Are you becoming weary of toting the same tater tot casserole to all potlucks? Or...goulash, gelatin salad, rolls with butter? The Gourmet Potluck: Show-Stopping Recipes for the Buffet Table by Beth Hensperger (2006, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley CA) might inspire you to stretch a little the next time you need to provide a dish to pass. The book is divided into four chapters geared for the seasons and includes information on equipment, transportation plus general how-to facts. The following recipes at taken from the Hearty Winter Fare section.
Moroccan Chicken with Dried Fruit and Olives
Prepare this dish the day before you need to take it to a potluck so it can marinate. Bake it on serving day; it can be served at room temperature or hot.
One cup dry white wine
One cup, packed, light brown sugar
One-half cup red or white wine vinegar
One-half cup olive oil
Three tablespoons crumbled, dried marjoram or basil
Six cloves garlic, pressed
Five pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
One can (6 oz.) black, nicoise or kalamata olives, drained and pitted
One can (6 oz.) pitted green olives
Eight dried apricot halves
Eight ounces pitted prunes
One-half cup drained nonpareil capers
In a very large plastic container with a snap-on lid, combine the wine, brown sugar, vinegar, oil, marjoram and garlic. Add the chicken, olives, apricots, prunes and capers. Cover and shake to coat the chicken with marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Divide the chicken and marinade between two baking dishes. Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes depending upon the thickness of the meat, until the chicken is no longer pink when pierced at its thickest part.
If serving hot, serve immediately. If serving at room temperature, bake earlier in the day. It is easier to bake it at home and transport to the dinner since it is juicy. Serves 16.
Winter Corn Pudding
Five large eggs
Two tablespoons all-purpose flour
One-half cup half and half
Two cans (16 oz. each) creamed corn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8x8-inch baking dish. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, flour and half and half with an electric mixer or a whisk. Season with salt and pepper and add the creamed corn, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Pour into the baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until the pudding is puffed and browned but still quivers in the center. Serve hot or warm. 8 servings.
Zucchini, Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole
Three and one-half cups sour cream
Two cans (10.75 oz. each) cream of chicken soup
One can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
One-half cup chopped fresh parsley
One-quarter cup chopped green onions, both white and green parts
One and one-half teaspoons crumbled, dried marjoram or oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One and one-half cups raw wild rice, rinsed well and drained
Four cups water
Two pounds zucchini, sliced
Four cups cubed, cooked turkey
Two and one-half cups (about 10 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese
One can (28 oz.) peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine sour cream, soup, chiles, parsley, green onions and marjoram and beat until smooth with a whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a saucepan, combine wild rice with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and decrease heat to low; simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Drain if necessary and set aside to cool. In another saucepan, bring one inch of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and steam until barely cooked and still firm, about 8 minutes. Brush a 9x13-inch baking dish with oil or butter. Arrange the rice in the bottom of the dish and using a spatula, cover the entire layer with half the sauce.
Arrange the turkey in an even layer over the sauce, follow with the zucchini then cover with the grated cheese. Sprinkle the tomatoes over the cheese and cover with the remaining sauce. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 20 minutes more, until bubbling hot. Serves 10 and should be served hot.
Green Beans Amandine
Three pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
Three-quarters of a cup of butter (12 tablespoons)
Juice of one-half lemon
Two teaspoons salt
Few pinches cayenne or ground white pepper
Two cups slivered blanched almonds
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and plunge the beans into it to set the color. Drain, reserving one-quarter cup of the water. In a large skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the reserved hot water, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the green beans and cook until the liquid has evaporated, 15 – 20 minutes. In another skillet, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat and add the almonds. Cook until the nuts are golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the green beans to a shallow casserole dish or serving platter. Pour the almonds and butter over the top and toss to coat. Serve warm or hot. Makes 12 servings.
Walking into the typical pot luck dinner with a dish no one has ever tasted before does have its risks. But, given the tantalizing fragrance and beautiful appearance of these dishes, people might not be able to resist just a teeny taste, or more!
And...that’s all she wrote.
Sandy Olson can be reached via email at email@example.com