- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

When bachelor chef Michael Schlow cooks at home for a date, he doesn’t cut his restaurant recipes proportionately. Instead, he says, he thinks about foods appropriate for a twosome. Even the little things count.

Long pasta is fine for twosomes, but short pasta should be reserved for groups, says Mr. Schlow, who is the executive chef and co-owner of three Boston restaurants. Although long pasta is too hard to handle and sauce when you’re entertaining a large group, it’s easy to serve a twosome.

Same with a lobster bake for two. You probably wouldn’t consider preparing this pricey dish for a crowd unless you really, really like your guests. A twosome is another matter. A succulent dinner of lobster, shrimp, clams, potatoes and corn is an elegant and easy meal for Labor Day.

A lobster bake is not an appropriate “get to know you” menu, says Mr. Schlow, author of the new cookbook, “It’s About Time: Great Recipes for Everyday Life” (Steerforth Press). All conversation ends with the first bite and doesn’t resume until the last buttery, messy bit of seafood is demolished.

To stoke the relationship, Mr. Schlow suggests, you can chat as you’re preparing the meal, rather than while you eat. “You can cook with your companion, and you don’t have to race through the preparations,” he says.

“Have a bottle of wine open and the music blaring. Your partner gets the reward of eating what you make,” says Mr. Schlow, whose cookbook features a variety of recipes for two, as well as larger-yielding dishes. Either way, his recipe is the seafood blowout you can serve to mark the unofficial end of summer.

If you have an industrial-strength grill that’s large enough to hold a stockpot, you can cook the lobsters in the pot on the grill. Otherwise, cook the lobsters indoors and bring them to the table.

Lobster bake for two

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, divided

½ white onion, thinly sliced

4 lemons, halved

2 ears corn, husked

Salt and pepper

2 1½-pound live lobsters

12 jumbo shrimp, shells on

24 steamer clams, scrubbed clean

6 small red potatoes, quartered, cooked in boiling water until tender, then plunged into ice water

Turn grill on high. Place 1/4 cup olive oil, ½ cup water, rosemary, thyme, 1 tablespoon Old Bay and onion in a large deep stockpot.

Set the pot over high heat on grill burner or directly on grill. (If your grill doesn’t have a separate burner and the stock won’t reach a rolling boil on the grill itself, you’re probably better off doing this indoors on the stove.)

Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons into pot, then add the halves to pot. Cook, covered, for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub corn with 1/4 cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place on top shelf of grill and close lid. Add lobster to boiling stockpot and cook, covered, for 4 minutes. Begin turning corn to brown all sides. Lower heat if corn is cooking too quickly. Sprinkle shrimp with the remaining 1 tablespoon Old Bay, and add to lobster pot. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Add clams and cover again. Cook for 1 minute.

Season potatoes with salt and pepper to taste, throw them into lobster pot, and then cover. When clams open, dish is done.

To serve, remove contents of lobster pot (leaving liquid in pot) and arrange in a shallow serving dish. Drizzle remaining olive oil on corn, sprinkle with salt, and add to lobster dish.

Strain cooking broth from pot into small bowl, and bring to the table for dipping the steamer clams. Garnish serving dish with remaining lemon halves. Grab a bowl for the shells, then stop talking and start eating. Makes 2 servings.

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