5 Budget-Conscious Recipe Ideas For Your Next Office Party

According to Farmer’s Almanac, potlucks began as and are a cherished tradition in villages, towns, and cities everywhere, offering a way for a community to connect. It’s an opportunity for cooks to showcase their culinary prowess, or share with others dishes which may have memories attached, creating an opportunity to develop richer relationships.

In your case, someone decided that it was a good idea to host an office potluck. While you may have your trusted, time-tested dish… this time apparently you’re looking for something different to add to your arsenal, while remaining budget-conscious.

Below you’ll find a few ranging from small bites to desserts. As you enjoy the communal plates, take the time to discuss your employer’s retirement benefit options. Do they have one in place? Are you participating? Are they matching?

If they don’t happen to have such a plan in place, speak to the HR personnel and share Retirement Benefit Plans For Your Small Business.”

Good luck with your selection. All recipes courtesy of Hairy Bikers.

Anchovy and sage crisps

Ingredients

  • 40 large sage leaves, all similar size
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ¾ oz plain flour
  • 2 ½ oz very fine polenta
  • 10 anchovy fillets, drained
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

  1. Wipe the sage leaves and pat them dry with absorbent kitchen paper.

  2. Take three deep plates or shallow dishes and pour the beaten egg into one, the flour into another and the polenta into the third.

  3. Lay 20 of the sage leaves out flat and place half an anchovy down the center of each one. Place the remaining 20 sage leaves over the anchovies and press down to sandwich together.

  4. Individually coat each sage and anchovy sandwich in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg and finally coat in the polenta.

  5. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Cook the sage crisps in batches until golden-brown and crisp. Drain on absorbent kitchen.


Roasted figs wrapped in ham with blue cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe but firm figs
  • 8 slices Parma ham
  • 3 oz Italian blue cheese, such as gorgonzola, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small bag arugula
  • balsamic glaze
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F

  2. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each fig, then gently squeeze the bottom of each fig in order to open the fruit.

  3. Divide the blue cheese among the figs, stuffing the pieces into the top of them.

  4. Carefully wrap two slices of Parma ham around the middle of each fig, leaving the tops uncovered.

  5. Place the prepared figs onto a baking tray and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the Parma ham is crisp.

  6. To serve, divide the arugula among four serving plates. Place one roasted fig on top of each pile of rocket. Drizzle over the balsamic glaze and olive oil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Vegetable coconut curry

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, finely sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, trimmed, diced into ¾ in cubes
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 5 oz okra
  • 5 oz cauliflower florets
  • 3 oz frozen peas
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 oz dried coconut, grated
  • ½ vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 7 fl oz water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large covered saucepan over a medium heat. Add the red onion, aubergine and garam masala and fry until starting to brown, about 8-10 minutes.

  2. Dry fry the cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan until fragrant, then add to the onion mixture and stir well.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine, then cover the pan with a lid.

  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower florets are tender. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Gyoza (Japanese dumplings)

Ingredients for the gyoza skins

  • 10 ½ oz strong white flour, plus extra for rolling
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 7 fl oz boiling water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Ingredients for the chicken or pork filling

  • 1 lb 2oz pork or chicken mince
  • 1 head pak choi, very finely shredded
  • ¾ in piece fresh root ginger, peeled, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, grated
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped spring onion (green part only)
  • ½ tsp ground chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • pinch sugar

Ingredients for the dipping sauce

  • splash soy sauce
  • splash lime juice
  • splash chilli oil

Directions 

  1. For the gyoza skins, sift the flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt.

  2. Stir in the boiling water using a knife or a pair of chopsticks until the mixture comes together as a dough. (You many not need to use all of the water.)

  3. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with cling film and set aside to rest for one hour.

  4. Meanwhile, for the chicken or pork filling, mix all of the chicken or pork filling ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Chill in the fridge until needed.

