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The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook: Recipes and Stories to Celebrate the Bounty of the Moment

The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook: Recipes and Stories to Celebrate the Bounty of the Moment

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by Nancy Vienneau

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"Time at the table with good food in reach fosters community. That's the promise. From crowder peas with country ham and lemon herb vinaigrette to butternut squash and leek lasagna, from Chinese-Italian-American fortune cookies to Cara Cara orange marmalade, the recipes collected here fulfill that promise, drawing close a diverse assemblage of Nashville folk who


"Time at the table with good food in reach fosters community. That's the promise. From crowder peas with country ham and lemon herb vinaigrette to butternut squash and leek lasagna, from Chinese-Italian-American fortune cookies to Cara Cara orange marmalade, the recipes collected here fulfill that promise, drawing close a diverse assemblage of Nashville folk who understand how potlucks deliver both sacrament and sustenance."

John T Edge, director, the Southern Foodways Alliance and coeditor, Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Every Third Thursday… Life is Delicious

Grab a plate. Pull up a chair. Good company. Great food. No rules. It’s potluck.

When Nancy Vienneau started a casual potluck celebrating good food and goodwill, she had no idea it would be going strong five years later. The ever-changing group of diverse people who attend have one thing in common: a dedication to good food. As a result, every month, a non-scripted parade of seasonally inspired dishes appears—dishes that draw on ingredients from the participants’ own gardens, their neighbors yards, or the farmers’ market. These dishes celebrate their provenance and their history. Roasted tomato goat cheese tart with Tennessee Bradley tomatoes, Me-me’s chocolate cake inherited from a beloved grandmother’s recipe. Chicken baked with fresh plums from a neighbor’s tree. Acorn squash filled with Southern sorghum and pecans. Pimiento cheese made with local farmstead cheddar. Crowder pea salad flecked with Benton’s country ham.

Like a sourdough starter made from flour, yeast, and water, this simple get-together has grown into a lively, rich event full of interesting folks and food. Between these covers you’ll find glorious dishes, heartfelt stories, plus tips and ideas for starting your own community potluck. Did someone say it’s Thursday?

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Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
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7.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

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Read an Excerpt




Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2014 Nancy Vienneau
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4016-0518-6



First Solstice

OUR BEGINNING, ON THE CUSP OF SUMMER. WHEN FRESHLY DUG POTATOES STILL HAVE A DUSTING OF fine silt, and sweet onions bulge out of the earth. Cucumbers, wrinkled and small, dangle on a crisscross of trellised vines. Arugula, rangy and potent, begins to bolt.

Beginnings, by nature, are uncertain. In preparing for our first community potluck, our thoughts occasionally gravitated to worry: Will we have enough food? Will people like it? Will anybody come? Those concerns were natural, but ran contrary to the joy and purpose of the gathering.

Beginnings also brim with promise.

Better to launch the event, we decided, keeping these three things in mind. Call them Potluck Axioms: use what you've got. Draw on what you know. And—the most important—let it go, confident that you're putting your best out there. It's potluck!

After Gigi and I sent out our first Third Thursday invitations, we sat down together to strategize.

We had the practical aspects covered. Between the two of us, we had plenty of dinner plates and forks. Gigi had purchased bundles of green linen napkins—price greatly reduced— from a big box store. We'd assembled a hodgepodge of glassware, Mason jars included.

What to cook?

It came down to those potluck axioms.

Gigi's experimental crop of fennel was thriving. There were numerous bulbs with lacy feather- headed fronds ready to harvest. I had snatched an armful of plums from my backyard tree (before squirrels and birds could enjoy them all), and they were in a kitchen basket, plump and ripening.

One vegetable and one fruit triggered the inspiration for two dishes: a shaved fennel salad, layered with orange slices, awash in lemon basil-citrus vinaigrette, and chicken brined in Asian spices, roasted with my clutch of plums.

A salad, a main ... anything else?

Gigi wanted to serve a stellar dessert, and her Pavlova is the stuff of dreams. So was her preferred fruit to adorn the dish: passion fruit—lush and tropical, and nowhere to be found in the month of June. But, in the end, sliced fresh strawberries floated just as beautifully on that cloud of cream mounded on crisp shells of meringue.

