after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

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the fruits of summer

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t says:  Ahhhh, summer.  I wish you’d never leave:


grilled peaches!  yay!  a light dusting of superfine sugar and some direct heat makes a brilliant accompaniment to some butter pecan ice cream …

(but don’t get me wrong, summer, peaches or not – I do wish you were a little cooler and less humid …)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

6 August 2013 at 10:00pm

Our Philly Diner en Blanc Primer

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t says:  Ah yes.  Diner en Blanc.  Pictures are everywhere.  We have some, too, but a lot of them have our mugs on ’em, so we’re not going to be able to show those off.  Instead, we’re going to treat this kind of like a “how g-&-t-&-a-&-v do Diner en Blanc”.  Hopefully this post will be helpful for our planning next year …

g and I easily sourced our table and chairs, but we had to decide what was going to go on the tabletop.  There were so many options of glasses and utensils that we needed to visualize it.  Fortunately, Dr. Moody (a gift from lc) was ready-willing-and-able to help out:

Dr. Moody lends a helping hand by modeling different dinnerwares …

Eventually, we did decide on our tabletop selections, and everything looked pretty darn spiffy:

our tabletop!

The ONLY regret we had was that our selections were damn-heavy.  The glasses: real glass.  The dishes: real porcelain (and there were two!).  The silverware: real metal.   That bottle our water was in: real glass.  g and I are not World’s-Strongest-Man material – we can say that by the time we got to the site, we were quite pooped.  And we can only imagine what a was going through, as his table was even heavier than ours!  Of course, part of why we were pooped was due to stupid-as-crap route they took us to go from 30th street to Logan Square, but that’s another rant …  (“To the Main Line!”)

The official g & t mascots of Diner en Blanc … hiding under the shrubbery … we should have won “best table” for them alone … nevermind the edited, classy display of properly placed utensils, a single vase, a single candle, real steak knives, antique cheese spreader-thingees, big wine glasses …

The four of us also brought our own home-made food.  There were others who did the take-out thing with some classy-looking foods (table next to us had some sliders, I saw some Italian take-out elsewhere).  I saw there were a lot of people there trying to be “unique” by bringing sushi, but that ultimately ended up being as “unique” as getting a butterfly tramp stamp <re-read this sentence and play the effect at for full effect>.  Ultimately, v and g took it upon themselves to craft a meal that was built especially for DeB.  The food needed to be able to be served at room/outdoor temperature.  It needed to be transportable.  It needed to be light.  It needed to be filling.  It needed minimal number of components (i.e. minimal number of gladware).  It needed to lack any sauces that would dribble everywhere or leak in our picnic basket.  It needed to be pair-able with wine.  It needed to be shareable in case we got friendly with neighbors.  It needed to be eaten with fork and knife (after all, this is a classy event …)  This is what they came up with …

quinoa salad

v made a quinoa salad and it was scrumptious.  v said that it was based on a recipe she found here – except no gouda and a different vinegar; it turned out to be a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth.  We paired it with a rose that a picked out from the PLCB and we were in heaven (seriously, this may have been the best rose I’ve had all year … it’s been such a tough year of roses for me – nothing like a legit Bandol to really show the world how to do a proper rose).  I could not think of a more fitting start to an outdoor summer meal.

“g surprise”

g whipped up a pasta dish inspired by something her mom crafted the other day.  The main idea was pasta and cheese and chorizo and wilted spinach and multi-colored bell peppers for some crunch.  g’s still got it!  And, of course, we microplaned some more cheese at the table.  For this course, a pulled out a delightful red he found at Moore Bros.  I was worried at first that it was going to overtake the summery pasta, but the tango was pleasant (there was a good amount of cheese in the pasta, so there was some richness and flavors in there to compete with the red).  The pairing probably wasn’t “perfect”, but of course a also had no idea what was going to be in the pasta, either (we literally called it “g surprise” when we made up the sample menu).

cheese plate

For the cheese plate, we had some Pecorino Fulvi, a triple creme goat/cow blend from GTC, and garrotxa.  This was accompanied by garlic dulce de leche (not pictured), some pistachios, prosciutto, and fig.  It was a very interesting assortment of mild cheeses – fun to mix-and-match with accompaniments and wine.  By now, we moved on to Erath “Le Jour Magique” White Pinot Noir … it rocked my socks again.

dessert …

We finished with an apple tart that v made (recipe here).  It was beautiful (and somehow we managed to transport it still intact).  I topped it with some crushed heath bar, and we would have had some diced cherries had I not forgotten them at home (my one actual regret!)  Nevertheless, the tart was bold enough to stand on its own, proudly proclaiming its appleness and showing off a crust that kept me coming back for more.  The dessert, combined with a Vouvray bubbly (NV Francois Pinon Brut, of NYT fame) was a solid outdoor sparking wine (not that I could drink the bubbly … but I’m told!).  I heard so many positive things that I bought another bottle!

