Table for Two

A menu thought for an intimate celebration, only for two people.

Set Table for Two And Entertain In Style

Get together for this special meal to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or just to impress your new friend. We have made everything as simple as possible for you with easy to follow, step by step recipes, a shopping list, time plan, and wine suggestions.

When planning a dinner just for two people, you want to choose a menu that does not require continued interruptions to visit the kitchen. You wish to spend most of the time talking to your friend. You need also time to get ready. Whatever the occasion, you don't want to be caught wearing an apron stained with orange juice, your face is smudged with flour, and your hands are from chopping mushrooms.

The menu we propose has been tried many times before, successfully. A warming soup is served before a grill. The rich main dish is followed by a simple fruit salad, but we make it special by serving it in tulipes with a dollop of whipped cream.

The soup and the dessert can be prepared in advance. You will have to leave the table to cook the the tournedo steaks, but it should not take more than ten minutes. Don't come back and talk. There is always the risk of overcooking, even burning, the meat. Your guest can listen to music and savor the drink while you cook.

Mind, this is a celebration, so the menu was not designed to be low in fat or calories, low in cholesterol and sodium. It was designed just to be high in flavor and color. This is all right as long as you don't feel too tempted and overeat.

Serve a good red wine with the meat. Champagne or a sweet sparkling wine with the dessert. Another option is to serve only Chapagne or sparkling wine for the whole dinner; then choose the dry variety. Sugar is added after fermentation, so all sparkling wines are sweet enough.

Time Plan

    The day before: Tidy up your home, at least the areas open to your guest. Check dishes, cutlery and cups. If you are going to use a special set, it might need cleaning. Do your grocery shopping. Don't forget to get extra ice; if you plan to serve sparkling wine and your fridge does not make ice on demand, you will need it. Get flowers for the table. Back home, prepare the chicken broth; when cold, cover and store in the fridge. You can prepare and shape the tulipes; in fact you can prepare the tulipes up to a week in advance. Store them in a tight container when they are cold. Tulipes are delicate, handle them with care.

    Four hours before: Prepare the fruit salad, cover and keep in the fridge. Fruit salad gets better left for some time to blend the flavors. Whip the cream, cover and store in the fridge. You can lay the table. If you plan to have coffee after the meal, set the service on a tray now.

    Twpo and a half hours before:Time to start with the anchovy butter. You don't really need any special equipment. You can mash the anchovies quite well with a fork. The bread for the tournedos comes next. Wash the lettuce and onions. If the mushrooms bring a lot of soil clinging to them, clean them now, otherwise, you can leave it for later. Prepare the garnish for the chicken broth.

    Half an hour:You could get the tournedos out of the fridge, set them on a plate and cover with another. You get a better result when the meat is already at room temperature before cooking. There is a food safety risk to consider, though. Set the drinks in the lounge. Clean the mushrooms now, if you got one of those boxes where the stems are already cut. You just need to wipe them with a kitchen towel. Wash the watercress and keep in the fridge. Start cooking the French peas. Fry the bread; keep it in a very low oven, wrapped in kitchen paper -careful with gas ovens and kitchen paper, set the bread on a high shelf. A shortcut, if you don't feel confident, is to toast the bread, until golden brown, while you grill the meat.

    Five minutes:Add the peas, if using frozen peas. Reheat the broth, garnish and serve.

    After the broth:Grill the meat and mushrooms. Garnish and serve.

    After the meat:Set the tulipes on a plate. Scoop some fruit salad. Top with a little whipped cream. Decorate to your taste and serve.

Table For Two Shopping List

  Baking products
  1 box (1 lb)   Powdered sugar
  5 lbs   Sugar
  Beverages
  1 bottle   Brandy
  Bread
  1 loaf   White bread
  Cooking oils and shortening
  1 bottle (17 fl oz)   Olive oil
  Dairy
  1 dozen   Egg
  1/2 cup   Heavy whipping cream
  1 lb   Unsalted butter
  Flours
  1 bag (5 lb)   Unbleached all-purpose flour
  Frozen vegetables
  1 bag (16 oz)   Frozen peas
  Fruit and vegetable juices
  1 bottle   Lemon juice or, much better, 1 lemon
  Meat and poultry
  1   Chicken breast
  3/4 lb   Beef tournedos steak
  Produce
  1 ea   Apples
  1 lb   Bananas
  1 can (4.25 oz)   Black olives
  1 bag (2 lbs)   Carrots
  1 bunch   Celery
  1/8 oz   Fresh tarragon
  1   Leek
  1/16 lb   Lettuce
  1/8 lb   Mushrooms
  3/16 lb   Onions
  1/2 fluid ounce   Orange juice
  1 bunch   Parsley
  1   Pear
  1 bunch   Scallions
  1 bunch   Watercress
  Spices and seasonings
  1 bottle (4 oz)   Black pepper
  1 jar (4.12 oz)   ground cinnamon
  1 box (26 oz)   Salt
  1 jar (2 fl oz)   Vanilla extract
  Canned Goods
  1 can   Anchovies
  1 can (2 oz)   Tangerines, (mandarin oranges), canned in juice or in syrup