I call myself a potluck snob. Potlucks have never made my list of favorite things for several reasons. First, I’m very critical of other people’s food. I won’t spend more than one bite on mediocre cooking. Secondly, it takes several trips to find the good stuff, leading to multiple paper plates full of food that wind up in the trash. The first trip is spent taking a little of this and a little of that just to give it a try. The second trip allows you to grab a little more of those things that were decent and try some of the new stuff that just showed up due to the rude people that arrived late. By the third trip, you’re filling your plate with what you brought yourself before it’s gone because you realize that it’s the best thing there. Lastly, the potluck game is all but fair. There’s the June Cleaver wannabe who carries in the crockpot or baking dish with her oven mitts still on needing to pop her delicious main course in the oven for a quick reheat. Then there’s the bachelor that shows up with a bag of chips and bottled salsa. I’ve even seen what looks to be like leftovers from the night before yielding only 3 servings to those lucky enough to get in line first. I don’t consider myself to be a competitive person but when it comes to bringing a dish to pass, you better believe that my intention is to win with the best dish, allowing me to leave with an empty bowl. It’s easy to tell the winners in the potluck game because there’s a buzz about certain things. “Who brought the brownies? Does anyone know who made the salad with the blue cheese crumbles?” Yep, I’m listening for the buzz!
Of the many dishes I’ve seen at a potluck, the most common are casseroles, pasta salads, fruit salads, bar cookies, and brownies. Many are recipes that have been passed down through generations but more recently I’ve seen more store bought items which frustrates me. If I wanted a bucket of chicken, I would have gone through the drive thru. There have been times that I’ve been in a bind myself and raced through the grocery store for a dish to pass at the last minute on my way to a party just to avoid showing up empty handed, but I always feel terribly embarrassed about it. Lately I’ve chosen a bottle of wine in those cases because it looks a little more thoughtful in my opinion and the bottle usually ends up empty…another win for me!
One common dish that makes an appearance at most potlucks is the Waldorf Salad. Created in 1893 by Oscar Tschirky, the maitre d’ of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City who developed and inspired many of its signature dishes, this salad has tremendous flavor and texture. Traditionally, the Waldorf Salad is made with apples, celery, and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise and served on a bed of lettuce. It’s an age-old favorite with countless variations.
Being one who has frequently enjoyed this delicious salad, I thought I would take an adventure with this favorite and make it my own. After studying many online recipes, I came up with a delightful adaptation with a little Greek flair. With thick Greek yogurt, honey, pecans, and dried cranberries, this version will create the buzz I’m looking for at the next potluck I reluctantly accept an invitation to.
I paired this salad with delicious maple-glazed pork chops, garlic-herbed rice and tender roasted asparagus. The maple-glazed pork chop recipe is a new one for me also. Browned in butter, broiled with brown sugar and topped with a thick maple glaze, these pork chops were a perfect complement to this fruit salad. Enjoy!
1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 T. mayo
1 tsp. honey
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2 T. flat leaf parsley (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. toasted pecans
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 1/2 Gala apple, cored and chopped
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
1/2 c. red seedless grapes, halved
2 ribs celery, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Lettuce leaves for serving (Butter or Bibb)
Heat the nuts in a heavy skillet on low heat to toast for 8-10 minutes. Cool and break the nuts up into small pieces. Whisk the yogurt, mayonnaise, parsley, honey, and lemon zest in a large bowl and season with freshly ground black pepper. Halve, core, and cut the apples into 3/4-inch pieces, leaving the skin intact. Add the apples, grapes, celery, and cranberries to the bowl, and sprinkle with the lemon juice; then toss with the dressing. Chill if not serving immediately. When ready to serve, toss pecans into the salad. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter, or divide them among 4 salad plates. Place the salad on the lettuce and serve.
Maple-Glazed Pork Chops
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
4 bone-in pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add pork chops and shake to coat. In a skillet, brown chops on both sides in butter. Place in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 450 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, bring the vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat; add maple syrup. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the maple mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Place chops on a broiler pan; sprinkle with brown sugar. Broil 4 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until sugar is melted. Drizzle with maple glaze.
Recipe courtesy of www.allrecipes.com