Cheating the potluck

Cheating the potluck

How to make a meaningful contribution to the party - without having to turn on the stove

By Kari Heron

Published: Sun 9 Oct 2016, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 9 Oct 2016, 8:41 PM

When September rolled in, so did the invites, as the UAE social calendar began rekindling its spark. But now that October is here, expect the offers to gather over food to spike. Since many are now throwing potluck gatherings, here are easy ways you can make a contribution without even having to switch on a stove. Yes, you read right, this is a foolproof way to add value without the hassle of cooking. With work and school back in full swing, who has time for yet another chore? Certainly not me, so here goes:
Vegetable Salad
Usually one of the most neglected dishes at a potluck is the salad. Offer to bring one and go all out. Get fresh and great-looking ingredients and arrange them nicely in a beautiful salad bowl. You can play it safe with a fresh garden salad that can be had by all, even those with special diets. As a guide, you cannot go wrong with mixed salad greens, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Remember not to dress the salad until it's time to serve. Bring your vinaigrette in a bottle or jar with a spill-proof lid and simply shake it up to re-emulsify the oil and vinegar before pouring.
Fruit Salad
The beauty of a fruit salad is that everything goes. As long as it is a fruit, peel it (if necessary), cut it up and chuck it in. Then all you have to do is plate in a large bowl, keep chilled and voila! It's ready to serve. You may add a little sugar and lemon juice mixture to brighten up the fruits or take along a bottle of chocolate syrup for people to squirt over their portions, if they like.
Fruit Platter
If you have a flair for the artistic, and have more time to spend on decorating, you could opt for a lavish fruit platter instead. This means that the fruit needs to be carefully peeled and sliced and artfully arranged on a platter. This is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and may give you lots of brownie points at the potluck. without you having to turn on your stove!
Crudités & Hummus
I absolutely love the hummus in Carrefour and at Automatic Lebanese restaurants but you can order it from any restaurant of your choice. Get a lovely crudités platter (or chip and dip platter), spoon it out in the dip section and make sticks from cucumbers, celery and baby carrots; arrange nicely. Pack the extra hummus in another jar and cart along with you to the potluck to replenish the dip.
Ice and other Beverages
Ice is an often forgotten necessity at a potluck. Offer to grab at least three bags (depending on the amount of people expected). Put some in a cooler to serve in cups with beverages and the rest in a cooler to chill the beverages in their bottles. Sodas and juices are also very useful. Get the most popular flavours and also a diet variety for anyone who prefers sugar-free soda.
By far, the easiest thing to do is to offer to bring dessert, and get this - buy it! Chocolate is always a great choice, else cheesecake, honey cake, or one with fruits on top. You could also bring decorated cupcakes, mini tarts or a chocolate bouquet from one of the many fine local chocolatiers.

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