As we set up the buffet for the first potluck, we laughed. If no one else showed up, we'd have a fine dinner of our salad, roast chicken, and Pavlova. But at 6:30 p.m., there was a knock at the door. Gigi's cousin Bryan was the first to arrive, bearing a bowl of spiced couscous. In followed Teresa and Liz carrying a pitcher of chilled melon soup and a salad with cucumbers, mangos, and jicama. Paulette brought herbed dumplings. A friend of a friend showed up with poached salmon. New faces, new foods! Our eyes widened. The table was becoming crowded with assorted covered dishes. The room filled with the happy clamor of people sharing food and stories.

Third Thursday was off and running.


Garden Margarita
Cooling Cantaloupe Soup
Plumgood Roast Chicken
Layered Orange-Fennel Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Teresa's Cucumber Salad with a Caribbean Twist
Oven-Poached Side of Salmon with Yogurt-Dill Sauce
Smoked Gouda and Spring Pea Risotto
Vidalia Onion Pie with Cornbread Crust
Warm German-Style Potato Salad with Benton's Bacon
Italian Cheese Dumplings with 3-Herb and Arugula Pesto Sauce
Chocolate Truffle Ring with Raspberry Whipped Cream
Fresh Dill-Feta Quick Bread
Gigi's Pavlova



½ cup water
2 habaneros, diced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
3 black peppercorns
½ cup agave nectar


1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
6 basil leaves
Juice of 6 fresh limes
Simple syrup
1 pint tequila
Pomegranate seeds for garnish

* In a small saucepan add the water, diced habaneros, salt, and peppercorns. Stir in the agave nectar. Place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and let it simmer for 1 minute. Remove from stove and allow to cool. When cool, strain and discard the habanero pieces and peppercorns.

* Place the cucumber, basil, and lime juice into a blender. Process until smooth. Add the simple syrup. Mix until well combined. Pour into a shaker, and top with the tequila. Shake. Place the pomegranate seeds into a large glass jar or bottle. Pour the tequila-cucumber mixture into that container, and chill well.

* Shake well and pour into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with more pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.


2 ripe cantaloupes, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (6 cups of fruit)
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
4 teaspoons local honey
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups plain yogurt
Fresh mint leaves or basil for garnish

* Working in batches, place the cantaloupe chunks and ginger into a blender or food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Pulse and puree them, adding a little of the orange juice at a time. Pour into a large bowl.

* Add the lime juice, sherry vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well blended. Whisk in the yogurt until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasonings and correct as needed. Cover and chill until serving time. Pour into bowls and top with mint leaves or basil for garnish.

Makes 2 quarts.


1 gallon water
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup sliced ripe plums
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 whole chicken
12 fresh ripe plums, halved and pitted
½ to 1 teaspoon paprika to dust over the chicken

* In a large tub or small cooler mix the water, brown sugar, hoisin, ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic, sliced plums, and rice wine vinegar. Place the cleaned chicken into the tub and refrigerate overnight.

* Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

* Remove the chicken from the brine, drain, and truss. Lay chicken in the baking pan. Surround with the halved plums. Sprinkle paprika over the chicken. Bake uncovered for 60 to 70 minutes.

* Remove the chicken from the pan, reserving the fruit and juices, and place on a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Snip and discard the twine. Cut off the wings and drumsticks and carve the breast and thighs into slices. Arrange slices, wings, and drumsticks on a platter. Spoon baked fruits and juices from the baking pan over the chicken.

Makes 6 servings.


4 fennel bulbs, fronds removed, bulbs peeled, cored, and thinly shaved crossways
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
Orange Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds (13 slices)
1 bunch lemon basil, chopped
A few curls of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons dry mustard
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

* Mix the fennel and onion together in a large bowl, and use about half of the Orange Vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables. Place a layer of sliced oranges on a platter, 9 slices in 3 rows of 3. Layer with half the fennel-onion mixture. Top with a third of the lemon Basil and half of the curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

* For the next layer, place 4 orange slices in 2 rows of 2, then the other half of the fennel-onion mixture, then a third of the lemon basil, and finally the rest of the cheese, until you've built a stacked pyramid! Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Garnish with the rest of the lemon basil, and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

*If you are not able to locate lemon basil, you may substitute regular basil and still have great taste.