In all, DeB was a great time.  We liked our food choices.  We liked our wine choices.  The “lows” of the evening were probably the lugging of our stuff to Logan Circle/Square and trying to manage a cracked cork without spilling red wine everywhere (I hope a’s official DeB attire is ok!).  The people around us were nice enough.  Fun was had by all.  Can’t wait for next year!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

31 August 2012 at 12:39am

w’s bash

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 t says:  w’s thoughtful and loving fiance threw her quite a party in celebration of a milestone in her career.  I have to admit that I was pretty tired that evening (i.e. I was working that weekend), so I wondered whether I could find a gracious way to bow out – sleep was very desirable.  Boy am I glad I did no such thing … cuz then I would have missed this:

Lord of the Flies, anyone?

w’s fiance wasn’t kidding when he said he would supply “lots of meat”.  g and I were thinking, “charcuterie platter?”  No – this was WAY better.  And it didn’t just have shock value – it was a damned tasty pig.  Super-succulent.  And it also had a gallon of what I can only imagine are pig drippings in case you wanted to have some jus on the side.  (Speaking of which: kp, did you freeze that stuff?).  This was perhaps one of the most brilliant moves I’ve ever seen at a potluck-y celebration – so much so that I will certainly steal it.  If anyone knows where the pig came from, comment on the bottom and I’ll add it.

There was a LOT of other food there – and it was all spectacular.  g whipped up her nana’s potato salad, which seemed like it had some pretty fervent supporters.  Stay tuned for a post in the recipe section for more details on how to make it.

And finally, there was a ton of great homemade desserts.  The one that caught my tongue the most was this one:

[a melting] key lime pie

It’s totally not fair to say that this was “the best” dessert – but I am a sucker for key lime (really – I love key lime pie) and I’m also the one behind the keyboard, so bam! I just did it.  It was made by an adsz-lurker (and I mean “lurker” as in “person who reads but doesn’t make their presence be known”, not “super-creeper-we-need-to-get-a-restraining-order”) who confesses that it was a particularly easy pie to make.  I don’t know if it was how refreshingly zipping it was in comparison to the unctuous pig I had just eaten?  Or maybe it was its light creaminess that I liked on a warm summer night?  Whatever it was – if she sends up the recipe, I’ll surely post it here.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

29 August 2012 at 8:18am

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake (with pix!)

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t says: Once upon a time, in October 2009, g and her cousin d had a hankering for cranberries.  In southern jersey are some serious cranberry bogs, although perhaps cranberries don’t get as much press as Hammonton’s blueberries.  This year, we tracked down a somewhat nearby cranberry farm: Fox’s Cranberries in Weekstown, NJ.  While, yes, google said that there were many others we could have visited, only Fox’s would allow us to pick a few on our own (and they were really nice over the phone – definitely a family run operation).  g, d, d’s friend, and I drove to Weekstown.  It took some adventuring (as their driveway was perhaps the most “off-road” we had ever gone in our car), but we easily arrived with the help of the blinking blue dot on our iphone’s maps application.

Ann, one of the owners, showed us around the farm, introduced us to her husband, Bill, who was out in the bogs with the harvesters, and let us watch them harvest.  She filled us in on the workings of the farm, the nature of the cranberry, and what it’s like to eat/breathe/sleep cranberries.  She also let us pick a few pounds from one of their bogs (they don’t flood the bogs to harvest here) on our own, which was amazing (she probably thought we were crazy for having so much fun doing something that machines could do far more easily).  On our way back from the bogs, she showed us the cranberry sorting equipment and the stocks they were going to sell.  We bought a few more pounds of cranberries (for some ridiculously low price – we spent less than $5 and got more cranberries than any four sane people should be in possession of – grocery stores are a TOTAL rip!!).  She then gave us this recipe for an Upside Down Cranberry Cake (among others).  g made it a total of four times within 10 days (between making it for our friends and her co-workers).  It’s super-easy.  I imagine one could also use frozen cranberries – I’m not sure how the temperature or added moisture would affect baking so perhaps it would be wise to temper and dry them before use.


__ 2+ c cranberries (enough to cover the bottom of a 9″ pie plate)
__ 0.5 c chopped nuts (we crushed some almonds and toasted them in a dry fry pan)
__ 1.5 c sugar
__ 0.75 c melted butter (should be creamy, not transparent yellow liquid)
__ 1 c flour
__ 2 eggs
__ 2 tsp almond extract.


0)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour cranberries into 9″ pie plate until the bottom is completely covered with a cranberry monolayer.  Remove those cranberries and set aside.  Grease the pie plate (we’ve used glass and metal pans with Pam-for-baking – both worked great – and other greasing fats are probably fine).

1)  Mix a pie-plate’s worth of cranberries, all of the nuts, and 0.5 c sugar in a bowl.  After well combined, pour into pie plate.  Try not to agitate too much, as this will cause the nuts and sugar to fall through to the bottom of pie plate (and ultimately be lost when you invert the plate).  Yes, some loss is inevitable.

2)  Beat together the butter, flour, remaining sugar, eggs, and extract.  BEAT AS LITTLE AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE – just to uniformity – not to smoothness.  It is very easy to over-beat this mixture (we did 2 out of 4 times); an over-beaten batter will not be cakey when baked.

3)  Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  When done, carefully loosen around the edge with a knife.  Invert it to your serving plate of choice.  Cool.  Enjoy!

4)  Start prepping a second cake when you realize you ate the first one by yourself …


1)  j made a variant of this using strawberries and was happy with the results.  I had my doubts as strawberries have a lot of water.  Alas, j’s no liar – I made it with strawberries and it was quite good (you get a nice syrupy topping) – just do your best to dry the strawberries as much as possible.  Here’s a pic (I also used a 9″ square pan in this case because our pie pan was being used for … a pie).

If this was at my workplace ... it'd be gone by 1pm for sure ...

Written by afterdinnersneeze

15 February 2010 at 6:18pm