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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

Thursday
Feb232017

Spaetzle makes it all better

There is comfort food and there is comfort food.

And then there is spaetzle.  Spaetzle is little wee dumpling/noodle stuff, a total pain in the ass that will mess up your kitchen and for which you really and truly need a one-purpose kitchen tool: a spaetzle-maker, natch.  That said, you need to know how to make this stuff.  It makes people insanely happy.  It is carb-y and buttery and not something that you should make more than a few times a year.  It is German food, from Alsace, really.

One serves spaetzle with stews, or alongside wurst or by itself buttered or with a cheese sauce.  I like it as a side dish, browned in a little butter.  Here's how.

One note: the merciful part about spaetzle is that you can make it in advance and hold it with a little oil over it in the fridge.  I strongly suggest you do this.

SPAETZLE

NEEDED: a spaetzle maker.  Don't even attempt this with a colander.  Amazon has them.  Buy the kind that looks like a cheese grater, not the kind that looks like a potato ricer or a colander. 

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup flour

3 eggs (large or extra large)

1 cup milk

a good large pinch of kosher salt

several good grindings of black pepper

some freshly grated nutmeg--maybe 1/2 teaspoonish

Whisk the flour, pepper, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs.  Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and combine with a whisk or a rubber spatula.  You are going for a pancake batter consistency--not too thick, and don't overwork by beating it.  You may need a drop more milk.

Bring a large pot of salted (as if for pasta) water to a boil.  I use a wok-shaped all-purpose Calphalon pot I cook everything in because it is wide, and I can get about a quarter to a third of the batter in at a time.

Set your spaetzle maker over the water, and spoon or ladle about a quarter to a third of the batter into it.  The batter will probably drip right through, but you may need to move the little batter-container part back and forth a few times to get all the batter into the water.  Little wee round noodles will first sink to the bottom of the pot and then bubble right to the top.  Let them cook until they rise to the top and puff up a bit.  Pull one out and taste if you're not sure they're done; it takes only about a minute or two.  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl of ice water.  Repeat with the rest of the spaetzle batter until you've cooked all of it. 

Drain the spaetzle from the ice water and put it in another bowl with a little oil drizzled in.  If it's a few hours before dinner, cover with plastic film and pop it in the fridge until you brown it in butter for dinner.  If you're about to serve dinner, melt a good knob of butter in a non-stick pan.  Brown the spaetzle over a medium to medium-high flame, tossing in some chopped parsley or chives at the end of the cooking process.

There.

I told you it would mess up your kitchen.  But the stuff is delicious, and when you need comfort, there you have it.  I've held it overnight, by the way, in the pre-browned state, and it's been just fine. 

See you on the air at 4 PM!

 

 

Thursday
Feb162017

Our Democracy Came from Greece--so did this recipe

Well--sorta.

Actually, it came from the NY Times, and it's Greek-inflected more than authentic, but it's weeknight-simple, utterly delicious, and really healthy: chicken thighs, black olives, cauliflower, tomato, and onion with cinnamon and garlic.  And feta cheese.

Click here if you want the link.  A good thing to know: The NY Times keeps its recipes out in front of its pay wall. In these days of tough times, it's a good thing to pay for your online papers, and I suggest a subscription to the Times for their non-food journalism, too.  But if you're hungry, their recipes are all free. Classy, yes? My kind of newspaper! 

I'd recommend serving it with some brown rice, maybe cooked with chicken broth and a little sauteed onion.  Or just plain brown rice.  And a green salad--dark greens.  Maybe baby kale and white balsamic dressing?  A little dillweed?

I'm on the air with songs as cheery as this dish at 4 PM today.

Friday
Jan272017

Turkey or Chicken Stuffing For The Resistance

When you've marched five miles in the cold and walked the two miles back to your hotel, you don't have to count carbs.  This is not diet food. But sometimes you need to throw a dinner party for the RESISTANCE.

First of all, roast something.  A whole turkey breast is often a good bet if you can get a high-quality one from a good market.  Roasting a chicken makes your house smell GREAT, and it's easy.  Just put whatever you have purchased into the oven at 350 until the internal temperature with a instant-read thermometer comes out about 175.  It'll come up to 180 as it rests outside the oven. Allow an hour and a half or two hours for this.  Consult your fave cookery book for specifics.

Before you roast it, you'll want to rub the chickie or turkey breast with a generous smear of soft butter and sprinkle on a generous bit of kosher salt.  A few grinds of pepper, and a couple teaspoons to a tablespoon of dried thyme and/or rosemary works. If you're doing a whole chicken, stew the neck in a little water with some carrot and onion to make broth for the stuffing and stock.

Then, cut up about half a loaf of good bread into cubes.  Whole wheat, sourdough...whatever.  It's better if the bread is a bit stale, but it doesn't have to be.  Rock hard is a bad idea, by the way. Put the bread aside.