* In a small bowl mix the orange zest, orange juice, dry mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it emulsifies.

makes 1 ½ cups.


25 radishes, trimmed, rinsed, and chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 handful fresh cilantro, trimmed and chopped
1 small jicama or ½ large jicama, peeled and chopped
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 limes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons local honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Place the chopped radishes, cucumber, cilantro, jicama, and mangoes in a large bowl and toss well. In a small bowl whisk together the orange and lime juices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Add salt and a few grinds of black pepper and stir. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad mixture and toss until coated with the dressing. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 20(¼ cups side or topping) servings.


1 (2-pound) side of salmon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
2 lemons, 1 for juice, 1 sliced into thin rounds
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Finely chopped red onions for garnish
Capers for garnish
Yogurt-Dill Sauce

* Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

* Coat the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika. Fill the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with the white wine, water, and the juice of 1 lemon. Add the sliced shallot, 2 tablespoons chopped dill, and lemon slices. Save a few lemon slices for garnish.

* Place the salmon into its poaching bath. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before chilling in the refrigerator.

* When ready to serve, remove the skin (it should peel away easily) and discard. Place the side onto a long platter. Run a knife along the "spine" of the fillet, and make small diagonal incisions—serving slices—radiating off the length of the primary cut.

* Garnish the top with sliced lemon rounds and fresh dill. Serve with side bowls of finely chopped red onion, capers, and Yogurt-Dill Sauce.

Makes 6 to 8 servings as an entrée, or 12 to 15 (or more!) as an hors d'oeuvre.


1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons chopped
fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

* In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, dill, chives, salt, and pepper, and whisk until well blended. Cover and refrigerate, allowing an hour for the flavors to develop.

Makes 1 3/4 cups.


3 cups water
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced small
1 medium shallot, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
3 cups early June peas (use fresh
shelled or frozen)
2 cups shredded smoked Gouda

* In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix the water and vegetable broth together. Bring to a simmer.

* In another large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion and shallot for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Season with salt and white pepper. Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated. Cook for 2 more minutes, allowing the grains to get toasted. Stir in the white wine, a little at a time, until it is absorbed.

* Ladle in the warm water–vegetable stock solution, a few spoonsful at a time. Keep stirring throughout the cooking process. The rice will plump up and get a glossy look. It will also release its starches, making a creamy broth. Cook for 20 minutes and add the fresh shelled peas. (If you are using frozen peas, add them after 25 minutes.) Cook 10 more minutes, folding in the cheese during the last minutes of cooking. Taste for seasonings, adjust, and serve.

Makes 16 servings.



½ cup cornmeal (I used white
cornmeal, but either will work)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons chilled butter
4 tablespoons ice-cold water


1 tablespoon butter
3 medium Vidalia onions, sliced
2 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon salt
1?4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded white Cheddar
½ cup kernel sweet corn (can be
fresh or frozen)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

* Sift the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl, and place in a food processor fitted with a pastry blade. Add the egg and butter, and pulse until mixed. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse. This will form a sticky mass of dough. Press the dough into the prepared pie pan. If the dough is too sticky, add a little cornmeal. Set aside while you make the filling.

* Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

* Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onions and toss until lightly coated. Sauté the onions for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

* In a small bowl beat the eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper together well, until there is no trace of the yolk. Layer the bottom of the pie crust with about half of the shredded cheese. Sprinkle with the corn kernels, then add the onions. Pour the egg custard mixture over this. Top with the remaining Cheddar, the leaves from the sprigs of thyme, and a few grindings of black pepper. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The top will feel set and be nicely browned.



