How Cooking With Your Partner Can Strengthen Your Relationship

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It was a cold February evening in a cramped kitchen of a 1920s bungalow. We were a newly married couple: young, in love, and desperately ambitious in our culinary endeavors (despite our major lack of experience). Our mission that evening: to create a pizza from scratch, a task neither of us had attempted before.

Of course, our high hopes for a perfectly round, elegantly charred Italian-style masterpiece were gone after the first few minutes. But despite the mess, the misshapen dough and the floppy pizza slices, laughter filled this small kitchen. It wasn’t just about preparing a meal; it was about creating a bond through our shared creativity and teamwork.

Adventures like these turned into our life’s work. As a husband and wife team of cookbook authors, we’ve come a long way since that first pizza. But the essence of what we discovered that evening remains at the heart of our culinary philosophy: cooking is better together.

But when we tell people this, we often hear: “Oh, I can’t share the kitchen with my husband, he’s too messy.” » Or: “My partner refuses to cook, so she does the dishes. »

Today, we absolutely appreciate that divide and conquer cooking works for everyday meals. But could we suggest a date night that flips the script? As Valentine’s Day approaches, we may think of crowded restaurants and extravagant dinners. But we offer a more intimate bonding experience: cooking together at home.

Early on in our marriage, we discovered that date cooking could be a way to relax and tackle a fun recipe. Instead of clashing (which of course happens!), we learned to accept our differences. Alex is always eager to try something new, and when coupled with my (Sonja’s) never-ending quest for the perfect bite, we become a true team. We’ve whipped up paella for two, seared scallops, and truffle risotto, to name a few, in the comfort of our own home. Not only did we end up having dinner, but we also gained memories and a greater appreciation for each other.

Get the recipe: Beetroot and Ricotta Ravioli with Garlic Butter Sauce

Get the recipe: Gin and Cranberry Sour Cocktail

Here’s a kitchen project we designed for two. Do it on Valentine’s Day or whenever you find yourself with a free Friday night. You’ll end up with homemade beet and ricotta ravioli in a garlic butter sauce, a fresh salad, and a signature party cocktail, all in the space of one evening.

So grab your partner, clear the calendar, and keep reading for our best tips and tricks for cooking together.

Prepare the terrain. It’s easy to want to rush into a chopped onion before you’ve even put on an apron (guilty, around here!). Start a playlist with some of your favorite tracks. Light some candles for a little ambiance. Put on your apron and don’t forget: It’s not a race, it’s an experience.

Prepare a platter of vegetables and hummus, nuts or olives to snack on: it’s the key to spending a kitchen date without feeling hungry.

Finally, remove all distractions. If you have young children, try this post-bedtime cooking date. For older kids, having a movie night with pizza works wonders.

Prepare yourself (mentally). Before you begin, take the time to appreciate each other’s working styles, skills and approaches. Some people work in linear thought patterns, while others like to multitask. Some cooks clean up as they go, while others like to leave a big mess for last. One of you may be more comfortable in the kitchen than the other.

We have learned to appreciate our differences rather than fight against them. Keep in mind: it’s all about working together! Find the strength in each member and use this food project as a communication and bonding exercise.

Gather your equipment. If you own a pasta machine (or a stand mixer pasta attachment), now is the perfect time to pull it out of the cupboard. However, don’t let the lack of this specialized machine stop you from making homemade pasta. We’ve included instructions for rolling the leaves by hand with a rolling pin.

Other equipment to have on hand: a food processor, a pastry brush and a cookie cutter (or pizza wheel). We recommend a fluted cookie cutter to make fun wavy edges on the ravioli. For even more professional ravioli, get a ravioli press (you can even find heart-shaped ones!).

Follow this schedule for the evening:

  • Prepare the pasta dough and let it rest. It rests for 30 minutes (or up to 1 hour), which helps relax the gluten and makes rolling easier. Take advantage of the free time to prepare your drink and your side salad.
  • Prepare the signature cocktail. This baking date shines with the hot pink Cranberry Gin Sour. Our take on the classic adds cranberry juice for bold color and a sweet-tart flavor. An egg white makes an impressive fluffy topping, adding a creamy mouthfeel to the drink and mellowing out the flavors.
  • Use the remaining downtime to prepare a side salad and pasta topping. Cocktail in hand, prepare the beet and ricotta garnish and a side salad, such as baby arugula lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and shaved Parmesan. Or head to Gem Lettuce Boats’ recipe.
  • The main event. Now you’re ready for the challenge: making pasta together! (Cue the romantic Italian music.) It will be a project, but there’s nothing more fun than seeing – and tasting – the result. If you are making this recipe for two, freeze half of the ravioli for another meal and cook the other half. Next, reduce the garlic butter sauce by half, which will make your kitchen smell like an absolute dream.

Keep the dessert simple. When making a few recipes together, it’s best to go easy on dessert to save effort and mess. A quality chocolate bar or an affogato (decaffeinated) are simple but still delicious. Better yet, find a fun treat at your local pastry shop and share it.

We hope you’ll find that during the often desolate month of February — and any time of year you need it — this baking date can be a bright spot. May it nourish your belly and your relationships too.

We want to hear from you! Tell us how you cook in the comments or email [email protected].

Get the recipe: Beetroot and Ricotta Ravioli with Garlic Butter Sauce

Get the recipe: Gin and Cranberry Sour Cocktail

Sonja and Alex Overhiser are the creators of acouplecooks.com. Their new cookbook about cooking together, “A Couple Cooks,” will be released in September.

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