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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
Nov032016

Thanksgiving ONE--the yams/sweet potatoes

So, it's November, and we're coming up on Thanksgiving, and it's more fun thinking about what I'm going to be cooking at the end of the month than it is dwelling on Tuesday's election--so we are starting early.

First of all: sweet potatoes.  I called them yams for years, until I learned the awful truth: mostly, they are not.   Yams are starchier than sweet potatoes, often slightly purple in color, and are sold mostly in shops that cater to folks from Africa.  They are, indeed, an African veg.  Most of what we eat here in the US and call yams are sweet potatoes.

That said, here's what I do:

My Husband's Bourbon-Soaked Sweet Potatoes

Note: bourbon sloshed into almost any Thanksgiving food is pretty good.  Just make sure to allow enough cooking time to get the burny alcohol out and don't use too ridiculously much. 

Start with as many sweet potatoes as you'll need.  I do one for every two people, and usually have left overs.  Either bake or nuke them until they are soft enough to peel easily for starts.  Cool a bit, and pull the skins off.

Then:

Grease a lasagna pan with lots of butter, either sweet or salt, and slice the sweet potatoes into the pan.  It's okay if they are a little mushy.  Then sprinkle with as much brown sugar as your conscience allows.  You can also add a little maple syrup for part of the sweet.  Grate over the brown sugar and yams about one lemon's worth of zest, using a microplane grater.  Try not to get any of the bitter white pith into the dish as you grate. Also grate over a bit of nutmeg and sprinkle with a few pinches of cinnamon.  Slosh the potatoes with a shot or so of bourbon (or a wee bit more).  Dot generously with butter.  Bake at 375 for at least twenty minutes, or until bubbling. 

Voila. 

I'm on the air Friday at 3 PM this week! 

Wednesday
Oct262016

Baked Ziti!

It's what's for dinner on the first cold night.   You get to light your oven and maybe put off turning on the heat for one...more...day.

Here's what I did last night.  It was superb.

AUTUMNAL BAKED ZITI

 

One pound whole wheat penne or ziti

two cans good imported crushed tomatoes, or one can crushed and one can diced

six or eight cloves of garlic

one large or two small onions

two medium-sized portobello mushrooms, cut into slices and halved. Discard the stems

2/3 lb to a lb of Italian sweet pork sausage, preferably bulk (not in casings)

about 3/4 cup (or more, to taste) good ricotta cheese

one lb fresh mozzerella

a shake or two of both crushed red pepper and fennel seeds

about a tablespoon of dried oregano

a big handful of fresh parsley, washed well and chopped.

a few tablespoons of olive oil

a little freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste

possibly a pinch of sugar

 

First, make the sauce: put the bulk Italian sausage (alternately, slice the sausage) in pot with a little olive oil (you may not need the oil), the onion, mushrooms, the crushed red pepper, and the fennel seeds.  Cook, stirring, until the sausage is no longer pink and the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic, stir, and cook for a minute or two.  Add the oregano and the canned tomatoes.  Simmer for about twenty minutes, taste, and correct the seasoning.  Add the parsley. You may need salt, pepper--or a wee pinch of sugar if the sauce tastes too acidy.

Once the sauce is together, cook the pasta, drain it, and return it to the pot you cooked it in.  Add the sauce and the ricotta cheese--more or less to taste.  Turn into a lasagne pan you have brushed with a little olive oil.  Top with the mozzerella, grated or finely sliced.

Bake for about forty minutes at 350, covered with foil.  Take the foil off for the last five or ten minutes.

Let sit for five or ten minutes before serving to avoid the napalm cheese effect.

 

See  you on the air at 4 Thursday! 

 

Thursday
Oct062016

Beefy jams, Beefy stew

You have to make beef stew in the fall and winter.  Unless you are a vegetarian like Robyn Hitchcock, in which case you may avert your eyes and we will make you some lovely mac and cheese. 

Here's how you do it if you are me:

BEEF STEW

One thick or two thin strips of bacon, cut into little pieces

a little olive oil

3 lbs of stew beef.  Use chuck.  Round will be way too dry. 

2 good-sized onions, chopped coarsely

six cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed

About a quarter cup flour, or a tad bit more if you want a thicker stew

maybe two cups chicken or beef broth

about a cup of sturdy red wine--I use cabernet for this.

salt and freshly ground black pepper

about a tablespoon of dried thyme or summer savory

a handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 

First, brown the bits of bacon in a large, high-sided saute pan or a stew pot over a medium heat.  The stew beef you bought at the store is probably in slightly bigger chunks than it should be.  So while the bacon is browning, cut most of the beef pieces in half, aiming to get their size uniform.  Keep an eye on the bacon so it won't burn and scoop it out onto paper towels.  Then, add a little olive oil to the pot and put in the stew beef.  Brown well on all sides, adding a spinkling of salt and pepper as you go  You may need to do this in two batches.  Again, be careful not to burn the meat, but you want a good browning for flavor.  Toward the end of the browning, dump in the onions and garlic and stir it around with the beef cubes until it begins to soften--maybe five or six minutes, maybe a little more.  Add the flour and stir to coat.  Then, add the stock and wine and stir, carefully scraping the bottom of the pot to get up all the browned bits.  Add the thyme. 

Cover most of the way--I leave just a wee crack between lid and pot--and simmer for about an hour and a half, stirring from time to time. Make sure the flame is no higher than low or medium low.  Do not let the stew dry out.  Add a little more stock, wine, or water if it seems to be reducing too much, and don't forget to check to make sure the flame is still low.  Add the reserved bacon bits, and the carrot and potato chunks. Cook for another hour, covered, over very low heat.  Beef should be tender by now, but if it isn't, give it another half hour.  It's okay for the veg to be quite soft, and the potatoes will help to thicken the stew that way.  Taste for salt and pepper balance, and correct if you need to.  About five minutes before serving, add the frozen peas and the fresh parsley, if you are using those things. 

