One not so well kept secret around the Main Library is that the First Floor – New & Featured staff love a good potluck. We indulge our passion for cooking, eating and sharing approximately every other month. We celebrate arrivals, departures and whatever the closest holiday happens to be. The creativity of my co-workers abounds not only in the culinary realm, but also in the theme department. A few of my personal favorites have been the all chocolate potluck, the Thanksgiving leftover remix potluck, and the Cinco de Mayo potluck, complete with blender, ice and non-alcoholic margarita mix.
I usually recommend that you bring to a potluck a dish you know how to make, one that’s been a tried and true recipe for you. If you enjoy it, chances are that others will also. A potluck, especially with people you may not know so well, is not always the time to try that fancy new recipe with 40 steps and 25 esoteric ingredients. Potlucks are supposed to be about classic, homey favorites.
But now having said that, if you are looking for a new dish to try out on your guinea pigs, er, I mean co-workers or friends, the library offers a plethora of casserole and one-pot meal cookbooks. The following are intended for potlucks specifically:
The Church Supper Cookbook: A Special Collection of over 375 Potluck Recipes from Families and Churches across the Country – Everyone knows that the best potlucks, and therefore the best potluck recipes, come from the church ladies. This book even contains a recipe for ham loaf, which was a staple at my church’s potluck dinners when I was a child.
Cook’s Country Best Potluck Recipes: More Than 100 Classic and Heirloom Favorites for All Occasions from the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen – If it’s from America’s Test Kitchen, then you know it’s going to be good. When you’re looking for a new recipe that’s going to be an instant addition to you regular repertoire, new candidates can be found in this book.
Potluck Paradise: Favorite Fare from Church & Community Cookbooks by Rae Katherine Eighmey and Debbie Miller – I love the kitschy 1950s look of the illustrations in this. This book is a compilation of recipes from those community-produced, spiral-bound cookbooks you see for sale everywhere. The authors have gleaned the best of the best, tested them, and present them in this entertaining book.
Park Avenue Potluck: With Recipes from New York’s Savviest Hostesses by Florence Fabricant – For those who want to bring a little fancy to their next potluck, this book offers recipes “that are as easy as they are elegant.” Herbed Orzo with Toasted Pine Nuts, Spanish Seafood Casserole, and Society Salmon Mold are just a few of the dishes in this collection.
Fix-It and Enjoy-It! Potluck Heaven: 543 Stove-Top and Oven Dishes That Everyone Loves – Will 543 recipes be enough for you to choose from? Think you might be able to find something in this one? If not, you just might be too picky.
Good Housekeeping the Great Potluck Cookbook: Our Favorite Recipes for Carry-In Suppers, Brunch Buffets, Tailgate Parties & More! – If it’s from Good Housekeeping, chances are it’s a classic. Your favorites are here, as well as some that are served with a twist.
Emeril’s Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked-Up Attitude by Emeril Lagasse – Just in case you want to add a little BAM to your next potluck offering. How about Cocktail Crawfish Turnovers or Penne a la Vodka Casserole? There’s even a Creole Breakfast Bread Pudding!
Raw Potluck: Over 100 Simply Delicious Raw Dishes for Everyday Entertaining by Lisa Montgomery – Not everyone is a meat eater nowadays. These dishes will appeal to those who limit their intake of certain foods and the omnivores at your gathering. No one needs to know they are eating something healthy…