October 2013


The year is 1976. It’s the summer before my ninth birthday. There I am, smiling away (not much changes, right?) in Nanny and Poppy’s backyard on Silver Lane. In front of me is a freshly made batch of Nanny’s potato salad, still warm.

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Dig our tablecloth on the picnic table, by the way. Is that a stylish touch or what? We weren’t wealthy, but we always had at least three things: each other, good food and a little bit of style.

My mom has that funny expression on her face. And that’s my uncle Greg on the other side of the table. It’s the first time I ever had Nanny’s potato salad. I remember liking it so much, we took some home. The next day, my mom dished out some out for me. Cold. “Aren’t you going to heat it up?” I asked.

So, that’s where it starts. Warm potato salad. It’s not just my childhood memory of how I think things should be. Thirty-seven years later, warm potato salad still sounds right to me.

I recently learned of Salad Olivier–a.k.a Insalata Russa or Russian Salad. How about that? Potatoes and carrots and peas and diced pickles! Doesn’t that sound good? Well, aren’t you going to heat it up? 🙂 It’s traditionally served cold, but it sure tastes great warm with the best wurst from Noack’s to go with! And, by now, you know the drill. Of course we’re gonna crinkle-cut those carrots.

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SALAD OLIVIER OR INSALATA RUSSA (RUSSIAN SALAD) A LA KATTY

2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled, diced
2 cups frozen peas
3 carrots, peeled and crinkle-cut
1/3 of a large sweet onion, finely chopped (sauté in bacon grease or olive oil if you’re short on bacon)
about 1/4 cup of pickles, diced (I used Vlasic Stackers Zesty Dill—3 Stackers slices, very zesty indeed!)
black pepper to taste

Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 a fresh lemon, squeezed
¼ cup parsley, minced
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons Penzey’s horseradish powder (yes, a random ingredient, but I like it–so add it if you have it!)

First, saute the onions. It’s handy if you’ve already made a trip to Noack’s. In addition to the best wurst, they also have killer bacon. Save the bacon drippings from breakfast and sizzle up the onions till nice and soft and golden. Set aside.

Now, may I suggest boiling the potatoes in a large stockpot of salted water? It’s really preferable to filling them to the brim of a pan that’s not quite big enough and watching them boil all over the stovetop. Oh, not like I know from personal experience or anything. Cook just till fork-tender and drain.

Meanwhile, same as the potatoes (badadas), boil the carrots till fork-tender. Add 2 cups frozen peas to the pan when the carrots are almost done—just throw ‘em in for about a minute or two.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Then fold the sauteed onions, warm potatoes, carrots and peas into the dressing. Don’t delay–serve right away with your favorite wurst. Or eat it cold if you must. Just heat up my portion, OK?

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Let’s surry down to a stoned soul picnic with the family. ♫ Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine. ♫ I can only get there in my mind’s eye now, but if I could make it happen, I would definitely bring this potato salad. Warm. On a picnic table with a tablecloth, capisce? See you there!

Janey and Nanny

Janey and Nanny

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My workplace is hosting a “Fun Fridays” event tomorrow with yogurt parfaits. We WAH (work at home) folk were invited to join in the fun by making our own parfaits and submitting recipes. Hmm. What would be a real Katty’s Kitchen twist on yogurt parfaits? It hadn’t crossed my mind till this recipe challenge, but then it hit me: Why is there no such thing as almond yogurt? There should be and now there is.

This tasty little parfait got my day off to a very filling and healthy start this morning. It would also make a satisfying afternoon snack. It takes just a couple of quick minutes to put together. Wait till you see how easy!

JOYFUL ALMOND CRUNCH PARFAIT
1 7 oz. container Fage Total 2% Greek yogurt
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon shredded coconut (I use Baker’s Angel Flake sweetened coconut)
1 teaspoon sliced almonds
1-2 teaspoons crushed corn flakes
1 Valrhona dark chocolate feve, chopped (a small square of your favorite dark chocolate, chopped, or 1 teaspoon of semi-sweet chocolate morsels will work, too)

Remember, antioxidants are important, so by all means, feel good or even downright joyful about the healthy treat you’re about to prepare.

Stir almond extract, brown sugar and coconut into yogurt. You can also sweeten with honey, if you prefer.

Top with sliced almonds, coconut, chopped chocolate and corn flakes. Add a couple of extra flakes of coconut on top to garnish.

You could be fancy and layer it into a martini glass at home, but what’s not to love about a bowl you just throw away and don’t have to wash? C’est parfait!

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“Vatti vatti due!”
In my mind’s eye, I can see Poppy as he speaks these words in the dialect familiar to those with roots in southern Italy. He’s likely shaking a thick finger for emphasis. “What does that mean, Poppy?” “Keep your nose clean!”

Euuuw. To my young ears, that was a strange visual. And it was only years later I finally learned those words in Italian, not phonetics: “Fatti i fatti tuoi!” Loosely translated: “Mind your own business!”

Our family business was food–literally. All of us inherited a love for great food: cooking it, eating it, baking it, making it our own somehow. For now, let’s get cookin’! This is a killer dish!

PORK CHOPS WITH SWEET AND HOT PEPPERS
with bonus lessons in Italian and life, no extra charge

2 pork chops, 1 inch thick
salt and pepper to season both sides of the chops
all-purpose flour to coat the chops
enough olive oil for bottom of your skillet
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
½ a large sweet onion, sliced
one orange bell pepper (or yellow or red) sliced
2 tablespoons of sliced cherry peppers in vinegar (maybe less if you’re not a heat seeker, but I liked it!)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon brine from cherry peppers
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 a lemon, squeezed
Flat leaf parsley, a handful of it, chopped

Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper. Coat with flour, shake off excess. Add olive oil to cover the bottom of a skillet, place over medium heat. Add the chops and cook five minutes per side. Move chops to a plate; cover with foil.

Add more oil to the skillet—it’s time to cook the sweet peppers, onions and garlic. Get the rosemary in there, too. Saute, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Add hot cherry peppers and about a tablespoon of their brine with wine, lemon juice and chicken stock, incorporate pan drippings. Spoon over chops, garnish with fresh parsley.

I like to serve these with oven-roasted red potatoes, sliced in coins, tossed in olive oil, sprinkled with salt, Penzey’s California Seasoned Pepper and rosemary. Start ’em off like this. Let them roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or so at 400 degrees F. Flip ’em halfway through. Have a little bite to make sure they’re as crispy as you like before you serve.

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We didn’t grow up with these spicy pork chops. But they’d definitely be on the menu if any of us were running the restaurant today. They’ll be in regular rotation in Katty’s Kitchen from here on out.

And the older I get, the more Poppy’s advice really rings true: keep your cards close, don’t trade cards on others–in effect, vatti, vatti due! Do the right thing. Stay out of trouble. I hear his words loud and clear in my head. And I heard them last night when I asked my uncle how he was doing. “I try to keep my nose clean,” he said. I know. I hear you, buddy, and I believe you.

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Alfred Anthony, Jr. with Nanny, AAM III and AAM, Sr.

With all my love to all three Alfred Anthonys and to my Uncle Ralph. Vatti vatti due!