Saturday, November 15, 2008

Potlucks are the New Black

In the past couple of weeks I have received invitations to no less than FIVE potlucks. And before this I have probably maybe only been to one potluck in my life (and I brought gin, which was WELL received by the three other people at the party who actually like gin but I think I need to step it up and bring something, you know, cooked or baked ). So this holiday season is quite the bonanza for potluck parties and me being a potluck neophyte, I need some advice from seasoned potluckers. I'm good at throwing a dinner party. And creating an array of appetizers? I rock that shiz. But something fabulous that feeds a crowd of different palates and that can be made the day before? Here I am a little lost.

Any guys or gals out there have a good recipe for me? Something kind of unique, delicious, not terribly difficult to make AND most importantly something that travels well? I'm up for entrees, apps, desserts, whatever you have!

Help me be a potluck superstar!


Karen said...

My fail-safe potluck contributions are 7 layer dip and triple chip chocolate chip cookies. The husband and I go to a Night Before Thanksgiving party every year and I am always asked to bring the same things! I'd be more than happy to email you my recipes if you are interested.

Some other suggestions: stuffed breads (do one with meat and another with eggplant (or another veggie) and cheese), spinach bread bowl dip, brownies. I also saw a recipe for a chicken caeser salad sandwich on Barefoot Contessa last week - it looked amazing and like you could def. feed a crowd. Hope this helps!

Nicky said...

Oh honey, coming from a GINORMOUS family, I have to say that absolutely anything you can tote over in a crock pot will do the trick. Get it going the night before, plug it in at the event to keep it warm and - voila! You're the hit of the town. My family usually ends up with a crock pot o'stew, baked beans, or meatballs in some sort of sauce, etc. Any of those will work to please the masses. After a table full of things that end in the word "salad" (tuna salad, chicken salad, potato salad, pasta salad, salad-salad) people will be grateful to get their hands on a hot dish. Have fun!

San said...

Up for a cherry crumble cake?

The One and Only Kristy J said...

for some reason meatballs are always at every potluck i go to and there is never any left of them...just a thought. my favorite is when someone makes some sort of chessy broccoli rice.
good luck!

P&P Fit said...

I have a great crab/artichoke dip recipe that's super easy. Email me at jzrcise at and I'll send it to you! It'll just need to be heated up one you arrive at potluck. Every time we're invited anywhere, people ask for this one!

margalit said...

I usually bring szechuan noodles (sesame sauce) to pot lucks. Everyone likes them, they go with a large variety of foods, and if you make them with whole wheat soba noodles, the hippies go nuts.


Serves 2-3 on its own or 4-6 as a side dish

2oz/50g lean back bacon (
1 Tbl peanut (or other light) oil
1/2 inch/1cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped (no need to peel)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4oz/100g fresh bean sprouts
2 tsp Mirin or sherry (or other light white cooking wine)
7 inch/18cm cucumber, diced (no need to peel or seed unless it's one of those big waxy, seedy ones. If it's au naturel just dice that sucker up)
8oz/225g dried egg noodles (skinny ones like soba noodles, i.e. the ones that look like spaghetti)
2 spring onions (scallion), very thinly sliced
3 Tbl sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbl light soy sauce
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Grill or broil the bacon until the edges crisp up, then cut it up into very small pieces. Heat the peanut oil in a wok (or deep frying pan if you don't have a wok) until very hot, then add the ginger, garlic and bean sprouts. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, splash in the wine and toss 30 seconds longer. Scoop into a small bowl and leave to cool.

If you've got a big seedy waxed cucumber: cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seedy center and finely dice the flesh. Set aside.

Boil the noodles until al dente or as directed on the package, separating the strands with a wooden spoon, then rinse them under cold water and drain thoroughly. Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl, mixing very thoroughly. May be served straight away or refrigerated up to 6 hours.

If you want to bake, breads always go well at potlucks. Depending upon how good of a baker you are, I'd recommend a tomato and feta foccacia or a crisp rosemary flatbread. Recipes follow:

Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Gourmet, July 2008

Nothing could be easier than making this cracker, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell people you slaved all day over it because they’re going to be impressed, really impressed, and I see no reason not to milk it.

I think you could easily swap the rosemary for other herbs, such as thyme or tarragon, or punch it up with black pepper or other spices, but personally, I like it just the way it is here.

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt such as Maldon

Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).

Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.

Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Feta and Tomato Focaccia--posted
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups water, warm (100-110F)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tomatoes (pref. colorful heirlooms)
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
handful fresh thyme or lemon thyme
extra olive oil/vegetable oil, for handling dough

Combine yeast, warm water and honey in a large bowl and leave until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in olive oil, 3 cups flour and salt, mixing until the dough comes together. Add remaining flour gradually (adding a bit extra if necessary), mixing until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 4 minutes (or “knead” for 2 minutes with the dough hook of an electric mixer). Dough may be slightly sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Gently turn out the dough onto a lightly greased 10×15-inch jelly-roll pan. Greae your hands with olive/vegetable oil. Flatten dough gently into a rectangular shape. Splay your fingers and press into dough, indenting it and pushing it out towards the sides of the pan (much like a cat kneading a blanket) until the pan is full. This will help keep the air bubbles in the dough. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Slice tomatoes very thinnly.
When dough has risen, place tomato slices on top of dough and top with crumbled feta. Sprinkle with thyme leaves.
Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until bread is golden brown on the bottom (peek underneath with a spatula) and lightly browned on top. Let cool in pan for 15-20 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice as desired and serve.

Makes at least 15 pieces.

Hope this helps!

Martini said...

Sorry. I can't help you. I can only make two things: ice cubes and toast, and I'm really only good at one of those things because the freezer does all the work for me.

AnnaB said...

Aunt M's trifle is always a big hit at family shindigs.

Frankie said...

How about monkey bread?

Use butter instead of margarine, though. YUM!

hope505 said...

Somethin easy from the 505 (no, not me! *haha!* )

Chop up some VELVEETA into 1" cubes and throw into a pot. Add enchalada sauce or salsa to suit your taste and consistency and stir over a low to medium heat until the cheese is melted.

Pour into a tupperware, seal it, and dash off to your fabulous potluck party.

Warm it up at your destination in the microwave (or stovetop) and serve in cups or bowls with your fav. tortilla chips.

Cheese...Nature's Perfect Food!

Jenny said...

I've brought the Feta & Marinara Dip - that I got from you - to a few potlucks and it's always a HUGE hit. Travels well in tupperware and doesn't need to be hot!