During their bachelorhood most men will learn to cook at least a few meals. This is the only sure way of staving off the No. 1 threat to all bachelors: outright starvation. Not to mention the other advantages. There are few sights more memorable than the way a young woman's eyes will soften in the light cast by flaming crepes suzettes served by an ernest young man.
It used to be possible for bachelors to get by with just a half-dozen truly impressive dinners. By the time they ran through their full repertory, one of two things would have happened. The young woman would have seen through him and moved along. Or she would have done what women were always expected to do; she would have taken over the cooking.
But times do change. An now that you're expected to do your share of the cooking, you may want to revive one of those romantic meals from your bachelorhood. When women's magazines advise their readers on how to perk up a flagging marriage, they inevitably suggest a candlelit dinner for two. Well, now it's your turn.
So tonight you're going to get rid of the kids - send them off to Eddie's Pizza and the last disco movie. Put the new candles in the old candlestick holders. Get the wine on ice. Get yourself showered and shaved and lotioned and when she comes in, weary after another long day at the office, you're going to be waiting there with a big kiss and she's going to say, "Hey, are you back on the sauce again?"
The Stapes: Make sure these are all on hand: salt, pepper, flour, sugar, olive oil, milk, rum, garlic, rice and, oh yes, candlestick holders.
The Shopping List: Scallops of veal (1 pound); vin rose; 2 lemons; broccoli (1 pound); 3 large onions; butter; baking apples; parmesan cheese (4 ounces); parsley; candles.
Shopping Note: Veal francese - veal with lemon - may be a meal that can soften a woman's heart; it is also a budget-buster that can flatten a wallet.
The most important part of preparing tonight's meal takes place in the market, not the kitchen. Look for veal that is white instead of pink - the paler the meat, the younger and more tender it is. Ask the butcher to flatten the slices of veal to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. And when you get the meat home, soak it in a bowl of milk until you're ready to cook it.
4:50 P.M.: First, the baked rice. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Start a large pot of water boiling, exactly as if you were going to cook spaghetti. When it is boiling briskly, drop in 1/2 cup of rice. After water returns to a boil, cook rice for just 5 minutes. Then, using a colander, drain away the water.
Place a heavy casserole dish over a medium flame and melt 1 stick of butter. Finely chop the 3 onions and stir them into the melted butter. Now add the rice, a dash of salt and half the parmesan cheese.
5:30 P.M.: Cover the casserole dish and put it into the preheated oven. It should complete cooking in just one hour.
5.40 P.M.: Start water boiling in a covered pot. Prepare the broccoli for cooking by cutting away the tough lower portion of the stalks. Cut the remaining stalks into 1/2 inch chunks and boil these for about 5 minutes before adding the flowerettes. Cook these for another 5 minutes and then drain away the water.
In a frying pan, heat up 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 clove of garlic, minced fine. When oil is hot, add the broccoli and cook until it is just tender. Sprinkle on the rest of the parmesan cheese, cover pan and turn heat way down until vegetable is served.
6 P.M.: Remove the veal slices from the milk and dust them with flour. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with a 1/2 stick of butter and a splash of olive oil. When butter has melted, brown the veal quickly on both sides - frying it for 4 or 5 minutes on a side. Then add the juice of 1 lemon and a shot of your dinner wine. Lower heat and cut a second lemon into thin slices and spread them over the veal. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cover pan over lowest possible heat until ready to serve.
6.15 P.M.: The baked apples. Peel apples and cut out the cores. (If you look in the drawer over there, you just may find an apple corer. No? Lotsaluck, then.) Put the cored apples in baking dish with a 1/2-inch of water. Place 2 tablespoons of sugar into the center of each apple and top it with a chunk of butter.
6:30 P.M.: As you remove the baked rice from the oven, put in the apples and increase the heat to 350 degrees. They should be baked just as you are finishing the rest of the dinner in about a 1/2 hour. By this time you should be discovering the shortest distance to a woman's heart.
Heat some rum in a small saucepan and spoon it over the apples. Just before serving, touch the apples with a match. And as the rum goes up in flames, your wife should completely melt. If not, it's time for you to ask yourself a serious question: Can this marriage be saved? CAPTION: Illustration, no caption