So what’s your plan this Thanksgiving? Will you spend days in the kitchen preparing the perfect feast? Maybe, you’ll be wined and dined by Mom or Nana … or a friend whose cooking rivals the best restaurant in town. Then again, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that just cries out for a potluck. Here are a couple of thoughts for potluck guests and hosts:
Some host like to wing it. They don’t make suggestions and they don’t take notes. I can’t be certain but I think they secretly hope that everyone will bring dessert. Others try to choreograph a fairly even distribution of appetizers, sides and sweets. If you’re a guest, defer to your hosts when choosing what to bring. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be cooking the turkey and running the vacuum cleaner around the house.
That said, it’s okay to negotiate a little. If sweet potatoes covered with mini marshmallows are not in your repertoire, offer to make your infamous Pumpkin Cheesecake or Decadent Cheesy Potatoes.
Don’t grumble if your cousin already called first dibs on the cheesecake and your sister-in-law beat you to the spuds. Yes, even if they are using your recipes! Consider it a compliment. Be gracious and offer to make a delicious soup, salad or apple pie.
If you are hopeless in the kitchen, fess up and offer to bring a couple of bottles of wine, a flower arrangement or a loaf of bread from your favorite bakery. Your friends and family will be thankful.
The devil is in the details. If you are in charge of salad, bring the tongs and vinaigrette. Of course, your host will forgive you if you forget. However, she has enough to juggle without having to track down extra utensils and olive oil at the last minute. Same goes for ice cream for the pie.
And keep the last minute, finishing (or not so finishing) touches to a minimum. In other words, don’t arrive with bags of greens to wash or desserts to flambé. And definitely don’t bring a bushel of raw, unpeeled, unwashed potatoes along with your most winsome but bumbling expression if you’re in charge of the spuds.
Don’t assume there will be plenty of oven space for you to roast your veggies or bake your pie. For hot dishes, my favorite trick is to cover my serving dish, wrap it in an old (but clean) beach towel or two and then throw it all in a cooler. Between the towels and the cooler, your dish will be well insulated and stay warm for about an hour.
If you’re hosting the potluck, do consider at least a modicum of planning. Yes, I know it can be fun and funny to throw caution to the wind and let everyone bring whatever strikes their fancy. Even if you love, love, love them, are you sure you want masses upon masses of sweet potatoes? Or half a dozen pumpkin pies?
On the other hand, there is planning and then there is planning. If you are one of those meticulous perfectionists, you might want to do all the cooking yourself. Let’s face it, just because your neighbor promises to bring apple pie doesn’t mean she’ll actually get to the bakery before they run out. Expect a few surprises. Heck, blueberry might not be traditional for Thanksgiving but it’s still delicious.
Have fun and be thankful for good food and a great day with family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving and bon appétit!
Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad
Want to lend your host a hand this Thanksgiving? Why not offer to bring a light and bright salad? Enjoy!
About 12 ounces radicchio, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
8 ounces frisée salad or arugula or 2-3 endives, cut in bite size pieces
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
About 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
About 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted
About 1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
2-3 ounces Manchego cheese
Put the radicchio, fennel, frisée, scallions and parsley in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss. Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates.
Use a sharp vegetable peeler to make thin shaving of Manchego. Sprinkle the salad with Manchego shaving, hazelnuts and cranberries
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
2-3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Put the orange juice, vinegar, mustard, garlic and shallot in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Gradually add olive oil to taste and whisk until smooth. Cover and let the vinaigrette sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to several days in the refrigerator.
Bring to room temperature and whisk again before serving.
Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.
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Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
What’s your favorite dish to bring to a potluck? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014