Thursday, April 17, 2008


I love planning party menus. Cooking is hard work but planning is relaxing and creative.
For my mom’s 85th birthday, I planned up an eclectic international buffet -- South American style sliced steak, Scandinavian poached salmon, and a Chinese turkey dish for a crowd of 50.
This time, I wanted something a little lighter, perhaps French. I couldn’t get past the logistics of whipping up enough “from scratch” quiches for a crowd, however.
About a month ago, I was sitting in my kitchen flipping thru cookbooks looking for a spark of inspiration when the mosaic letters Brook sent me (see February post) caught my eye. A light bulb went off. I’d make a tea party.

My original menu centered on little finger sandwiches and cream scones, then the list of food grew. The menu continued to change. Every time someone said “but you’ve got to make (fill in the blank),” I added it to the list.

The final menu (see below) is part French, part British, part things I could make ahead and freeze. The little tea sandwiches are now a do-it-yourself affair and there are even platters of sushi.
The delectables will be served in my collection of Polish pottery. I invested in the large serving pieces for my mom's 85th party, knowing we would need them again the following year for my son's graduation bash.APPETIZERS
Baskets of sliced baguettes & crackers
Smoked salmon, trout & mackerel
Tapenade (olive, chick pea & eggplant) spread
Herbs du Provence Spiced olive oil
Assorted olives and cornichons
Deviled Eggs (my "girls" contribution)
French cheese tray
Sushi platters
An artistic crudities display
Cocktail shrimp

Caesar salad with anchovies on the side
Mixed greens with Fred’s special vinaigrette dressing
Bowls of homemade croutons, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices
Salmon croquettes with roasted red pepper sauce
Boulettes aux boeuf (meatballs) with choice of sauces
French potato salad with haricots vert (green beans)
French potato salad with garlic sausage
Colorful coleslaw

Miniature cream scones (a Martha Stewart recipe) with orange marmalade, lemon curd and mixed berry jam
Surprise assortment of cakes (it's a secret! I'll share photos next week)
Fruit bouquets (from Edible Arrangements)

Fresh lemonade, hot & iced Darjeeling and mint teas, wine, and soda


FrenchGardenHouse said...

wow...what a fabulous party! Thinking of you right now, a whirlwind of activity in the house, garden and kitchen. Your Mom will be so very blessed, and so will all of you...capture each moment in your heart that day.
xo Lidy

Sue said...

When I first started to read this post I was about to comment that we are just the opposite. The planning and creating is the hardest part for me but I enjoy the actual cooking~~~~~~
Then I saw your list of intended dishes and had to step back.....
That is some serious cooking. What a fabulous fet you are fixing for your fortunate Mother.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Wow, you are putting together a wonderful party for your mother! Happy birthday to her! I'm sure she'll love every tasty morsel!


bj said...

oh, my goodness...this sounds like the party to end all parties. Wonderful menu and I can tell it is going to be a FUN affair ! It so puts me in a party mood...nothing special coming up here but, hey....who needs something special to have friends over and put on a wonderful spread?
Thanks for the inspiration....

NeereAnDear said...

WOW have you ever thought of catering?? Seems to me you have it in the bag.... I am sure it will be absolutely fantabulous!!!

You and your mother are so blessed to have each other...


cant wait to see more.... you are one busy little lady



Brenda Kula said...

My husband is Polish. Our last name is Kula. Seems you find a lot of that name in Poland and Hawaii! Hope everything turns out well. Sounds scrumptious!

GeorgiaPeachez said...

Ok, I'm supposed to be getting ready for bed, but now I have to go raid my pitiful fridge instead, your menus have made me ravenous!

I see lots of my favorites, ratatouille especially!

xo, suzy

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

I just have one question.....can I crash your Mom's party? It sounds scrumptious!

Susie Q said...

This is some serious party fare.
Now, what time should I be expected??
Enjoy each and every moment of this special day.


rochambeau said...

Happy Birthday to your mom!!
Sounds like a delicious and fun party Barbara!
I'm on board with you all the way. The act of giving a party is the biggest gift of love I know!!


Niesz Vintage Home said...

Everything sounds fabulous!
I agree, planning the menu is the fun part, cooking it is a little stressful for me.

Can't wait to see the sweets table. The desserts are always my favorite.

Kimberly :)

Sara said... certainly know how to plan and throw a party! What a lucky mother you have! It all sounds wonderful and you have certainly worked very hard; I hope you also get to relax a bit and enjoy on the big day.

And, cheers and congratulations to your mom on her 90th!

Barbara said...

I'm sure your Mother must have been thrilled and the guests who ate all the delicious fayre.

daisy cottage said...

Oh my gosh...
Can I be your mother?
Or better yet - why don't you come to Daisy Cottage and create this AWESOME food here! My hubby would love you for it! ;-) Everything sounds delicious Barbara!


Ewa said...

Party seems to be real fun!
owwww... and I have to tell you... that Polish pottery made me really surprised - where from you got it?
Greetings from Poland

Joy said...

Wow, that is some party! Happy bday to your Mom. Love your pottery, very pretty.

cjan said...

What a beautiful thing you did for your MOM!! She looks great for 90 years Young!! Your Tea sounds like alot of work to me, but I'm sure that they all enjoyed it so much. Wish my garden was at the point your's is at. We still had snow last week and the garden area still has some snow on it...


Kathryn Bechen said...

Oh Barbara, your blog brought a smile to my face today and a chuckle as you never do anything in a small way! What a fun party! Very dear to do for your mom. Blessings, Kathryn

Joy said...

You are one amazing woman to cook for 50! Hope it was fun!


Sandy said...

Happy birthday to your mom!
Love,love,love your collection of polish pottery - I have quite a bit of it myself!
Have a wonderful weekend.

firefly said...

That's a great chronicle of your party, so thorough and lovely. Thanks for the "tour".

Best wishes,

Barbara said...

What a coincidence. Rayleigh about 30 mins. drive from here.
I hope y u had the crumpets well toasted and hot with lashings of butter seeping through the holes.