August 2012


Smack dab in the middle of the Land of Steady Habits (in Meriden, CT) is a stellar meat market by the name of Noack’s. Besides other smoked meats and German specialty sausages, Noack’s makes the very best wursts.

I picked up some weisswursts and thought I should honor their heritage by making warm German potato salad to go with. Then it hit me: I don’t think you LIKE German potato salad. So, how about those not quite mashed potatoes you make, but with BACON?! That’s it! Achtung, baby, let’s make crash potatoes with the delicious addition of PIG!

KATTY’S CRASH POTATOES WITH BACON

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut in chunks
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
5 slices bacon (if you are local, please visit Middletown’s Meadow Meat–their slab bacon is OUTSTANDING!)
½ large sweet onion, finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
¼ tsp. salt

To a large stockpot, add potatoes, chicken stock, milk, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to boil over medium high heat, then reduce to medium or just below. Cook potatoes for 10 minutes or till you can fork through them. Reserve the cooking liquid from the badadas (yes, potatoes, I know–it runs in the family). You’re going to add some of that liquid back when we put everything together. Remove bay leaf and thyme stems.

While your potatoes are boiling, cook and drain the bacon, but SAVE THOSE DRIPPINGS in the pan! Remove only maybe a teaspoon or so. Chop the bacon, set aside. Chop the parsley and set it aside, too.

Cook the onion in the bacon drippings over medium heat. Once the onion is nice and golden and soft, it should be about time to add them to the potatoes.

It’s showtime! To the cooked potatoes, add the onion, bacon, 1/4 cup reserved stock/milk from cooking the potatoes, sour cream, salt, parsley and coarse ground mustard. Stir. No need to mash. They naturally “crash” into deliciousness without manual intervention. And are a fine accompaniment to the best wursts I know!

I told my Uncle Ralph I was making badadas this weekend. “Badadas! Uncle John used to call them that. But I’m pretty sure they’re potatoes.” Be that as it may, badadas is fun to say.

So, with a proud nod to my own somewhat humorous heritage, here is Uncle John with Poppy way, way back in the day. Yup, that very handsome devil on the right is my grandfather: the original Alfred Anthony. Happy birthday a little early, Poppy! As always, I wish you were here. Love, Hopey

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For your gelato or ice cream or simply your spoon, there’s nothing like creamy peanut butter sauce. As a native New Englander, I’ve always loved the peanut butter sauce at Friendly’s. But it struck me I might love it even more with a bourbon caramel twist–so I made it happen. And so can you. Ready?

PEANUT BUTTER BOURBON CARAMEL SAUCE

First, make the salted caramel. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, whisk together:

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoon butter
good pinch of Kosher salt

Continue to whisk till sugar dissolves, then cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and add:

2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon
¼ cup light Karo syrup
½ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy creamy)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar

It will take a bit for the peanut butter to melt in, so be patient and keep whisking. Once it’s nice and smooth, add:

¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
one more good pinch Kosher salt

Let cool and store in the fridge. When it’s time to serve, reheat very gently and very slowly in the microwave–on the defrost setting for maybe 10 seconds or so to start. I swirled a quarter cup’s worth (by spoonful, using a very tiny spoon) into a batch of stracciatella I made last night to make it extra-special good. It worked. 🙂

Because I’m wired funny, “Peanut Butter” gets stuck in my head every time I’m making something with this ingredient. I confess to singing it aloud as I’m putting the recipe together. I’m sharing so you can sing along, too! “It takes a lot of little nuts to get things done!” Truer words never sung or spoken. C’mon now, sing it with me! Oh, and grab a spoon and dig in!

Hot summer days scream for meals you can pull together quickly without heating the house too much. So I share with you (ta-da!): tapenade pasta. I serve it warm, but you can eat it cold as suggested in the original video recipe I found on ItalianFoodNet.com. How can you not love their site for its tagline alone: “Italians do eat better.” We sure do. So can you.

KATTY’S TAPENADE PASTA
inspired by Chef Alessandro of ItalianFoodNet.com

Serves 4

1 pound pasta*
1 pint grape tomatoes—leave half whole, cut remainder in half
4 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (please trust me–you won’t taste a hint of fish in this dish!)
1 clove garlic
basil (handful of leaves)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (organic is nice if you can find)—juice and zest

*I made it with penne rigate, but also love it with Sclafani’s double elbows (a.k.a “bouble elbows”). Typos are fun. 🙂

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, put half of the tomatoes (the whole ones) in your food processor along with the basil, Kalamatas, anchovy paste, garlic, capers and lemon juice.

Chop/grind, then blend in add olive oil.


Drain pasta; transfer to a large bowl (or pot), add the olive dressing, remaining tomatoes and lemon zest and toss well. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish, top with fresh basil leaves and Pecorino Romano.“It’sa so delish, everybody come capisce…”

Buon appetito, amici!