The soup can be made the day before and warmed up before the final step. That way, you'll be just minutes from the finished product.

The fact that you use yellow onions, along with the browning in butter, will kill almost all of the "onion breath" potential. This soup is a decadent classic and will really impress.

Main Dish

This is the one dish you won't be able to make ahead, but it's a very quick one, and the flavor and appearance will be a sure hit.

How do I know? I've used it several times over the years, and it's always been a hit.

Scallops With Red Cabbage

8-10 large sea scallops, with "foot" trimmed off (your seafood shop can do this)

2 tbsp. butter

½ c. all-purpose flour

1 small head red cabbage, cut in strips

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp. water

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Dust scallops on one side only with flour. Shake off excess.

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place scallops, floured side down, in skillet, and cook uncovered for 3 minutes, until a crust forms on the bottom. Cover and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with a sheet of foil to keep warm.

Pour off any leftover butter from skillet, keeping as many of the little flour "bits" as possible. Add olive oil and garlic and heat over medium heat until hot. Add cabbage and water and cook 2 or 3 minutes, just until cabbage is wilted. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and stir well.

Serve with scallops atop a mound of cabbage in the center of the plate. Await compliments.


Now, this is where we can run into a bit of trouble. This may well be the most important course, but it's also the most personal. Does your significant other like dark, milk or white chocolate? Fruit? Cake? Pie?