Potluck Olympics

February 16, 2009

When you think about going to a potluck, if you are like most people I know, you envision a casual affair in which friends and acquaintances share favorite recipes, purchases from local grocery stores and low-key conversations.  I, on the other hand, have numerous rules for myself at these events and, I’m embarrassed to say, feel somewhat uncomfortable bringing just anything (or for that matter eating just anything).  I know it is not meant to be this, but sharing a dish at a pot luck somehow turns into a Olympic-style competition where I am vying with other entries for the honor of being the talk of the town. “Wow, did you taste that cheesecake? I wonder who made it. You did? That is the best cheesecake I’ve EVER tasted.” I find myself competing with people who didn’t even know the event that they had entered. I’m guessing you can understand my dilemma as I approach one of these pot-lucks. I love having people notice and enjoy what I’ve made, but I also LOVE making new recipes. I found myself faced with this conflict last night when invited to a work event with many people who know nothing about my life as a baker (or my need to steal the show).  I spent most of the day on Saturday trying to decide how great a risk I was willing to take. Could I bring the Devil’s Food White-Out Cake that I was making as part of baking with Tuesdays With Dorie? I had never made this before and was worried that it might be too much of a risk (my children were also freaking out at the possibility that they would not be the first tasters of this marshmallow fantasy that reminded me of one of my childhood loves… Ho-Hos!).  I opted for some safer choices, Pasta Raphael, one of my favorite vegetarian pasta recipes from The New Basics, a wonderful amalgam of tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, lots of freshly ground black pepper, Greek olives, and garlic.  I also thought that I would take a small risk, as well. Since I was bringing a main course, couldn’t I also bring a simple dessert, one that would allow me to try a new recipe but not attempt to be a show-stopper like Dorie’s cake? I made the Coffee Crunch bars from last month’s Bon Appetit.  The recipe, written by Molly Wizenberg, “the voice behind the award-winning blog Orangette” resulted in a bar that I can imagine making time and time again.  They are buttery, coffee-flavored, sugary perfection. I substituted the almonds with some incredible toasted hazelnuts and I must say this has become a favorite recipe overnight.  I have to admit that both recipes appeared humble and did not take center stage (or first place).  Most of the people brought items that they had purchased at a store and my entries looked small (and not well marketed).  Oh well. Live and learn. I will remain in training until the next event.

This photo does not do justice to this week's cake. We LOVED it!

This photo does not do justice to this week's cake. We LOVED it!


7 Responses to “Potluck Olympics”

  1. Amanda Says:

    Oh I can so related to wanting to steal the show LOL! Glad you enjoyed the cake, we loved it too!

  2. pamela Says:

    I’m with you on wanting everyone to love (and talk about) what I’ve made. I like praise, and (sadly) I’m not ashamed to admit it! ;o) Great job.

  3. Leanne Says:

    I think most of us can admit wanting to steal the show. I want people to like what I make. I loved the cake too.

  4. Michele Says:

    Your cake looks really good, lots of frosting!

  5. Farah Says:

    Your cake looks great. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  6. pinkstripes Says:

    Your cake looks great. I’m glad it was a hit.

  7. jane S Says:

    love reading your blog!!! the cake looks yummy. I also cut out the recipe for coffee crunch bars, and now you have inspired me to make them. Keep up the great work!!!!!

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