For the busy cook, a potluck party is a perfect way to entertain.
Potluck by definition needs to be do-ahead and portable. The menu should be flexible, easily accommodating different tastes. For everyone on the guest list who knows just what to bring, there are some who would welcome a suggestion from you, the host — something easy, quick and familiar.
But there is also the danger of "too many cooks spoiling the broth" unless you coordinate the menu and the various preparations.
A simple way of taking the "luck" out of potluck is preparing the main dish yourself and asking guests to bring complimentary dishes. Ask guests if they have a preference for preparing appetizers, salads or desserts. Sometimes, I even provide a simple recipe for them to follow.
No matter what the occasion, a potluck meal is a good means of sharing food and fellowship. Since everyone contributes, such meals give people the feeling of really being part of the party.
Poached Salmon With Watercress Sauce
Mix the first four ingredients in small bowl to blend; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine 1/3 cup water, wine, shallot, parsley and thyme in a large skillet. Place salmon fillets, skin-side down, in skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover skillet tightly. Simmer over medium-low heat until salmon is barely opaque in center, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Transfer salmon to platter; discard wine mixture. Cover salmon with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 4 hours. (Watercress mayonnaise and salmon can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and keep chilled.)
Place 1 salmon fillet on each of 6 plates.
Serve with the watercress mayonnaise.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 tsps. prepared horseradish
3 lbs. red or golden beets, cooked, peeled and shredded
2 lbs. tart apples, cored and shredded
2 Tbsps. cider vinegar
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well-blended.
Combine the beets and apples with the vinegar in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and garnish with green onions. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Lentil, Parsley and Goat-Cheese Salad
1 lb. green or brown lentils, cooked just until tender
3 carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
In large bowl, combine the lentils, carrots and parsley.
In small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, cumin and olive oil.
Toss with the lentil mixture; taste for salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with the goat cheese. Refrigerate, covered, but bring to room temperature before serving.
Serves 8 to 10.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 pint strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease a shallow 2-quart casserole or 10-inch ovenproof pie pan.
In medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the margarine or butter until mixture is crumbly.
Mix in the oats. Spread berries in prepared baking dish and sprinkle topping over berries.
Bake until topping is browned and berries are bubbly, about 40 minutes.
Serve with ice-cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Serves 8 to 10.