This weekend I threw a birthday dinner party for my mother. For her, I wanted it to be fun, delicious and lovely. For me, simple. It was all of these things.
The menu was built around the main course: Rose's Moroccan chicken, chock-full of olives, apricots, capers and prunes. This yummy, super-easy meal was made complete with whole wheat couscous, roasted organic vegetables and a crisp green salad adorned with colorful Nasturtiums (edible flowers) from my local farmer's market. For table settings, I pulled from all around my home. For the tablecloth I used a batik cloth I usually keep in the car for picnics and beach visits. It's muted jewel-tone, elephant print set the ethnic ambiance. Combined with straw place mats, gold dishes, golden stamped cloth napkins and bougainvillea clippings from the yard, it was a cheery, fun table. Before dinner, a glass bowl full of tangerines served as a fragrant, natural centerpiece. To add to the eclectic, ethnic feel, I served the veggies and couscous in covered, hand-thrown ceramic bowls and the chicken on a fancy sterling silver, lidded platter. Finally, the table was lit with a scattering of votive candles. The kids sat at a decked out kiddie table next to us. For dessert, I called on Rose again, requesting the recipe for her delicious chocolate cake. She even lent me her beautiful fleur-de-lis bundt pan, which made for a gorgeous presentation. I served it with fresh raspberries and Edy's Raspberry Chip Royale ice cream.
A warm fire, several bottles of wine and adorable children made the night complete. Simple. Lovely. Fun. Everything I set out for it to be. Happy Birthday, Mother!
An ode to Rose: She is a fabulous cook, who makes everything from scratch. Her creations are almost always dairy-free, dye-free and low-sugar, made with organic and locally produced foods. And they are quite delicious. She has a collection of fabulous easy-to-make meals and desserts that fool everyone in terms of effort, and blow them away in terms of flavor. She is an inspiration in the kitchen.