Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Favorite Town Meeting Potluck Recipes

Maple Pulled Pork (recipe below).
Photo courtesy Don Lockhart.
In honor of the ubiquitous Town Meeting Day potluck, we've collected some of our favorite potluck recipes from listeners and VPR staff. Have one to add? Post it in the comments below or email it to us here. Bon appetit!

Resnik's Rainbow Edamame
Robert Resnik hosts All The Traditions on VPR.

Vegetable oil
1  big Spanish onion sliced in long thin wedges
1  large red bell pepper sliced to the same dimensions as the onion
3  big cloves garlic chopped
2 cups raw or roasted unsalted cashews or blanched almonds
about 1/2 lb. sliced portobello or sliced fresh shitake mushrooms
2 1/2 - 3 lbs frozen shelled edamame
good soy sauce
toasted sesame oil

In a big wok (or in a heavy 8 qt. skillet or stewpot) heat about 1/2 C vegetable oil on high heat until hazy.  Throw in the onion, the pepper, and the nuts and stir it around until you see that some of the ingredients are getting a little black around the edges.  Throw in the mushrooms and the garlic and stir it around until the mushrooms look fairly cooked (2 minutes on high heat). Splash on some soy sauce and mix it all up again. Add the edamame one bag at a time and mix well after each bag. When all of the edamame are mixed in, splash on some more soy sauce to taste and keep stirring once in awhile on high heat until the beans are all heated up. Watch the color of the beans - they should still be bright green when ready.
When everything is hot and delicious, turn off the heat, drizzle on a few
tablespoons of the toasted sesame oil, and mix well.  Serves 10 as a side dish, or 4 dangerous edamame lovers as a main course!

Robin Turnau's Butternut Squash Chili
Robin Turnau is VPR’s president and CEO.

I've been looking for different ways to serve butternut squash and came upon this recipe from Sheila Lukins' All Around the World Cookbook by Workman Publishing. The grated orange adds a wonderful flavor, and it's great served by itself or over rice.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 red peppers, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch red pepper flakes
2 cans (28 ounce each) plum tomatoes, chopped with their juices
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 large or 2 small butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
finely grated zest of one orange
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) dark red kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, allspice, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring to coat vegetables well with the spices. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, the red wine, butternut squash, orange zest, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the squash is tender, abut 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Fold in kidney beans and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro and parsley. Serves 8.

Listener Recipe: Paella
From David Herren, Shoreham

6 small pieces of chicken (Spaniards cut their chicken differently than the
norm here. Our traditional breast gets cut in half and our traditional thigh
does as well, right through the bones)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper (or partial large one), chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can whole tomatoes
Parsley, chopped (also known as “poo”)
2 cups short grain rice (short grain is important--use risotto if you can. Long grain will turn to mush)
4 cups chicken stock, pre-heated in the microwave
½ cup white wine
Salt and pepper
Large pinch saffron
Olive oil (don’t be shy - use more than would think and then add about half
again that much on top. The oil is part of the flavor)

Handful of frozen peas
Handful of frozen lima beans
6-8 shrimp
1/3 pound of calamari
6-8 small clams

Heat the oil in a shallow, thin pan. Honestly you could cook this in almost
anything, but paella gets its name from the pan just as casserole gets its name
from the container in this country.

Salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove to a plate. Leave the
fat and oil in the pan.

For the “sofrito”:

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic until they are beginning to be soft. Add the can of tomatoes including the liquid. Add white wine. Chop tomato into smaller pieces and mix well with the onions and peppers.  Add the calamari if you’re using it.

Cook the sofrito until the liquid is reduced and it’s getting pretty thick so you can clean away large areas of the pan without liquid running back. I always add more olive oil so it’s kind of shiny.

Return chicken (and if you’re using the peas and beans ) to pan, all but a teaspoon of parsley, and turn to coat well in the sofrito.

Add the dry rice and stir to coat well, but be careful not to burn since it should be fairly dry. If it’s too dry, add more olive oil and maybe a little more wine, but it’s supposed to oily dry, not liquidy at this point. Add half the chicken stock and stir to get even distribution of the ingredients. Crush and add the saffron.

