Romantic dinner ideas: how to cook with love

Jessie and Ricki from MKR NZ

So you’re at that point in the relationship where you’re cooking for each other. If you’re feeling stumped for romantic dinner ideas then EliteSingles is here to help. We asked MKR NZ’s very own Jessie and Ricki about the the four steps that can help you become a kitchen Casanova.

If you’re looking for expert advice and some very romantic dinner ideas, then you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for love, then try EliteSingles.

Step one: know why you’re doing this

We’ve all heard that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. But why is cooking for someone so swoon-worthy? My Kitchen Rules contestants Jessie and Ricki reckon that it is because cooking is two-way street – both partners get something great out of the exchange. They say ‘’it’s great to see the enjoyment your partner gets from eating a delicious meal you have created for them.’’

What’s more, Ricki notes, ‘’conversation is built while eating together and it can be romantic having a meal and wine together even if it’s just at home.’’ For Jessie, ‘’after working all day, going to the gym, then working some more, sitting down eating together is the best part of the day, we get to relax, eat, talk about our day and just hang out together while occasionally enjoying a sneaky wine.’’

Read more: staying in is the new romance: in a recent survey, more than half of Kiwi singles said a night in with the telly is the ideal date night.

Step two: get your romantic dinner ideas sorted.

The best thing about romantic dinner ideas is that a dish doesn’t have to be elaborate to be passionate. As Jessie says ‘’I consider it a romantic meal if your partner doesn’t have to worry about cooking for the night ’’adding that ’’I usually just ‘wing it’ with whatever ingredients I have in the cupboard. It could be anything from a simple stir-fry to a time consuming risotto.’’

Of course, sometimes you want to push the boat out. And that means deciding on a menu. For Jessie, there’s one dish that stands out as more romantic than most: ‘’Pasta! I love Italian food, pizza, pasta, risotto.’’ Our members agree – in an EliteSingles date night survey, 33% picked Italian as the world’s most date-worthy cuisine, making it a runway favourite for Kiwis wanting romantic dinner ideas.

When it’s time for dessert though, there’s only one thing that screams romance. And, as Ricki puts it, that’s ‘’chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!’’ In fact, her and Jessie’s favourite romantic treat is ‘’the baked chocolate pudding from our [MKR] Instant Restaurant.’’ The thing they love about it? ‘’The centre is meant to be liquid, however if you stuff it up (like we did) it’s no big deal, they will never know and it is still super delicious and easy to make at home.’’

Get inspired: Find the recipe for Jessie and Ricki’s famous baked chocolate pudding here. EliteSingles has tried it and can confirm: it’s delicious!

Step three: keep calm and cook on

So you’ve got your romantic dinner ideas sorted but sometimes, even the best intentions can lead to a frazzled chef (not so romantic). Jessie and Ricki know a bit about cooking under pressure however, and they had some great advice to offer.

Ricki says that, in order to keep your cool, it’s best to be prepared: ‘’for a special date night, I will take the time out of my day to plan and go to the supermarket to make sure I have everything I need for the perfect meal.’’ It’s even worth taking your recipe along, to be extra sure you’ve got everything. Jessie agrees that prep work matters, advising ‘’for your first time cooking for someone new stick to things you know and don’t over complicate it.’’ She adds that it’s best to ‘’leave yourself plenty of time, over estimate how long it will take you, so if something doesn’t work exactly how you want it you’ve got time to do it again.’’

And both of them agree that the most important thing is to not let any accidents or kitchen failures get to you. As Jessie points out, ‘’if [your dish] doesn’t work I’m sure they will still appreciate the effort you have gone to, remember you’re not a chef and it’s ok to make mistakes.’’ Ricki agrees, saying that you being in it as a couple is what matters: ‘’just relax, even if it’s a disaster, at least you’ll be laughing about it together.’’

Read more: laughing together is one of the key parts of a great partnership. Learn all 7 signs of healthy relationships here!

Step four: set the mood

So you’ve cooked something beautiful, your date is about to arrive and you’ve even opened the wine to breathe. What else do you need to dial up the romance? Ricki notes that it’s worth having a think about how your dish looks: ‘’presentation goes a long way, at least if it doesn’t taste flash it still looks good.’’ She advises that, if you’re really racking your brain, you can ‘’google presentation ideas’’ to amp up the wow factor. And be sure to make an effort with the presentation of your table, as well as the dish. Think soft candlelight, sparkling glasses and the perfect romantic dinner soundtrack.

Get inspired: Need a romantic dinner playlist? Try this Spotify® list, put together by EliteSingles to help you jazz up your next special meal!

With these tips from EliteSingles and MKR’s Jessie and Ricki it’s easy to find a way to turn romantic dinner ideas into romantic reality. There’s just one last thing to remember: you are doing this to wow that special someone. And that’s the main thing that matters. As Jessie puts it ’’Yes, presentation does go a long way, however I think if your date has told you what they love to eat or their favourite meal, try and cook that, that should be enough of a wow factor in itself.’’ If you’re cooking for them, they’ll know how special you think they are. The wow factor is already there.

Are you ready to find that person to wow and who will wow you? Then join EliteSingles today.

About Jessie and Ricki

Known as the ‘Christchurch Cuties,’ Jessie and Ricki were the Viewer’s Choice winners in the 2014 season of My Kitchen Rules (NZ). The couple are still cooking up a storm with their new business Healthkicks – working hard to create delicious, affordable and healthy gourmet salads and lunches that they deliver to Kiwi workplaces.

About the author: Sophie Watson

See more articles written by Sophie Watson