Valentine’s Dinner for Two

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a weeknight, our menu is filled with "do-ahead" dishes. A crab salad garnished with grapefruit and avocado slices makes a luxurious beginning to the meal. You can prepare the vinaigrette the night before, then assemble the salad just before serving.

This is the perfect occasion for preparing the main course, braised lamb shanks, in a slow cooker. Just combine the ingredients in the cooker and let the meat cook unattended. After six hours, the shanks will emerge succulent and fork-tender. Accompany with mashed potatoes, which soak up the delicious sauce, plus sweet-and-spicy gingered carrots.

End the meal on a sweet note by serving crème brûlée (you can make it up to three days in advance). This cool, creamy custard with its crispy caramelized topping is irresistible.