Dinner for Two

Hard pressed for time to whip up a romantic meal? No worries, food-loving romantics: Fine Cooking’s editors created a menu that’s quick enough for a weeknight, but special enough for date night, so this Valentine’s Day or any day, make a reservation for two at your dining room table.

This menu stars a knock-out pairing: Vodka-Steamed Lobsters and Tomato-Thyme Butter Dipping Sauce, and includes a nuanced but unfussy salad of Greens, Prosciutto, Avocado & Pears. Finish the meal on a sexy note with Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème.

Here’s the lobster recipe to get you started:

1/2 cup vodka
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
Kosher salt
2 whole live lobsters (1-3/4 lb. each)
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped (3 Tbs.)
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 medium clove garlic, minced
Big pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
In a tall stockpot, bring 5 cups water, the vodka, sugar, and 1 tsp. salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, kill the lobsters.

Add the lobsters to the pot and steam, covered, until they’re bright red and a small leg easily pulls away from the body, about 10 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Discard all but 2 cups of the lobster cooking liquid. Vigorously boil the remaining liquid in the stockpot, skimming off any foam, until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 9 minutes.

Heat the oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, thyme, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it darkens slightly, about 1 minute. Add the reduced cooking liquid, increase the heat to medium, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter, 1 Tbs. at a time, until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the lobsters with the dipping sauce on the side.