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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


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. 


A New Recipe At Last!

...and it's for a cocktail, shades of my old show.

I've been to Canada and back since I last wrote anything here.  And have gotten home and done a couple of recipe-less Dinner Parties on the station.

When we were at The Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrew's, New Brunswick, we had a drink with these ingredients in it.  I loved it and played with it some until I got it right at home.  After the week the world's had, I think we could all use a refreshing, fruity drink.  So why not make a pitcher and invite friends?

Let's call my version The Sweetness and Light!

For one pitcher--five or six drinks:

One big pink grapefruit

two or three limes

12 oz of vodka (I like Tito's)

2 or three ounces of Elderflower liqueur, like St. Germaine

a squirt of simple syrup or light agave, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

a few sprigs of rosemary, fresh


Squeeze the citrus fruit into a pitcher, and offset the tartness a bit with the agave or simple syrup.  Add the vodka and the St. Germaine's.  Dump in a LOT of ice and stir like crazy. (Alternatively, you could shake this if you have a big shaker, or shake it in batches.) Taste for balance and add whatever you think you need; it should be gently sweet with the grapefuit giving it some interest.  Fill five or six Old-Fashioned glasses with ice and pour drink over.  Garnish each drink with a grinding of black pepper, a sprig of rosemary, swizzle, and serve.  I like to drink this through a narrow straw, old school cocktail bar style. 

Throw something simple on the grill.  After this week, I'd advise two pitchers. 



Shrimps for the Resistance!

Sometimes, you're so full of the news you can't peel yourself away from the TV to cook--even for The Dinner Party.  Sometimes, when things are particularly absurd, the appropriate meal seems to be popcorn and trying to pretend the whole thing is a movie.

Turns out a pound of shrimps is all you need.  You can leave their shells on and simmer them a couple of minutes until they are pink and as firm as you like them, and serve them warm with butter to dip into. Lots of fish mongers sell them shells on, veins taken out (well, mostly), so that's an easy way to go.  Choose that dinner and it's actually about as quick as popcorn, and if you're worried about veggies, toss in a salad.  Sit in front of MSNBC and shake your head. 

If you don't want to be feral, you can make a quick red sauce with a splash of olive oil, a chopped onion, three or four cloves of garlic (pressed or minced), a shake of crushed red pepper, and a can of good crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen or Sclafani). Sizzle a couple of chopped anchovies or a little anchovy paste in with the onion and garlic before you add the tomatoes.  Simmer five or ten minutes, and put in the CLEANED AND SHELLED shrimp (you can get lazy and buy 'em that way.  I give you permission.). Poach the shrimp in the sauce a few minutes, until they are as firm as you like them.  Give a stir, throw in a tablespoon of capers if you like, and a handful of chopped parsley.  Serve over pasta. 

Or then there's this:  Shrimp curry.  Any recipe that has coconut milk is probably damn good.  Thank you, Food and Wine! 

The world's a mess.  Let us eat shrimps!  (See you on the air at  4 PM)