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Looking to impress at a potluck

We are having an office pot luck this friday. Would like to try something different that is sure to please! What is your *favorite* pot luck item to bring? Thanks for the ideas!

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  1. Are you looking to bring an entree, side or dessert?

    1 Reply
    1. My favorite dessert that always impresses is cream puffs. They're easy to make (there are great recipes in Best Recipe and in Pie and Pastry Bible). I like to make the regular pastry cream and then drizzle with chocolate sauce or if you have a pretty bowl, you can reheat it for dipping(I made a really easy homemade one that sounds gross but everyone loves - 6 T. butter + 1 c. chocolate chips)

      Also my newest favorite dessert to bring is raspberry bars, which sounds and looks really simple, but everyone dies over. Everytime I make them I am asked by everyone for the recipe, which comes from a semi-recent Cook's Illustrated issue (I think it's August '06, but can't quite remember).

      1. Okay, if you really want to wow 'em: some sort of seafood. Buy the biggest shrimp you can find and do either a shrimp remoulade or simply boil 'em and offer a couple of different dipping sauces. Or, buy some already shucked oysters--lay them out on a bed of crushed ice (no need for oyster plates or half-shells) and offer lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, mignonette, and seafood forks. Another alternative: marinated crab claws.

        1. Ina Garten's recipe for chocolate truffles. Easy and always impressive. You can alter with different coatings or flavorings.

          1. I'm doing a chocolate and raspberry trifle for our potluck. I think the impressive factor will be the tall glass serving bowl so you can see the layers.

            Chocolate, fresh raspberry, custard, cream and cake: how can that go wrong?

            1. Depends. When I have time, I like to make mini Japanese rice balls - you know, the ones stuffed with preserved plum and wrapped in nori.

              When I'm in a rush, I make a Spanish tortilla (well, really a frittata with potatoes), cut it in bite-size pieces and serve with baguette rounds or good crackers.

              Other quick options: skewered and grilled ravioli with pesto dipping sauce; makeshift gado-gado, ie, crudités and boiled eggs with peanut sauce; strata.

              1. Devilled eggs beautifully ornamented with fresh chives and salmon caviar.

                1. Martha Stewart's Lemon Bars are:

                  2) very easy to make
                  3) one recipe produces a huge jelly-pan-sized batch


                  Bar desserts are always a good call for potlucks-- no need for knives and forks which gets tricky if you're standing up and chatting around. Got rave reviews when I brought them to my classmates in grad school.

                  1. I really like bringing fresh focaccia. It's really simple to make just flour, yeast, honey, rosemary, olive oil, and salt. Epicurious has plenty of good recipes and it really easy--especially for bread and it's pretty hard to mess up. And, everyone is always impressed by homemade bread.I'd say make one and then top with cheese and carmelized onions and some course salt. yummmmmmmmm!

                    1. Also arancini (risotto balls). You make risotto, roll the leftovers into balls put a little cube of cheese in the middle, dip in egg then bread crumbs and bake till crispy. They're good warm or at room temp and everyone I have made them for LOVES them and wants the recipe. Good finger food. Deborah Madison has an excellent recipe in her cookbook. Or chow has one:


                      1. I like to bring quiche. There often aren't enough main dishes at potlucks, because so many of them need to be served hot, but quiche doesn't. I've gotten raves for this recipe, which is from Cooks Illustrated. The trick is to use a really good, cave-aged Gruyère cheese--it makes all the difference.

                        Quiche Lorraine

                        1. The most impressive potluck item I make is a chicken-leek jalousie. It looks way more complicated than it is.

                          chop up roasted chicken from a 3-3.5 bird
                          saute two sliced leeks with 3 cloves garlic in 3 T of butter; add 1 c. sliced mushrooms and saute

                          combine chicken and veggies with 7 oz. low fat cream cheese, zest of a lemon, 3. T chopped parsley

                          roll out two sheets of thawed puff pastry (one on top of the other) into a 14x10 in. sheet and put on nonstick baking sheet

                          spoon filling down center of sheet longwise leaving about 4 in on each side; cut the sides diagonally up to the filling at 3/4 in. intervals; paint edges of pastry with egg and draw pastry strips one over the other to make a sort of braid; glaze with egg and bake at 375; let stand until ready to cut (will be easier that way).

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Procrastibaker

                            Procrastibaker....This sounds very good. What brand of the pastry sheets do you buy? Are they hard to find in "sheets". Are you refering to "filo dough"? How many people would the receipe feed?

                            1. re: RenoRed

                              Good question. I just buy whatever puff pastry they have in the freezer section-- usually comes in two sheets rolled into thirds. Definitely don't use filo-- the puff pastry is no-fail. You just need to thaw it almost all the way and roll with a floured rolling pin. I'd guess the recipe would serve 6. I've often thought you could do another kind of filling-- maybe some kind of veggie mix or even a ham and cheese. Oh, and I also use the pre-roasted chickens from the grocery. They are kind of salty, so beware. Let me know if you try it!

                              1. re: Procrastibaker

                                Thanks for such a quick answer...one more question...does the filling "overflow" over the pastry as it's bakes in the oven? Does it end up looking "messy", or does it look like a pretty braid with filling? Sorry about all the questions! God...don't ya just love this board?

                                1. re: RenoRed

                                  I am 'hounding while doing holiday cards... No, it doesn't overflow, but the pastry will puff (as the name suggests, I guess) so be sure to attach the braided ends as well as you can or they can pull away from the bottom edge of the jalousie. I'd be sure to let the mushroom juice mostly evaporate, too, or it could get a bit wet. Mine looked like a pretty braid and it was my first shot at it so it seems pretty no-fail.

                          2. At a potluck, to impress, you want something that looks very appealing, impressive, and something people don't usually make. My favorite dish is vietnamese rice paper shrimp rolls with dip. I cook the rice noodles in chicken broth to add flavor, include a variety of colorful julienned blanched vegetables, and red leaf lettuce, shrimps and a dab of chili sauce inside the roll. Cut on a diagonal, arrange cut side up in a dark woven basket lined with red leaf lettuce with the dipping sauce in the middle. It looks very impressive and irresistable.

                            1. I bring the same (easy) dish to every potluck, and it is always scarfed up.

                              It's your basic hashbrown potato casserole.
                              Hashbrowns, mushroom soup, sour cream, grated cheese, tossed and baked. Topped with cheese and/or cornflakes.

                              Not at all 'fancy' nor impressive. But for some reason, it is always popular.

                              1. Everytime I bring my homemade mac & cheese it's always raved about & ALL gone! So ordinary, but that's why it's liked, so comforting and everyone enjoys! Sometimes the gourmet-ish things scare people at potlucks- I guess depends on the crowd.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pamd

                                  I'd totally be digging into homemade mac & cheese. It's uber-trendy right now too, so you get a hit no matter which way it's viewed.

                                2. That's why I like to make the jalousie (see post above)-- it looks (and sounds) fancy but the flavors are really accessible-- like dressed-up comfort food...