The first signs of potluck season are the party invitations that begin to fill your social calendar. The next sign is the mild anxiety and slight confusion when deciding on a dish to bring that will demonstrate your kitchen skills, but not take forever to prepare. Potlucks, in their current sense – a meal to which a group of folks each brings something – began in the 1930s. There is a lot of information on the internet about the word “potluck.” Some sources say it’s short for “the luck of the pot,” while others say that it is derived from the indigenous word and practice of potlatch. Whatever the origin, the revolution of the potluck is an ingenious cultural phenomenon that distributes the work of feeding a group equally amongst its participants. If you want to win at your potlucks this year, there are a few things to consider ahead of time to ensure that the gatherings go smoothly, and with the least amount of effort.
Food allergies and dietary restrictions are becoming more prevalent each year. You don’t want your party to be memorable because someone had to be rushed to the hospital with an allergic reaction. Write out a note card to display by your dish that lists its ingredients and allergens. Currently, the USDA recognizes eight foods with official allergen status: milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts. This will make it easier for guests to make choices without having to figure out who made what and interrupt the flow of the party. (Bonus points for listing the sugar, salt and carbohydrate counts!)
If you plan to leave the party early, transport your offering in a container that you can leave behind and don’t mind not getting back. Your hosts will be happy they don’t have to track you down to return your prized, purple porcelain deviled egg tray.
The ideal potluck dish is delicious, easy to make, not messy to eat, and festive. Finger foods make for effortless mingling without juggling silverware. Pinwheels can be made with all sorts of ingredients, so be creative. If you don’t already have a favorite go-to recipe, try these cream cheese pinwheels rolled in spinach flatbread wraps with a sweet and savory cranberry dipping sauce. We eat first with our eyes, so the green wrap adds an appealing pop of color. Try using half an orange peel for serving our cranberry dip; its pretty and compostable … one less dish to wash! You can get the ingredients for these party-pleasing pinwheels at the Local Grocer, Downtown Flint.
Cream Cheese Pinwheels
- 2 large spinach flatbread wraps
- 8oz block of cream cheese at room temperature
- ¼ cup green onions
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 Tbsp red onion
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ cup half and half
- ½ tsp salt
- pinch pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, spread over entire flatbread, roll and slice into discs.
- 12 oz box cranberries
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp orange zest
Bring to a boil in a small pot, simmer until thick.
Photography by Eric Dutro