Be envious. Be very envious. A perk of working at Powell’s as a book buyer is that we get to play around with new cookbooks before their release date. While we don’t get paid to cook from them, we do have access to the recipes and regularly try them out at home. We like to share the wealth at the office with the twice-yearly potluck. We ponder and browse, sometimes testing dishes ahead of time, sometimes taking a chance on a recipe for the first time the night before the feast — which can, at times, lead to complications. Here is an online conversation from the night before our third annual Spring Potluck:
Gigi: Making soup for the Powell’s spring cookbook potluck, and I’ve arrived at the first of many weeping onion breaks.
Jen: I have already failed this potluck. My house smells of burnt cookies. Sigh.
Mary Jo: Frankenpie says hi! It looks, uh, special. Not burned yet, but the crust is... unique!
Gigi: I’m glad to be in good company. I think you have to change cooking times when you’re tripling a recipe or something... but on the plus side, there’s a lot of it.
Jill: I don’t even know if I’ll bring mine in because even on the second attempt, I think I broke it.
Tracey: We are real people who like to cook — and that rarely means perfection. Jen: I have a high tolerance for burnt crunchy bits. Mary Jo: Frankenpie! Gigi: None of us knows what your soup should look like — thick or thin, we’ll think that is what you intended. Jill: Can you turn your ricotta into a dip?
Thanks, everyone, for cooking your asses off tonight. Now I have to go back to mincing Serrano peppers, all the while remembering not to stick my fingers in my eyes because: ouch.
At our potlucks we always look forward to Shawn bringing a rice dish. This time it was a rice burrito from Bowl
. (Rice may be the only thing he can cook, although he did once bring us some chocolate-covered bugs when he returned from a vacation in Colombia.) We always know Rhianna will make something colorful and delicious; her standout recipe this time was Carrot Mash Tartine from Whole Protein Vegetarian
. (At least I heard
that it was a delicious standout. By the time I got around the buffet table, all of her tartine had been snapped up.) And while Gigi had some troubles tripling her batch of “Cheddar” Beer Soup from The Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking
, it turned out delicious and tasted remarkably cheese-like for a vegan dish.
This post features our savory dishes; the sweet portion of our meal will be in the next posting. Our special guests for the potluck were from the Portland Farmers Market, so we’ll cap off the Spring Potluck blog series with a special posting devoted solely to The Portland Farmers Market Cookbook
by Lukas Volger
Shawn made: Black Rice Burrito Bowl
“Toast the pumpkin seeds last to ensure that they are at full flavor and then serve everything together in a wide shallow bowl so that the full spectrum of beautiful colors is visible.”
by Klancy Miller
Jeremy made: Jalapeno Watermelon Salad
“The fresher the feta, the better the bite!”
Cooking With Loula
by Alexandra Stratou
Doug made: Spicy Cheese Dip
“The recipe called for blending ingredients in a food processor, but we had packed ours away in preparation for a move. Instead, I got out the potato masher and mashed up all the cheese and fried chilies and oil and everything into a nice lumpy dip. Or, as I like to say, ‘I mushed up cheeses and stuff.’”
Floyd Cardoz Flavorwalla
by Floyd Cardoz
Tracey made: White Bean Pomegranate and Peanut Salad
“I was out of maple syrup, so I went all uber-pomegranate and used pomegranate syrup instead. And since this recipe had turned into a celebration of the pomegranate, I added extra pearls. The peanuts and pearls gave the salad a delightful crunch, and the chai added a surprise exotic flavor.”
by Anya Fernald
Kate made: Torta di Verdure
“The recipe called for a mixture of leafy greens. I definitely took heed and used a combination of Russian and Lacinato kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, dandelion greens, and spinach — which gave it the perfect balance of sweet and bitter. I think a side of pickled beets would make a nice accompaniment to this dish as well.”
Love and Lemons
by Jeanine Donofrio
Corie made: Cucumber Basil and Watermelon Salad
“This recipe makes a great looking salad. Don’t be concerned if your mango fights back while you are trying to cut it into pieces; the slightly mauled mango chunks will look just fine mixed into this beautiful salad.”
Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking
by Dana Shultz
Gigi made: “Cheddar” Beer Soup
“Not only did my soup turn out way better than I expected in my initial (routine) panic (vegan beer cheese soup — who knew!), but the leftovers, poured over toast, made for a fun, impromptu mock Welsh rarebit. OK, I did add a little bit of actual cheese to that, but even for a rabid cheeseaholic like me, it’s not necessary to add anything to get that robust, cheesy flavor.
Insider tip number two:
Plan ahead! If you’re making ‘Cheddar’ Beer Soup for a big potluck party, don’t forget all about serving bowls until the last minute and figure you can run to the grocery in the morning, because you might have a flat tire and then spend four hours sitting at the tire dealership, just making it to the potluck in time to have to serve your delicious soup in mismatched coffee cups.”
by Sabrina Ghayour
Patrick made: Black and White Rice Salad
“The addition of mango, mint, and lime to a chicken and rice salad gave this dish a great tropical vibe — perfect for a summer potluck! Next time I would be sure to slice the bell pepper down finer and maybe increase the lime, but there will definitely be a next time.”
Whole World Vegetarian
by Marie Simmons
Britt made: Beet and Tahini Puree
“Honestly this recipe was so easy. It was (also) so tasty I would eat it on its own, without crackers or pita. Another good tip would be to explain how to get beet off your fingers, but I don’t know how to do that. My hands were pink for a day.”
Whole Protein Vegetarian
by Rebecca Miller Ffrench
Rhianna made: Carrot Mash Tartine
“Ffrench's recipe strongly encourages making homemade ricotta — a step I initially balked at — and I'm so glad that I went for it. Not only was my homemade ricotta a dreamy, creamy cheese that married beautifully with the sweet carrot mash and toasted hazelnuts, but it was easy to make and I had enough left over to make my family the best-ever Lemon Ricotta Cloud Pancakes (courtesy of my beloved Modern Way to Eat
). Making ricotta requires just milk, cream, salt, lemon juice, and a spare hour, and it will make you feel like a four-star chef.”
Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore
by Anna Thomas
Mark made: Summer Chop Salad With Corn and Pepper Salsa
“This was my second turn with preparing this hearty and lovely-to-look-at salad. My only tip would be to consider how many eaters you have at your table. The ingredients will easily feed more than six quite luxuriously.”
by Cara Mangini
JC made: Zucchini With Cumin, Basil, Mint, and Ricotta
Toast the cumin seeds in the pan first, and remove them once toasted — before cooking the zucchini. The few extra minutes of toasting really improves the flavor of this dish.