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Labor of Love: Valentine's Dinner for Cooks

An elegant Valentine's Day menu for couples who love to cook

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If you and your partner both love to cook (and you get along well in the kitchen), here's an ambitious menu for a fun and delicious Valentine's dinner. Nothing is really difficult for intermediate cooks, but there are a few techniques to challenge you and plenty of prep tasks to bond over. And, if you're pressed for time on Valentine's Day itself, or if you simply prefer cooking in advance, you can prepare much of the dinner the day before.

Clover Club Cocktail

Dave Scantland
Enjoy this refreshing cocktail while you're planning your cooking strategy, or save it to drink while relaxing before dinner. Fresh raspberries make the Clover Club extra delicious, but frozen berries work fine, too. The egg white in the cocktail gives it body and a lovely layer of foam on the top (and challenges your cocktail shaking skills), but the drink is also good without it. If you prefer something more traditional to start, try this classic martini.

French Onion Soup

Dave Scantland
Silky onion soup topped with crunchy bread and melted cheese is a sensuous start to your Valentine's Day dinner. While nothing in this recipe is particularly difficult, you'll want lots of patience to make the slow-browned onions for this soup. The good news is that they can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. The soup itself (aside from the crouton and cheese) can be made the day before if you like.

Glazed Cornish Hens with Hearts of Romaine

Dave Scantland
You'll get to practice sectioning citrus fruit and spatchcocking a Cornish hen in this elegant restaurant entree. Tangy anchovy-lemon-garlic sauce coats seared romaine lettuce hearts, which create a base for the mustard-glazed bird. While the dish requires some last-minute work, you can cut and salt the bird ahead of time, and the recipe goes together quickly once all the prep work is finished. Serve with garlic-cheese toasts.

Caramel Apple Pie

Dave Scantland
Homemade caramel sauce and pastry crust lifts this delicate apple pie from ordinary to ethereal. While the pie is best made the day you eat it, you can make the caramel sauce and mix and roll the crust the day before. If you're not an apple fan, you may want to try this creamy bittersweet chocolate mousse instead. Either dessert makes a delectable end to your Valentine's Day dinner for two.

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