It's date night at your place tonight — so what's cooking for dinner?
Before you ransack your kitchen pantry in desperation ... or worse: resort to your go-to (read: boring) chicken alfredo pasta, there are plenty of easy-to-whip-up dishes perfect for a relaxing, romantic at-home dinner for two. There's no need to make dinner reservations at an expensive restaurant.
We think staying in is the new sexy. That's why we've cooked up our own Dinner For Two series by serving up a mouthwatering menu that's sure to impress your sweetheart — sneakily flavored with aphrodisiac ingredients, like this St. Paddy's Day-themed feast in celebration of the holiday.
We've become accustomed to feasting on corned beef and cabbage, accepting it as a traditional Irish dish. So you might be surprised to find out that this is a big misconception. Sure, it's a St. Patrick's Day tradition, but there's nothing authentically Irish about it.
Hungry for a history lesson? At the turn of the 19th century, Irish people were emigrating from the Emerald Isle by the thousands, bringing their food traditions with them. Pork was actually the preferred meat in their homeland, but in the United States, it was just too expensive for cash-strapped families living in New York City. Instead, they turned to a meat popular among their Italian and Jewish neighbors — beef. Stewed in a pot together, the salty beef flavored the cabbage, becoming the dish we know today. Still, St. Patrick's Day started as an Irish-American celebration and it can't be denied that corned beef has become synonymous with the holiday. So really, it wouldn't be a St. Paddy's Day feast without it, no? We've given them a modern twist as cabbage-topped sliders. Pair them with an ooey-gooey Guinness mac and cheese, a bread pudding with Bailey's chocolate ganache and a creamy Irish coffee martini, and you've got yourselves one sexy meal!
The Drink: Creamy Irish Coffee Martini
By McCormick Spices
- 2 oz Irish cream liqueur
- 2 oz Irish whiskey
- 2 oz chilled brewed strong coffee
- 1/4 tsp McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
1. Fill cocktail shaker half full with ice. Add first 4 ingredients; shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain into martini glass.
2. Top with a dollop of Vanilla Whipped Cream and green sprinkles, if desired.
The Side Dish: Guinness Mac And Cheese
By Gerry Speirs of Foodness Gracious
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 3/4 cup Guinness draught
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/4 cups grated extra strong white cheddar
- 2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni pasta
For the topping
- 1/2 cup grated garlic and chili cheddar
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (optional)
1. Place a large 4-6 quart pot full of water on medium heat and bring to a boil for the pasta. In a medium sized pot combine the half and half, milk and Guinness and heat until warm.
2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Whisk together for about 2-3 minutes until it starts to turn light brown. Start to add the hot milk mixture to the flour/butter mixture one ladle at a time. Whisk after each ladle making sure to get rid of any lumps before adding more liquid.
3. Keep adding the liquid until there's about one cup left. (Keep this to the side for now in case the sauce is too thick after adding the grated cheese). Simmer the sauce for about six minutes to cook out the flour taste, whisking continuously.
4. Add the grated strong cheddar and mix until melted. Add the leftover milk mixture and mix again until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Cook the macaroni as per the instructions on the package. Drain and transfer back into the pot. Add the cheese sauce mixture to the macaroni and stir through coating it completely.
6. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Spoon the macaroni into one dish or several individual ramekins like I did. Top lightly with the panko mixture.
7. Set your broiler to high. Put the mac n' cheese on a baking tray and place under the broiler. Keep moving the tray around if the top of the macaroni starts to get too dark. Broil for about 5 minutes until brown and crunchy.
The Main Dish: Corned Beef Sliders
By The Chefs of Benjamin Steakhouse Westchester
- 3 lbs corned beef (for easier recipe, deli corned beef is fine; skip to step 2)
- 1/2 head of cabbage
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp Pickling spices
- 2 Russet potatoes, peeled
- 1 tsp butter
- Salt or pepper to taste
- 20 mini potato bread rolls
- Dijon mustard
1. In a large pot, boil carrots, onions, corned beef, and pickling spices for about 2 hours. (If using purchased corned beef from a deli, simply heat and skip to the next step.)
2. In a separate pot, boil the entire half head (whole) of cabbage for about 10 to 15 minutes.
3. In a separate pot, boil potatoes until tender. Remove from water, mash roughly with butter, salt & pepper, leaving chunks, and set to the side.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open mini buns, place on a tray and toast them in the oven for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove.
5. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on each bun; top with a generous layer of corned beef, cabbage, and Dijon mustard.
The Dessert: Croissant Bread Pudding with Bailey's Chocolate Ganache
By Chef Stuart O'Keefe
- 25g (1 oz) butter, at room temperature
- 6 croissants (can be a day old)
- 100g (4 oz) dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
- 100g (4 oz) white chocolate, (if desired or just double the dark chocolate) chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 150g (5 oz) caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 600ml (1 pt / 2 cups) cream
- 150ml (5 fl oz / ½ cup) whole milk
- 150g (5 oz) soft light brown sugar
Bailey's Chocolate Sauce
- 10 oz dark (70%) chocolate
- 5 oz heavy cream
- 5 oz milk
- 3 oz Bailey's Irish cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4 / 350F). Butter a 33 x 23cm (6cm deep) (12 x 9in (2 1/2 in deep)) baking dish (about 5 pts (3L) in volume) and set on a baking sheet.
2. Tear the croissants up roughly, arrange half of them in the baking dish and scatter half the chopped dark and white chocolate over. Make a second layer with the remaining croissant pieces and top with the remaining chocolate.
3. Whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cream and milk together in a large bowl or jug until well combined. Carefully pour this mixture over the croissants and chocolate and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on top. Leave to soak for about 10 minutes and then bake for about 45-50 minutes until it is just firm to the touch.
4. Remove the pudding from the oven and leave to sit for a few minutes before serving.
Bailey's Chocolate Sauce
5. Chop chocolate into small pieces.
6. Bring cream and milk to a simmer, turn off heat.
7. Add to the chocolate, let sit for about 5 minutes then stir until well combined and smooth.
8. Add Bailey's and stir until well combined.
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