When it reaches a simmer, slowly add the rest of the chicken stock. Make sure everything is evenly distributed. If you don’t get even heat over the whole surface, you can do this from here on in the oven at 400 degrees, but it’s best on the stove top. You SHOULD NOT stir it again after this point.

Taste for salt and pepper. If your chicken stock is salted, it probably won’t need it, but if it’s low sodium, it will. I almost always add more olive oil here too. Add clams if you’re using them, pushing them down into the rice. Simmer Uncovered until the liquid is absorbed.

If you’re using shrimp, press them into the top of the rice 5-6 minutes before
the liquid is fully absorbed. The rice should still have some tooth. You absolutely must use risotto or short grain rice or you’ll have a starchy, messy goop by now.

Increase the heat right at the end to brown a little bit of crust on the bottom (called “costra”), but be careful to brown, not burn. Remove from heat and cover with a wet towel, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining poo.

Serves 6 using a 14-inch pan.

Listener Recipe: Easy Does It Vermont Maple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
From Betty Ann Lockhart, Charlotte

1 large onion, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (maple pepper might also be a choice)
3 – 4 pounds of lean pork, boneless butt, shoulder or tenderloins
¾ cup cider vinegar (or maple vinegar if you are lucky enough to have some!)
¾ cup darker grade Vermont maple syrup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 or 3 garlic cloves chopped, to equal about 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (more or less depending on preference for spiciness)
1 cup barbecue sauce (your own, store brand, or better still a specialty barbecue sauce)
Buns, rolls or English muffins for up to 8 servings.
½ to ¾ cup water

Rinse pork under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange onions in bottom of crockpot.  Place pork on top of the onions.

In a medium bowl combine all remaining ingredients, and pour over the pork.

Cover crockpot, cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, or on high for 6 – 8 hours.  Toward the end of the cooking time, turn the meat to coat the opposite side, and depending on your crockpot, if the sauce seems too thick, add ½ cup of water.  If you are going to be away as the cooking time ends, it would be safest to add the water in the beginning.

Shred meat and onions using two forks. Stir the meat into the sauce, mixing
and coating well.

Serve the meat with sauce over buns, English muffins or rolls that have been sliced horizontally.  A green salad with maple vinaigrette dressing is the perfect accompaniment!

Note: Leftovers of the pulled pork keep well refrigerated or frozen. I haven’t tried this recipe with boneless chicken, but I bet it will work well!

Michelle Jeffery’s Pasta With Ricotta And Spinach
Michelle Jeffery manages VPR’s marketing and communications.

My “Mama J” made this for us all the time when we were kids. It’s not fancy by any means but it’s inexpensive, easy, and delicious – perfect for feeding a crowd! And, it’s tasty hot or cold!

1 pound pasta (I use shells)
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well.
2 Tbs. butter
1 clove garlic (minced), or garlic powder
1 1/2 c. ricotta (low-fat is fine)
1/3 cup. grated parmesan (or romano) cheese
3 Tbs. plain yogurt (or milk, or Greek yogurt)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (optional)

Melt butter in saucepan and sauté garlic (if using) until a little softened then add spinach and cook over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and most of moisture has evaporated, about 5 min.  Turn heat to low and stir in cheeses and seasonings.  Cook stirring and adding milk as necessary for consistency.  Cook 3 to 5 min. until mixture is warm. Do not boil.  Add to cooked pasta.

Listener Recipe: Quinoa Salad
From Jacqueline Lumbra, Cabot

Prepare toasted quinoa in tomato juice, sliced almonds, frozen peas and onions
that have been sautéed in garlic, mango juice and olive oil. Mix with Italian

Listener Recipe: David & Linda’s Macaroni &Cheese
From Marin Melchior, Bristol

This recipe is from my aunt & uncle. I 'loathe' the idea of using American cheese, but this is the best killer Mac n' Cheese I have ever eaten...whenever I make it, it is a HUGE hit.

