Written by Katie Meyers
Thanks to chores that seem to multiply and endless to-do lists, the things I used to take for granted are now considered luxuries—and that includes scheduling a simple date night. It’s nearly impossible to get out to our favorite Manhattan restaurant right now, but I don’t want to put quality time with my hubby (Dave) completely on the backburner. So, we decided to carve out a few hours for a special, quiet evening at home (even if it’s likely to be interrupted a few times by a crying baby). Making a conscious effort to savor a few moments together does wonders for yourself and your relationship, whether you’re celebrating small or big milestones. Here’s how we did so from the comfort of home.
I spent the late afternoon setting up our dining room table. Though my daughter is still a bit young, I turned the task into a fun “activity” with her by describing different foods and colorful décor while we were cooking. Once my husband arrived home and we put the little ones to bed, we took advantage of the fresh summer air by cracking open our windows and letting the breeze roll through our apartment. The humid temps automatically transported us back to our honeymoon on the beach!
In our case, the tableware was the décor. I used special, gold-rimmed family heirloom dishes that were passed down through three generations. We layered each plate on top of a modern metallic charger, and added a traditional solid plate from our own wedding. The set-up was a perfect nod to three generations of love and the life we’ve started together! If you don’t have your own vintage heirlooms, try picking some up from your local thrift store or use any pattern that adds a bit of “fun” to your table.
I printed out old pictures so Dave and I could reminisce and laugh over flashbacks from the past. Select photos from old trips and special celebrations, or dig up memorabilia like old love letters (Hey, emails can be printed, too!) that may give you a good chuckle. There’s nothing like a trip down memory lane to reinvigorate that early relationship spark.
The Snacks and Sips
We start almost every date night and dinner party with a meat and cheese platter. But considering summer is around the corner, we gave our typical appetizer menu a healthy spin by loading up a tray with mixed nuts, berries, fig jam, and dried fruit to nibble on while cooking. We also mixed up an ice-cold, tangy signature cocktail that included pineapple and fresh herbs like mint, because we love incorporating the produce from fruit stands scattered throughout the city this time of year. The tartness of the pineapple combined with the cooling effect of the mint created the most delicious, refreshing taste. One of our favorite meals from our honeymoon was a massive seafood spread so in a nod to that, we made a heaping bowl of homemade pasta and zesty lemon shrimp that was dripping with the flavors of summer.
Figs are seasonal, so I like to take advantage when I can. For our date night I made one of my favorite summertime desserts: a fresh fig tart. Make your own with the recipe below—it’s the perfect ending to a romantic night in!
Fig Tart Dessert
½ cup butter at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour
1 large egg yolk
If you want to save time, grab a store-bought pie crust instead—it’s equally delicious! Simply cut and fit inside your tart pan.
8-10 ripe figs, de-stemmed and quartered (keep one fig in tact for decorating)
8 oz mascarpone or cream cheese at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
⅛ cup honey
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1½ teaspoons vanilla
Cinnamon sugar mixture (3 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
¼ cup chopped and toasted walnuts
⅛ cup caramel sauce or honey (whichever you prefer)
•Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together for three minutes, until light and fluffy.
•Add salt and flour, mix on low speed until fully incorporated, about one minute.
•Add egg yolk while mixing on low speed until dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
•Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from refrigerator, let soften until pliable.
•Flour your work surface and sprinkle top of dough with a bit of flour. With rolling pin, flatten dough to ¼ inch thick to fit tart pan. (I used a 12×8 inch pan.)
•Place in tart pan with removable bottom, pressing dough up the sides. Patch up any holes by pressing dough with fingers. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
•Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes, then let cool.
•Cut figs into sixths. (Save one fig with stem in tact to decorate center of tart.)
•In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, whip up mascarpone and/or cream cheese. Add in ⅛ cup of honey, yogurt, and vanilla until creamy.
•Spread cream cheese mixture on top of cooled tart shell and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
•Top with figs and walnuts, and leave in refrigerator until ready to serve. Right before serving, drizzle with ⅛ cup of caramel sauce or honey.
Though I can’t stop the clock to live in the moment with my husband forever, we’ll always remember how indulgent it felt “sneaking away” for just a few hours… Well, at least that was the plan until our baby started crying.
Want more ways to celebrate the season? Check out Ciroc’s Endless Summer.
These recipes were not tested by the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen.
from Bon Appétit http://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/article/perfect-summer-date-night