Recipe for a March of Dimes Gourmet Gala:

Take a large bowl -- ah, ballroom -- at the Sheraton Washington Hotel.

Select 15 well-known male-female teams as ingredients. Substitute where necessary. Merv Griffin came down with a sinus infection and couldn't fly in. Eva Gabor, his teammate, stayed home in sympathy. Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D-Neb.) and his wife Cece were just as appealing, working with Griffin's recipe for "Political Pie -- a lot of fluff and can be sliced into many pieces." The pie took the cake, or at least the award for the third best recipe. Zorinsky says he likes to cook, but these evenings, because he is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "We go to embassy dinners."

Add spicy remarks. John McLaughlin is host not only of "The McLaughlin Group," but often of small dinners. Last night, he and his wife Ann, the Interior undersecretary, cooked up their famous shrimp salad. "We served it at a dinner party the other night," John McLaughlin said. "And they're still alive and flourishing." Ann McLaughlin claimed the recipe, which won second place.

Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and TV producer Nancy Dickerson won the best recipe award for Tidewater Virginia Crab Hors d'oeuvres. Warner said he got the recipe from Mount Vernon. And going to cook it? Dickerson said, "He will." Warner said, "We'll see."

Mary Lou Riggins said her husband John, who announced yesterday that he has been released by the Washington Redskins -- a report that team officials denied -- had little to do with the crab dip, a recipe she got from a neighbor who got it from a friend. John Riggins said, "I do barbecue. But when I put in a lot of garlic and spice, my wife and children leave home."

Andrea Roane of Channel 9 displayed her Oysters Caribbean secret ingredient: freshly grown cayenne pepper sent by her father from New Orleans. Her team cook, Don Torrance, also from Nine, recommended her gumbo. Roane denied she planned to take Julia Child's place as a TV cook.

Measure precisely. Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder, the sports analyst, estimated his chances of winning at 1 in 15. He thought his wife's odds were better. (He lost.) As for Ronald Reagan's chances of passing the contra aid bill: "very good."

Both Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Char Lugar, their shoes off for their "Barefoot in the Park" setting, admitted she was the cook. "But he does his own laundry," Char Lugar said. Their recipe for flaky mushroom tartlets won the award for ease in preparation and flair.

Delegate Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.) and his wife Dorothy settled on curried chicken soup for their recipe "because its quick."

Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) claimed to be the brains behind his wife's recipe for Crabmeat, Mirliton and Artichoke Appetizers. His wife Mary admitted "we develop things together." As for her secret ingredient, "Mirliton is a kind of a squash, but you can use eggplant." The recipe won the creative cooking award.

Add in at the last, Rep. E. (Kika) de la Garza (D-Tex.), delayed by a House vote on an antiterrorism bill. But he won the regional cooking award anyway for his garlic shrimp.

Stiffen mixture with some 130 patrons, sponsors and donors.

Sweeten with this year's March of Dimes poster child, 7-year-old Justin Chappel of Laurel, who was born with spina bifida. He is an A student in math.

Decorate the kitchens courtesy of Washington Metropolitan Chapter American Society of Interior Designers. One guest looked at Anneliese Sullivan's "The Birds" setting full of black birds and said, "I wouldn't eat chicken from that set." Linda Frease and Bryan D. Hoover, of George Hymen Construction Co., won the best design award for their "Murder on the Orient Express" kitchen.

Stir together with heavy sequins, delicious smells, unbelieving inquiries ("Do you really cook?"). Bake in the glare of spotlights.

Serves more than 700 people, who contributed about $200,000 to the March of Dimes, according to dinner chairwoman Peatsy Hollings.