But on Valentine’s Day, dinner for two is the order of the day. This is a time to serve dishes which take no more time per serving for small batches; are at their best when made in small amounts; or those which use more expensive ingredients, but require little labor.

The time required for preparing onion soup is nearly in direct proportion to the number of servings. A puffy omelet cooks more quickly when made in a small pan. Accompany this with one or two of your favorite steamed vegetables. Raspberry mousse is a luxury at any time of year, but takes only moments to whip up.

Onion Soup

  • 2 bowls
  • 15 minutes preparation
  • 20 minutes cooking
  • 10 minutes baking

This need not be a tearful proposition. Cutting the onions in vertical slices (not crosswise) with a very sharp knife minimizes tears. Onion skins give the soup a lovely dark brown color.

  • 2 cups stock or water
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1/2 nut nutmeg
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 medium onions
  • 2 tbsps. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsps. flour
  • 1 tbsp. sherry or grape juice
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 slices toast
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Combine stock, bayleaf, nutmeg, clove, salt and skins from the onions in a saucepan. Cover and slowly bring to a simmer on medium heat (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, slice onions in thin vertical slices (there should be about 2 1/2 cups). Melt butter in a frying pan on medium-low heat. Fry onions with occasional stirring until well browned (about 20 minutes). Stir in flour and cook for one minute.

Strain stock and return to saucepan. Stir in fried onions, sherry and pepper and bring to a simmer. Soup can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Reheat soup (if it has been chilled). Prepare toast. Pour hot soup into ovenproof soup bowls. Dip toast into soup and turn over. Cover with cheese. Bake on top shelf until cheese is melted (about 10 minutes). Serve the hot bowl of onion soup on a cool plate. Scissors make eating the stringy cheese less messy.

Puffy Omelet

  • ¬†2 servings
  • 10 minutes preparation
  • 10 minutes baking

A few stalks of imported fresh asparagus seems to be an appropriate way to anticipate the coming romance of spring.

  • 1/2 lb. asparagus or green beans
  • 2 tbsps. unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel bottom two-thirds of asparagus stalks. Cut off the tough bottom part (usually the bottom inch or two) and save for making stock. Cut in half- inch slices.

Heat butter in a small (about seven-inch) frying pan on medium heat. Fry asparagus until it turns bright green. Lift out asparagus, leaving most of the butter still in the pan. Reserve some of the asparagus tips. Return pan to heat.

Beat egg yolks until creamy. Stir in fried asparagus, salt and pepper. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into egg yolk mixture. Promptly pour into hot frying pan. Garnish with asparagus tips. Bake on top shelf in oven until the top is golden. Serve puffy omelet right away.

Raspberry Mousse

  • 2 servings
  • 10 minutes preparation

Served in wine glasses, this quickly made mousse makes a romantic conclusion to any meal.

  • 1/2 pint (4 oz.) fresh or frozen¬†raspberries
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsps. honey

Reserve two raspberries. Fill a large bowl with cold water.

Put remaining raspberries, egg yolks and honey in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set on medium- high heat. Whisk constantly to incorporate as much air as possible, being sure to regularly scrape all parts of the bottom (including the cornes) of the pot.

Continue whisking until the mixture is thick enough that a trail left by dragging the whisk along the surface remains visible for a few seconds. Promptly, before mixture curdles, dip pot into bowl of cold water, and continue to whisk for two minutes.

Pour raspberry mousse into wine glasses and garnish with reserved berries. This can be served while still warm, or cooled to room temperature.