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The Dinner Party

hosted by Christine Potter   //   Thursday at 4p est

"I'm just a gal who likes to mix things up: music, strange cocktail ingredients, and a swanky Nick & Nora ambiance with old school free form rock and roll radio.  It's no secret that I'm a little obsessive about all things Robyn Hitchcock, but my husband's OK with it.  Besides, I end every Cocktails with Chris by standing next to one of the world's great pipe organs for a few minutes and subjecting my listeners to the sometimes-deafening results.  I promise you a tasty cocktail recipe every week, along with music that starts with The Comedian Harmonists, careens through psych and prog rock, and often smashes into the shoals of roots and jazz.  Not to mention a sprinkling of indie pop, and Brit folk. Join me high atop the Potter building, in a swanky neighborhood near you." - cp


More buttermilk: fried green tomatoes

Contrary to what I write in this blog, I do use other pans in my kitchen besides my skillet.  But when you are talking about food that goes with rock and roll--well, the frying pan is going to come out.  Probably, anyway.

So it's November after a long, warm autumn, and there are some green tomatoes around as folks finally take down their vines.  If  you see some in the farmer's market and you've never tried frying them up before,  you should give it a shot.  They're not low-fat, but they are delicious.  And with a side of mac and cheese (I told you this wasn't health food) and a little salad, you have a meatless meal that even hamburger-chowing he-men will enjoy.

Serve with the hot sauce of your choice and a little mayo-based buttermilk dressing


Slice the tomatoes horizontally, as if you were going to use them in a BLT--not too thin.

(B. Smith says to bake them briefly here, but that is totally unnecessary!  In fact, don't.)

Take out four plates or shallow bowls and in the first plate pour some buttermilk (shake up the bottle or carton first).
In the next plate put flour mixed with a little (trust me--this is the ONLY recipe in the world I use this for) Lawry's Seasoned salt.  The Galena St. spice mix from Penzey's would probably work, too, as would plain old salt and pepper.  

In the third plate an egg (or two if you have a lot of tomatoes) beaten with a good squirt of hot sauce.  In the fourth plate, corn meal (B. Smith uses bread crumbs.  That's good, too.)

Dip each tomato slice first in the buttermilk--let it drip a second--and then coat with flour.  Then egg it and corn meal it.  Try to use just one hand for this; it's messy work.  It's a smart idea to have a rack or a platter to put the tomatoes on as you finish prepping them for the pan.

THEN heat up the fat of your choice in the biggest, heaviest skillet you have.  You are not deep frying here, but you need and inch or so (maybe a little more) of fat in the pan.  I use part olive oil and part canola, or sometimes when I'm feeling super-sinful, part olive oil and (gasp) Crisco.  When the oil shimmers, start frying the prepared tomato slices, treating them gently, like hamburgers.  Turn them and brown on both sides.  Watch the flame so that you do not burn them.  If you have a rack you can put them on as they finish cooking, that would be a good thing.   You could also use a torn-apart paper bag.

THEN mix equal parts mayo and buttermilk with some black pepper and maybe a drip of chipotle sauce from some canned chipotles, or a bit of hot sauce or sweet pepper relish.  Plate the tomatoes with a drizzle of the sauce and a squirt of not-too-hot hot sauce.  Voila. 

Let someone else clean the kitchen.

See you on the air Friday at 3 PM!



Buttermilk and chicken!

I posted on this on the Facebooger last week, so I thought I'd elaborate here.  This is a mish-mash of recipes I have used over time to make good chicken breast cutlets, breaded and and shallow-fried.  It is not especially low-fat or low-carb, but it's not terrible for you, either.  You could probably do a version of this to make chicken fingers or nuggets for kids.  My husband, who loves nursery food, adores this recipe.  Here's what you do.


About a pound and a half of boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Enough buttermilk to cover them in a bowl or baggie

Step one: If the chicken breasts are not thin sliced, you probably want to put them, one at a time, in a baggie, and pound them out with a meat hammer or a fry pan.  You're aiming for less than an inch thick, pretty much evenly all around.  Cut them into serving pieces. If you don't have a baggie to pound them out in, cover the breast you are pounding out with a piece of Saran Wrap.

