Floral Dinnerware

April 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

Right now I’m kinda wishing we were in need of more dinnerware. I really like this cheerful, spring-color set:

Provence Garden dinnerware set, Kim Parker. From Macy's.

Provence Garden dinnerware set, Kim Parker. From Macy’s.

This Kim Parker Provence Garden 16-piece set is available from Macy’s for a limited time.

(Note: I do not not publish sponsored content, or accept gifts or discounts to write about products. Blog posts are based on my personal opinion.)

Special Dinner: May 2014

June 6, 2014 § 1 Comment

For the 2014 special dinners, Mr. E suggested we should look at some of the less often used cookbooks in our household for inspiration. The May cookbook is The Classical Cookbook. It presents recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome and adds a version that’s adapted to the modern kitchen.

We had honey-glazed shrimp (a Greek recipe) as starter. They were very sweet, but not overly so. Mr. E did comment that all of the recipes he made for this dinner took a surprisingly large amount of honey. I guess the ancient Mediterraneans had a sweet tooth. 🙂

For the main course, Mr. E made a cold Roman chicken and sausage salad with nuts and cucumbers and molded in a shell of bread. (The recipe actually called for sweetbread – brains – but Mr. E used sausage instead.) The bread shell didn’t settle very well, but the salad still tasted good. The combination was a little different due to the dressing made with honey, wine, mint and coriander. Certainly not what we’d associate with Italian cooking nowadays. We also had mushrooms cooked in honey and wine as a side.

Lastly, there was a pear patina, a custard-like sweet dish flavored with pear and sweet wine. It reminded me of pancake, so I suppose you could call it flourless pancake as well. Very delicious, in any case, and, very aptly, washed down with wine.

May 2014 Special Dinner

It would’ve been nice to deck the table with an ancient Greek / Rome theme as well, but I’m afraid I don’t have the brain power at the moment. I did pick our blue napkins with Greek key meander at the perimeter, though, and used wooden chargers and hand-blown glass dessert plates for a dash of rusticity, if that’s even a word. 🙂

May 2014 Table

All in all, some of the flavor combinations aren’t typical for the 20th and 21st century Western tastes, but we enjoyed this dinner immensely nevertheless. Definitely a keeper!

Special Dinner: March 2014

April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

For the 2014 special dinners, Mr. E suggested we should look at some of the less often used cookbooks in our household for inspiration. For March, we picked one of his Indian cookbooks.

For starters, we had a fish and coconut soup. It was followed by palak murg, a mild chicken and spinach dish, with rice and naan. As dessert Mr. E made a rice pudding.

Mar 2014 Special Dinner

Mar 2014 Naan

I wanted to use paisley on the table as a nod to traditional design on the Indian subcontinent. Apparently I forgot to take a picture of the table setting, though. Well, d’oh! 🙂 You can see the fabric I used as tablecloth in the naan photo. Since the colors were quite riotous, I calmed them down with pale wooden chargers, beige and white plates and white bowls. We also had a candle on the table.

The soup and the main dish tasted very good – mild, yet flavorful. Unfortunately some of the more woody herbs Mr. E used (lemon grass and ginger) didn’t get pureed, and we ended up picking them off our teeth. The naan was very good also, except cooking it set off a smoke alarm. And Mr. E accidentally burned the pudding. Most of it ended up in the compost. It was too bad – some less-than-successes all around; but we got fed, and learned a trick or two. Such is life. 🙂

Special Dinner: December 2013

February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Mr. E decided on doing special dinners with a color theme for 2013. When Mr. E was little, he associated months with a combination of two colors (much like his colors for weekdays). His aim is to make dinner with ingredients that are naturally as close to each month’s colors as possible; food dyes are right out for this project. December colors are red and green.

We ended up very busy in December, so we decided to push the month’s special dinner to January. We started with a green and red salad: green leaves, tomatoes, cucumber and red and green pepper.

Dec 2013 Special Dinner

For the main course, Mr. E cooked salmon with green beans. He also made a red and green veggie relish to go on the fish. We drank local cranberry wine. For dessert, we had strawberry soup. The strawberries came from a local pick-your-own farm.

I selected one on the quilts Mr. E made as the table covering, put down green placemats and red coasters on that and added a container of partridge berries plus some warm-toned dishes.

Dec 2013 Table

It was a very, very satisfying dinner and a nice way to wrap up Mr. E’s color dinner year.

Special Dinner: November 2013

December 10, 2013 § 1 Comment

Mr. E decided on doing special dinners with a color theme this year. When Mr. E was little, he associated months with a combination of two colors (much like his colors for weekdays). His aim is to make dinner with ingredients that are naturally as close to each month’s colors as possible; food dyes are right out for this project. November colors are silver and grey.

