My mom, Nancy Larkin, is a true artist—both on canvas and in the kitchen. When she's not painting watercolors in her studio, she's busy creating in the kitchen.

So it was no surprise that when Mom returned from a 2-week watercolor workshop in Provence, France a year ago, she was all enthused about the meals she'd enjoyed there.

Our holidays are usually celebrated at her house…and the meals are always a real feast. Last Christmas, Mom wanted our family to experience the same country cuisine she'd relished in France. So she fashioned an unforgettable feast with a French accent.

On Christmas Eve, the dining room table was aglow with candles, crystal and Mom's good china. Mom explained a little about each dish as she served it, and between each course, she served store-bought lemon sorbet.

Memorable Menu

Her Raspberry Tossed Salad was a refreshing blend of mixed salad greens and sweet fresh raspberries, drizzled with a light vinaigrette dressing enhanced with raspberry juice.

Because some of us like our beef well-done and others prefer it medium- rare, Mom prepared not one Herbed Roast Beef, but two. She coated the roasts with a fragrant herb rub and covered them in onions before baking, then served the meat with horseradish sauce.

Roasted Root Vegetables showcased homey potatoes, turnips and carrots seasoned with garlic and rosemary. They were the perfect complement to the roast beef.

The finale was Orange Chantilly Cream, a recipe Mom found in a French cookbook. She scooped out the oranges and filled them with a fluffy orange-flavored whipped cream. The dessert was so pretty that we had to take photos!

Mom has always enjoyed hosting dinner parties for friends or up to 40 relatives. When serving a large meal, she draws a sketch of how the foods will look on the plate to be sure the colors and textures are compatible. She believes meals should appeal not only to the taste buds but to the eye as well. I guess that's the artist in her!

In this Story

  1. French Christmas Feast
  2. Creative Cookery