The Best Test Kitchen

The best test kitchen you will ever have is a potluck dinner. While it's true that trying a new recipe out on company is risky business, it can also help you quickly decide whether or not to add your latest culinary creation to your "bag of foodie tricks". Potlucks can often allow you the luxury of discreetly placing your contribution to the buffet table without too much notice. Thus if it doesn't disappear as quickly as some of the other offerings you can wash your hands of it and pretend that it wasn't yours (just make sure that you bring it in a dollar store dish that you are willing to leave behind!) ...... On the other hand, if guests are going back for seconds like they hit the jackpot, then you know you have a winner!

Alicia setting out a fabulous chocolate cake with boiled icing that a relative contributed to our potluck.
Recently my husband and I hosted his family's annual reunion, a potluck, and I'm proud to say that I made a few things that were a hit and discovered a few new recipes that I will be adding to my list of favorites.
As a main dish I thought I would prepare something cold in order to free up my oven for those who brought dishes that needed to be reheated. (I even cleaned it for this occasion hoping to create the impression that I was a good housekeeper!) The two dishes that I prepared were Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce and Tabbouleh, both of which are dairy free ..... something I keep in mind since my "daughter-in-law to be" (in the photo above) is lactose intolerant. The pasta salad is easy to make and the peanut sauce is delicious. Tabbouleh is one of my favorites and there are several variations of which my favorite is with cilantro instead of mint. In the video below, How to Make Tabbouleh, cinnamon and allspice are used, which I think gives it a distinctive middle eastern flavour!

Vegetable and Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce

For desert you can't go wrong with carrot cake and cream cheese icing. Let's face it .... you could put cream cheese icing on cardboard and it would taste good! And that chocolate cake with boiled icing in the photo above was gone before you could say Jiminy Cricket, or Tequila Sunrise. In keeping with my "lactose intolerant" theme, however, and the fact that I had a 10 pound box of blueberries in the freezer, I found a blueberry cake recipe that I'm pleased to say was well received. It was very moist with vegetable oil, eggs and orange juice concentrate as the liquid ingredient (recipe below).

All in all a potluck is the perfect place to test out a new recipe. If it's a hit you can take full credit, if it's not, just slink away and wait until after dark to claim your dish!

Happy relatives gathering in anticipation of a "great feed" prepared by some great cooks!


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