  5. For the gyoza skin, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for five minutes until smooth and elastic.

  6. Cut the dough into three equally sized pieces and roll each into a ball. Roll out one of the balls onto a lightly floured work surface, stretching and turning the dough as you go, until the gyoza dough is as thin as possible.

  7. Using a 4 in cookie cutter, cut discs from the gyoza dough and stack them on top of each other, dusting the top of each with a little flour before adding the next one. Repeat the rolling and cutting process until all of the dough has been used.

  8. To assemble the dumplings, hold a gyoza skin in the palm of your hand and add one teaspoon of the filling mixture. Wet the edges with a little water using your fingertip and seal the dumpling, pinching along the edges to create a pleated fan effect. Repeat the process until all of the filling mixture and gyoza skins have been used up, setting each dumpling aside on a plate dusted with flour.

  9. To cook the dumplings, heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan with a lid over a high heat. Arrange the gyoza in the pan, in batches if necessary, leaving space between each one, and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden-brown. Take care as they will burn quickly.

  10. Add 3 ½ fl oz of water to the pan, cover with the lid and steam the dumplings for a further two minutes.

  11. Give the pan a shake to release the gyoza from the bottom of the pan and continue to cook for a further two minutes with the lid off, until the filling is completely cooked through.

  12. Meanwhile, for the dipping sauce, mix all of the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, to taste. Set aside.

  13. When the gyoza are cooked through, drizzle the sesame oil around the edges of the frying pan and shake the pan.

  14. Serve the gyoza immediately with the dipping sauce.


For those willing to go the extra mile, try the hazelnut and chocolate pavlova.

Hazelnut and chocolate pavlova

Ingredients for the hazelnut meringues

  • 5 oz blanched shelled hazelnuts
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 9 ½ oz caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cornflour

Ingredients for the filling

  • 3 ½ oz plain chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 16 fl oz double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted, plus extra to serve
  • 7 fl oz crème fraiche, stirred
  • 10 ½ oz fresh raspberries

Directions 

  1. For the hazelnut meringues, dry-fry the hazelnuts in a frying pan over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until toasted and golden-brown, shaking the pan regularly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cooled, chop roughly.

  2. Cut three pieces of baking parchment, each large enough to line a baking tray. Using a pencil and an appropriately sized upturned plate or bowl, draw a 10in circle in the center of two of the pieces of baking paper, and an 8in circle on the third.

  3. Lightly grease three baking trays with a little oil and line with the pieces of baking paper, pencil-side down. You should be able to see the circles through the paper.

  4. Preheat the oven to 300F

  5. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. (The egg whites are ready when you can turn the bowl upside down without the eggs sliding out.)

  6. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition.

  7. Whisk in the vanilla extract and cornflour until well combined. The meringue mixture should now be glossy and resemble shaving foam. Fold all but a few of the chopped hazelnuts into the meringue mixture.

  8. Divide the meringue mixture among the three baking trays, spooning the mixture into the boundaries of the circles and spreading with a spatula to smooth. Set aside.

  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 270F

  10. Bake the two larger meringues, one above the other, for 1½ hours, switching their positions halfway through cooking. (Reduce the oven temperature if the meringues start to brown too much.) Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Cook the third meringue in the same way (if they can all fit into the oven at once, so much the better).

  11. Once cool, carefully peel the paper from the bottom of each meringue.

  12. For the filling, suspend a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the surface of the water). Add the chocolate pieces to the bowl and stir until melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

  13. Meanwhile, whip the cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold in the crème fraiche until well combined.

  14. Transfer one of the large meringues to a serving plate or cake stand. Spoon over a third of the filling mixture. Using a dessert spoon, drizzle the meringue and filling with a little of the melted chocolate and sprinkle over one-third of the raspberries.

  15. Top the first meringue with the second of the same size and repeat the filling process. Finally, add the smaller meringue to the tower and fill as before, drizzling over all of the remaining chocolate and sprinkling with the raspberries and reserved toasted hazelnuts. Dust with icing sugar and serve.


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to also read Ray Harryhausen: Monsters, Myths & Lore.”

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