I love getting invites out for dinner but this quickly turns to anxiety if I’m told it’s “Pot Luck” and I’ve got to bring. In the past my mind has gone blank as I racked my brain trying to think of simple but tasty things that I was capable of preparing. I’m not a confident cook so I worried that my efforts in the kitchen would be a flop. Invariably left it to the last minute to get organised so this added to my stress.
I’ve decided to think of some ideas ahead of time.
A number of them involve “assembly” of foods rather than baking or complicated cooking methods.
Most people love this and it is just a matter of whipping some cream and mixing it with yogurt, chopped marshmallows and fruit e.g strawberries or other berries, mandarin, pineapple. You could add a crumbled up chocolate flake bar and/or chopped pecans. There are lots of recipes online.
1 – Prunes and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon strips.
These are very popular as a hors d’oeuvre and I made them multiple times to much praise. Buy bacon strips, a can of water chestnuts, a packet of prunes, some dry chicken stock and some toothpicks. Wrap each chestnut or prune with a strip of bacon, fix with a toothpick and place on a metal tray. You can sprinkle them with a little pepper and crumled chicken stock to make them even better. Keep them cool, cover with tin foil or cling film and take them to your friend’s place. Bake on a medium high temperature for 20 mins to cook the bacon and then serve warm.
2 – Fancy Cheese on Toast
You need a long, thick baguette of French Bread ( or italian), ⅔ cup of mayonnaise, ⅓ cup pesto, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese and a crushed clove of garlic. Combine these ingredients. Cut the bread into pieces about an inch thick and lightly toast one side under the oven’s broiler for about 5 mins. Watch very closely so as not to burn them. Take out and tune over so untoasted side on top. Slather top of bread evenly with thick layer of mixture. Place back under broiler under mixture bubbling and golden. Serve warm.
3 – Crackers and Dip
There are some wonderful and easy-peesy dip recipes out there online. One I do a lot is mixing two 185 g tins or one 425 g tin of drained chunky tuna (in water) with a ½ cup of mayonnaise. Mix in the zest and juice of half a lemon. Add 1-2 tspns Dijon or whole grain mustard if you have it. It just adds an extra complexity to the flavor. Add the following, very finely chopped or blended: ¼ small red onion or 2 spring onions, and a handful of parsley.
If you’ve got no time to prepare anything at all you can’t go wrong with bringing one or two packets of plain rice crackers and a tub each of quality hummus and pesto.
This is a very popular salad amongst my family and friends. The vinegrette is SO delicious you’ll want to use it on all your salads.
You need mesclun salad leaves, strawberries, a round of brie or camenbert, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Spiced Dijon or whole grain mustard, ground pepper , ¼ tspn salt. I like to add cherry tomatoes or chopped tomato too.
In a sealed container shake together 50 mls Balsamic Vinegar, 100 ml olive oil and 100 mls spiced vinegar. Add 1-2 tspn mustard, salt and ground pepper to taste.
Prepare the salad leaves and cubed cheese, cut strawberries and tomatoes.
Toss salad with the vinegrette just before serving.
photo credit: Marshall Astor – Food Fetishist via photopin CC