Sunday Potluck With Friends

A while ago, Michelle, Alicia, Daisy, Meghan, and I decided it would be really fun to have a sort of potluck or cooking party. So often we read about each other's meals and recipes, but rarely do we get to try each other's dishes. We thought of this gathering as a chance to share that thing we all love so much -- food.

We each agreed to make two dishes and to meet at my place on Sunday afternoon to cook, eat, and, of course, sip some bubbly (although I only had a sip here and there since I'm still pretty under the weather). Everyone had their dishes prepped ahead of time, and the cooking was done here, so unlike with other potlucks, we could actually have our hot foods hot.

I decided to make a dessert (it's kind of expected from the baker in the group), and then I thought it would be nice to have some sort of appetizer for everyone to munch on when they arrived and while they were cooking.

A while back I had seen a feta tart in the Greece issue of Saveur. I had been dying to have company over so I could make this tart. It's unlike other tarts in that you pour a batter into a hot pan of oil, and that forms the bottom of the tart. Then you sprinkle feta and butter on top and bake the whole thing until it is golden brown and crispy (recipe coming soon). I timed the tart perfectly and was just pulling it out of the oven within minutes after Meghan's arrival. About 5 minutes later, Alicia, Michelle, and Daisy came in, and the tart was cool enough to be cut and served.

We ate the tart along with a white bean dip with truffle oil that Meghan brought and walnut and mushroom vegetarian pate and muhammara (a red pepper walnut dip) from Alicia.

This was the perfect snack to hold us over until Daisy served us bowls of creamy parsnip soup with leeks. Some apples blended in the soup gave it just a hint of tanginess.

As we enjoyed our soup, Meghan set out her tortilla Espanola. This was a lovely dish with perfectly cooked layers of potatoes and eggs. She also made some sriracha aioli to pair with the tortilla. While the brave ones in the group ladled the aioli on their plates, I took a small dap to add just a hint of heat to my piece.

Next, Michelle mixed us up some cold curry peanut noodles. The noodles had a little kick to them, which really helped my cold! I'm so happy there are some leftovers in my fridge right now.

At this point, we decided to consider that the first course, and we all retreated to the couches to chat, play with Gunner, and flip through wedding magazines (I have at least a dozen of them now!).

When we worked up an appetite again, Michelle, Alicia, and Daisy returned to the kitchen to prepare their next dishes.

Michelle set to work frying and steaming some Mama Chang's dumplings, which she learned to make at a class at Myers + Chang.

Alicia reheated a pot of grits and cooked up a jambalaya chock-full of turkey andouille sausage and shrimp.

And Daisy made a warm brussels sprout salad with apples and goat cheese. (Have I mentioned how much I love brussels sprouts?!).

Let me tell you... these ladies all know how to cook! I think the only reason we were able to keep eating (and eating) was that everything was so good, and all the dishes were so varied and interesting.

Everyone had anticipated leaving with less food than they brought, but instead we filled containers with each other's food and saved leftovers for the next day's lunch or to share with our significant others. (Jeff was happy to see I saved him some dumplings. He was nice enough to spend the day watching football at a friend's house so my friends and I could take over the place for the afternoon, so it was the least I could do!)

After all of that eating, you wouldn't think we'd have any room for dessert, but it really is true that there's always room for dessert.

I reheated the spiced caramel sauce I had made the day before and strained all the spices out of it.

And then I set out the pumpkin ice cream I churned that morning and some gingerbread croutons also made the day before.

Armed with mini trifle dishes, everyone set to work dishing up their own sundaes. The caramel sauce was so good, I added more to my dish after I had eaten half of my sundae!

It was really a wonderful afternoon filled with lots of great food and great company! (Gunner definitely loved all the company too!)

I'll have recipes for all of my dishes up soon, and I'm sure Michelle, Meghan, Daisy, and Alicia will post theirs soon as well.

What did you cook this weekend? Do you ever have potlucks with friends?