4 pounds new potatoes
12 ounces thick-slab cut bacon (such
as Benton's)
1 cup chopped well-cleaned leeks,
white and some green parts
½ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon local honey
Coarse ground black pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped, for
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped, for

* Bring a large pot of salty water almost to a boil over high heat. Place the unpeeled new potatoes in the pot. Make sure the water covers the spuds. Boil until the potatoes yield to a knife pierce—tender, but not overcooked, about 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain the potatoes and allow them to slightly cool. Cut into 1?4-inch slices and return to the pot. Cover and set aside.

* In a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and chop into bite-size pieces.

* Add the leeks to the remaining bacon drippings in the skillet and sauté until soft. Stir in the cider vinegar, mustard seeds, honey, and a few grindings of black pepper, scraping up the browned bits into the hot vinaigrette. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

* Pour the sauce over the sliced potatoes. Add the bacon pieces. Stir and fold, coating the potatoes. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with chopped chives and parsley. Serve warm.

Makes 12 servings.


Excerpted from THIRD THURSDAY COMMUNITY POTLUCK COOKBOOK by NANCY VIENNEAU. Copyright © 2014 Nancy Vienneau. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Nancy Vienneau began cooking professionally in 1980 as a caterer.These daysshe works in her community promoting local farmers, urban gardens, healthy affordable cooking, and food security. Most Fridays you’ll find her cooking at Second Harvest Food Bank. Her work appears in Alimentum: The Literature of Food, Relish Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, her weekly restaurant column for The Tennessean, and herblog Good Food Matters.

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The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook: Recipes and Stories to Celebrate the Bounty of the Moment 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only buy this book if you, like a great story, love good food, enjoy beautiful photography, and wish to learn new traditions and techniques!!! It's a beautiful book and is truly filled with enticing recipes and lots of "how-tos" for the basics. I think it would be great for beginners, as well as seasoned cooks - there's a lot here for anyone who enjoys cooking. I am so glad I bought it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This cookbook is a collection of recipes and stories taken from a community potluck in Nashville, TN that happens every third Thursday of the month. The author, Nancy Vienneau, is a chef and promoter of local food. Nancy and her friend Gigi started this potluck as a way to gather a broad range of community members together to share their favorite seasonal dishes. They love to talk about food that is fresh, healthy, seasonal, and locally grown. This is not your average "potluck" cookbook. You will not find recipes enclosed in these pages using canned soups or other highly processed offerings. The whole idea is to bring your best to the potluck. Something homemade and special. I really love the whole idea of this cookbook. I would love to eat more home cooked, seasonal food--and have friends and family over to enjoy it. The recipes truly sound delicious-- from the Cast-Iron Heirloom Tomato and Rice Bake to the Brown Butter Honey Cake, there is something for everyone. I love how the chapters are broken up into months, with each containing recipes corresponding to that months seasonal food offerings. I also love the stories told in the beginning of each month and throughout each recipe. The pictures are beautiful and make me want to make everything all at once! I just wish there was a picture for every recipe, though I know this is not economical and would make the book huge. This is probably not a good cookbook for a beginner, but does have pictures and information explaining some of the cooking lingo. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in creating their own potluck or just wanting to make fresh, seasonal food. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What better way to enjoy the company of friends and good food than with a potluck? Share the load of cooking and have all kinds of delicious new foods to taste. This is one cookbook that will give you the tools and inspiration you need to organize a regular potluck and fix something delicious to share. The premise of the whole cookbook is to prepare dishes within the season it is harvested so it is broken down by month. For example, when those tomatoes begin to ripen in July, fix tomato dishes. Fall brings on the root vegetables and apples so October uses those and cole weather crops. December is devoted to special gifts from the kitchen in perfect time for holiday giving. The author also shares stories and special tips such as how to reduce waste, canning your bounty, and how to set up and create your own Third Thursday potluck (or whatever day your choose). I look forward to trying many more of these recipes. Thus far, most ingredients are in my pantry and the ones that aren't have been relatively inexpensive. It only makes sense to cook what is in season, thereby avoiding all the imported foods so I am anxious to give it a try. The illustrations in the form of photos are nicely done and not displayed so fancy that you will be intimidated to try the recipe. All 150 recipes are nicely indexed. I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way obligated to write a positive review.