On a fall evening my three best girlfriends and I had the pleasure of attending Diner En Blanc Calgary. It truly was a magical night. The weather was beautiful, the setting was breathtaking and the company was just as amazing.
I attended with my Sister and two friends. No matter where we are in the world the four of us laugh until we cry and their friendship makes my life better everyday. With this group of talented perfectionists we all came together and contributed to the perfect table setting, the perfect 5 course dinner, and we lugged it all to our perfect little spot in the park among 2500 other guests.
The planning and sourcing started months in advance…..
You must wear ALL White. No exceptions!
The Set Up
You must bring EVERYTHING needed for a formal dinner and it must be white. Including table clothes, fabric napkins, picnic baskets, chairs, and plates. In addition to all white everything there were no paper plates or napkins and no plastic wine or water glasses allowed.
Here we are with all of the ‘stuff ‘…
The girls working hard to set up
The Table Decor
Setting a table is a passion of mine so of course I used this opportunity to create a beautiful table scape. We used large glass vases filled with branches, wrapped in painted white burlap. The branches held birdcage candle holders that lit up our evening. The table setting included white linen table clothes, a white lace overlay, beautifully handmade napkin sashes. The bread plate, salad plate, and dinner plates all sat on top of silver chargers (a little cheat!).
The Food (The Best Part!)
My Sister Jamie made the most beautiful and delicious five course meal.
Her genius in the kitchen impresses and inspires me everyday.
Course 1 – Bread
Jamie whipped the butter with garlic and chives to flavour it. She then wrapped the bread and flavoured butter in beautiful (and white) parchment paper fastening it with twine.
Course 2 – Cheese Board
My absolute favourite appetizer!
Jamie used Smoked Gouda, Brie and a Havarti. I like to serve softer cheeses for a cheese board. To accompany the cheese she served walnuts (something savoury & crunchy) , jam (something sweet), and crackers. A cheese board is simple and always delicious.
Course 3 – Spinach, Goat Cheese, Strawberry + Pecan Salad
Using mason jars is the perfect way to transport salad. The best thing to do is to put the dry ingredients into the mason jar in the opposite order that you’d plate it so when it’s dumped onto a plate it looks beautiful.
Jamie makes the most delicious homemade salad dressings. She topped this salad with her creamy garlic balsamic masterpiece.
Jamie Francis’ Creamy Garlic Balsamic Dressing
1/2 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2tbs cream cheese
1 clove garlic
Pinch of salt and pepper
Blend all ingredients and refrigerate. It tastes better the longer it sits.
Course 4 – Crab Cakes
This is where Jamie’s passion and creativity really wowed us girls (and all of the diners around us!) . She created the perfect crab cake. But didn’t stop there. She wove asparagus into a lattice pattern to act as a support structure so we could get our crab cakes onto our plates in one piece. Jamie drizzled homemade aioli and avocado salsa over her masterpiece. Beautiful and edible! She packaged it all in parchment paper wrapped in twine. It was like opening a perfect little present!
Jamie Francis’ Crab Cake Recipe
1/2 cup kernels off the Cobb
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 tbs chopped green onions
3 tbs mayo or Greek yogurt
1 tsp Hot/Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp Old Bay spice
1 1/2 crab meat
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs or cornmeal for really corny taste
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
Mix all ingredient together (except butter).
Form into cakes. Heat non-stick skillet and add butter.
Place cakes in pan on med/ hi heat to form a crust. Cook on each side for 2min or until browned nicely.
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
Drop of hot mustard
1 tsp capers
Blend all ingredients and let sit for at least 3 hours before eating.
1/4 small red onion
1-2 tomatoes seeds removed
1/4 cup fresh corn
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash of kosher salt
Rough chop onion, avocado and tomato.
Add corn, lemon juice, salt and lightly mix.
Course 5 – Homemade Strawberry Cheesecake
Jamie and Brittney made this sweet little treat to finish off our perfect dinner.
Jamie Francis’ Mason Jar Cheesecake
1 1/2 c cool whip
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 c sugar
Walkers shortbread cookies
Blend cool whip, cream cheese, and sugar until well mixed.
Crush walkers shortbread cookies and alternate layers of cookie, cream cheese filling and strawberry jam (or any fruit spread you like).
An incredible night, with incredible girls! I can’t wait for next year!