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deni's avatar

Do you have any ideas for an exciting dinner I can cook my boyfriend for his birthday?

Asked by deni (22355 points ) March 21st, 2011

My boyfriend’s birthday is Wednesday….I’m probably not going to get him anything because we are moving soon and getting rid of all our stuff so…it seems silly. But I would like to do something special for him.

He won’t be home til about 8 that night so I have all afternoon to cook. I’d love to do 3 courses but I don’t know where to start even or what to make with what. I’m willing to spend a bit of money on food since that’s all I’ll be getting him….....but I really have no ideas. He likes almost everything. So I feel like I could make pretty much anything and he’d love it…so…help me think?

I really am obsessed with duck lately….and I know he loves duck so….perhaps a duck dish?

ANY ANY ANY ideas would be appreciated.

A few other things. I make a REALLY good alfredo sauce. I’m drooling just thinking about it. But just alfredo sauce and pasta is kinda boring so…maybe a different way to use alfredo sauce would be cool? But I don’t know…

I’d also like to not do anything curry or stir fry related. We eat a lot of both.

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42 Answers

12Oaks's avatar

Ingredients
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, about 6 oranges, orange rinds reserved
1 (5-pound) duck, cleaned, with innards, wing tips and excess fat removed
2 oranges, zested
⅔ cup sugar
1 tablespoon Peychaud Bitters
1½ cups duck or chicken stock
2 tablespoons arrowroot dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
½ cup Grand Marnier liqueur
Directions
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Roughly chop the orange rinds and place in the cleaned duck cavity. Place the stuffed duck on a baking rack over a baking sheet with ½-inch of water. Bake until skin turns golden brown and lightly crisps, about 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees and continue cooking until duck reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees, about 1 hour.

In a medium heavy saucepan combine the orange juice, zest and sugar over medium high heat and reduce to ¾ cup. Add Peychaud Bitters to orange juice gastrique and set aside.

Add hot duck stock to reduced orange gastrique and simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes to reduce. Add arrowroot mixture, to thicken.

Remove duck from roasting pan, and discard the fat from pan. Remove orange rinds from duck cavity. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

Add the Grand Marnier to roasting pan and place over 2 burners on medium high heat. Deglaze pan, scraping continuously with a large wooden spoon. Reduce for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the orange sauce in the pan into a gravy boat and serve with carved duck.

marinelife's avatar

You could serve a pasta course before the duck. Shrimp is really good in pasta alfredo.
Then add a salad.

Don’t forget his favorite dessert.

picante's avatar

I’ve done “themed” dinners before—typically focusing on a particular country or cuisine. But I’ve had this crazy idea for a while, so I’ll share in case it sparks interest for you. Have a five or seven course meal (a couple of the courses can be a simple salad and a cheese selection), with each course representing a diffierent culture or cuisine. I know that sounds really weird on the surface, but I think with a little imagination and planning, it could come together nicely. And you don’t have to prepare each course—for instance, you might get some sushi rolls or spring rolls from your favorite Asian restaurant. You’ve mentioned your alfredo sauce—a little pasta dish as one course, and a Peking duck for the main course. If you’re intrested, PM me and we can hatch a plan offline.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

If there’s an asian supermarket around where you live, you can make peking duck sandwiches.

john65pennington's avatar

Do you own a slow cooker? If so, men love a pot roast that has been cooked slowly overnight with onions, potatoes and celery cooked with it.

I guarantee he will love this surprise dinner and it will last for two or three meals.

If you are interested, let me know and I will give you the particulars.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Have you cooked duck before? Special dinners aren’t the time for experimenting!

Maybe you could use your alfredo sauce for the base for the main meal, like….duck alfredo?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Michael_Huntington Samwiches aren’t a dinner!!!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Start with either a ceasar or tossed salad.

Then the soup nice lobster or shrimp bisque.

Roast duck with rice pilaf and asparagus spears. Do it in the slow cooker if you have one.

Blueberry pie or Peach cobbler with sherbert for dessert.

Afterdinner drinks with cheese and crackers.

Have breadsticks or fresh bread rolls with the first 3 courses.

@12Oaks if you pierce the skin with a fork without poking into the flesh, most of the fat will drain off instead of being sealed into the meat. But that looks like a good recipe, I may have to try it next duck season.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@WestRiverrat dang, man! And all I’ve had to eat today is a toasted egg on moldy bread with moldy cheese (was delicious, btw,) and a PB and honey sandwich. And that’s probably ALL I’ll eat today! Buggin’ out of THIS question!

