Seven Secrets of Seduction

Want to make your Valentine's Day really cook? Focus on the real way to most men's hearts: their stomachs. Treating your lover to a fabulous meal takes some effort, but the rewards are well worth it. And all you really need to do is follow your heart -- and the cooking directions. So skip the lacy lingerie and tie on an apron instead. Then follow these seven simmering secrets of seduction. They're sure to raise the temperature in your kitchen ... and bedroom.

1. Choose your menu carefully. Don't wait until the last minute to think about your special Valentine's Day meal. Take some time to plan what you would like to prepare. Consider the following: What does your valentine like to eat? Is he a vegetarian? Does he have any allergies? (Nothing kills a budding romance faster than a trip to the hospital due to a reaction to shellfish.) You will probably want to steer clear of especially heavy food, which tends to make people feel lethargic; you want to be seducing each other, not slumbering. I know it's not sexy to mention, but definitely avoid using too much salt or spices that will cause bloating and gas.

Whatever you do, don't experiment. We all want to cook like Julia Child, but if you have never made duck a l'orange, now is not the time to attempt it. Stick to simple recipes using ingredients you are familiar with. A basic dish of pasta dressed with sauteed wild mushrooms or fresh plum tomatoes and arugula can be elegant. Remember, it is truly the thought and effort that counts here. So what should you prepare? Click here for a menu suggestion from my new book Fifty Ways to Feed Your Lover.

2. Shop early, then relax. When you have chosen your menu, read the recipe twice (to make sure you don't miss anything), then write out your shopping list and figure out which items you can shop for ahead of time. For items that need to be picked up fresh, call ahead to make sure that what you need is in stock -- some grocery stores will even take special orders. Crossing several shopping items off your list early will help you to relax and feel excited (instead of stressed) about your big night; you don't want to be rushing around at the last minute hunting for a special cut of meat or jar of gourmet mustard. Besides, doing much of the prep work early will leave you with more time to relax and get ready for your night. Be sure to allow enough time so that you can get out of the kitchen and freshen up before you serve the meal. Take a warm bath or shower, change into something special and comfortable, and enjoy a glass of wine before dinner.

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