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I need ideas for the International Potluck at the kids' school!

Once again the Potluck Dinner at my kids' school is coming up, and I am groping for ideas. They attend an International Studies School, and we are encouraged to bring a dish that reflects our family heritage. My husband is from England, so in the past I have taken shortbread and sticky toffee pudding. I need something that is fairly uncomplicated to eat and will transport well, and since 'reflecting' my OWN heritage would probably entail a pan of cornbread and a canister of bacon grease, I'll probably stick with the English thing.
There is some pretty fearsome competition for the most popular dishes at these things, with bragging rights for the whole next year...please, fellow hounds, any ideas?

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  1. Dessert, main dish?
    Baked herb pudding?
    Spotted Dick?
    Bacon Criss Cross?

    1. What about Jacket potatoes with a chicken curry topping. Those were on tons of pub menus and curry is extremely popular in England.

      You could also do mini yorkshire puddings stuffed with sliced roastbeef.
      Trifle could be a dessert option too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: salsailsa

        Going on the idea of the mini yorkshire puddings, why not little toad in a hole? Same concept, but a much cooler name.

        Welsh rarebit
        bubble & squeak
        sponge cake with strawberries and cream

        1. re: weezycom

          I was going to include "toad in a hole" - it's a great dish. I sometimes have trouble with it though and, because of my own issues with that dish, I left it off the list. But I agree it'd be an awesome addition to a traditional English Pub menu. I also like the "bubble and squeak" suggestion. There are so many variations of it that you're sure to find one that strikes your fancy.

          1. re: todao

            Oh please make bubble and squeak! I've been at many school food heritage fairs, but I've never had something that had such a fun name. You'll be mobbed by munchkins demanding it just to say the name and your kids will be the most popular kids at school. Especially if you have a sweet there for when they realize its vegetables.
            By the way, the kids will remember this. I still use my friend's empanada recipe from my 4th grade fair and now I find out my friends still remember my mom's matzo ball soup. My little sister in law (14 years old) has the attention span of a fruit fly, but can remember what foods her friends brought to hers 5 years ago.

      2. Lemon curd either in little tarts or jars depending on your inspiration.

        1. I'd do a shepherd's pie or a cottage pie. I think either would be a pretty safe bet for kids.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rainey

            I think most pies would be a safe bet for kids, i.e. pork pie, sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, etc. Otherwise I might consider tea sandwiches such as the classic cucumber or something heartier like BP and bacon (or if you want the parents to gang up on you, a chip buttie).

          2. I think your tradition (assuming it' s US southern) is much more interesting, food wise.

            Crock pot full of beans (with a ham bone) to go with your cornbread
            Shrimp and cheese grits
            BBQ ribs or pulled pork (if you have a smoker and do this regularly)
            Bake a buncha biscuits and make bacon or sausage white gravy or bring a whole country ham along and slice small thin pieces - that'll get their attention.

            I mean - I have nothing against tasteless meat pies, and I do understand that it's a tradition - but the southern tradition has a lot more pull to my way of thinking.

            1 Reply
            1. re: applehome

              I agree. If your roots are southern, then southern food is much more interesting than English food -- even if there are a lot of good suggestion in the English vein.

              Sweet potato pie, hush puppies (+ bacon), fried catfish... what are some dishes from your childhood?

            2. Make small Cornish pasties. They transport well, can be eaten at room temp, and even kids will like them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Channa

                Beat me to it!

                They are very easy to eat, require no utensils, and, although better warm, can be eaten at room temperature.

              2. I was thinking of bangers and mash. another tasty dish with a colorful name. ;)

                1. I agree with either toad in the hole, bangers and mash, or bubble and squeak because of the cool name

                  However; scones, baked beans, cucumber sandwiches, English cheddar cheese plate, or mushy peas also are good ideas.

                  1. The other fun name for Bubble & Squeak is from the Scottish Border - Rumbledethumps!

                    Empanada-sized Pasties of any kind

                    For Southern, you can easily make a batch of Cheese Straws and just roll them out and slice with a knife if you don't have a piping bag.

                    Southern Chicken & Rice Casserole is always good

                    Take the Jacket Potato suggestion to the next level - stuff the potatoes with a thick curry

                    Cottage or Shepherd's or Fisherman's Pie are NOT tasteless by any stretch of the imagination.

                    Welsh Rarebit is nice, but the cheese needs to be kept melty hot...

                    1. I ditto the shepard's/cottage pie suggestion. Kids always love it and you can make them in muffin cups (the aluminum ones) for easy serving. For sweets, scones or trifle. As braggging rights go, I agree w/ alwayscooking that southern foods give you a better selection of foods that might be more popular. Cornbread dipped in bacon grease sounds like a guaranteed winner.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: chowser

                        I was going to suggest a triffle! It will be gorgeous and should be fine in the car as long as one of the kids holds tight to it!

                        On the other hand, I would not hesitate a moment to bring a dish from any culture that struck my fancy! At this point so many of us are so thoroughly American that we have no attachment to a specific ancestral home.

                        Surely you're still allowed to attend the potluck if each of your grandparents were fourth generation Americans with no foreign pedigree!

                        1. re: Kater

                          I don't make anything from my own culture for these things, either. The last time I brought pastitsio. Something kids like but few have heard of it. I brought that and kourembiedes.

                          1. re: chowser

                            Thanks for the great suggestions, chowhounds...final decision still pending! And chowser, it's funny you mention pastitsio, I'm making it for dinner Wednesday! And while we are in no part Greek, I did grow up in a neighborhood known (at the time) as 'Little Athens', and I make a MEAN baklava.

                            1. re: tonifi

                              [they don't have to know that your great aunt on your mother's side by marriage was Greek]

                              Make the baklava!

                      2. I occasionally do cooking demos for my sons school using fresh vegi's from the school's garden. I recently made pesto for the kids and they really loved it, I spread it on baggette pieces. You can cheat and get the prepared stuff at costco, it is very good.

                        I also did sauted greens, the trick was I used thick cut bacon to saute and wilt it the greens, the kids wolfed it down. Bacon to anything makes it great.