Step two: Put the chicken in the buttermilk and put it in the fridge.  Carefully wash your hands and any utensils or cutting boards that have been in contact with raw chicken.  Steep the chicken in the buttermilk for three or four hours anyway.  (You could probably do this before you go to work in the morn and then come home to cook supper.)


Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and blot it with paper towels.  Leave it damp, not dripping. 

Make three bowls or dinner plates into dipping stations.  Bowl one is flour mixed with salt and pepper.   Bowl two is an egg beaten with a few tablespoons of water and a couple of shots of tabasco sauce.  Bowl three is good quality commercial bread crumbs (you want them dry. A good option is to buy bakery bread crumbs.  Some megamarts will even sell you some from their bakery counter). Flour, egg, and crumb the breasts. 

Now get out the skillet you have with the widest bottom on it.  Nonstick will make your life easier here, but it's not  crucial.  Melt as much butter as you like in a good splash of olive oil.  (Be generous; we're talking maybe three tablespoons of fat here, anyway.)

Brown the cutlets over a medium flame.  Voila!  If you are nervous about them being cooked through, you can knick the thickest one to check, but pounding them makes them thin enough so that shouldn't be a problem.  And the buttermilk keeps them moist.

Serve with creamed spinach and brown rice. 



Sponge Bob Crab Cake

Crab cakes are a thing.

But of course, unless you live on the mid-Atlantic shore, or a bit to the South of it, you are not going to get the genuine article.  This does not seem to stop various New York City area pub-grub places from putting crab cakes on their menus--especially at brunch, with hollandaise sauce over them.  After a few mimosas, they seem like a kind of okay idea that way, but I promise you these joints are not using fresh crab.  They are using the same aseptically-packed crab you can get in your mega mart. 

Which is my point: away from the Maryland shore, the aseptically-packed crab isn't so bad.  A little pricey, but not nuts, and you can happily feed three hungry people on a pound of the stuff--or four polite people if you have some nice side dishes and you get away from the Crab Benedict nonsense.  I like cole slaw and a grilled ear of corn.  This is summertime food--but the thing is, you could easily come up with some sort of down home Southern style sides in the winter.  Probably mac and cheese and collards would be great.  Of course, that would be great all by itself, so I digress.

Here's a recipe that works fine for either lovely fresh lump blue crabmeat or the kind you get in the mega mart.  I'd serve it with homemade tartar sauce--a cup of Helllman's mayo, maybe half a cup of chopped dill or sweet pickles (or a mix), a few tablespoons of capers, some chopped dill, some chopped shallots if you have them (dried work okay if you have a while to let the sauce sit), and a squeeze of lemon. 

If you can make tuna salad and fry hamburgers in a skillet, you can do this recipe.  No great mystique here!

Chow down, and see you on the air Friday at 3!




The Whole Enchilada

I always feel a little apologetic giving any kind of instructions for cooking Mexican food.  I am possibly the biggest gringa on Planet Earth.  I live in the Northeast. The stuff I cook in various Latin styles is NOT authentic.

It is, however, tasty.  And in the spirit of The Dinner Party, here's what to do with leftover steak (especially leftover skirt steak) from an actual, non-radio dinner gathering.  As usual, my proportions are eye-balled...

Gringa Enchiladas

One can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz. can)

four tablespoons neutral oil--like canola

four tablespoons flour

three or four chopped or pressed garlic cloves

a teaspoon or two of the sauce from canned chipotle peppers

a shake or two of cumin and chili powder

salt and pepper


The above is for the sauce.  Heat the oil and quickly cook the garlic in it, but do not let it brown.  Whisk in the flour, cook for a minute or two, and add the tomatoes.  If the mixture seems too thick, add some water--you can always add water!  Season to taste with the chipotle, the chili powder and cumin, and the salt and pepper.  This should be a little thinner than a pasta sauce, and not be wickedly spicey. LET IT COOL.  You will be touching this with your fingers later.


