Have food, Will travel
November 18, 2008 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I have a few couple holiday parties coming up and I'd like a great dish to bring. I'd like it to be not to difficult, not too expensive, possible to make/assemble ahead, and travel well.

It can be main dish, app or dessert (or other I guess). Fancy looking a bonus but not needed.
posted by beccaj to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in a similar situation, and I'm bringing brie en croute. Paula Deen has a good recipe on her website.
posted by chicainthecity at 3:02 PM on November 18, 2008

Best answer: Chocolate bread pudding! Easy to make, travels right in its baking dish, and can be served warm, room temp, or cold. Put a dollop of whipped cream on each serving and you're good to go.

There are a million recipes all over the place; the one I used most recently was this one from Everyday Food. There's also this one in the current issue of Real Simple that I haven't tried, but it looks good as well.
posted by scody at 3:09 PM on November 18, 2008

How about Navratan Pulao (Nine Jewel Rice). Can take a while to prepare and has a LOT of ingredients (some of which you'll need an Asian or Indian food store to acquire) but is a serious crowd pleaser. I've had people DEMAND I bring it to parties. It's better served fresh but can be transported and heated up in an oven and no-one will know the difference. Serve dusted with garam masala and chutney outlined below.

Complicated recipe.

Less complicated recipe.

You can find more with a simple Google search.

Suggest you serve that with a very simple Mint-yogurt chutney. For every 3-4 servings:
Cup or so of yogurt
1 tbs of fresh roasted, ground cumin
Good solid handful of fresh mint, chopped very fine*
2-3 jalapenos (or to taste), seeded and stemmed, chopped very fine*
Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
A tbs or so of fresh lemon juice
*Food processor works well here

Mix together and refridgerate for at least a few hours - preferably overnight. Be aware that heat from peppers wont develop until after its had time to rest - so plan accordingly. Serve as topping to rice - hot rice, cold chutney.

You'll slay'em.
posted by elendil71 at 3:20 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I usually make desert sushi cause all the products can be bought at most convient stores.
Throw it on an Sushi serving plate, with some chop sticks. I use a basic recipe of Fruit roll up as the nori, Rice Crispy as the Rice, and Gummy worms as the filling. You can sprinkle chocolat sauce to look like eel sauce and put Sprinkles on to further decorate. Below is a more advance process. I dont much like the taste of it but it very eye catching and there will be comments. FYI i am a guy and just the fact that i make something might be cause for the rave.

posted by Rolandkorn at 3:27 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of honey roasted almonds. Easy to make but seems gourmet, keeps well, travels with no complaints.
posted by PatoPata at 3:42 PM on November 18, 2008

Haystacks! A Cdn holiday favourite. Cheap, easy, delicious, fattening-as-only-xmas-cookies-can-be. Four ingredients!

Recipe here.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 3:47 PM on November 18, 2008

I like this grilled polenta appetizer.

Make a reasonable quantity of polenta. It needs to be quite firm & not at all moist. While still in the pot, stir in a good quantity of cubed feta cheese & season well.

Press into a 9x13 baking pan so it's about an inch or so deep.

Into the top of the polenta, press some:
- diced zucchini
- diced tomatoes (seeds & juice removed - important, or this dish can end up too soggy)
- more cubed feta

Sprinkle over the top:
- minced garlic
- minced rosemary (fresh is best)
- olive oil

Broil until nicely browned on top. Cut into squares (this is a lot easier if you ensure the polenta is firm before pressing into the baking pan). Serve warm or cold.

Looks good, and travels well if left in the pan and cut when you arrive.
posted by valleys at 3:52 PM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Caramelized bacon. Yes. The perfect appetizer. You will be the most popular guest ever.

I've posted this before but it's so awesomely delicious that I'll offer it again. Every time I've made this, it's been gobbled up really fast. Imagine that perfect blend between salty, sweet and a little spicy. It's simple .. easy to make ahead, and it keeps really well for a day or so in a sealed Tupperware container. It's a little messy to fix but not too bad. I use a little more cayenne pepper than the recipe calls for, just to cut down on the sweetness of the sugar, and I sprinkle it directly on the bacon after it's been dredged in the sugar. Use thick sliced good quality bacon and please note it is very important to use a rimmed baking sheet. Here's the recipe, written by Patricia Marx and lifted directly from the New York Times website. Enjoy!

Caramelized Bacon

You can make this up to 3 days in advance. Keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature. This is a dish that can't be ruined. You can freeze the leftovers. But why are there leftovers?

