Gentlemen: As you may have noticed, women love a man who listens, but just behind him are a man who can make them laugh and a man who can cook. I'm still working on listening, but the other two have stopped my wife from hurling me into the street and changing the locks on several occasions.

I can't give you a sense of humor, but I can provide you with a plan for a slow-paced, sensual dinner that will knock your loved one's socks off. It's fairly easy, but try to do as much ahead of time as you can. The idea is to pick the recipes for your ideal menu, then relax and make a long, unhurried evening of it. Put on some mood music with a jazzy crooner like Georges Moustaki or Van Morrison, and serve each course with chilled white wine — by candlelight, of course. She'll love you for it.

Duck Breasts with Raspberry Sauce

Serves 2 / Ingredient tips: I use ghee (clarified butter) for high-heat cooking. In a pinch, substitute light cream cheese for the mascarpone. Prep tips: Find more online recipes for duck stock and Asparagus Bundles (shown, right).