What does the spread look like at a potluck that's attended by passionate cooks, farmers, chefs and food activists? I don't know for sure, because I've yet to attend Slow Food's Annual Potluck, but I have a hunch that it's a solid lineup of fresh local dishes. I'm going this year, and have been asking chefs, friends and, most helpfully, cookbook authors what they would bring to the potluck.
Becky Burke, Slow Food's regional governor for South Carolina, says, “Generally it’s a pretty great spread. People love to show off. I’d say dishes are usually pretty seasonal. We always eat really well.”
Burke is thinking about bringing a tomato pie, but she’ll decide after she strolls through the farmers market to see what looks good. Here’s a recipe for tomato pie from our archives that was shared with Teresa Taylor by Michael Cuff of Charleston Burger Company.
The biggest mistake I make when bringing a dish to a potluck is doubling or tripling the recipe. I always think I'll be feeding a ton of people, when in reality all the people who will be eating my dish are also bringing food, so there's really no need to make a vat of potato salad when a normal serving size for 6-8 people will do just fine.
Carrie Larson of Slow Food and her husband Jacques Larson of Wild Olive/The Obstinate Daughter are planning to bring a dish that speaks to the Slow Food mission of bringing back the Lemon Cling peach. They'll pickle clingstone peaches, generally following the recipe in the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, and will serve them with whipped Sea Island ricotta and local arugula.
New to town Michael Tuohy, who recently took over as food director and executive chef at The Dewberry, likes to stroll through the farmers market to see what fruits and vegetables look the most ripe and delicious. "This time of year, I might do a corn, tomato and okra stew. Maybe add a little sausage." But if he found some shelled fresh lady peas or black-eyed peas, he'd be tempted to make a marinated salad to bring along. As a longtime Slow Food supporter in the other markets his lived, Tuohy is looking forward to getting involved with the local chapter.
Nathalie Dupree, our in-house recipe expert, says she’d be partial to bringing a cobbler, probably peach since the peaches have been so good this season. “You heat up some butter in a baking dish and pour in the peaches and the batter. It’s so easy,” she says.
In her award-winning cookbook Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, she has a recipe for Lazy Girl’s Peach Cobbler which goes like this: cut up peaches, enough for 2 cups, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Melt 1/2 cup of butter in an 8x11 baking dish as the oven heats up to 350 degrees. Whisk together 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup whole milk, and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Pour into melted butter in the hot baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Voila. It’s an easy recipe, says Dupree, that can be varied by using any fresh fruit and serving with whipped cream or ice cream (I’d say some of Cirsea’s cinnamon ice cream would be the jam with it).
Ali Rosen, a Charleston native who now lives in New York where she hosts a food program, just published a cookbook that’s devoted to potluck dishes called Bring It. She gave us permission to reprint her recipe for Cherry Tomato Tart, which is like a fancier, more refined tomato pie and would be a perfect dish for Sunday, especially now that those juicy Johns Island tomatoes are finally ripening.
Cherry Tomato Tart
Sometimes you just want to bring the prettiest dish to the party. This tart will certainly succeed on that front, and the secret is that it’s not that much work. If you get good-quality cherry tomatoes, this dish pretty much sells itself. Combining the acidity of the tomatoes with the umami of the cooked onions creates a light combination that is still surprisingly hearty.
MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS
1 pie crust (store bought works fine)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
3 cups cherry tomatoes (or more if needed depending on size of tomatoes and crust)
11/2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Place the pie crust in a pie pan and crimp the edges. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until it has started to harden. Remove it from the oven and cool.
Place a skillet on medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions have browned. Add the onion mixture to the pie crust. Sprinkle ²/³ of the Parmesan cheese on top of the pie crust and then add the cherry tomatoes on top. Make sure the cherry tomatoes really fill the pie: err on the side of overfilling rather than underfilling. They will settle as they bake. Sprinkle the thyme, the remaining Parmesan cheese, and the salt on top.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes start to brown and pop a little bit. Remove from the oven and cool before serving. Do note that this dish starts to fall apart once you begin cutting, so try to serve it all at once if possible.
HOW TO BRING IT
You can easily make this dish ahead of time, and it can be served piping hot, room temperature, or cold. It is easy to transport and doesn’t need a lot of TLC on arrival, so it’s a good one to bring somewhere where an oven isn’t readily available. But as noted above, it’s a bit crumbly so make sure it’s left in a stable location with a good knife and an extra spoon to scoop.