can never go wrong with veggies and a good dip for a
potluck, like this Tzatziki.
is a competitive sport, at least when it’s done right.
to a potluck and you check out the competition. Gail brought
some sugar cookies — that’s good, but it won’t be good
enough. Gabe made some fried chicken. Everyone likes fried
chicken, but no one ever raves about it. Danielle
contributed a store-bought carrot cake.
Please. It’s like she didn’t even try.
then you uncover your dish. You can tell by the delight in
some of the guests — and the green-eyed jealousy in others
— that you’ve done it. You’ve won the potluck.
a good feeling.
takes to win a potluck is a little bit of time and a little
bit of effort. If you use the right ingredients, you’re
potluckers throw something together quickly at the last
moment or they make it on the cheap. If a cookie is made
with margarine instead of butter, you can be sure it is
never going to win.
truly impress at a potluck, especially if you know that
other guests also realize it is a competition, you have to
make something that looks as good as it tastes. And that is
why, for my first blue-ribbon potluck dish, I turned to the
best-looking potluck dish I have ever seen.
invented by my wife. We were going to a garden party, which
is to say a party for gardeners, and everyone was encouraged
to bring a dish with a garden theme. My wife brought a
Garden in a Pan.
bottom layer was refried beans, to represent the dirt.
Placed on top of it were colorful rows of chopped
vegetables, sour cream, cheese, salsa and guacamole to
represent rows of plants.
scooped up with a tortilla chip, it all made for a
delicious, fresh, Tex-Mex dip. It’s kind of like a
seven-layer dip, but horizontal.
stayed with the idea of a healthful dip with my next dish,
tzatziki. A bright-tasting Greek sauce made from yogurt and
cucumbers, tzatziki is best known as the topping to gyros.
But it goes well with any grilled meat, with shrimp or with
for the purposes of a potluck, it also goes well with
crudités. Simply serve it as a dip along with carrot
sticks, celery sticks, sliced red pepper and cherry
tomatoes, and the other guests will appreciate how much you
are looking out for their health and happiness.
truly trying to win at potluck — or if you know someone
else is also trying to win — you may have to spend some
money. And that means: shrimp.
cocktail won’t cut it. Everybody knows shrimp cocktail.
Everybody loves shrimp cocktail. But shrimp cocktail is too
going to win with shrimp, you’ll have to go big — like
the big flavors you find in Spiced Shrimp.
flavors are actually simple: garlic, salt, cayenne pepper,
paprika, olive oil and lemon juice. But when you put them
all together and make sort of a paste to cover the shrimp,
that’s when you get something notable.
original recipe from the New York Times called for the
shrimp to be grilled. And you could certainly cook them that
way, if you really wanted to show off. But simply sautéeing
them in a pan is easily good enough to secure a victory.
flavors are the key to another sure-fire winner, too. When
spiced nuts are done right, they tend to be addictive. The
combination of salt and sugar and nuttiness makes them too
good to pass up.
bring Rum-Glazed Pecans to a potluck, they are almost
certain to be the first thing finished. With a satisfied
smile (but only if you keep it to yourself), you will notice
the other guests going back to the bowl again and again and
Well, you begin with pecans, which you toast to a fragrant
crispness. Then you glaze them with a combination of melted
butter, brown sugar, vanilla and dark rum. When they are
still sticky, you toss them in a combination of granulated
sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
are flavors that are made for one another. Make sure you
grab some for yourself before they are all gone.
one last dish to impress, I made a South Carolina standard,
Country Captain Chicken. This is chicken slow-cooked in a
tomato-curry sauce. It is a warming, homey dish, the kind of
dish the other guests will think about for days.
also easy to make. It does take a lot of ingredients, but
most of the cooking is done in a slow cooker. You just set
it and forget it.
the other guests ask you for the recipe, be sure to hand it
to them with all the modesty you can muster. Winners never
IN A PAN
(16-ounce) cans or 2/3 (31-ounce) can refried beans
cup salsa, drained
cup shredded Mexican-style cheese
cup chopped red onion
cup sour cream
cup chopped tomatoes
cup chopped scallions
cup sliced black olives
cup chopped orange bell pepper
the refried beans evenly across the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch
pan. Make thin rows lengthwise down the pan of guacamole,
salsa, cheese, red onions, sour cream, tomatoes, scallions,
olives and orange peppers, to resemble a garden. If desired,
cut chives in half and stick them in clumps between rows to
look like a fence or other plants. Serve with tortilla
serving: 143 calories; 8 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 12 mg
cholesterol; 6 g protein; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; 5 g
fiber; 411 mg sodium; 79 mg calcium.
by Mary Anne Pikrone
English cucumber about 12 inches long, peeled
teaspoon kosher salt
full-fat Greek yogurt, see note
1 or 2
garlic cloves, minced
teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
teaspoon red wine vinegar
For best results, use full-fat (whole milk) Greek yogurt.
