Cornish hens are a good choice when cooking for two

To begin this diner a deux are raw vegetables - snow peas, mushrooms, sweet red pepper, and succulent little gherkin cucumbers - to nibble on as you prepare dinner and talk with your partner.

Accompany the crudites with a lemon chive dipping cream, which also serves well as a dressing, should you decide to present the vegetables as a salad on another occasion.

Cornish Game hens are delectable birds with a gamier taste than chicken. Try to find them fresh, one for each serving. If you loosen the breast skin and spread herb butter between the skin and the flesh, the meat will become suffused with the delicate herb flavors as it cooks. You needn't worry about its drying out.

Wild rice, or white or brown rice, if you prefer, cooked with the livers from the hens completes your main course. If liver is not to your taste, substitute the mushrooms from the crudites and stir them into the rice after sauteing

Fresh pineapple rounds topped with a scoop of ice cream, and raspberry sauce poured over all, make a brilliantly colorful dessert. Better yet, it is easy to prepare and deliciously refreshing to eat after any meal. Crudites With Chive Cream Sauce Watercress 1/4 pound snow peas 1/4 pound mushrooms 1/2 sweet red pepper 2 gherkins (small pickling cucumbers)

Lay a bed of watercress around the outside of a serving plate. Wash and dry snow peas. Slice mushrooms thinly and cut red pepper into strips.

Peel cucumbers and quarter lengthwise. Arrange vegetables in separate piles alongside one another inside the watercress. Serve with a small bowl of chive cream dressing for dipping. Lemon Chive Cream 3 ounces heavy cream 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste 1 tablespoon minced chives Touch mustard Salt and papper Just before serving, mix ingredients together well and put them in a small cup or bowl.

These crudites also make an excellent salad dressed with the lemon chive cream. In that case, you might want to use smaller amounts of each vegetable, since more are consumed over a stretch of time as crudites than at one time as salad. Cornish Game Hens With Herb Butter 2 Cornish Game hens 2 tablespoons butter, softened 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme) 1 more tablespoon butter, softened Salt and pepper

Thoroughly combine herbs in 3 tablespoons softened butter in small bowl. Loosen breast skin from hens by slipping fingers between skin and flesh. Taking care not to tear or puncture the skin, work all the way to the neck and legs.

Spoon half the herb butter into each cavity, patting to spread evenly over breast meat. Truss birds, rub with remaining unflavored butter, and place in a roasting pan. Salt and pepper lightly.

Place in a preheated 450-degree F. oven and immediately turn heat down to 350 degrees F. Roast 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size, basting often. Hens are done when skin is nicely browned and leg juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Wild Rice With Cornish Hen Livers 1 1/2 cups water 1/2 cup wild rice, well rinsed 2 tablespoons butter 2 shallots or scallions, chopped finely 2 pairs livers from the Cornish hens Salt and pepper Bring water to a boil in a pot; add rice and return to boiling. Stir with fork, then simmer, covered, about 25 minutes, until grains of rice are plump and tender but not splayed. Drain well, cover, and set aside in a warm place.

Melt butter in a small pan and saute chopped onion until wilted. Cut livers into small pieces and saute about 3 minutes, until brown on outside but still pink on inside. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir livers into rice, mix well, and serve. Pineapple Ring With Raspberry Sauce 1 10-ounce package frozen raspberries or strawberries in syrup 2 cross sections of pineapple 2 scoops vanilla ice cream Thaw berries and force through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon, discarding seeds. You may first puree berries in a blender, but this is not necessary. Chill until needed.

Cut a fresh pineapple into Two cross sections, each about 3/4-inch thick. Cut away skin and eyes, leaving a neap circle. With a corer or a small sharp knife remove and discard the tough central core.

Just before serving, place pineapple rings on attractive dessert plates. Scoop two balls of vanilla ice cream and place in center of each ring. Spoon some raspberry sauce on top and serve.

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