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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

Friday
Aug112017

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. 

 

Thursday
May252017

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)

Friday
May122017

Burgers!

Burgers have some things in common with fish: less is more when it comes to preparation, and freshness and quality is pretty much all.  The high end burger joints popping up (and the high end burger chains like 5 Guys and Smashburger) know this.  You need really good beef, freshly ground, and a good pinch of salt.  More than that is gilding the lily.

Another burger truth: although lots of us think of them as the ultimate cookout food, they're probably best done inside, in a heavy saute pan or a cast iron skillet.  Or a griddle/flat top if you have one. 

So when we here in the Swanky Neighborhood do burgers at home, we go to a good store for the makings.  We've been known to grind our own beef (which is a bit of a chore, but if you've got a kitchenaid with a grinding attachment, it does pay off).  And we're advocats of grass-fed beef, which tends to be a bit leaner (another reason to cook the burgers inside; a grill can dry them out before they're done enough). 

Good buns are important, too.  I don't have religion on a brand, and I've even enjoyed a burger on a nice Kaiser roll.  I like sesame seeds.  My husband likes bacon burgers; I don't particularly (it's a texture thing).  American cheese is, of course, the classic topping, but I made some kick-ass burgers this week with some mild sliced Gouda I got at the local Aldi's.  Other than that, I like sauteed mushrooms, portobello preferred.  Mustard, not catsup, although I put both bottles out.  And sometimes, just a wee smear of mayo.  Sliced tomato when really good summer ones are around.  Sometimes a wee bit of lettuce.

How to cook?  I do four burgers to the pound of ground beef: round or chuck, but if you're using round, be careful about drying it out.  Handle the meat gently as you form the patties.  If you're cooking inside: scatter a few pinches of kosher salt in the bottom of a cast iron fry pan, heat it, and cook over medium high heat, flipping once.  Salt as you cook if you are using a griddle or a grill.  

I will eat other kinds of beef quite rare, but super-rare hamburgers are kind of gross.  I aim for pink, not red in the middle, and a nice crust.  Even if you screw up and cook a burger made of high-quality meat medium well, all is not lost.  (5 Guys cooks 'em this way all the time, and their burgers taste pretty good.)

Fire 'em up--and see you on the air today at 3!  We're doing a Friday Dinner Party this week, and I'll be crossing over with The Old Fart. 

Thursday
May042017

Grillin' & Chillin'

Thoughts on summer dinners for the 2017 season, that is.

A summer dinner is a simple dinner.  It's a grilled main course and a couple of salads.  I like to do one kinda starchy (but healthy starchy, with whole wheat or brown rice or bulgar) and one all-veg. Two all-veg is fine, too, but don't forget that whole wheat couscous and bulgur are not low-carb budget-busters.  You can eat some of that stuff and not hate yourself in the morning--and your bod with thank you for the fiber.  Rice, even brown rice, is tougher in the glycemics department.  The choice is yours.

Today, all shall be revealed about what I do when I grill protein. And "all" is a pretty simple basic recipe.  For chicken, beef, pork--whatever--I make a marinade about an hour before cooking.  Marinades don't tenderize, but they do add flavor and make it easier to produce a non-dry grilled meal.  The way I look at it, a marinade is a simple thing: some olive oil and something acid: vinegar and/or citrus.  Salt (I prefer kosher or sea salt).  Black pepper.  And some spices or herbs.  You need enough marinade to coat however much chickie or meat  you are planning on grilling.  And if you're doing fish, don't add acid until right before you put the stuff on the grill.

So, for example, if I were doing maybe three pounds of chicken breasts, I'd pound them to get them roughly the same thickness, and then pop them in a ziplock bag with maybe a half cup of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, three garlic cloves run through a press or chopped, a good tablespoon of kosher salt (which is not too much), and big handful of fresh herbs: parsley or marjoram or oregano.  No fresh?  A teaspoon or two of dried.  Close the ziplock, squish the chicken around in the marinade, and leave it for an hour or two.  You can keep it at room temp for about half an hour before grilling (and should take it out of the fridge that much in advance if you're holding it in there), but do refrigerate if it's going to be longer.  For beef or pork, I might use cumin and oregano.  Maybe a shot of soy for the beef, and a little balsamic vinegar in with the lemon.  Mustard--grainy, especially--is a nice addition, too.  Play and see what you like.

 

We bought a gas grill a few years back, and although I love the taste of charcoal-grilled food, I find I can't really tell the difference between it and gas-grilled food cooked with a pan of wood chips in with the flames. 

 

So, there ya go.  Good day for grilling, today is!  See  you on the air at 4 PM!

Thursday
Apr272017

It's FOOF Season again!

You can't improve on the classics, and Tuna Foof is among them.  Here's what I wrote last August on the topic.  I'm Christine Potter, and I approve of this recipe:

Mayo. I'm talking mayo, ladies and gentlemen.  Mayo is the substance that holds summer together.  I'm talking a dish A24r DJ and music director Tom Jones taught me.  I'm talking Tuna Foof.  It was a meal of his childhood. 

Tuna Foof is quick, cheap, and tasty.  It is just the thing on a summer night.  Everyone loves it.  It's a tuna fish macaroni salad.  Gourmets may sneer, but once they get a little of it, they will eat a LOT of it.  Here's how I do it:

TUNA FOOF

One box of macaroni (I use ziti or fusilli, but elbow is classic, and although I use whole wheat pasta, plain old non-fancy white pasta is classic, too.)

Two cans of light (not white) tuna fish.  These days I do Italian imported.  But Bumble Bee is fine.  Drain well before using, and give a quick sort of semi-rinse if there's a lot of oil (don't really wash it, but get enough oil off so it won't be too heavy)

A couple of ribs celery, chopped fine, AND OR half a red or green pepper, also chopped fine

A ripe summer tomato, diced, or a handful of cut-up cherry tomatoes

A handful of fresh dillweed, or a shake of dried

Mayo to moisten.  How much is up to you.  Be generous.

A squeeze of lemon juice.

Salt and pepper to taste.  (I find this often does not need salt, if you've used enough in the pasta water.)

Cook the pasta in well-salted water until quite tender--a bit past al dente.  Drain well, and rinse in cold water to speed cooling.  Mix with the rest of the ingredients in a nice, big bowl.  Adjust seasoning: more lemon?  A grind of pepper?  Chill and serve ice cold.