Practice Date: Red Wine Brownies

Though I'd love to take credit for these brownies, I must bow my head to the inimitable David Lebovitz. He published this recipe for brownies in 2011 and I've been making them ever since. The batter is drop-dead simple with one caveat: you must beat it for at least a minute (as he states). The structural alchemy that occurs during your fervent whisking is what makes these brownies irresistible. They normally emerge from the oven with a crisp top but this time I've taken them for a ride with red wine and raspberry jam, baking a sticky-sweet layer on top of the bitter chocolate. 

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Practice Date: Roasted Lamb Ribs

Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank, monetary salvation lies in knowledge. So, arm yourself with information and get to know your butcher. I’m a lover of lamb, but buying the rack every time will rob your wallet of its health. Lamb spare ribs, however, are often overlooked and if you can get your butcher to save some for you, the price will likely surprise you. Unpopular meat is cheap, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t scrumptious.

Practice Date: Caraway Smashed Potatoes

This date night meal needed some heft (I intend to put my dear friend into a food coma) and what adds more power to a meal than the humble potato? Boiled, smashed, and pan fried, this potato has everything: a tender center, a crisp skin, salt, garlic. It was only missing one thing: intrigue. Enter caraway. You think of it as the flavor of rye bread, and it's the perfect compliment to a smashed potato.

Practice Date: Casting Call

February is a time for Hallmark love and Presidential remembrance (according to our national calendar). While the thought of planning a dinner party around Washington's favorite foods is enticing, I decided to go with the more obvious choice and build this month's menu around a lovely little date night. 

While living in Vegas I started a tradition with a dear friend of going out on practice dates. Neither of us had significant others, but we wanted to be ready should we meet those special someones in the near future. So, Tango and I watched insulting romantic comedies, ate dinner at absurd Vegas restaurants, and attended dreary company events as a fake couple. Now that we both live in NYC, it's time to invite her over for a more refined practice date. This time, I'm cooking. Stay tuned for the menu!