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Mar 7, 2010 06:59 AM

Your answer to 'What can I bring?'

Do you have a go-to recipe for a salad or dessert you bring to dinner parties?

What would be an appreciated and complementary contribution that shows effort but not so much as to upstage the host's cooking. I'm done with bringing bagged salad and store-bought cakes...

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  1. I usually like to bring a 7-layer or tri color pasta salad. Both go well with just about anything and it shows you put some thought and effort into it (even though both are extremely easy).

    1. I like to bring, my orzo salad with dried cherries salad. It's full of interesting and tasty goodies. Pinon nuts, fresh basil, tiny sugar tomatoes, dried cherries, scallions, sometimes olives. The dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Refreshing and pretty.

      I also like to bring either a pineapple upside-dwon cake, or cream cheese brownies.

      1. What about a good rice pilaf, baked carrots, potato salad, a crockpot full of a good soup, homemade bread rolls, pudding, pie, etc. There is an array and to tell you the truth,what is wrong with your dish "upstages" the host's. One always wants to put their best effort forward and I recommend that you not intentionally degrade whatever you take.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Home2Cook

          It is poor form to purposely attempt to "one-up" the host. That can happen unintentionally, of course. If you know the host's tastes and ability, you should try to contribute something complementary.

          1. re: greygarious

            I said I would not purposely degrade anything I was preparing to take to a potluck. I have to say that I have been been a member of several dining groups throughout the years, and never heard anything from anyone about it being poor form to "one-up" the host. Maybe it is a regional thing. I totally agree that it is nice to know what the host is preparing so that what ever dish one contributes is complementary.

            1. re: Home2Cook

              Sorry, I concur with greygarious. It's bad form to try to one-up the host. Your goal should be to help lighten the load and contribute something that complements what he/she is serving. It should not involve ego-tripping or showing off.

              We all have more elaborate and simpler recipes in our repertoires. When you know the host's offerings may be more humble, I feel it's best to err on the conservative side. It's just good form.

              My social circle is pretty young, and at least among us, bringing a show-stopper to someone else's party might be taken as passive-aggressive one-upsmanship. Let the host shine and just be grateful for the hospitality. You don't have to degrade your own contribution, but there's no reason to show off, either.

              1. re: Home2Cook

                I concur with greygarious as well. I don't that that what's okay in the context of a "dining group" can be extrapolated to apply to a less specifically foodie occasion. There's also a difference between a gathering that is specifically identified as a potluck (go for it!) and one where the host(ess) asks if you might bring something to round out the meal s/he has planned (keep it simple).

                The fact that this is even an issue is a good example of why people should draw clear lines between potlucks (where everyone brings something) and a hosted meal (where the host provides the food). There's an awful lot of passive-aggression involved in both people who insist on bringing something to a hosted meal, even when not asked to, and people who claim to be "having people over for dinner" when in fact they are holding a potluck.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Agree, Ruth. Whenever invited, figuring out which one is the first task we usually do:) Sometimes, Nice flower works even when they strongly insist "Nothing" but on the venue you see someone else indeed bring something:) Just want to be well prepared!

                  1. re: hobbybaker

                    Ah, this drives me crazy! People say "but I was taught to bring something" and they're absolutely right, they should. It's called a "hostess gift" -- and it's a gift to the host(ess) that as a gift becomes the property of the recipient and may be handled as the recipient sees fit. What should not be brought, unless specifically requested, is something that is intended to be served at the event itself.

                2. re: Home2Cook

                  It's not regional. It's called good manners.

            2. Stuffed mushrooms, a salmon dip, roasted shrimp with a dipping sauce.

              1. Sadly there is less of a tradition of bringing dishes to dinner here in the UK, but I am always asked to bring dessert - usually brownies as I'm a bit famous for them amongst my friends. I also find that a good frangipane tart with seasonal fruit is always an excellent addition to the dessert course.

                Last year I made the ottolenghi apple cake and I thought this was a superb cake, fabulous frosting and a wonderful combination of textures and tastes. Much enjoyed by everyone else too!