Meaning of Potluck Dinner
The potluck dinner is a new food concept which is most popular in the USA, however it is now spreading to Europe. What a potluck dinner involves is every guest bringing one dish to the dinner, meaning that everyone contributes to the meal while attempting to make their dish the most desirable and most sought-after. Of course, while this is great in theory, it can also be (if you’ll excuse the pun) a recipe for disaster: you don’t want to host a potluck dinner and find yourself staring down the barrels of 11 only very slightly different carbonaras. Therefore, a potluck dinner, or to be precise, a successful potluck dinner, involves that extra ingredient: communication. Assuming you are on speaking terms with all your guests (if not, we question how you might have invited them!) then this should not be an issue. By letting everyone know that you have a theme for the evening (whether this be Greek food, Indian cuisine, or a simple meatfest), you can remove the possibility that you end up with homemade chips and a Mediterranean salad, for instance. Second, it is no bad thing to divide the roles a level further, to avoid replicated dishes. Assigning different people to appetisers, main courses, and desserts, for example, will likely lead not only to a more enjoyable potluck dinner, but will also encourage your guests to communicate among themselves so that they don’t bring the same thing. Ultimately though, everyone is trying to play their part and bring a desirable and unique dish, and so as long as quality and uniqueness are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, a tasty and varied set of dishes should arrive proudly for your potluck dinner whenever you choose to be the host.
Sadly, we don’t know the theme of your potluck dinner, but here are some of the best dishes we think will make your contribution the highlight of the evening.
1. Froodini Pine Nut, Avocado, and Feta Salad
For the base, use any soft and non-peppery salad leaves, so we recommend avoiding Iceberg Lettuce or Rocket. Next, dice a pepper (red or yellow preferably) into small chunks and sprinkle them over the leaves. Finally, cut an avocado and a packet of feta (ours was 200g, but the exact size isn’t too important) into small pieces and sprinkle them over the pepper, to form a covering. Them just add a dash of olive oil and some salt and pepper over the feta and avocado, before finally sprinkling the pine nuts over it.
2. Chocolate Brownies
Unlike Froodini’s very own salad, we won’t give you a chocolate brownie recipe since everybody we spoke to already had their own! Therefore, presentation is key: a nice cloth over the top which you can use to give your brownies the spectacular unveiling they deserve, some glasses of milk on the side, and you will add that special touch to your brownies.
3. Crackers and Cheese
We have given you a main course and a dessert, so how about ending with a starter? For this, all you need are crackers, cheese and imagination! You don’t want all your crackers to look the same, so add peppers to some, herbs to others, and tomatoes to yet others. Vegetables, berries, and spices – you will struggle to find something which won’t work for your delightfully varied and quick to prepare starter.
Hosting and being a Guest for a Potluck Dinner Party
Being a Host:
In addition to what we advised above, there are some other things you need to make sure of. First, ask people if their dishes need warming up or preparing at all, and make sure you have adequate space. Five dishes in the oven at one time to make their contents perfectly browned sadly is unlikely to work. As with any gathering, you also should make sure that you have enough space for people – adequate sofa space, chairs, glasses, cutlery, etc are also necessary, depending on the size of your party.
Being a Guest:
All you need to do, when being a guest, is to try to bring along the dish which everyone wishes there had been more of. Therefore, make sure that no other guests are preparing the same thing, and go all out on your presentation. Good presentation is the springboard to enjoying the taste, since if your food doesn’t look great, fewer people will try it and appreciate it. Also, make sure your food doesn’t need to be eaten immediately: if it loses its edge on the journey, it probably isn’t worth it.
Wording your Potluck Dinner Invitation
This is key, because you must set the culinary theme, but also try to dissuade people from dropping out! A slip of paper with a nice typeface will always be preferable, and here are our top three tips for what to include:
Realistic Timeframe Not to soon, not too far. Too soon and people already have plans – too far away, and they might forget. Find the right balance and then be prepared to adjust.
Not too complicated Food shouldn’t be a chore! If people have to research your amazingly inventive theme ‘Southern Cantonese Delicacies’, then they might suddenly have more plans than you thought…
Show your contribution Your role isn’t only to have people travel to your residence and give you food – this is bad form, however tempting it might be! Make some food as well, and then people will be more likely to help you clear up afterwards.