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Summer Dinner Party

We had a really lovely summer weekend. We went to the beach and the park, slept in late (7am!), caught up on movies and a few magazines (only trashy entertainment ones, of course) and had the nicest dinner party on the deck with friends on Saturday. So nice, in fact, that I thought I'd do a little post about it.


I know I haven't done a food blog in a while. You try having a toddler and doing ANYTHING. Kidding. Kind of. Anyway, like I was saying…I haven't done a food blog in a while, and even though this post won't contain any of my own recipes, I thought it might be nice to share a bit about our evening.

Having friends over for dinner is one of my top 3 favorite things in the world to do, and anyone I'm friends with knows this because they've been over for dinner. I get it from my mom. She was the queen of throwing dinner parties, and while a few of my friends have graciously said the same about me, if they had met my mother they would be forced to take it back.

Not only was my mother an excellent cook, but she knew how to create ambiance. She knew how to time things just right so that by the end of the evening you felt nothing but slightly stuffed, slightly tipsy and wonderfully and simply happy.

That's how Saturday night ended for me

There were a lot of things that made it good.

Number one was the company.

Number two was the food.


We did a potluck of sorts, something I've truly learned the art of from living in the Midwest. (Side note about potlucks: First of all, I hate the word. It makes me think of Minnesota church basements, but I haven't come up with anything better. Number two, while they can be fun and economical they still require forethought and creativity, if you want a decent end result.)

Anyway, here is the menu for our party. I've linked to a few of the recipes.




I wish I had thought to take a few more food pictures, but I was trying to stay present to the evening and not get lost in the camera. But anyway, a few notes about the menu:

The things I contributed to this dinner were the saketinis, the salmon, the gratin, the naan and the olive oil cake. I found a bottle of sake in the cupboard and after a little searching I came up with the recipe linked here. It was pretty tasty and definitely a nice start to the evening. I actually thinly sliced long, translucent ribbons of cucumber to put in the glasses and the end result was beautiful. 

We don't cook fish that often, but I was inspired a to make this salmon after having a tasty grilled version Amber's mother made for her baby shower last weekend. I found the above linked recipe online and it was really flavorful and easy to prepare.

The green bean salad was Emilie's and it was perfect. The recipe is linked but I believe she added crumbled goat cheese, which the recipe doesn't call for. And it even held up the next day as Greg and I polished it off for Sunday dinner.

Bean salad

A quick note about the naan bread — you can get this at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and if you just brush it with a little olive oil and put it on the grill, it's simply amazing.

Lastly, the Lemon Olive Oil cake. The last time I made this it didn't turn out so great, so I did some hunting around and liked the looks of the above recipe. It turned out great — really moist and flavorful and simple to make. Oh, and I added some dark chocolate chips, because Sarah Weisz is right when she says that chocolate chips make everything better.

So anyway, hope this inspires you to have your own dinner party before the summer is over. View more photos from the evening here.

Oh, and if you really want get your guests involved you should whisk the whipped cream by hand in the living room (because you don't want to wake the baby by using the Kitchen Aid mixer) and make each person take a turn, and you should laugh heartily when none of the boys are any good at whisking.


  1. SO FUN! We love dinner parties too and would love to have been there.

    Comment by Jami Stigliano on August 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm

  2. What a lovely setting you have! When we moved to the Upper Midwest someone had to explain to me what a hotdish was… after someone tried listing some hotdishes, there was a humorous “it’s a casserole”. I’m still not entirely clear.

    Comment by Christine on August 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm

  3. The entire menu sound delicious! I have to second the whole negative connotations associated with the word “potluck”, too many memories of bad church picnic food for myself.So bad I can’t bear to even utter the word, no joke! We just say we are having a collaborative dinner and invite everyone to bring a specific part of the meal to share.

    Comment by Wendy on August 17, 2010 at 12:14 am

  4. Wendy, I love it! Collaborative dinner. Im totally adopting it. God help me if I utter the word potluck again!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on August 17, 2010 at 7:31 am

  5. Oh, dont even get me started on hotdish! Isnt it just a big mess of whatever you have in the house thrown in a baking dish and smothered in cheese?

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on August 17, 2010 at 7:32 am

  6. You should come to town!!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on August 17, 2010 at 7:32 am

  7. Hotdish. I think I get it now!

    Comment by Christine on August 17, 2010 at 3:34 pm

  8. I will remain a steadfast supporter of “potluck” if only because it played such a vital role in
    my upbringing. But “collaborative dinner” sure has a nice ring…

    Comment by Emilie on August 18, 2010 at 12:53 am

  9. I’m not sure how I feel about the word “potluck” either. It was a great meal though. Good times.

    Comment by Tarek on August 18, 2010 at 8:14 am

  10. Totally good times.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on August 18, 2010 at 9:38 am

  11. Im definitely going with collaborative dinner from now on!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on August 18, 2010 at 9:48 am

  12. Yum. I would eat everything you mentioned. And I’m so glad you mentioned the Whole Foods naan. One of my favorites to grab from there.

    Comment by Sara on August 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm

  13. Isnt it the best?!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on August 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

  14. Interesting post. I’m new-ish to this blog, but have like what I’ve read!

    Comment by Wanda on September 2, 2010 at 7:05 am

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