Romantic Quick & Easy Valentine’s Day Dinner for 2

i) Asparagus Soup
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  1. 1 pound green asparagus
  2. 1/2 large onion, chopped
  3. 11/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 2 ½ to 3 cups chicken broth
  5. 1/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
  6. 1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  1. Cut tips from 6 asparagus 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish.
  2. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Cook onion in 1 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.
  5. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Stir in crème fraîche, and then add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter.
  6. Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips.
  7. If making ahead, add last 1/2 tablespoon butter and lemon juice after reheating.
  8. Can be made ahead and reheated just before serving
Adapted from
Adapted from
Studio City Farmers Market
ii) Avocado, Fennel and Arugula Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 2
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  1. ½ ripe avocado, cut into 8 slices
  2. ½ small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  3. 1 blood orange, navel orange, tangerine or tangelo, peeled and cut or broken into sections
  4. 2 good sized handfuls of baby arugula, or if using larger arugula (which has a lovely peppery taste that is great in this salad, just be sure to cut off any tough stems, and chop the arugula into bite sized pieces)
  1. 1 orange or blood orange, zested then juiced
  2. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoons honey
  4. 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  5. salt and pepper to taste teaspoon salt
  6. ¼ cup to 1/3 cup flavorful olive oil
  1. Put a handful of arugula on each plate, and then sprinkle the fennel on top. Place the avocado slices and then the orange slices decoratively on all of this and drizzle with orange vinaigrette.
  1. Using a whisk, or in a blender, combine the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the olive oil in a slow stream until combined and emulsified.
  2. Can be made ahead and refrigerated.
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iii) Chicken Pesto Linguine
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  1. 1 ½ cups cooked chicken breast, either cubed or sliced on the diagonal (optional)
  2. 8 oz. dry pasta, cooked per manufacturer’s instructions (linguine or fettuccine noodles are great for this dish)
  3. ¼ cup pasta cooking water
  4. ¾ cup, or more to taste
Basil Pesto
  1. 1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried and roughly cut
  2. 3 medium cloves of garlic, chopped
  3. one small handful of raw pine nuts
  4. about 3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, loosely packed
  5. 2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Toss the cooked pasta with enough basil pesto to get good coverage. You may want add some of the cooking water to help get better coverage on the pasta. Plate the pasta and top with the cooked chicken breast if using. Sprinkle a bit more pesto over the chicken and serve.
Basil Pesto
  1. Put the basil, garlic, pine nuts and cheese in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped into a fine mince. Slowly add the olive oil, just enough to moisten the whole mixture.
  2. Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks
Studio City Farmers Market
iv) Five Spice Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Yields 25
Serve with Vin Santo or another dessert wine for dipping the cookies into (These can be made ahead of time) Ginger, cinnamon, long pepper, honey and nutmeg compounded into a baked goodie are a specific Arab prescription for potency. In the Middle Ages, aphrodisiac spices were kneaded into pastries intended for the beloved. A little sugar and intensely flavored spice makes everything nice.
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  1. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  3. 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  5. Pinch cayenne pepper
  6. Pinch ground cloves
  7. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  10. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  11. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  12. 1 large egg
  13. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  14. 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
  15. 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, spices, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. Add flour mixture and slowly beat until just combined well. Stir in rolled oats and raisins (dough will be stiff).
  4. Working in batches, drop dough by level tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake in middle of oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 minute and transfer to racks to cool completely
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