I wanted to re-create Come Dine With Me in my own home, getting marked on my culinary abilities. I sat and thought for a while about how I was going to pull this off and came to the decision that it would be pretty difficult considering I have limited friends as I have recently moved.
Instead, I thought I would imitate the new show Dinner Date. I would cook for my boyfriend in the hope my cooking and company would result in one happy partner.
The new ITV show Dinner Date sees 5 singletons prepare a menu that they believe will seduce the mystery contestant. The contestant chooses 3 menus that he/she believes are the best and then the contestant goes to those 3 houses on separate nights to enjoy the cooking of the 3 chosen singletons. The diner is then marked out of 3 for the quality of the date and at the end of the 3 evenings he/she decides which cook he would like to date.
My boyfriend works very hard and has long days at work. I decided that I would prepare a summer inspired menu for him to indulge in when he gets home. I had the full day to get everything prepared for the evening, so in theory everything should have gone smoothly.
I know you would think I had it easy, as what could go wrong, he’s already my boyfriend, but then again you may not be aware of the mistakes I can make in the kitchen. Also, I think it is easy when life becomes busy; for quality special time to go out the window. I know me and James have early nights and rarely get to enjoy the evenings. I wanted to give him a nice surprise and hopefully charm the pants off him (excuse the pun :p) like when we first met.
I had everything bought and ready to go the day before. Here is the menu I created for the evening; I hope you agree it’s a winner.
And I can’t forget the drinks
Once in the kitchen I made a mental check list:
- Hair tied back – Check
- Apron on- Check
- Hands washed- Check
I prepared the nibbles quite easily; they were not difficult to do. I literally put out a selection of foods to pick on like nuts, a prawn ring, BBQ chicken wings and salmon and goats cheese on crackers. I wanted to make something simple to start off just so I could spend time talking to James. I ensured the wine was flowing and I think it went really well.
Don’t go all out with the starters. Spend time with your date and get to know him a little better. Slaving away in the kitchen can begin the night awkwardly which you definitely don’t want.
Main Course – The skewers
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1 Chicken Breast
- 1/4 Chorizo Ring
- Chilli Powder
- 4 Skewers
- Put the skewers into warm water and let them soak whilst you prepare the food. This helps the stick not burn.
- Cut the Pepper into large square pieces so that they can be threaded onto the skewer without breaking.
- Cut the chorizo into pieces that are approximately a centimetre in width and remove the skin from the outside by scoring the outside of the sausage and pulling the skin away from the meat.
- Cut the chicken into medium sized chunks that will not break when threaded onto the skewers.
- It is totally down to taste but I like to cover the chicken with paprika and chilli powder for a slight kick.
- Thread the chicken chorizo and pepper onto the skewers in any order you choose, just make it look pretty.
- Drizzle honey onto the skewers for a sweet taste that compliments the spicy and smoky flavours.
- Put the skewers on the grill at a medium heat until the chicken is cooked.
Make sure the chicken is white throughout.
- 1 small glass tumbler of rice
- Any vegetables
- Paprika (I use enough to colour the rice fully orange but is dependent on taste)
- Chilli Powder ( I use 1 tsp but is dependent on taste)
- 1 chicken/vegetable stock cube
- Encona Hot Pepper sauce ( I use 1 tsp but is dependent on taste)
- 1 small squeeze of garlic puree paste
- Put a splash of oil and the garlic puree into a pan on a medium heat. Chop the vegetables and chorizo into small pieces and add them to the pan. Begin the next two stages immediately.
- Boil the kettle and add the recommended amount of water to the stock cube. Mix well.
- Measure out 1 small tumbler of rice and add to the pan. Pour in enough of the stock the fully submerge the vegetables and rice (around 300ml)
- Put the lid onto the pan and wait until the water begins to absorb into the rice. Turn down to a low heat.
- Stir the rice often so it does not stick to the pan. If it sticks (likely), add more of the stock so that there is a layer of liquid at the bottom of the pan.
- Add the spices and hot sauce so that the rice has an orange colour.
- Keep testing the rice to see if it is cooked. If slightly hard add a little more water.
- Once the rice is soft and is flavoured to your taste; serve.
When trying to make a simple salad look more attractive; why not decorate the cucumber. Cut a chunk of cucumber and score the sides of the vegetable with a fork. Repeat around the circumference and slice the cucumber as normal.
To be honest the meal was a slight disaster. Let me list to you the problems I faced.
- I slightly burnt the chorizo as I placed the grill tray too high.
- I undercooked the chicken so plated it up and then had to return the skewers back to the oven, just so I didn’t poison James.
- The rice was cooked too soon, so was getting cold.
With all the stress in the kitchen I couldn’t hide my frustration from James in the other room. The loud bangs and screams may have affected my score…oops!
James seemed to be happy with my efforts even though I created pure chaos.
One happy boyfriend- Check.
Chocolate pots with chocolate sauce and glitzy gold topping
I have to confess I didn’t make this recipe, I stole it from Nigella. James is her biggest fan (I wonder why), so I thought I would prove I was just as great.
For the pots
- 50g plain chocolate
- 50g butter
- 100g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 25g plain flour
- 1/8 bicarbonate of soda
- pinch of salt
For the sauce
- 75g plain chocolate
- 21g butter
For the topping
- Crunchie chocolate bar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°.
- Break the chocolate and put into a bowl. Add the butter and melt together.
- In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sugar together then fold in the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- Add the chocolate and butter mixture to the other ingredients and mix.
- Pour the mixture into the ramekins.
- Put into the oven for 25 mins.
- Just before the pots come out of the oven melt the butter and chocolate for the chocolate sauce.
- Take the pots out of the oven and pour over the sauce.
- Smash the Crunchie and pour the golden pieces over the pots.
- Serve and enjoy.
I always think that a chocolate dessert is the best option when trying to impress someone. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate.
After the food…
Although there were many disasters throughout the night I think James enjoyed having the meals cooked for him and I know he loved having time to wind down and spend time with me (I hope). We decided afterwards we would head out with a couple of his friends.
The night was amazing and after the gruelling task of preparing a 3 course meal I thought I scored quite well.
More importantly here’s what he thought…
Whilst in my drunken state I was more than happy with a 5 but when I got in I started thinking he was being a little harsh, I saw the smile on his face when he tucked into my chocolate dessert. Hmm conspiracy…
In bed he confirmed my suspicions. The score wasn’t accurate at all, he explained it was the only number he could find on the tables at the bar, so that’s what I got. Haha!
If you want to know what James really thought of my cooking and that all important score; click here.