Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dinner in the Garden

The garden on the morning of our party

Thursday is the first day of fall but here in Los Angeles we're still hanging onto summer. The daytime temperatures have been in the eighties which makes the nights beautiful. This weekend I gave a birthday party for my sister. Dinner was on the patio and we stayed outside until until after dark. The weather was perfect!

I set two tables with Heather Taylor Home linens and flowers from Hollyflora

Everyone arrived at 5:30 and we had plenty of time to enjoy the garden

We started with Greek mezze appetizers

I went to our local Farmer's Market in the morning and bought an array of Greek specialties from a wonderful vendor there. They included stuffed grape leaves, feta with herbs, hummus, tzatziki sauce, roasted red peppers, olives and tapenade. We made our own pita chips. I loved serving it on this three-tiered stand that I found at Rolling Greens Nursery. This appetizer turned out to be a good thing for dinner as well since there were three vegetarians in the group who just piled more of the yummy Greek appetizers onto their dinner plates. 

Buffet table

I was very excited about the menu. My sister lived in San Francisco for many years and each time I visited her we went to Zuni Cafe, the popular restaurant on Market Street owned by Judy Rodgers. The restaurant's signature dish, the one we always ordered, is Zuni Cafe Chicken with includes luscious croutons soaked in juices from the chicken on a bed of arugula.

I wanted to recreate that dish for my sister's birthday dinner. I found the perfect recipe from Ina Garten. We made her Lemon Chicken with Croutons and served it with a big arugula salad. Everyone just piled the salad onto their plates and topped it with the chicken and croutons. We also served rosemary and Parmesan polenta and a big platter of roasted vegetables.

Dessert was Pumpkin Spice Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is always a winner and I love to make it in the fall. Decorated with flowers and kumquats from the garden it was special enough to be a birthday cake. Go here for the recipe.

Are you still hanging onto summer in your neck of the woods?
Even though our weather feels like summer, I'm very excited to be entering the fall season!


  1. Sunday, this looks like the perfect birthday party!! I love it all, especially the cake. I have made your pumpkin cake before and it is a favorite.

    I hope that your sister had a happy day!

    1. Looks fantastic, particularly the pumpkin spice cake.

  2. Sunday, your home and garden are just beautiful. I am sure this was a much enjoyed party. The cake sounds delicious and I know Ina's Lemon Chicken is as I too have made it.

  3. What a beautiful thing to do for your Sister. Everything........everything looks perfect. The garden, the food, the care........the love. I'm sure you all had a wonderful night.

  4. Everything looks beautiful and the food looks so yummy.

  5. THAT INA............she has GOT THE RECIPES!I have FINISHED reading about ARNE MAYNARD and HIS GARDENS.........I am pretty certain YOU were the one who told me to BUY THE BOOK!Well, I did and I actually purchased for ANITA above me here of LET"S HAVE LUNCH.......for her birthday!I HAD TO READ IT FIRST.I remained in the GARDEN ALL DAY SUNDAY reading and napping!OUR INDIAN SUMMER is ALWAYS BETTER then our SUMMER UP NORTH here close to SAN FRANCISCO.
    YOUR GARDEN is SCRUMPTIOUS..........do you have crickets?WE DO and I LOVE THEIR MUSIC.....................HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SISTER!!

  6. Your home and garden look spectacular. I hope that the weather is still allowing you to enjoy the patio. The dinner looked beautifully delicious!

  7. What a beautiful setting Sunday! You are blessed with a green thumb...and English one! xx