Two percent fat is acceptable, but do not use nonfat yogurt.
Grate the cucumber into a mesh strainer. Sprinkle with salt
and let sit in the sink or in a bowl to sweat out the
moisture for 30 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the
remaining moisture as you can with paper towels.
a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, dill, olive oil
and vinegar. Add the strained cucumber and stir until
combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store in
the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to allow the
flavors to combine. Serve with crudites.
serving: 34 calories; 2 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 4 mg
cholesterol; 3 g protein; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no
fiber; 130 mg sodium; 37 mg calcium.
adapted from OMGFood
6 to 8 servings
large clove garlic
tablespoon coarse salt
3 or 4
tablespoons olive oil, divided
teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
to 2 pounds shrimp, peeled
Mince garlic with salt; mix with cayenne and paprika, then
make into a paste with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and
lemon juice. Smear paste on shrimp.
the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick
pan or 2 tablespoons in a large regular pan, and heat over
medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook,
stirring frequently, until done, about 3 to 5 minutes
depending on their size. Serve hot, at room temperature or
cold, with lemon wedges.
serving (based on 8): 152 calories; 7 g fat; 1 g saturated
fat; 182 mg cholesterol; 20 g protein; 2 g carbohydrate; no
sugar; no fiber; 1,537 mg sodium; 80 mg calcium.
adapted from the New York Times
tablespoons granulated sugar
teaspoon kosher salt (or 3/8 teaspoon table salt)
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground cloves
teaspoon ground allspice
tablespoon rum, preferably dark
teaspoons vanilla extract
teaspoon brown sugar
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven
to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment
paper. Spread the pecans evenly on the prepared baking
sheet. Toast until fragrant and the color deepens slightly,
about 8 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through.
Transfer the baking sheet with the nuts to a wire rack.
Meanwhile, combine the granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon,
cloves and allspice in a medium bowl; set aside.
Bring the rum, butter, vanilla and brown sugar to a boil in
a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking
constantly. Stir in the toasted pecans and cook, stirring
constantly with a wooden spoon, until the nuts are shiny and
almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Transfer the glazed pecans to the bowl with the spice mix;
toss well to coat. Return the glazed and spiced pecans to
the parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. The nuts can be
stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up
to 5 days.
serving: 194 calories; 19 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 4 mg
cholesterol; 2 g protein; 4 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; 2 g
fiber; 181 mg sodium; 20 mg calcium.
from "Cook’s Country Best Potluck Recipes"
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
tablespoon vegetable oil
onions, chopped coarse
green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
(14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
tablespoons tomato paste
(9-ounce) jar mango chutney, such as Major Grey’s
garlic cloves, minced
tablespoons Madras curry powder (see note)
teaspoon dried thyme
teaspoon cayenne pepper
Basic curry powder turns bitter after 6 hours in a slow
cooker, but Madras curry powder will not.
the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and
pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high
heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and brown on both
sides, about 10 minutes (you may have to do this in
batches). Cool the chicken slightly on a plate, remove and
discard the skin, and transfer the chicken to the
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet and
return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell
pepper and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables
soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth and tomato
paste and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits
from the pan bottom. Simmer until thick and smooth, about 2
minutes. Off the heat, stir in the chutney, garlic, curry
powder, paprika, thyme and cayenne. Pour the mixture into
the slow-cooker insert, submerging the chicken in the sauce.
Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender, about 6
hours. Turn off the slow cooker, remove the lid and gently
stir the sauce to recombine. Replace the lid and let sit for
about 15 minutes to thicken the sauce before serving. If
serving at a potluck, tear the chicken into bite-sized
pieces, discarding the bones. If serving for dinner, serve
serving: 481 calories; 15 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 206 mg
cholesterol; 41 g protein; 41 g carbohydrate; 32 g sugar; 4
g fiber; 516 mg sodium; 69 mg calcium.
from "Cook’s Country Best Potluck Recipes"