2 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (roughly one pound box)
4 tablespoons butter
¼ C Flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
8 ounces American cheese (sliced or cubed)
1 1/3 cups small curd cottage cheese
2/3 cup sour cream
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (grated)

Cook macaroni and place in greased 2 1/2 quart baking dish. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and salt until smooth. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in cottage cheese, American cheese, and sour cream. Pour over macaroni. Sprinkle top with cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 MIN. until golden brown.

Notes: I used 3 x 12 ounce boxes (36 ounces) of ‘vegetable’ rotini and doubled this recipe. Used one squat small container of cottage cheese (about 3” high by 4” wide) and one container of sour cream (about 4.5” high and 3”wide); just used the entire container. Bought the American cheese at the deli and had them slice it thick - it just needs to melt. Bought the Cabot Sharp in pre-shredded bags…all making for a quick prep time! I did not grease pan,  there has GOT to be enough FAT in the pan already! While boiling pasta - cooked a bit ‘al dente’ - I made the sauce. Drained pasta, dumped into baking dish, covered with sauce and mixed. Since I was carting it to work- Let cool and then sprinkled on shredded cheddar. And heated/ browned at last minute. Heated for a bit longer and got that great color.

Madelyn Cataford’s Gingery Cilantro Dip With Shrimp
Madelyn Cataford is VPR’s Controller.

2  small bunches of cilantro, thick stems discarded
1/2  cup  peeled and sliced ginger
1/2  cup  canola oil
3  tablespoons  rice vinegar
2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
2  teaspoons  sesame oil

In a blender, puree cilantro, ginger, canola oil, rice vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, and sesame oil. Serve with cooked shrimp. (From Real Simple Magazine)

Franny Bastian’s Vegetarian Chili
Franny Bastian is VPR’s director of programming and production.

4 Tablespoons  olive oil
12 Oz package tempeh - crumbled
2 Medium onions sliced thin
3 Medium carrots chopped
1 Red bell pepper chopped
3 - 5 cloves garlic minced
3 - 4 Tablespoons chili powder
3 Teaspoons ground cumin
2 - 5 Chipotle Chiles chopped fine with some of the adobe sauce
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans black beans
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 - 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and Pepper

Brown the crumbled tempeh in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Stir frequently till it browns a bit.  Remove it to a bowl and set aside. Saute onions till they start to get soft.  Add the chili powder and  cumin and cook another couple of minutes. Add carrots, red pepper and garlic and cook another 4 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, chipotle chilies, vinegar, brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.

Bring to simmer and cook for 15 or 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chili rest so the flavors meld. Taste when reasonably cool and adjust seasoning. I've found that if I've been too generous with the hot stuff that a little more brown sugar or maple syrup will cool it off. Put it in a slow cooker to keep it warm and have your partner, friend or child hold it steady in the car! Serve with crusty farm bread or corn bread.

Peter Biello’s Chili
Peter Biello is a producer/announcer.
My chili has received pretty good reviews. The recipe is very flexible - ingredients can be taken out or replaced with other things--but here's the general formula.

1 large onion, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 green peppers, or 1 green and 1 red pepper
1 pound ground beef (or equivalent veggie crumbles for the vegetarians)
1 jalepeno
1 can black beans
1 can kidney or pinto beans
1 cubed sweet potato, sauteed until it's soft (optional)
1 cup salsa
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup taco sauce
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
onion powder
at least 3 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
if you're daring: 1 or 2 drops of Blair's Mega Death Hot Sauce or Dave's Insanity Sauce(this stuff MUST be diluted or you'll burn your lips off)
if you're not so daring: 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
It's also nice if you add a little bit of Teeny Tiny Spice Company's Chocolate Chili Powder (it's strong, so add to taste)

Chop onion and peppers and the sweet potato simmer in olive oil until soft. Set aside in a bowl. Brown the ground beef in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. When the beef is cooked, add it, along with everything else, into a pot and simmer on medium heat, stirring often, for 45-1 hour, or until everything is tender. For best results, cook it, put it in the fridge over night, then reheat it the next day. If you're headed to a potluck and you don't have bowls, it works as a dip with tortilla or pita chips.

