For the past two weeks, I've written about strategies for planning ahead now that I'm cooking for a rapidly expanding family. Okay, so there's really just one more family member -- and one who's not even eating solid food yet -- but with her arrival, our world has turned topsy-turvy, in the best of ways. This nascent chaos brings with it a need to simplify and organize, and also a strong urge to return to "normalcy" every once in a while. We've found that the best way to accomplish this is to see friends. Many of them have kids already, but a lot don't, and just as a certain distance can develop between single and non-single friends, we've quickly realized it can be difficult to bridge the gap between those who spend 98 percent of their time talking about poop, and those who don't.
It's no longer an easy option for us to meet up with friends at some cool new restaurant at 9pm on a Friday for an impromptu social gathering -- now we need to plan our evenings out at least a week, if not two, in advance. These days it makes a lot more sense for us to host. Having people over has the dual benefit of not requiring us to find a sitter, and allowing us to maintain the baby's schedule while we socialize with our friends. While we used to love hosting late-night, multi-course dinner parties (see Amanda's recent post on getting back into the swing of dinner parties), right now those are just not an option. The answer to our dilemma? Potlucks, of course!
This weekend, we invited a group of good friends to our place on Sunday afternoon for a potluck brunch/lunch. I prepared a main dish -- a pasta with spicy sausage and some ramps I'd picked up at the farmers market the day before that took me all of 20 minutes to put together (the recipe is at the bottom of this post) -- along with a simple appetizer and drinks, relying on our guests to round out the menu, which looked like this:
- Blackcurrant juice spritzers
- Local ricotta drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper, served with crackers
- Prosciutto and soppressata
- Orecchiette with spicy sausage and ramps
- Raisin walnut bread from Bien Cuit with salted Irish butter
- Lemony Green Bean Salad with Feta, Red Onion and Marjoram
- Roasted aparagus with olive oil and lemon juice
- Raspberry peach crumb pie
- Champage (to celebrate the arrival of my friend Guillermo's new greencard!)
Here's a video clip, where you can see all of the dishes:
You may have noticed that I took my own photos and video for this post, and also for my previous two posts. Microsoft recently gave me a new Nokia Lumia 900 Windows phone (the subject of a lot of buzz recently) to try out. In case you weren't aware, we're really fussy about photos here at Food52 -- great food photography is not easy to produce! -- so I thought it would be a good test to see if I could take some decent food photos with the phone. The verdict? I was pleasantly surprised by both the photo and video quality, even when shot by a total amateur like me -- pretty snazzy, and no Instagram filters needed!
What are your favorite potluck dishes/menus? Share them in the comments section, and if you too have great food photos you've taken with your phone, tweet them to us @food52!
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausage, bulk or removed from casings
- 1/2 pound ramps (you can use young leeks if you don't have access to ramps), cleaned and trimmed of roots
- 1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
Brought to you by the new AT&T Nokia Lumia 900. Tasks. Joys. Simply Faster.
All photos and video were taken with the new Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now