‘The best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach’. That old adage is as true now as it ever has been, but in a time of escalating food prices, how can you impress a date for less in the culinary department? Here are Only Uncle’s top three recipes for wowing the special one in your life and still have cash left over for a good bottle of vino.
Mussels à la Only Uncle
Seafood might conjure up images of expensively dressed lobster and men in over-sized white hats making complicated French sauces, but creating fab-looking, tasty seafood is much easier and cheaper than you’d think. And mussels are probably the best value seafood you can buy.
For extra convenience, buy a pre-prepared pack of mussels in white wine and garlic. After that, it couldn’t be easier. Simply reheat the contents in a heavy lidded pot until the mussels open. Discard any that remain closed. Voila! A superb starter served with warm French baguette. Or, add chilli, a tin of tomatoes and a handful of chopped parsley and you’ve got a seriously impressive main course to go with spaghetti. Only Uncle is pleased to report that mussels are a well-known aphrodisiac too!
Doing it Italian-style
You’d think, given the popularity (and price) of Italian restaurants, that pasta dishes are incredibly difficult and expensive to prepare, right? Wrong! In fact, pasta is one of the cheapest and easiest things you can cook. Try this for pasta made faster: Sauté a clove of garlic in a pan with half a finely chopped onion, some chopped bacon and a few mushrooms, bung in a tin of chopped tomatoes and let it cook down for 15 minutes. Add a few spoonfuls of cream and garnish with some window-sill herbs. Pour over steaming pasta and you’ve got a seriously classy main course for half the price of a ready-made microwave meal for one.
Sweet thing, you make my heart sing!
Unless you want to go down the strawberries and cream route, most desserts will cost more time and money to make than to buy pre-made. So cheat! For dessert, you can’t go wrong with chocolate, especially if it’s a lady you’re entertaining. A freshly made duo of Belgian chocolate mini-tortes can be picked up for a couple of quid from your local supermarket’s chilled display. A little squirt of spray cream and you might even be able to pass it off as your own creation. And who knows? Your dining partner might have something sweet for you too!
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[image by thefoodplace.co.uk]