Author to ‘Bring It’ with potluck ideas
NEW YORK — Ali Rosen is passionate about potlucks. The founder and host of “Potluck with Ali Rosen,” a television show and website dedicated to the art of potlucking, she has also recently released a cookbook, “Bring It!” with her favorite recipes, from appetizers, salads, main dishes and desserts, that are easy to make ahead and bring to the next party.
Rosen has some tips for new hosts of potlucks to make their next party a success.
“The main thing is organization. People think it has to be super easy and have no instruction, that people can bring whatever they want,” she said. “People want a little bit of guidance, and if you start with some organization, you won’t have 8 salads, no dessert and one main course.”
She says organization doesn’t mean telling people exactly what to make, but being specific on the type of dish to bring. “Tell each person to bring a vegetable side dish or bring a dessert or bring a meat.”
An important thing for both hosts and guests to do is get a sense about oven and refrigerator space. “If seven people bring dishes that need to be reheated, you’re going to have to figure that out,” she said, especially if they all have to be heated at different temperatures. She recommends having people bring room temperature dishes when possible. “It makes an easier set-up and is less stressful,” she said. “People can stand around and talk, have a plate or sit down and you don’t have to worry about people showing up late or having to reheat at different temperatures. It takes the large issue out of the occasion.” She has several room-temperature protein dishes in her cookbook.
For first-time hosts, Rosen recommends starting with a smaller group of people, but making sure all the basics are covered. “Don’t jump in with too much.” She said more experienced hosts can get into a theme or a mood of the potluck. “Once you’ve started to organize, you can decide on a theme, whether it’s related to a holiday or season or a cookbook. Make it fun!”
For first-time cooks at a potluck she recommends starting with a salad. “It’s an easy place to start. It’s something everyone likes and will take a little bit of. You can make it as exciting as you want and they’re not difficult to make.” The Tomato, Roasted Corn and Feta Salad on the cover of her book is a favorite request. She said to remember to use a lettuce that can stand up to time and to add the salad dressing after you arrive at the potluck. “The longer it sits, the sadder it can get.” She also said if pears or apples are in the salad, to make sure to put lemon on them so they don’t brown.
Rosen said dessert is another easy place to start. Her cookbook has a recipe for S’Mores Bars that she recommends. “They can be made a day or two ahead, and everybody loves them.”
She reminds home cooks that you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen to make something good. “About a third of the recipes in the book are 30 minutes or less,” she said.