Friday, August 7, 2009


We were lucky enough to be feature in the Aug / Sept. issue of Mix Magazine in their regular feature "Friday Night Dinner Party"....we got to write the article (YIPPEE!) so here it is the along with and the photos! Click here if you want to see the article as it was intended as well as for the recipes and the playlist. Enjoy!
Out In The Garden, A Dinner Party Offers A Chance To Unwind
J J De Sousa / photos by Mike Davis


JJ De Sousa likes to dine out, as in out in the garden. With abundant plants, furniture and lighting, she's created distinctive outdoor spaces perfect for everything from sipping tea for two to laying out a spread for a dozen guests....
I have a teeny house, only 900 square feet. I also have a huge yard, 77 x 127 feet. If you do the math, you see it's a lot easier for me to just move the party outdoors.
We have such great summer and fall weather here that my husband, Jose De Sousa, and I entertain outdoors almost exclusively. We treat our outdoor spaces as an extension of our living space, filling them with great furniture, fun colors, killer plants and pots, beautiful lighting, cozy fire pits, soothing water features and, of course, amazing food. My garden has eight places to sit, from a bistro table for two to a sectional that seats 10 for serious lounging, to a dining area for 14. Besides being total garden geeks, we are total foodies. My husband is from France, so it just comes naturally.

Keeping up with the gardening is a huge time challenge, so I'm all over the concept of quick and delicious recipes. I still want them to be chic and sophisticated, though, so it's all about the ingredients. Luckily, all the farmers markets, local butchers and fishmongers make our entertaining easier. When I get home from a day at my shop and studio, I usually only have an hour or so to pull a dinner together, but with the help of my darling husband and a few simple recipes it is entirely possible.

I believe in starting the evening with one amazing cocktail, and we get a lot of mileage out of a simple sangria. The gazpacho literally takes two minutes, the saffron rice is simple, colorful and crazy delicious. My mother-in-law in Lyon, France, sends me care packets of Spanish saffron, and we use it liberally.

The garbanzo bean salad is ridiculously easy, delicious and presents incredibly well in a red pepper shell. I got the recipe from the wife of our friend Gilbert, who owns Cuvee Restaurant in Carlton. We use cilantro, but the original recipe called for fresh basil, which is also yummy. I use a ton of cumin in this recipe; the flavor just pops off the beans.

Our method for the salmon is the easiest thing in the world: I make a simple vinaigrette and dump it on top. Done! I like to use balsamic vinegar in the dressing as it caramelizes while the fish is grilling and allows the flavorings to really stick to the salmon. Since I don't really have too much of a sweet tooth, I always struggle with what to serve for dessert. I had really been looking for a simple, quick and no-cook recipe that everyone could enjoy and I finally found it. A 10-minute tiramisu that is really a 10-minute recipe. Seriously.So there you have it: my perfect recipe for a perfect evening with friends in my garden. Plan your own garden soiree and just get out there, no matter what your garden looks like.

The kitchen's on the small side, but there's plenty of room for friends to help. JJ runs a design shop (Digs Inside & Out, 1829-b N.E. Alberta St., 503-460-3447, digs-pdx.com) and her schedule doesn't allow time for fussing, so she often relies on a repertoire of crazy-easy recipes that work.


For all the recipes - click here and scroll down the page for the link.

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