Asa Sourdiffe’s Flourless Chocolate Torte
Asa Sourdiffe is VPR’s IT director.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 1/2 tablespoon
1 pound semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup amaretto
8 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder, for garnish
Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Using 1/2 tablespoon butter grease a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a parchment round. Cover pan underneath and along sides with foil and set in a roasting pan. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.

Combine the chocolate, butter, and amaretto in a metal bowl set over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler. Melt the mixture, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes; reserve.

Meanwhile combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5 to 10 minutes. Fold 1/3 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula. Repeat this process 2 more times - until all of egg mixture has been folded into chocolate mixture.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and place in the roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides. Bake until cake has risen slightly and edges are just beginning to set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove cake from roasting pan and cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove foil, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove cake from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Remove springform pan sides, invert cake onto a large plate, and peel away the parchment paper from bottom. Reinvert cake on another large plate or serving platter and garnish with confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder immediately before serving. (from Food Network)

Brian Tagliaferro’s Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad
Brian is VPR’s manager of special giving.

2 c. crushed pretzel sticks
3/4 c. melted butter
3 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 (6 oz.) pkg. strawberry banana Jello
2 c. boiling water
2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen strawberries, partially thawed

Mix first three ingredients and press in bottom of a 9"x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees (metal pan) or 325 degrees (glass pan) 8 minutes. Let cool completely. Beat 1 cup sugar and cream cheese. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over pretzels. Mix Jello and water until dissolved. Add strawberries. Stir into Jello, then set aside for 10 minutes. Pour over cheese mixture. Chill. (From

Listener Recipe: Vermont Garden Japchae
From Deirdre Holmes, Charlotte

1 bag sweet potato vermicelli noodles (available in Asian markets)
1 package of tofu, ideally drained and pressed for several hours before cooking
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 yellow onion, cut into inch long pieces
1 red onion, cut into inch long pieces
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup red, yellow, orange and/or green bell pepper slices
1 bunch bok choy, chopped
good handful of green beans
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, shredded
small handful of fresh basil leaves, finely cut
1/3 cup tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili sauce (such as Sriracha) or to taste
sesame seeds
additional soy sauce, hot sauce, sesame seeds, lime wedges (optional, for

If your package of sweet potato vermicelli comes with preparation instructions
you understand, please follow them. Mine did not, so I guessed: I soaked the
noodles for about 20 minutes and when they weren't soft enough yet, I cooked
them in boiling water for another 5-10. Drain softened noodles and set aside.
Cut tofu into small 1/2 inch pieces and fry them in 2 tablespoons coconut oil
until they develop a light brown crust. Slide them onto a plate and set aside.

Warm the remaining coconut oil in a skillet, and sauté onions until just
starting to brown.  Add ginger, garlic and other vegetables and sauté for
another few minutes.  I added the carrot and basil at the very end to keep them
raw, bright and crunchy. Meanwhile, whisk together the sauce ingredients.
In a large pot, combine softened noodles, vegetables, tofu and sauce. Sprinkle
with sesame seeds and serve (tongs make for easiest serving).

Serve with additional soy sauce, hot sauce, lime wedges, and sesame seeds; and
either chop sticks, a fork, or maybe a pair of scissors (those are some long noodles).

Listener Recipe: Sweet Potato & Kale Stir Fry
From Lini Mazumdar, South Londonderry

Dry roast 1 T. cumin seeds in a heavy bottomed pan until you can smell their
fragrance (about 2 min.). Pour 1/4 c. olive oil in the pan, add 2 cloves of
crushed garlic,  and toss in 1 peeled and cubed sweet potato.  Add 1 t. salt,
and 1/2 t. cumin powder.  Keep tossing on med to med/high heat until they are
almost cooked to softness (before they overcook to mush!). Add 1 bunch of
washed, chopped kale. Toss for 3-4 more minutes, until wilted.  Before serving
sprinkle a squeeze of lemon over it. Great with rice, or noodles, or pasta. Variation:  you can substitute 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger for the garlic. From Lini's Indian Tiffin’s recipe.

1 comment:

  1. The flourless chocolate torte sounds delicious! I can't wait to make it for my next potluck. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Social Lady, Michigan


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