For the stuffing:

a little oil for the pan

Your leftover steak, sliced very thin

A medium onion, cut in half and sliced thin

a red or green pepper, cut very thin

a shake of hot sauce, some salt and pepper to taste

if you don't have too much leftover steak,  a small can of drained black beans


Saute the veg in a little oil--you can use olive oil for this--and add the steak when the veg mixture is soft.  If it looks like not enough, you can add a small can of drained black beans.  Season to taste, and let it cool for a few minutes


Grate a half a pound of either good cheddar or jack cheese, or a mix

And of course, soften about 12 corn tortillas in the nuker--wrap in paper towels and zap for maybe fifteen or twenty seconds.

Grease the bottom of a lasagna pan.  One by one, dip the tortillas in the tomato sauce. Then form the enchiladas.  I lay them flat in the pan, sprinkle with some of the cheese, put in a few tablespoons of the steak mixture and roll them.  You can usually get 12 enchiladas in a lasagna pan.  When you're done forming the enchiladas, put a stripe of tomato sauce down the middle of the dish, and top with more cheese.  Bake at 350 for about a half hour.  Not super-authentic, but very tasty.  And all  you need is a salad and you've got dinner! 


See you on the air!


How To Grill Chicken Breasts For Your Weenie Husband

Here at the swanky neighborhood near you, we have a long-standing problem.  Mr. Potter does not like dark meat chicken.  Dark meat chicken is delicious, moist, stews and grills well, and is great in curries and stir-fries.  I can sneak the stuff into him in a stir fry or a curry--but less adorned than that and he will turn up his nose.  Having grown up on a farm, he prefers his chicken in a form that does not look like chicken: skin off, bones gone.  And yes, sadly, white meat.

Therefore, I have had to learn how to cook skinless, boneless chicken breasts on the grill and not turn them into Kleenex.  Ken actually wouldn't mind if I did that, but I couldn't eat them then, so it's a matter of survival.  And patience.

Here is what I do.  This recipe will work with boneless, skinless thighs, by the way, too.  (You know--what normal people eat!)


As many skinless, boneless chicken breasts as you want to cook.

Plenty of olive oil

The juice of a lemon (or two if you're making lots and lots)

three or four minced or pressed garlic cloves (multiply up if you're cooking for a crowd)

kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper (be generous with the salt)

Plenty of whatever fresh herbs you have around, washed and chopped--oregano and thyme are especially nice--or about half the quantity of dried herbs of your choice, rubbed between your palms before you use them. 

First, look at your chicken breasts.  If they aren't of the thin-sliced variety, you'll need to pound them.  You can do that by putting them, one at a time, into a plastic baggie and using a meat-pounding hammer or an empty wine bottle.  You want to make them about the same thickness so they will cook evenly, and thinner is better.  You may want to cut them in half after that if they seem to have become plate-sized!  The "tender" will probably come off.  You can cook that along with the breast, but be aware it'll get done really fast.

Then, put them all in a BIG plastic baggie and add about twice as much olive oil as you have lemon juice, the herbs, the garlic, the salt and pepper, and of course the lemon juice.  Make sure you have enough liquid to touch all the chicken.  Seal the bag and squish the chicken in the marinade.  Then put it aside for about an hour if you have time.  Best to keep it in the fridge, but you can and should bring it out to come up to room temp about twenty minutes before cooking.

When it's time to eat, heat your grill nice and hot.  Using tongs so your hands don't get oily, pull the chicken out of the baggie and carefully arrange them on the grill.  Watch for flare-ups from the oil! If you've pounded them properly, they should cook through quickly. If you're grilling the thin sliced chicken breasts, they will cook in a heartbeat.  Put them on and turn them right away. You'll let the pounded breasts go a minute or two before turning.  Check to make sure they're almost not pink anymore before you take them off; they'll come up in temperature a few degrees as they sit off the fire.  Wait five minutes before serving.

The breasts shouldn't be dried out--and they do make good leftovers for sandwiches and salad the next day.