Kardamom's avatar

I’ll let the others answer the duck question because I’ve never eaten it and wouldn’t know what to suggest.

My vote would be to go the route of @SamIam’s recent ventures into Asian cuisine.

I would start out with an appetizer of Fresh Spring Rolls (you can put just about anything inside from chicken, tofu, pickled daikon or cilantro) and you can also serve this variation with a Peanut Dipping Sauce

Then you can serve a Miso Soup or Egg Flower Soup or Hot and Sour Soup or Thai Corn Soup or Tom Yum soup.

Then serve alongside your entree a Cambodian Cucumber Salad or some Thai Green Papaya Salad

Then for your entree you could serve Chicken Sate Skewers or Pan Seared Salmon in Asian Marinade or Korean Flank Steak with Shitake Mushrooms

For dessert serve mango or coconut ice cream. Bon Apetite!

Dutchess_III's avatar

LA LA LA LA!!! I’m ignoring you guys!!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Sandvich is SO for dinners!!!

BarnacleBill's avatar

If you make duck, you’re going to want to roast it in the oven, so the skin is crispy. Or you could do Cornish hens, which are like little chicken-duck thingies. With and orange marmalade glaze (Braswell’s orange marmalade, melted), wild rice medley, asparagus, roasted tomatoes with parmesan cheese and basil, and great gelato with fresh fruit and chocolate sauce for dessert. Start with a field green salad with strawberries and sugared walnuts, with an orange vinegarette dressing.

Haleth's avatar

I don’t really know how to make duck at all, but it tastes great with roasted figs.

Roasted figs:
Slice fresh figs in half and put them face-up in a baking dish. Brush them with olive oil and honey and sprinkle with pepper. Cook for 15–20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Really, anything sweet goes well with duck. Brussels sprouts taste great with duck, too.

Are you guys big wine drinkers? You could pair it with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is awesome.

Edit: Oh crap, I forgot that you needed three courses. Here are some appetizer-type-things that I make pretty often.

Rainbow Salad:
-mesclun mix or romaine lettuce
-goat cheese
-craisins and/or golden raisins
-walnuts
-cold cooked sweet potatoes, optional

Top with honey dijon vinaigrette. You can buy some or make your own by blending balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. If you don’t like craisins, you can use raspberries instead and go with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Clams with white wine and garlic:
-about half a pound of small clams
-cloves of garlic to taste
-about half a bottle of white wine
-butter
-parsley or ginger [I’m partial to ginger]

Crush and/ or finely dice the garlic and ginger. Start heating the pan and throw some butter on there until it melts. Wait another minute or two and put the garlic and ginger on there. It should start sizzling nicely. Saute them for a minute or two then add a liberal amount of white wine, maybe half or ¾ths the bottle. Bring it to a gentle boil then add the clams and cover until they just open up, about five minutes. Sop it all up with french bread.

Pre-appetizer nibbles:

-Take individual cloves of garlic and dab about a teaspoon of brie over each one. Roast at 400 degrees until the cheese starts to melt all over the garlic then eat it on French bread.
-Just eat some prosciutto with the roasted fig. Ham+ figs+ wine= WIN

dxs's avatar

Roast duck with the mango salsa

AllAboutWaiting's avatar

Guys love meat. Find a butcher, get Rib Eye steaks and BBq them the way he likes it. This cut really can’t be overcooked because of the fat, but it can be burned – so watch it.
Fresh pasta to go with the Alfredo sauce you make will make a huge difference. Pick an appropriate fresh herb, and a bunch of hard cheese shredded to put on top.
The salad at this point could be whatever you like, because he’ll be in a trance from the meat and pasta odor. Maybe avoid creamy dressing because of the Alfredo.
Dessert is easy – whatever his favorite muffin is, crumbled and heated in a bowl. A bag of frozen fruit in a bowl, with sugar, heated and poured on top of Ice cream and muffin. The syrup/fruit gets absorbed by the muffin as he eats thru the ice cream.
You could do this every year, for the rest of his life, and he would be happy.

deni's avatar

I DON’T have a slow cooker, god dammit. I wish I did! If so I would definitely make a roast of sorts. MMMMMM roasts. But great suggestions otherwise! Thanks!!

blueiiznh's avatar

Starter
A Caesar or Waldorf Salad

Main Course
Pan-Seared Duck Legs/Thighs/Breast in Berry Sauce.
Pan-sear duck legs/Thighs/Breast and end them in the oven. In the pan that you seared them in, deglaze it with some ruby port and flambe it. Then add dried berries and more port, maybe some cranberry juice too. Simmer it while the duck finishes so the berries can plump. Add more port at the end if you need to. Make some wild rice blend and mold it with a ramekin into a nice dome on the plate. Drape the duck over it and serve with berry sauce drizzled over the duck and around the rice mound.
Serve some baby veggies in a butter herb sauce with it.

