Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.
We don’t need to tell you that Valentine’s Day is coming up — we trust the cards and candy aisle at your local drugstore has alerted you to that fact. We will, however, remind you that you deserve something delicious and extra special on Feb. 14, whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family or your friends, or (joy of joys) someone is cooking for you. Samantha Seneviratne’s new microwave chocolate pudding cake is a fantastically easy treat. It’s a snap to assemble, cooks with just a push of a button and yields a fudgy, ooey-gooey-centered dessert with crisp, cakey edges. Ice cream, whipped cream or a pour of cold heavy cream are all optional; what you will need is your biggest spoon.
Microwave Chocolate Pudding Cake
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Switching from sweet to savory, this new 30-minute lemongrass chicken, adapted by Alexa Weibel from a recipe by Vicky Pham, is subtly spicy and assertively bright. The combination of lemongrass, garlic, shallot, chile, fish sauce and sugar brings complex, lip-smacking flavor to boneless, skinless chicken thighs. With steamed rice and a green papaya salad (sub in cucumber, cabbage or kohlrabi if you can’t find green papaya), it’s a bright and refreshing dinner.
You could make a fish dish, and Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to get something special from the seafood counter — maybe some plump, sweet sea scallops for seared scallops with jammy tomatoes, a five-star (and very on theme, colorwise) recipe from Ali Slagle.
If it’s steak for dinner, you’ll need a salad to go with, and David Tanis’s new double celery salad — a fresher, crunchier celeri remoulade — would be welcome on a table with roasted potatoes and a bottle of red wine. And if your valentine is under the weather, a generous bowl of Vivian Chan-Tam’s hot and sour soup, punchy with two types of pepper, will both comfort and revive.
OK, back to the sweet stuff. If you love cheesecake but don’t consider yourself a baker, this gorgeous, velvety Basque cheesecake is the way to go. This recipe by Marti Buckley, adapted by Tanya Sichynsky, is as easy as cheesecake gets: Just mix the ingredients, pour your batter into a parchment-papered pan and bake. We have plenty more Valentine’s Day dessert ideas, too, should you be more of a chocolate person (or cookie person, or lemon dessert person, or ice cream person). MIA LEIMKUHLER