28 February 2017, by Lim Peifen
The title of this post was originally “Every day is Valentine’s Day”. That seemed a little misleading in my opinion. I could be unintentionally encouraging couples to splurge on lavish dinners and romantic gifts every day. Anyway, it is a overused line that is starting to sound tacky.
The hubby and I did not celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. It was a Tuesday; he had to work late and I had to sleep early because I start my work day at 5am. He did, however, buy a honey cake and chocolates for me, because I am “still so sweet”! In return, I asked him on a dinner date over the weekend at our dining table, and dinner would be on me, by me.
As parents, date night usually requires planning. This time we didn’t have to worry much about Luke, because date night was at home and we can tuck him into bed and make sure he’s asleep before dinner. (Thankfully he sleeps at 8 p.m.) The part which requires more careful thought is preparing and cooking the dinner. There are many factors to consider. This is unlike the usual meals I cook. I wanted the dishes to be visually pleasing and, of course, palatable. I wanted to do something new, something I’ve not made for him before. Also, I wanted to do everything on my own without my helper’s assistance. I needed to schedule the preparation work around Luke’s usual day activities. I needed to find a recipe that can be prepared earlier in the day while Luke takes his afternoon nap, and cooked without supervision while I prepare him for bedtime.
The night before, I searched online for inspiration. I’d saved a number of video recipes, and they sure came to good use this time. Finally, I found it. Baked chicken leg! Easy, delicious, and pretty too. The next morning, Luke and I went on a shopping trip to the supermarket to buy the necessary ingredients. He loves going to the supermarket and verbally identifying the items nowadays. Banana! Apple! 面包 (Chinese for bread)! It was nice to have a date with him before my date with his Papa.
The 2-course meal for our romantic home-cooked dinner date started with a Baked Mozzarella and Teriyaki Chicken Leg accompanied by a Japanese Cabbage Salad with Sesame Dressing.
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 boneless chicken thighs
10 stalks asparagus
1/2 yellow capsicum, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Cabbage and carrot, cut into thin strips
- Japanese Sesame Dressing
- Cut chicken thighs into four equal parts and slice each piece horizontally through the middle without cutting all the way through. Spread the chicken pieces open, like an opened book.
- Combine the garlic slices, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and honey in a bowl. Marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture for at least 30 minutes.
- Place chicken pieces skin side down onto a baking sheet. Place asparagus, yellow capsicum and marinated garlic slices onto the center of the chicken pieces. Roll the chicken pieces up firm and tight.
- Combine mayonnaise and shredded cheese in a small bowl and mix well. Top the chicken pieces with this mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees C or until nicely browned.
- For the salad, simply cut cabbage and carrots into thin strips, drizzle generously with Japanese Sasame Dressing, and season with a little salt and pepper.
The hubby wanted to play a part in enhancing the dining experience, so he brought his best bottle of white wine for the occasion, one that he knew I would like.
Dessert was a joint effort – we had some leftover honey cake and chocolate chips, I bought maple walnut ice-cream and strawberries, and together we plated this.
The dish was promptly wiped out within 5 minutes after the photo was taken.
The night was a fuss-free and cosy affair. He helped out while I prepared the food, we talked about everything and nothing over dinner. We had plenty of laughs putting together our very own dessert plate, and our cats came over to snuggle with us on the sofa as we continued talking, occasionally checking the baby monitor to be sure Luke was still fast asleep. It was our belated Valentine’s Day date, but it was not Valentine’s Day. It was Our Day.
Rather than “Every day is Valentine’s Day”, I would very much prefer to think that every day is our day. As husband and wife, every day is ours to celebrate, to romance, to live and to love.