The best soirées need not be grand. It is the reason for the event that trumps the perfectly placed napkin. In this case, the reason was Lindsay Rhodes. Friends gathered at a home in Leiper’s Fork, TN, for an intimate mid-day birthday celebration in honor of the Nashville-based interior designer. “Lindsay goes all out for us on our birthdays, so it was time for us to make her feel special,” Mary Spotswood Underwood, founder of à la Bonne Femme, tells us. The birthday lunch was the pinnacle of the gals’ weekend, which started on Friday evening when the group of ladies drove from Nashville to Leiper’s Fork. Mary Spotswood, entertainer extraordinaire, was the de facto hostess for the weekend, but everything was indeed a team effort. On Friday night, after a potluck-style dinner, the group arranged flowers by a fire pit on the front porch — wine in hand. The following afternoon, the flowers were used as centerpieces for the amazing tablescape.
While it wasn’t Mary Spotswood’s intention to show off her skills in all things entertaining, having a photographer friend on hand allowed her to do just that. Invitee and friend of both the host and birthday girl, Mary Craven captured the tablescape, food and friends. Mary Spottswood chose a striped fabric for the tablecloth and topped it with mix-and-match napkins, simple white dishes, flower buckets filled with rosé and bottled water, and floral arrangements in old mink wire French pedestal canisters. The arrangements included olive, eggplant, mushrooms, pepperberry, limelight hydrangea, cabbage and cockscomb. “I am a chef, so I pulled a lot of edible items to include in my arrangements,” Mary Spotswood explains.
The menu featured a few of Mary Spotswood’s favorite recipes: lavender chèvre terrine with toasted almonds and local honey; salmon served with zucchini, sweet corn and tarragon tomato cream sauce; baby greens salad; and white truffle dijon deviled eggs, plus ham biscuits from The Hamery and orange tahini caramel cake from Lyndi Stein of Juniper Green Culinary Events. In terms of alcohol, the drink of the day was a tequila sangria. “This was a custom punch for the birthday girl,” Mary Spotswood tells us. “She requested tequila, so I came up with a daytime tequila punch.”
Mary Spotswood is kind enough to share her original recipes with us today.
- 3 cups sliced peaches
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 (750 ml) bottles rosé wine
- 2 cups tequila
- 1/2 cup peach schnapps
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 orange, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lime, thinly sliced
- Crushed ice
- Sparkling water
- Toss the peaches and blueberries in the sugar in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Let stand for 20-25 minutes, tossing the fruit occasionally.
- Stir in the wine, tequila, schnapps and fresh juices.
- Float the sliced oranges, lemons and limes on top.
- Fill drinking glasses with crushed ice. Fill 3/4 full with sangria. Top with sparkling water.
- 12 eggs
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white truffle oil, or more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon (optional)*
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons water, or as needed
- Cover the eggs with water in a medium pot. Bring the water to a gentle boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 12 minutes.
- Drain the eggs and rinse them with cold water until the eggs are cool to the touch. Peel the eggs. Slice each egg into halves horizontally.
- Place the cooked yolks in a mixing bowl and set the cooked egg whites aside on a serving tray.
- Roughly mash the yolks with a fork. Stir in the mustard and truffle oil until smooth. Stir in the tarragon if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon or pipe the yolk mixture into the egg white shell. If the yolk mixture is too thick to spoon or pipe easily, stir in additional truffle oil or water a few drops at a time until the mixture is loose enough to pipe.
- 6 (6-8 ounce) portions Coho salmon
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 5-6 medium zucchini
- 1 small sweet yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for roasting
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 tomatoes, diced with juices reserved
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup silver queen corn kernels, or other sweet corn variety
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon, plus more for garnish
- Rub the skin of the salmon with olive oil and arrange the portions skin side down on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Season each portion of salmon generously with salt and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes or until the brown sugar starts to liquify.
- Roast the salmon at 425 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the center of the fish is cooked through and just starts to flake. Let stand until ready to serve.
- Cut the zucchini with a spiralizer using the thick spiraling blade. Set aside.
- Sauté the onion in 1 teaspoon olive oil and the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the wine. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by a 1/4.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the corn, cream, tarragon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the zucchini and cook until it is softened but still holds the spiral shape, tossing in the sauce constantly. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately with the salmon. Spoon extra sauce over the top and garnish with more tarragon if desired.
Run wild with this inspiration and throw an afternoon summer get-together of your own!
- Photography: Mary Craven Photography
- Event planning, flowers and recipes: Mary Spotswood Underwood of à la Bonne Femme (Find her on Instagram!)
Find more recipes and entertaining tips here!