Andrew Zimmern says, “Crème brûlée is a walking cliché, and like offering a Caesar salad recipe, it’s almost embarrassing to show you this one. But this creamy, rich dessert is the perfect love letter. And you should know how to make a great custard (plus, it’s always fun to use a blowtorch in the kitchen).”
Smoked-Duck Salad with Walnuts and Raspberries
Traditional southwestern French flavors—meaty duck breasts, duck cracklings, toasted walnuts and nut oil—pair with sweet, tangy raspberries and slightly bitter frisée to make this completely original salad.
Rack of Lamb with Mustard-Shallot Sauce
A Valentine’s Day strategy: Roast rack of lamb, then use the pan with the drippings to make a delectable sauce.
Scallops with Grapefruit-Onion Salad
Jarred pickled onions are usually relegated to cocktails, but Melissa Rubel Jacobson’s simple recipe combines them with scallops and ruby red grapefruit to create a deceptively complex-tasting dish.
Black Pepper-Raspberry Sorbet with Prosecco
Chef James Holmes of Olivia, in Austin, topped raw oysters with this sweet-savory sorbet before deciding it would make an excellent cocktail with Prosecco. A good-quality, store-bought raspberry sorbet is a fine shortcut.
To make sure her soufflés rise, Gail Simmons folds lots of fluffy whipped egg whites into a Roquefort- and-Parmigiano-Reggiano base.
Chilled Capellini with Clams and Caviar
Brioche French Toast with Brown Sugar-Cranberry Sauce
Idea for Breakfast in Bed: Zoe Nathan likes using brioche to give this French toast a lovely, custard-like texture. The tart, creamy cranberry sauce, made with fresh or frozen cranberries, is a great alternative to maple syrup.
Sea Bass with Tomato and Black Olive Salsa
Sophie Dahl calls this a “good date dinner” because it’s elegant yet easy. The Mediterranean-style salsa on the fish—a mix of olives, tomatoes, basil and lemon juice—would be equally delicious on its own as a salad.
Goat Cheese Mousse with Red-Wine Caramel
This crostini from Karen Small at the Flying Fig in Cleveland, topped with goat cheese mousse, red-wine caramel and strawberry compote, is a delightful example of a dish that combines sweet and savory. Each component can be used in a variety of sweet and savory ways: The caramel, for instance, is great drizzled over pecorino cheese or vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache and Coconut
It’s hard to eat just one of these cupcakes, which combine moist, light chocolate cake with rich, chocolate-caramel frosting and flaky coconut.
Southeast Asian Rib Eye Steaks
The anchovies and dry mustard in the marinade for these steaks add a salty, almost umami-like flavor to the meat.
Matt Lewis is enamored of fondue—in fact, he had a special pot made for dessert fondues at his former Manhattan shop, Chocolate Bar. His terrific cheddar-Jack cheese fondue includes whiskey, which adds a great kick.
Milk-Chocolate Cremoso with Espresso Parfait
This decadent milk-chocolate cremoso (a silky pudding-like dish) drizzled with olive oil is one of chef Michael Schwartz’s best-sellers. “Some people are like, ‘Whoa...olive oil and chocolate?’” Schwartz says. “But the olive oil reinforces the richness of the cremoso. As if you need any more richness.”
7-Minute Salmon Caviar Sushi Bites
This is an inexpensive, easy, playful take on a sushi roll. It makes a terrific party snack.
Pappardelle with Lamb Ragù
Use store-bought pappardelle, ground lamb and chicken stock, then top the dish with fresh ricotta and mint.
These are among the simplest macarons, made with only sugar, almond flour, egg whites and red food coloring—and a filling of raspberry jam.
Duck with Miso-Almond Butter
After experimenting with miso paste and flavorful Spanish marcona almonds, Stephanie Izard created a delectable nutty-sweet butter that she serves with meaty seared duck breasts.
The following recipe is the old Delmonico restaurant’s take on the dish, with the Rockefeller sauce base used not only to make the Oysters Rockefeller appetizer, but also used as a spread on toast to create canapés.
Chocolate Lava Cakes with Strawberries
Chris Yeo doesn’t take credit for inventing this dessert—these individual cakes with molten centers appear on almost every restaurant menu in America. But his version is especially rich and chocolaty and made even better by the scoop of strawberry ice cream on top.