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Vol. 112 - Issue 1, Wednesday, September 15, 2010
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By Sandy Olson

Are you becoming weary of toting the same tater tot casserole to all potlucks?  Or...goulash, gelatin salad, rolls with butter?  The Gourmet Potluck: Show-Stopping Recipes for the Buffet Table  by Beth Hensperger (2006, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley CA) might inspire you to stretch a little the next time you need to provide a dish to pass.  The book is divided into four chapters geared for the seasons and includes  information on equipment, transportation plus general how-to facts. The following recipes at taken from the Hearty Winter Fare section.

Moroccan Chicken with Dried Fruit and Olives

Prepare this dish the day before you need to take it to a potluck so it can marinate. Bake it on serving day; it can be served at room temperature or hot.

One cup dry white wine

One cup, packed, light brown sugar

One-half cup red or white wine vinegar

One-half cup olive oil

Three tablespoons crumbled, dried marjoram or basil

Six cloves garlic, pressed

Five pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts

One can (6 oz.) black, nicoise or kalamata olives, drained and pitted

One can (6 oz.) pitted green olives

Eight dried apricot halves

Eight ounces pitted prunes

One-half cup drained nonpareil capers

In a very large plastic container with a snap-on lid, combine the wine, brown sugar, vinegar, oil, marjoram and garlic. Add the chicken, olives, apricots, prunes and capers. Cover and shake to coat the chicken with marinade. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Divide the chicken and marinade between two baking dishes. Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes depending upon the thickness of the meat, until the chicken is no longer pink when pierced at its thickest part.

If serving hot, serve immediately. If serving at room temperature, bake earlier in the day.  It is easier to bake it at home and transport to the dinner since it is juicy.  Serves 16.

Winter Corn Pudding

Five large eggs

Two tablespoons all-purpose flour

One-half cup half and half

Two cans (16 oz. each) creamed corn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8x8-inch baking dish. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, flour and half and half with an electric mixer or a whisk. Season with salt and pepper and add the creamed corn, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Pour into the baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until the pudding is puffed and browned but still quivers in the center.  Serve hot or warm. 8 servings.

Zucchini, Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole

Three and one-half cups sour cream

Two cans (10.75 oz. each) cream of chicken soup

One can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

One-half cup chopped fresh parsley

One-quarter cup chopped green onions, both white and green parts

One and one-half teaspoons crumbled, dried marjoram or oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

One and one-half cups raw wild rice, rinsed well and drained

Four cups water

Two pounds zucchini, sliced

Four cups cubed, cooked turkey

Two and one-half cups (about 10 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese

One can (28 oz.) peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl, combine sour cream, soup, chiles, parsley, green onions and marjoram and beat until smooth with a whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a saucepan, combine wild rice with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and decrease heat to low; simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Drain if necessary and set aside to cool. In another saucepan, bring one inch of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and steam until barely cooked and still firm, about 8 minutes. Brush a 9x13-inch baking dish with oil or butter. Arrange the rice in the bottom of the dish and using a spatula, cover the entire layer with half the sauce.  

Arrange the turkey in an even layer over the sauce, follow with the zucchini then cover with the grated cheese. Sprinkle the tomatoes over the cheese and cover with the remaining sauce.  Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 20 minutes more, until bubbling hot.  Serves 10 and should be served hot.

Green Beans Amandine

Three pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal

Three-quarters of a cup of butter (12 tablespoons)

Juice of one-half lemon

Two teaspoons salt

Few pinches cayenne or ground white pepper

Two cups slivered blanched almonds

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and plunge the beans into it to set the color. Drain, reserving one-quarter cup of the water. In a large skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the reserved hot water, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the green beans and cook until the liquid has evaporated, 15 – 20 minutes. In another skillet, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat and add the almonds. Cook until the nuts are golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the green beans to a shallow casserole dish or serving platter. Pour the almonds and butter over the top and toss to coat.  Serve warm or hot.  Makes 12 servings.

Walking into the typical pot luck dinner with a dish no one has ever tasted before does have its risks.  But, given the tantalizing  fragrance and beautiful appearance of these dishes, people might not be able to resist just a teeny taste, or more!  

And...that’s all she wrote.

Sandy Olson can be reached via email at


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