In the same way that pausing to take a deep breath of fresh air can help you re-set, taking the time to plan a special meal for the two of you offers an intimacy that brings with it a similar sense of calm. We don’t mean those hasty nights of paper towels and frozen pizza—although we’ve all been there. We mean the ones wherein you find two linen napkins, drop a sprig of flowers into a bud vase, put your romantic playlist on low, and serve something beautiful for dinner.
This year, when wedding plans for so many have been put on hold, maintaining the romance in these quiet rituals of everyday life is just as important as ever. These recipes have been created just for two, keeping it simple so you can focus your attention where it matters—on your partner. So stash some bubbly in the fridge to enjoy with your beloved before dinner, and break out the pretty coupe glasses. Shuck a few oysters or lay in for some good caviar. Keeping the romance alive until the big day doesn’t need to be a headache. Here are a few ways to dine with your person, any time of day, to keep things feeling wonderful.
Many of us have made pancakes before, so we know they require a little extra effort. Adding fresh berries to the mix is an easy-for-you, impressive-to-them touch. This is the recipe you want. It includes plenty of yummy buttermilk, which makes the pancakes light and fluffy, and includes instructions for divine blueberry-infused maple syrup.
You like to eat healthfully at the first meal of the day. She requires bacon. This salad is the win-win you both deserve: You can eat it for breakfast, lunch or supper. It contains plenty of protein and fresh greens. That crispy pancetta plays two roles, both as salad topping of your dreams and an element in the dressing. (Goodbye, waste, and hello, happy partner!)
This isn’t your grandma’s roast. This is elegant beef tenderloin, exquisite when served medium-rare, and happy to join its classic French partners of thyme, red wine, shallots and olive oil. Pour yourselves glasses of whatever wine you’re using in the recipe, and sip as it roasts. It makes enough to feed a table of eight, so store the left-overs for weekend picnic sandwiches outdoors or weeknight French dip for movie night at home.
Hello, gorgeous. If you want to shower your mate with affection but also want dinner ready in less than 30 minutes, think fish. Wild salmon is a stunner on the plate. Top it with a bright, jalapeño-spiked avocado grapefruit salsa, pair with a favorite Riesling, and you’re off to the races. Another shortcut we love, for a side: chips and guac. Dinner doesn’t need to be super-fancy to say, “I love you.”
“Requires a minimum of attention from the cook.” “The oven does the rest of the work.” If you’re anything like us, these are the recipe notes for which you go gaga. With this garlicky one-skillet chicken thigh recipe, you’re taking pity on whoever’s doing the dishes, too. (And we’ve just told you all our best chicken thigh tips!) Once you’re done searing stovetop, the whole thing goes into the oven, and you can (almost!) forget about it while drinking cold white wine or spritzers with your love.
Say it with us: There must be dessert. Even if it’s just a pint of your favorite ice cream (this time, pick the one you both like). But to really wow them, even the folks with the “savory versus sweet tooth,” consider chocolate. Silky chocolate. French chocolate. Pots de Crème. Break out the ramekins you got as a gift but haven’t used yet. Whip some heavy cream for serving. Show you care. Serve dessert.
Some cocktails are as well suited to the end of a meal as they are to its start. Enter: the Jack Rose. It looks like it must contain a bevy of difficult-to-acquire ingredients. It doesn’t. There are just three: apple brandy, good grenadine, and fresh lime juice. (Plus edible flowers, if you’ve got ’em.) Think about the flavors of apple, cherry and citrus mingling, with a hint of booze and the bouquet of flowers. It’s as sweet a start as it is a finish, which is what we want from love, too.