Dessert
Crème brûlée

Let me know if you need any recipes

klutzaroo's avatar

I got stuck on “I can cook my boyfriend.” Ewww cannibalism!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Cornish game hens with stuffing.
Stuffing:
Saute onions, celery, mushrooms, raisens and walnuts in real butter for a while. Remove from heat. Then throw in croutons—store bought or homemade. Mix it all up and stuff the bird an cook it! When I use this in a turkey I shove stuffing up under the skin. Don’t know if you can do that with a Cornish game hen or not because they’re so small.

deni's avatar

Ok so….last night while I was “stumbling” I came across a few recipes I really thought looked interesting. One was this s’more dessert that looked fucking phenomenal. The other was a homemade mac and cheese with bacon and fancy cheese and I tried making mac and cheese a month or so ago and it was horrible and dreadful and came out totally wrong. So I’ve been wanting to do that again. But I don’t know what kind of down home, hearty MAIN COURSE I could put with that. I’m totally blanking. I’m really good at making potato chips, maybe something as simple as….a burger and chips? Fish and chips? I DONT KNOW! HALP!

deni's avatar

Something with pork chops?

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK. Start with your specialty, Alfredo sauce. You can add some kind of groovy pasta to it (The different colored pasta comes to mind….), then add whatever meat you think he’d like…pork chops, whatever. The more manly he is the more meat he’ll want (for some reason. I don’t get the meat thing!) OR, you could serve him a whole slab of pork chop and smother it in Alfredo sauce?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@deni Meatloaf always goes great with mac and cheese.

deni's avatar

Do you think pork chops go well with alfredo sauce?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think so!
Mac and cheese in NOT an exciting dinner, btw!!

Kardamom's avatar

Salisbury steak goes well with mac and cheese too.

Mac and cheese can be very exciting if you make it right. I add grilled mushrooms, very good quality sharp cheddar cheese and bacon (fake for this vegetarian) to mine and it’s amazingly good. A side of steamed broccoli and some chocolate sorbet for dinner and you’re done.

You could also doctor up mac and cheese with some sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil. If you did this version, you could serve stuffed cabbage rolls as the main dish. Canoli for dessert.

Oh how about a pot roast with veggies (carrots, potatoes and pearl onions). That’s my Dad’s favorite meal in the whole world.Then you could make some really good garlic bread with a fancy french bread loaf from Trader Joe’s. Then for dessert you could make short cakes (with Bisquick’s super easy recipe, they’re just like giant drop biscuits, only sweeter) and serve them with thawed frozen strawberries and whipped cream. This is a pretty easy meal to pull off, but sooooo good. And your house will smell divine.

I listen to a cooking show by host Melinda Lee on the weekends. She has a great recipe for pot roast. She cooks it at a slightly lower temp than most cooks do it for a slightly longer time. My mom tried it and couldn’t have been happier with the result. Recipe is below.

Beef Shoulder Pot Roast

3½ lbs. beef shoulder, cross-rib or boneless chuck roast, rolled and tied (I used boneless chuck and didn’t tie it.)
1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T. olive oil
1½ to 2 cups beef stock
1½ cups dry red wine
1 small bunch parsley, chopped fine, plus additional for
garnish
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 cups peeled, 1-inch carrot chunks
8 small potatoes, scrubbed and cut into thirds
2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1 cup chopped celery

Preheat oven to 325 (See *Note below).

Rub roast all over with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a heavy casserole, sear roast for several minutes on each side, browning well. Remove meat to platter and cover with foil.

Add onions, carrots and celery to pot and cook for 3–4 minutes. Return meat to pot with vegetables. Pour in stock, wine, parsley, tomatoes, potatoes and more salt/pepper to taste. Liquid in casserole should just cover vegetables. Add additional beef stock, if necessary. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover and bake in center of oven for 2 to 2½ hours.