Serve with homemade biscuits. 

This makes a LOT.  It's easy dinner for six.  Beef stew also heats over well and freezes well.   Happy Fall and see you on the air at 4 PM!

 

six medium sized carrots, scraped or washed well, and cut into chunks

four or five russet potatoes, or a few more little red-skinned ones, scrubbed well, unpeeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

Optional: a handful or two of frozen peas

Thursday
Sep292016

Tender, tender piggy

Pork tenderloin is not hip.

It's the stuff your mom, who worried a whole lot about the wrong stuff during the fat free delusion, cooked into oblivion, the porcine equivalent of boneless, skinless chicken breast.  But it's also the porcine equivalent of filet mignon.  Which is to say, it really is tender and if properly cooked, quite delicious.  Like filet mignon, it needs some added fat to be good.

There's a Mark Bittman recipe that appeared in the NY Times a couple of years ago  I've been messing with for a while.  I have stopped measuring when I make this; it's a perfect and quick entree to eyeball.  And it even has a rest period in the middle, if you want to have a cocktail before dinner.  So with a tip of the hat to the author of How To Cook Anything:

Pork with Brandy Mustard Sauce and Cream (feeds two hungry people or three folks who have had lunch)

One pork tenderloin of about a pound

A little olive oil

Salt and pepper

Maybe half a cup of heavy cream (don't skimp out and use half and half)

about a tablespoon of grainy french mustard

a splash of brandy

a splash of water (maybe 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup--you'll cook it  mostly off) or chicken broth.

Salt and pepper the tenderloin and heat the oil in a large saute pan, prefereably one with high sides.  Brown the tenderloin on all sides over a medium-high to high flame.  Take the tenderloin out of the pan and put it on a cutting board and discard any excess oil.  Let the pork rest for a bit--five minutes at least, or enough time to have a drink with your dining companion.

Now slice the pork into about six medallions of an inch or an inch and a half.  It will be quite rare inside; that's okay.  Heat the pan again and sear the medallions on their cut sides just for a minute.   You are trying for blush-pink meat, which is a perfectly safe and delicious way to eat pork tenderloin.  It's not good overcooked.  Put the medallions on a serving platter and deglaze the pan with the water (or broth) and brandy.  Don't let it get all the way dry, but do scrape up the nice browned bits.  Now pour in as much cream as you'd like sauce and whisk that a bit, bringing it to a bubble.  You can even boil it a little, but don't reduce it much.  Stir in a tablespoon or so of the mustard and taste.  You may want a little black pepper, too, at this point.  Pour the cream sauce over the medallions, and serve with steamed spinach and either brown rice or whole wheat fettucine.  You can thank me later.

See you on the air at 4 PM. 

Friday
Sep232016

Chicken Fajitas

The thing about wanting to smash the patriarchy is that one doesn't usually start off with a dinner party for two with one's husband.  One doesn't say "one," either.  But I think that RULE ONE in smashing the patriarchy is being yourself, and myself likes to cook chicken fajitas. 

The sad truth is that my husband won't eat any part of a chicken that looks like a chicken unless he has made his mom's fried chicken himself.  RULE TWO in smashing the patriachy would seem to be demanding that he do that more often, but I would ask you to refer back to rule one and consider that I do not like fried chicken that much.

My only concession to the patriarchy is that I will use chicken breasts, not thighs.  This is because SOMEONE in my house not only won't eat chicken that looks like chicken, he will not eat dark meat, the silly...(smash smash smash)

It's an easy matter to pound a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts to a sort-of even width so that they will grill better, and then dump 'em in a plastic bag with some olive oil, about a tablespoon each of chili powder, cumin, salt and a shake of chipotle hot sauce or two. The pounding part can be emblematic of every sexist piece of crap blog you have read online this election cycle.  Do remember to match your sour mood with half a lime (or more if you're really pissed off) squeezed on top of the chicken and seasoned oil.  Also: three pressed garlic cloves and a few twists of black pepper. Seal the top of the bag and squish the chicken breasts around through the plastic so they get coated with the marinade.  If you are going to grill in the next half hour or so, leave the bag of chicken out on the counter.  If not, refrigerate it.  I think you could easily do this early in the day, throw it in the fridge, and go about your excellent patriarchy-destroying business. 

Make some guacamole or buy some.  I have a decent recipe for homemade (It takes two minutes, and you can pretend the avocados you'll be mushing up are the patriarchy) in the fish taco recipe a few weeks back.

Grab a jar of good commercial salsa.  Screw making your own.  Smash the patriarchy.

Slice a red pepper and a green pepper and a medium-sized onion and saute in the pot of your choice in some olive oil, salt, and a little smoked paprika.  Do not oppress the veggies.   Turn off the flame when they are tender-crisp.

Make your husband warm the tortillas while you go outside and use the much-more-fun gas grill.  Take a cocktail along with you.  Warn your husband not to burn the tortillas like he usually does because he thinks charcoal is tasty or something. Ask yourself why he likes everything so damn overcooked.

Properly grill the chicken to your own tastes over a medium-high flame, slice it into fajita-like slices, and serve wtih the peppers, salsa, guac, and tortillas--and if you can find it, a little queso blanco, crumbled or grated.  Don't pre-grate it.  Put the grater on the table.  Smash the patriarchy.   Have seconds.

See  you on the air at three today, Friday!