1 pound bacon

1 1-pound box light brown sugar (about 2 1/4 cups).

1. Go to a butcher and spend as much money as you have on very good bacon. Cut it into medium-thick slices, say, 316 of an inch.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large, rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dump a box of brown sugar into a big bowl. Light brown sugar is best, but if you want to use dark brown, I won't stop you. Add 1/4 cup of water, so that the sugar becomes more than damp but less than soupy. Some bacon caramelizers add a dash of cayenne pepper, but I think this makes the dish too nutritious.

3. Dredge the bacon in the sugar, one slice at a time. If the sugar isn't sticking to the bacon, add some more water a teaspoon at a time until it sticks. (By the way, you won't use all of the sugar, but it's good to have extra.) Place the bacon strips on the paper. I then smear some sugar on top of the bacon, on the theory that if a little sweet is good, more is better.

4. Place the bacon in the oven. It's impossible for me to tell you how long to cook the bacon because it depends on whether you like it chewy or crispy. Some recipes tell you to keep it in the oven for 8 to 13 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the bacon. I keep it in on the longer side. You should take yours out when it resembles the kind of bacon you would like to eat. Cut it into roughly 1 1/2-inch triangles. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.

posted by Kangaroo at 4:22 PM on November 18, 2008 [22 favorites]

I like bringing veggie-pigs-in-a-blanket with a honey mustard dipping sauce - practically anyone can eat them and people like the dressy comfort food aspect. They're so fast to make it's over almost before it's begun.

I've pre-made these before and found they benefited from a quick zap (just a few seconds - not enough to re-cook the sausage or toughen the bread) of the microwave if they were still cold. Room temperature didn't matter so much.

Here's what you need:
• Veggie sausage links - I use Morningstar Farms, cooked until soft (not quite all the way to browned)
• Refrigerated, uncooked biscuits or crescent rolls - I generally make sure the brand I buy is lard-free, since I like to keep it veggie-safe; wrap around sausage & bake per instructions.
• Mustard, honey-mustard, a fancy mustard (like a Raspberry Wasabi Mustard) - we've tried a bunch of different dips, but we always come back to the mustard-based ones due to popular demand.

You can cut the sausages in half before cooking and the biscuits in half before wrapping to double the number of "portions" without doubling the purchase. I buy whatever number of biscuits and sausages will lead to no leftovers of either while being enough to contribute usefully.

Putting these in a nice bowl or basket with a classy cloth also seems to make people even happier to see them.

I love taking these with me because they don't crush or spill or get all gunky, and I can even put them in something I want to leave the hosts as a gift.
posted by batmonkey at 4:42 PM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

look up caponata - a sweet-sour Sicilian 'salad'. can be served hot or cold, and has two great benefits for your situation:

* the flavour improves over time, so it's actually *better* to prepare it a day or two ahead

* everybody loves it
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:57 PM on November 18, 2008

Dish option one: Platter with seeded flatbread, separate piles/areas of walnut pieces, goat cheese, and prosciutto, and jar of fig spread with small spoon. Assemble and eat, yum.

Dish option two: Multi-layer dip for tortilla chips. Bottom layer = instant black beans from health food store. Then layer with chopped tomato, chopped green onion, grated cheese (cheddar or jack), salsa, chopped avocado. Optional layers equal corn from Green Giant vacuum packed packed can and/or whole black beans.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:21 PM on November 18, 2008

I like making blondies from scratch (crazy delicious and not really hard to do). To amp up the flavor and presentation I drizzle them some maple syrup and some toasted pecans. Some vanilla ice cream with this is superb as well (but that won't travel well).
posted by mmascolino at 9:14 PM on November 18, 2008

My default party food is a black bean and corn salad. It travels really well and gets better the longer it sits.

- can black beans, rinsed
- can corn, drained
- one red pepper diced
- a couple of tomatos diced
- half a red onion diced
- juice and zest of a lime (or lemon if you don't have a lime)
- one tbsp hot sauce
- something green for garnish (cilantro by preference but flat leaf parsley works too)

That's it. Throw all the ingredients together and stir.

It's also good because it's mostly things that I'll have around the house in the pantry or as part of the standard grocery shop. Also - it's very pretty.
posted by machine at 8:29 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

My husband's co-workers demand that I bring my homemade rye bread to every potluck-type thing. They even demand that I bake some for him to bring to potlucks where spouses and families don't attend. I use the "Levy's Real Jewish Rye" recipe from Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Bread Bible.
posted by Shoeburyness at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2008

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