…and impossible! There is no way to make a meal with naturally silvery-colored and grey foods! (Unless you want to eat charcoal, maybe.)

Nov 2013 Main

Mr. E cooked two small rainbow trouts for the main course – we each got one – with mashed potatoes, grilled mushrooms and milk. We skipped the starter this time, but had white chocolate pudding as dessert. The meal was unassuming, but very tasty. The rainbow trout, especially, was so good we had repeats: in the evening, Mr. E picked the leftovers and made fishcakes.

Nov 2013 Dessert

Creating the table was easier than the food, although I ended up fudging it a bit, too. Besides a grey piece of cotton duck from my fabric stash, I used a lot of glass for its reflective qualities. To include more silver, I put out a bowl of our silvery Christmas tree ornaments with a white candle on a gleaming silvery candlestick. Our white napkins were unintrusive enough to accompany the glass.

Nov 2013 Table

Because there’s not much light at this time of the year, we’ve moved our special dinners to midday. It was so nice to eat a sit-down meal with Mr. E in the sunlight. I also think Mr. E did a wonderful job with this particular color challenge, all things considered. I’ve racked my brain since, but just can’t think of appetizing food options for silver or grey. Any ideas, anyone?

Special Dinner: October 2013

November 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Mr. E decided on doing special dinners with a color theme this year. When Mr. E was little, he associated months with a combination of two colors (much like his colors for weekdays). His aim is to make dinner with ingredients that are naturally as close to each month’s colors as possible; food dyes are right out for this project. October colors are black and orange.

Orange was not that difficult, but black was almost impossible. For an appetizer, Mr. E made a pureed squash, carrot and sweet potato soup. Then we had home made sushi, and ended the meal with chocolate chip cookies and milk.

Oct 2013 Special Dinner

I was very impressed with Mr. E’s sushi. He filled them with roasted squash, carrot, and sweet potato (leftover from making the soup) plus smoked salmon. The seaweed wrappers looked so dark they read black in the late afternoon light. The really nifty touch was to use some cooking water from the squash to color the rice. The color wasn’t very strong, but there was a definite hint of orange.

Oct 2013 Sushi Plate

Another colorwise impressive feature was our drink: dandelion wine that we picked up at a local farm. It looked very yellow, if not orange, especially against the orange table setting.

Oct 2013 Dandelion Wine

The wine tasted very different. I think we ended up calling the taste vegetable-y. I don’t think it will be a favorite, but I’m glad to have tasted it.

Black wasn’t only difficult for food, but table setting as well. (I seriously don’t like black. Living in New York City desensitized me a bit, but I do not like it. at. all.) When Mr. E announced his color theme for this year’s special dinners, I decided I wouldn’t buy anything new for the project. So, I had to cheat to make the black and orange table work.

Oct 2013 Table

I made placemats from cardstock, which was a little too painfully orange to go with our dishes. To tone the color down a bit, I made “woven” overlays from paper strips on the orange and brown spectrum that I cut out of magazines. Our small paisley plates had just enough orange to play into the color scheme, but other than that we had to do with white dishes and glass. The yellow napkins also toned down the intense orange of the cardstock placemats and went with the orange Marimekko poppy fabric runner.

Our black and orange dinner was, all in all, a success. I hope we both got our brains in good shape for problem solving, for November will be even more difficult: silver and grey. Oy vey!

Special Dinner: September 2013

October 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Mr. E decided on doing special dinners with a color theme this year. When Mr. E was little, he associated months with a combination of two colors (much like his colors for weekdays). His aim is to make dinner with ingredients that are naturally as close to each month’s colors as possible; food dyes are right out for this project. September colors are light green and dark green.

Light green and dark green certainly presented some challenges. I think Mr. E pulled it off great, though. Unfortunately there were also some hiccups relating to product availability.

We started with a green salad. In addition to a spring mix, it included green peppers. It was supposed to have cucumber, too, but let’s just say a hiccup happened. We had mojitos to drink.

Sept 2013 Starter and Drink

Sept 2013 Main and Dessert

Mr. E made some cabbage rolls for main course. They were filled with ground turkey (instead of hamburg, because hiccup), rice, bread crumbs, scallions and zucchini, and flavored with ginger, salt and pepper. Dessert was a key lime cheesecake.

I kept the table simple. Fortunately we own many green textiles – it is Mr. E’s favorite color, after all – so that was no problem. We don’t have any completely green plates, though, so I just used our whites with green edging:

Sept 2013 Table

Just because it’s fall, I added some of the last wild flowers:

Sept 2013 Bouquet

Apart from the salad (which I dubbed sad-lad), the meal was really tasty. I think the cheesecake would’ve been even more delicious with a dash of powdered sugar, though.

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