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Man School 101: 3 Fine Meals Even You Can Cook

man school 101 3 fine meals even you can cook cooking
So, got a hot date tonight, ey? And you decided to charm ’em by having a dinner for two at chez vous? (That’s French for “cheese vow,” I think. Or maybe it’s “your house,” I’m not sure and there’s no time to spare in looking it up.)

Ah, but there’s a catch! You don’t know how to cook a goddamn thing! What were you thinking, man!? You’re going to blow this! Unless… hmm… unless you can  come up with some way to serve a meal so idiot-proofed in its preparation yet so tantalizingly tasty that this date of yours swoons instead of spits up (which is actually unlikely unless you’re wooing an infant).

What you need are some meal ideas that are almost impossible to screw up, yet come across as lovingly home-cooked with care and skill.

First things first: you’re going to need some wine. I recommend you get two bottles of a decent Chardonnay (some nice person at the Whole Foods will help you), one Cabernet Sauvignon (consider Chilean – great taste, great value), and one Pinot Noir. Your date will almost surely be fine with the Chardonnay if s/he likes white, and as for red, you’ll have your bases covered. Now get a six pack of beer for yourself and plan to consume about half of it while cooking.

Easy Man-Made Meal #1:

Salmon Fillets, Couscous, and Roasted Green Beans

Add Parsley FTW
Add Parsley FTW

Wow! What a fancy-ass meal you’re making! But guess what? All it actually takes is setting the oven once and dumping one cup of couscous into one cup of hot water!

Like, seriously… that’s all.

Here’s all you need, so go to the grocery store and get…

  • 2 Salmon Fillets
  • A Box of Couscous (the regular small kind)
  • Some Fresh Green Beans

Now let’s cook! Go home and set the oven to 425…

While the oven pre-heats, lightly oil two glass pans. Metal pans are acceptable if need be. Put the salmon fillets in one pan, the green beans (washed and maybe chopped a bit, sure) in the other. Put some soy sauce on the beans. Or some balsamic. Or something else, whatever.

Now measure one cup of couscous and set it aside, then pour a cup of water into a small pan with a cover.

  • The oven is ready? Sweet, put the salmon in and set a timer for 22 minutes
  • Wait ten minutes then put the beans in, meanwhile starting to boil the cup of water.
  • Water is boiling? Great! Add the couscous and a splash of soy sauce. Or balsamic. Or something else. Turn off the heat and cover the pan after stirring like… twice, maybe three times. Cool.
  • When the timer goes off, plate the salmon, beans, and couscous and… done. Oh, pour some wine.

Easy Man-Made Meal #2:

Pasta, Garlic Bread, and Fresh Salad

Pasta: ALMOST Idiot-Proof...
Pasta: ALMOST Idiot-Proof…

If your date is anything of a cook him/herself, they might see through this one, but anyone will appreciate the effort! And if you can turn on a stove, you can cook it…

The ingredients…

  • A Box of Pasta (Rigatoni is keen. Or something else)
  • A Fancy Jar of Sauce (Not Ragu, e.g.)
  • A Bag of Pre-Washed Mixed Salad (you do have salad dressing at home, right?)
  • A Fresh Baguette

Time to tap your inner Giada De Laurentiis!

  • Bring a largish pot of water to boil. Maybe add some salt?
  • Warm your oven to around 190 degrees.
  • When the water boils, dump in the pasta, then take a few minutes to slice up the baguette.
  • Stir the pasta periodically as you next pour the sauce into a small pan and bring it to a low simmer.
  • Brush the bread with oil, dump some garlic powder over the it, and pop the baguette in the oven. (On a baking sheet, sir.)
  • When the pasta is ready (read the box, bro), drain it, put it back in the pot, then dump in the sauce.
  • Now plate some pasta, shove a handful of salad next to it, and put the bread on another plate or in a basket. Serve. Also wine.

Easy Man-Made Meal #3:

Hearty Homemade Stew

Sprinkle Parsley for the Looks
Sprinkle Parsley for the Looks

For starters, don’t serve this meal during the summer months. That just ain’t right. Do, however, feel free to flat out lie and claim this is an old family recipe. (That’ll be charming and/or allow you to disavow the desultory dinner you dish out if they hate it.)

What goes into the pot…

1 or 2 Chopped Potatoes

  • A Diced Onion
  • 2 or 3 Sliced Carrots
  • Some Chunks of Beef (or sausage or even chicken or if there’s a vegetarian around some soy thingy)
  • Some Celery – Like Maybe 2 Stalks?
  • Some Chopped Garlic If Convenient
  • Some Salt and Pepper
  • Broth. Any Broth Is Fine. Beef, Vegetable, Whatever (just use 2 generous cups)
  • A Spoonful of Worcestershire Sauce. Or a Dash of Soy. Or Some Balsamic

Here’s how to get stewing…

  • Do you have a slow-cooker (AKA a crockpot)? If so, man that’s great: put that sumbitch on low, add all the ingredients (you chopped them up, right?), cover it, and serve your stew in about 12 hours.
  • No crockpot (AKA a slow-cooker, FYI)? No problem: just put everything in a large pot and turn a burner to low underneath it. Like really low: if the stew simmers the littlest bit, you’re good. Cook it for, oh… 8 hours. Just check once every hour or two to see if it needs a bit more broth.
  • Serve it in a couple of big ‘ol bowls. Wine. (Or beer.)

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