Uncover and cook longer, until meat is tender, about 1 to 1½ hours, basting frequently.

Transfer roast to a deep serving platter and arrange vegetables around it. Spoon a bit of sauce over all and garnish the platter with parsley. Pass additional sauce in a gravy boat.

*Note: I use a Le Creuset Dutch oven for this, and it’s often done before the time given in the recipe. You may find the same thing, depending on the pan you use. Just keep an eye on it. The original recipe called for cooking it at 350 which is too high (according to Melinda Lee) especially with enameled cast iron, such as Le Creuset. Melinda says to cook it at a low and slow. She says it’s done when the internal temperature is 120 degrees. Make sure you check the internal temp with an instant read thermometer.

Jude's avatar

@Kardamom The Thai dishes that you posted above, I plan on making some of those for my lady. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Judge Judy is on so I HAVE to go! But let us know what you decide!

Kardamom's avatar

@Jude I totally love Thai food. I once tasted a Tom Kha soup (a vegetarian version) that had me feeling like I should book a room, if you get my drift. It was that good.

@Dutchess_III Love me some Judge Judy too. I love it when she shouts, “I told you not to speak!!!”

deni's avatar

@Dutchess_III What! Good, homemade macaroni and cheese (with quality, expensive cheese) is not common and is definitely exciting. I for one don’t think I’ve ever even had it, and that is coming from someone who’s mother never made anything that came in a package. It is also very difficult to make just right so….............there!

Kardamom's avatar

@deni Yes, good macaroni and cheese is one of the finer pleasures in life. Especially if you try a recipe like this one

deni's avatar

@Kardamom Ohh that does look good. I’ve already got the ingredients for this one though…..I LOOOOVE that website, everything she makes is fantastic. I’m so excited!

BarnacleBill's avatar

Bison burgers. Incredible.

deni's avatar

So I ended up making a big salad, the macaroni and cheese with sharp white cheddar and gruyere, and it was FANTASTIC. I cut the recipe in half and we still have a ton leftover. And I made these smore cookies for desert with marshmallows and chocolate chunks on top, and put a candle in one of them. It was cute. They were really good.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@deni Got leftovers????

…How do you make mac and cheese with regular cheese so that it doesn’t come out all lumpy?

deni's avatar

stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir. add the milk to the butter/flour gradually, and add the cheese gradually, always while stirring. it was kind of a bitch, but so good.

deni's avatar

I’m sure the type of cheese matters too.

Jude's avatar

It’s my lady ma’am’s and my anniversary this Sunday and I am making her part of @Kardamom ‘s Thai extravaganza. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

@deni I’m getting dizzy reading your post!

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III You can pretty much use any type of cheese you want, but have it shredded and ready to go. But you need to add the cheese to a roux. For my low fat (but awesome-ly delicious) mac and cheese, I used ½ cup of 75% less fat cheddar from Trader Joe’s and ½ cup of the most sharp, delicious cheddar I could find.

First, make the roux with equal parts butter (I use Smart Balance which is does not have any partially hydrogenated oil or trans fat, but still tastes yummy) and flour. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over super low heat, then add the flour a little bit at a time, while stirring like crazy. You want to cook away the raw-ness of the flour. I use ¼ cup each of butter and flour. After about 8 minutes, then add 1 cup of warmed milk (have the milk warmed in the microwave ahead of time so it’s ready to go). I used 1% milk for mine to continue with the lowfat idea. Pour the milk in very slowly and just keep stirring like crazy. Then add the shredded cheese, slowly and keep stirring like crazy until it melts into the roux. I’ve never had the problem of lumps, when using a roux. Just make sure that the heat is very low, and never let it boil or burn.

For my mac and cheese, I also sauteed about a cup of sliced mushrooms in a Tablespoon EVOO and a ¼ cup of sliced onions until the schrooms were just browned.

The noodles were already cooked and drained and sitting in the pan they were boiled in. I used Ronzoni Smart Choice Penne I use half a box for this recipe.

I also cooked one slice of Morningstar Farms Fake Bacon Strips and threw that into the mix.

Then I pour the cheese roux and the sauteed mushrooms and the bacon over the noodles and mix thouroughly, then pour the whole shebang into one of those round baking dishes (about 8 inches across and 5 inches tall) Sprinkle on some panko bread crumbs then bake in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes. This is one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve ever eaten and mine’s low-fat, but you can change it up with just about any kind of cheese that you like and you could use full fat milk and real bacon if you prefer.

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