The Date Night Cookbook by Ned and Ariel Fulmer

Recommended?  Yes

3/5 for recipes, but 5/5 for fun 👍

Who might like this? Anyone who likes to cook and doesn't mind winging it a little! And anyone who likes the Try Guys.  


It’s no accident that I borrowed The Date Night Cookbook from the library this week. It is penned by Ned and Ariel Fulmer, and Ned is one of the Try Guys. The Try Guys are four YouTubers who now hold a special place in my heart. Let me be honest, I really don’t love watching people on YouTube. I mostly watch for something specific, like how to make a complicated recipe, or to learn to prune my overgrown goji plant. This pandemic, though, really threw us for a loop, and it was in the darkness, isolation and weirdness of fall 2020 that my then 18 year old daughter Sophia said, “We should watch the Try Guys.” She knows I enjoy cooking and they have this series called Without A Recipe, where Ned, Zach, Keith and Eugene have to make something with no recipe and get judged.

I’m a convert! I love the Try Guys. They have a lot of different series where they try things, often fail hilariously, and laugh about it (and often get fake-mad too!). They have gotten us through a lot of anxious, difficult times, and for that I will be forever grateful. So, when I thought about cookbook reviews, I looked to the Try Guys.

To be clear, I’m not dating, looking for love or anything that would jibe with the theme of this cookbook, but it’s the only cookbook a Try Guy has published, so The Date Night Cookbook it is. It’s divided into sections, starting with Attraction, all the way to Commitment (where I am now, having been with Alan for over 30 years, so maybe this book is actually a little bit relevant to us!). I loved the idea of this book, and the pictures of Ned and Ariel are fun. There is a great variety of recipes to choose from. I’m pescatarian, so no meat for us.

Sophia and I picked the recipes together, though she politely declined to help cook🙂, and I spent one busy day making the dishes. I call this “power cooking” and it was intense as it all came together in the kitchen for dinner.

We chose four recipes:

🍤 Sesame Shrimp Puffs with Sweet Chili Sauce as an appy.
🍝 Last-Minute Cacio e Pepe Bucatini for our pasta.
🐟 Mediterranean Whole Red Snapper for our fish course.
🍰 Confetti Tres Leches cake for dessert.

I discovered some new things! I was able to go to the fish counter at T&T Supermarket and ask if they had a whole snapper, which they did in the back. The fishmonger would have sold it to me guts and all, but I remembered to ask for it to be cleaned and gutted, and then watched as he cleaned the fish so efficiently and then handed it over. I’ve never asked for custom fish before. I also discovered bucatini pasta. Think thick, tubular spaghetti. Alan didn’t like it, as he felt it was like sucking air through a straw while eating, but Sophia did, noting she loves new and interesting pasta shapes.

Fruity Pebbles-who knew?
And can I just say: FRUITY PEBBLES? I’d never even heard of Fruity Pebbles cereal, but it features in Confetti Tres Leches cake here, and lo and behold, when I went looking in the cereal aisle there it was, right between Froot Loops and Cocoa Pebbles. In fact, Fruity Pebbles is clearly an exact melding of Froot Loops and Coco Pebbles, which is kind of eerie when you see it on the shelf like that. I never buy this stuff, and out of the whole experience with these recipes, I think the highlight for Sophia was that she gets to eat the leftover Fruity Pebbles (me, shaking my head…).  

Cooking these recipes was a bit of an adventure. Let me elaborate a bit:

Kind of pale shrimp pastries

The Sesame Shrimp Puffs recipe generally worked well, but I’d never used prepared puff pastry before, so the instruction to use “one sheet” and cut it into nine squares was open to interpretation. I eventually realized this meant to use the whole box, which had been divided into two squares, and then to roll it out. They came out pretty tasty, but the puff pastry was undercooked, while the bottoms were very dark. The filing was so awesome! I have left over filling to make dumplings today. 

The Cacio e Pepe had issues. The cheese and pepper clumped together, so it was basically pasta with clumps of romano-pepper cheese. But clumps of cheese are pretty tasty so it tasted better than it looked.

Keith's hot sauce-yum!
The whole snapper was the highlight! The marinade was great and the  whole fish made for a dramatic presentation. I’m going to use the fish  bones to make some broth today as a bonus. That said, the snapper itself needed a bit of something…so I put Keith’s habersBurger Sauce on it, made by Try Guy Keith Habersburger. Yum! Our whole family loves this stuff. It makes almost everything taste better.  BTW, there are no affiliate links in this,  I just love the stuff.  
Sophia gives this cake a thumbs up
The Tres Leche cake was a challenge. I made the batter as per instructions, but it was the consistency of cookie dough, and I suspect it had maybe a cup too much flour in the recipe. I added a cup of milk to get the right consistency. Also, in my store, evaporated milk comes in different sized cans, and we were to use “one can” of condensed and evaporated milk. So, I just kinda guessed and it all worked out. The cake was super sweet and not everyone was a fan for that reason, but for all my dubiousness about the recipe, I think it turned out pretty well!

A fortifying cup of tea! 
With all this cooking, I needed to take a break and fortify myself with a cup of tea, so I chose Zadiko sencha clementine tea that Sophia gave me for Christmas, a tea made by Try Guy Zach Kornfeld. I recommend it!

Overall, I think this is a fun cookbook. Why? The concept, writing and photography are great , but that can be said of many cookbooks. The recipes are a bit vague and indeed occasionally puzzling, and that’s saying something because I cook quite a lot. You could count this as a negative but…

Actually that was part of the fun of this cooking experience! I had such a good time trying to figure out how to rescue my cookie-dough cake batter and pouring vast, maybe-correct quantities of milk over the Tres Leche cake, transforming it into a Cuatro Leche cake with one more type of milk! I discovered a new type of pasta, cooked with freshly-gutted fish, and figured out puff pastry for the first time. And I was able to share all of this as I went along through the day with Alan and Sophia and we had a laugh. Ultimately, dinner was fun as we discussed the successes and “failures” of the meal, while chewing on our cheesy-pepper clumps.

The Try Guys are big on not being afraid to fail. I loved my day of cooking from The Date Night Cookbook because everything didn’t come out just right, and my family and I had a great time with it because things required improvising and weren’t perfect. I’d highly recommend it for a great cooking experience, and also just because the Try Guys are great.

And can I just end with…FRUITY PEBBLES!?!