Monday, July 25, 2016

Review: Modern Potluck by Kristin Donnelly

Modern Potluck is the first book from food writer Kristin Donnelly.  The straight-forward title tells you the basics about this book: it is indeed a book of recipes that would work well for potlucks.  But not, of course, old school potlucks replete with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup-based casseroles, warm deviled eggs, and Country Time Lemonade made from powder.   Instead, Donnelly has created a beautiful book full of delicious recipes that focus on fresh, whole ingredients and complex flavors inspired by many types of global cuisine.  When I first heard about this book, I was not super excited by the concept.  Why do you need a book all about potlucks??  Just make whatever you want!  But in looking through the book, I remembered the times when I have gone to potlucks and worried about what to bring.  For the most part, you want dishes that don't need to be hot and don't require much on-site preparation.  It needs to feed a fair number of people, and it will ideally fit in with a wide variety of other dishes.  In other words, the seemingly straight-forward potluck is actually a minefield of mistakes waiting to happen, particularly if the potluck you're attending is a "modern" one and you don't want to embarrass yourself with something of the Cream of Mushroom Soup-casserole variety.  So in fact, a whole book of tasteful yet not fussy recipes for potlucks is actually really useful!  It's great to have a book full of recipes that you know will travel well and otherwise check the boxes I noted above.  The recipes also just sound and look delicious, and sine I don't actually attend that many potlucks, these are recipes that I will mostly be making for dinner, rather than for potlucks.  The recipes are all quite straight-forward, and yet sophisticated and beautiful.  Every recipe includes a "Potluck Prep" note that includes information about preparing parts of the dish the night before, and what you should assemble on site.  Among the recipes that I found particularly compelling were Spice-Roasted Carrots with Lentils, Kamut and Cauliflower Salad with Smoked Almonds and Marmalade Dressing, Miso-and-Molasses Baked Beans, Smoky Squash Mac & Cheese, Caramelized Onion, Gouda, and Pecan Scones, Caramelized Kimchi Corn Bread, and Potato Chip-Crusted Magic Bars.
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

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