Finely chop a big Spanish onion and two or three ribs of celery.  Melt a whole darn butter stick in a large, high-sided saute pan--use the biggest one you have.  Yup, a quarter pound of the stuff.  Not only Southern reactionaries like butter.  Saute the veggies in that--gently, over medium heat--until they are nice and soft.  Add a handful of dried cranberries and a handful of raisins.  Or two handfuls of either.  Or more.  You can put in a chopped, peeled apple, too, if you wish.  Sprinkle in a bit of dried thyme or savory.  Up to you.  Get everything softened and blessed with the butter, and then put in the bread.  Stir it around until it is buttery.  Add a few handfuls of chopped fresh parsley.  Then moisten as much as you like with chicken broth (boxed is fine, or you can use some of the chicken neck broth).  Don't get it soggy.  If you like, you can also beat an egg into a bit of stock and add that--it adds cohesion.  Stir it around and put in a buttered casserole dish.  Bake uncovered at 350 (along with the bird if you want) for about half and hour or forty five minutes, until it's crisp on top and hot through.  Voila!

Friday show this week.  See ya at 3 PM!

Friday
Dec302016

Russian New Years

This Dinner Party suggestion is NOT a hidee-ho to our new uber-lords (please God), but a reaction to having seen Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway this week.  And it just so happens that Beef Stroganoff is a perfect party entree.  It's gluten-free.  An actual junior-high school gal (smart and worldy, but still) ate my last batch happily, so I think we can say KIDS LOVE IT.  I love it.  And you can make it up to the place where you put the sour cream in, have a drink with your guests, reheat, and away you go.  This is a riff on the Bittman recipe from How To Cook Everything.

Beef Stroganoff

Step ONE:

One giant spanish onion, or two orange-sized normal ones, sliced rather thin (cut in half first, so you get half-rings)

LOTS of mushrooms.  I almost always prefer portobellos because they cut up quickly and they are flavorful.  I'd use maybe a pound, seriously.  Slice them.

maybe four tablespoons of butter 

Salt and pepper

In a very large, very wide saute pan with high sides, melt the butter and saute the onion and shrooms for five or ten minutes, until they are quite soft.  Don't let the onions brown, but a little light caramel is okay.  Keep the heat no higher than medium/medium high, and season with salt and pepper as it cooks.

STEP TWO:

One and a half to two pounds of filet mignon, cut into bite-sized pieces.  Yes, it's expensive, but this will feed four people easy and it's worth the splurge.

One or two tablespoons of grainy mustard

a small can of chopped tomatoes or two or three fresh plum tomatoes, chopped

A tablespoon of dried dillweed (or several tablespoons of fresh, but add it later)

a couple of teaspoons to a tablespoon of smoked paprika

a cup or a little more of boxed chicken or beef stock (or home made)

 

Put the filet in with the shrooms and onions and saute.  You can turn the heat up a little, but don't brown the onions.  Just get the raw look off the beef; tenderloin will dry out easily so just a minute or two should do the trick.  Add the tomatoes and stock, and the seasonings (except for dill if you're using fresh).  Simmer for five or ten minutes--again not too hard.  Mixture should look like a stew--not too loose.  You can turn it off and have a drink with your guests here if you want to, but don't leave it for more than half an hour.

STEP THREE

1/2 cup to a cup of good, full-fat sour cream

When you're ready to serve, heat the beef mixture to a strong simmer and stir in the sour cream.  Taste to make sure the salt/pepper balance is where  you like it and that the dish is really heated through, but do not boil, or the sauce will separate (although it will still taste good).  Garnish with fresh dill if you have some.

 

Traditional bed for this is buttered noodles, but I like brown rice better.  Gets more of the juices.  An arugula or spinach salad with a mildly sweet dressing goes well with this. 

 

This is actually quite good with champagne!  Cheers and let's hope this year is better than the last stinker!

Tuesday
Dec132016

Busting Up Tradition!

Time to blow the dust off this Dinner Party Blog!

This year, we're busting up tradition for Christmas at the Potter Ranch.  Lasagne is going to be the main course, instead of filet.  Woot!  I've wanted to do that for years and never had the nerve.  But this has been a very strange year, and very strange years call for switching things up.

I'm making two or three trays of the stuff, some sausage and mozzerella, and some portobello, spinach and smoked mozzerella.  And I'm going to put out trays of Italian cold cuts before, with some hard boiled eggs and marinated shrimp and such.  And good bread. 

Lasagne is flexible stuff.  It's not the high wire cooking act that making roast beast of any sort is.  You can make it before and be part of the party on Christmas Day. 

I do two cans worth of good imported tomatoes to a lasagne--make a quick marinara with onions, garlic, oregano, fennel, and fresh parsley.  I'll have a pan with the 'shrooms and a pan with the sausage to flavor the two different sauces for the two different lasagnes.  So I figure I can do the sauce and freeze it sometime in the next few days, and then assemble the casseroles on Christmas Eve--or maybe the day before. 

I'm always generous with the ricotta, and I just sort of wing it when I make lasagne.  It's pretty hard to muck the stuff up. 

I will let you know how this plan works!  Meanwhile, see you on the air Friday at 3 PM!