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Time to KISS (keep it simple stupid)

If you don’t already have reservations at your favorite restaurant for Valentine’s Day, then you should really forget about dining out with your sweetheart, because they’re probably all booked up. But then again what could be more romantic than taking to the kitchen to whip up a meal for the love of your life?

If you have no choice but to cook your own meal, you should remember to keep it simple, according to Treasure Sands Club Executive Chef Simeon Hall. He says this is not the time to get complicated or to try out a recipe that you’ve not tested before.

“Most people don’t cook for Valentine’s because they find it overwhelming. Following a recipe for the first time is where most people get intimidated. If you’re like a die-hard foodie, you won’t have a problem with following a recipe, but for that person — especially men -– they will have a problem. Chefs think too ‘chefy’ and put in all these instructions that the average person would not understand. But at the end of the day, food is food and ingredients are ingredients. It’s just the way we as chefs manipulate ingredients that puts them at a different level,” said Hall.

If you plan to cook for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, the chef says to stick with what you know, and enhance the meal with your vocabulary. Instead of serving a meat sauce, you will serve your significant other a ragu.

He also suggests practicing the recipe a few times beforehand to ensure that you know what you’re doing and aren’t stressed out on the day.

‘If you don’t know how to toss or flip things go on YouTube. I know guys who have learnt to ride motorbikes on YouTube, so why not use it to learn how to toss pasta.”

Whatever you decide to prepare for your valentine, the chef says to keep it simple and have fun doing it.

“The best dinner date is one where you can interact with the person. You should not forget to have fun. And that’s what cooking on Valentine’s Day should be about — having fun.”

Chef Hall provided a few tips and guidelines that can help you get it done and realize how simple the meal can be once it is planned.

He wants you to remember that Valentine’s should be celebrated everyday and that every man should know how to cook at least 30 things for his sweetheart.

Chef Simeon Hall’s tips for men (and women who can’t cook) on preparing Valentine’s dinner at home

You’re a man (or a woman). You can hardly cook. Well here are some tips that may help her give you some … (hugs that is).

Make pasta

Choose yours or her favorite noodle and make a meat sauce.

• Buy your sauce.

You den can’t cook and you sure don’t wash dishes good so buy a good sauce. I would go for a bottle of the Field Day brand of organic sauces, or the Prego Spicy Sausage.

• Blend ground beef, Italian sausage and veal to make the ragu. Oh yeah — call it a ragu and not a sauce. You’re looking to impress her. If she doesn’t eat pork then use two or three different cuts of beef and ask the butcher to grind it for you. If she doesn’t eat beef or pork, you on yah own king!

• Fry the meat out well. It’s only for two, so heat a skillet very hot and cook the meat until it’s nice and crispy. Add the sauce, some fresh basil and a splash of her favorite red wine. And remember, you cook with what you’re drinking. And of course most red wines should be put in the fridge 10 minutes before you serve it.

Read the pasta box

The pasta people have mastered cooking their pasta. Read the box and cook the pasta to their specifications. Cook pasta in boiling water. No oil — dis ain’t rookie hour. Season the water too bey. It should taste like sea water.

• Add some shaved Parmesan cheese and turn the pan off. Toss the pasta a few times in the sauce and plate it. (Get yah lazy self on YouTube and watch some pasta tossing pasta videos beforehand and experiment.)

To serve

• Drizzle some good olive oil over the top in front of her, add some fresh basil and a piece of shaved Parmesan.

Listen dis the best, easiest, quickest recipe I can share boss. After dis I cooking for you and yah girl and I don’t work on Valentine’s Day ‘cause no one ain’t getting straight off my hard work. I cooking for me and my date. (I ain’t get one yet but someone getting feed dis year for sure! LOL). Eat. Pray. Love.

This was fun. I hope you get loved.

Okay here’s the thing — normal is boring. And Valentine’s Day is the last day to be boring. So surprise her with my amazing corn bread. Trust me no worrying about internal dough temperatures and fermentation here. Simple. And that’s it.

Chef Simeon Hall’s Amazing Cornbread

Makes 34 muffins

Dry ingredients

1 pound yellow corn meal

1 ½ cups cup all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 ounce kosher salt

1 ½ tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

Wet ingredients

5 cups milk

1 cup sour cream

6 eggs, beaten

1 ½ cups melted butter

1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 pound whole fresh corn

1 ½ ounce diced green onion

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 ounce fresh cilantro

1 ounce diced jalapeño pepper

Combine all ingredients and bake in a floured or non-stick muffin pan. (Do not put those girlie liners in it.) This is your night.

And finally …

You have to have some sort of chilled seafood. But if you’re a real foodie you will have a seafood platter — my go to is stone crabs, scorched conch and oysters. Now I’m not here to teach you how to shuck oysters, I’m here to give you a tip on three amazing sauces.

Clarified butter

Simple isn’t it? Or is it me? Buy the most expensive French butter you can find — salted in this case. Place it in a small point and melt that creamy goodness down. Ok so I said clarify but that’s too technical. Just do a nice melted butter and you will be fine.

Captain’s mustard sauce

(This is a must have if your serving stone crabs)

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup Yellow mustard

1/4 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

Juice from 1/2 lime

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Mix the mayonnaise separately first to avoid lumps, then add all the remaining ingredients and mix. Serve slightly chilled.

A sauce Chef Hall learned in San Francisco

I learned this sauce in San Francisco from a chef on Fisherman’s Wharf and I am reluctant to share it, but love is in the air. It is spicy — but in a good way.

2 cups ketchup

1 teaspoon chili powder.

1/2 cup fresh, not jarred horseradish

5 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper, coarse ground

3 dashes Tabasco

Mix well.

Find 3 small serving vessels and give her these and a wedge of both lemon and lime. You’re spoiling her remember.

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