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The Couples Who Do THIS Together Stay Together

Here's how to really fire up your romance.

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illustration of couple having fun making dinner in kitchen
Sam Silverman
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“Where would you like to go to dinner tonight?” To many people, that usually means a restaurant. But for my husband and me, our home kitchen is the portal through which we regularly sample the varied cuisines served at tables from Mexico City to Bangkok.

With nearly 300 cookbooks in our collection, it didn’t take long into our 25-year marriage to discover that cooking together and rotating the roles of chef and sous-chef introduced a sensual dimension to an everyday event.

For female baby boomers, high school home economics classes perpetuated the myth that meal prep was a solo task, generally for women, and not a couple’s collaboration. Even grocery shopping together was something unheard of!

My husband was already a savvy cook when we met and easily gravitates toward Indian, Thai, South American and Mexican cuisine. His approach to culinary capers can reduce stress, allowing for experimentation, especially with spices, sauce blends and cultural fusions.

My own cooking skills were honed in my early days as an actress, preparing easy meals in my studio apartment for fellow actors after rehearsals. I lean toward Italian, Asian, French and almost anything involving seafood or pasta.

Our respective talents and personal tastes invite lots of crossover. We teach each other new skills, shortcuts and cooking methods as we trade off on the measuring, chopping, seasoning, sautéing, baking, caramelizing, grilling and garnishing.

When we began sharing a kitchen, we decided it shouldn’t just be for Date Night or special occasions. Nor do we save “the good stuff” and only bring it out for holidays. (Not having any children or grandchildren obviously makes this easier.) Creative "tablescaping" has become as much a part of our adventure as the food itself. Pairing national colors with national dishes is a way of paying homage to the people and cultures who share their unique traditions and savory innovations with the world. Plus, it makes for wonderful presentations.

In 2019, things changed. On social media, many of our friends began sharing posts about their home-cooked bounty. Why not us? We highlighted the cookbooks from which we gathered our recipes, designed menu cards with wine suggestions and took photos from start to finish. It was gratifying — and remains so — to not only hear foodie pals ask questions but also buy cookbooks or download magazine recipes to replicate the meal we prepared.

The fun is that no one — including us — knows where the cooking journey will unfold. One week it’s Austrian Vanilla Steak with Roasted Potatoes and Spinach. The next week could be Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Mango Chutney. After that, maybe a Crustless Crab Quiche with Herbs de Provence and Lemon-Drizzled Asparagus.

Of course, if you’re going to let your social media circle know what’s up in your kitchen, make sure your camera is handy. Each step of the meal, from setting out the ingredients to cooking to plating, can bring an alluring visual to what you’re doing.

A few words of advice before you and your partner try this on your own:

Start simple. Making grilled cheese sandwiches side by side side with kisses in-between is a saner launch than tackling coq au vin from scratch. Lots of dishes are simultaneously easy to fix and greatly gratifying, such as fettuccini Alfredo or firehouse chili.

Shop for ingredients together. The more invested you both are in the process, the more fun the outcome. Be adventurous! The two of us, for instance, recently discovered how to add parsnips to recipes after years of seeing them in the produce section and wondering how to use them.

Embrace substitutions. Many cookbooks and recipes offer easily accessible ingredients when hard-to-find herbs and spices aren’t available. Shortcuts are also important. Numerous purveyors of spice blends worldwide and in your favorite grocery store offer seasonings that can significantly reduce the time and preparation needed to deliver your meal.

Pay attention to scale. My husband and I set a table for two, yet many recipes are designed to feed four, six or even eight people. One way to enjoy the adventure of cooking together is to keep it simple; if only cooking for two, make sure you understand how to reduce the ingredients down to size. After all, this is an adventure, not a word-math problem!

Lastly, the goal here is to do something you and your partner won’t forget, from the moment the preparation begins until the time the last plate is put in the dishwasher. Bon appétit!

Shrimp and Mushrooms in Sherry Cream Sauce

Serves 2


10 oz. large shrimp (tail off, peeled, deveined)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/2 cup dry sherry

1 cup thinly sliced fresh white mushrooms

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Dry chile pepper flakes and parsley

1 cup steamed white rice


Sauté the shrimp in olive oil, butter, garlic powder and turmeric for approximately five minutes. Start preparing the cup of white steamed rice. Add the sherry, the mushrooms and the heavy whipping cream. Stir to mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer on low until the rice is done. Ladle the shrimp and mushrooms over the rice. Be generous with the sauce, as it will give the rice a risotto-like quality. Sprinkle dry chile pepper flakes and parsley over the top for color.

Do you and your partner ever cook together? Let us know in the comments below.

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