As I reach this new phase of my life with the last of my kids planning her wedding, I wonder how I got here? I think it all started with a bunch of firsts:
I was the first born American in a huge Italian family.
I was the first to go to school without knowing a word of English.
I was the first in my family to eat canned spaghetti. (I had no choice because it was served at the school cafeteria. I had to eat it as the Catholic nun was glaring at me to swallow. I have to say it was the worst thing I ever had and so sad that mamma sent me to school without a bag lunch.)
I was the first to date a non- Italian ( It was a big revolt in the family over that first! There was even a family council over this and major discussions with a wooden spoon. Ouch!)
And I ended being the first to marry the non-Italian ( I fought hard and won. I think all my younger siblings and cousins should grovel at my feet for that. Because gasp! I broke the Italian seal of approval!)
The first to go to college.
The first to get a job that didn’t involve food. ( I became an accountant)
I was the first grandchild to take my Nonna for a drive in my car. (I drove her over the bridge twice because instead of getting off the ramp I continued back on the bridge. Nonna was wondering where we were going while she held on to her rosary beads. I lied and told her we had to take a detour while thinking I need to go to confession!)
Getting my car license really opened up my world of firsts. Because of it, I picked up Mexican take out. It was the first time I ate Mexican and introduced my mom and siblings to tortillas.
I had my first bagel at the Marist College cafeteria. I never tasted anything so delicious. Who knew that bread boiled and baked could taste so good!
Not only have I come a long way but I paved the way for the rest of my American born family! When I think of my own children I am proud that I made their childhood a little more normal than mine. Even what I keep in the refrigerator has changed big time. I go back to one odd memory of growing up. Of course, I didn’t realize it was odd because this is all my brother and I knew! On Saturday mornings whilst my parents slept my brother and I would slyly raid the fridge. Peering in with our eyes wide open, the fridge was an adventure! While Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon played in the background we grabbed a lemon to share, cutting it in half and poured salt over the it. We also grabbed the bottle of olives and helped ourselves to a few. Reaching in further or I should say as I reached in because being the oldest I had the longest reach, I would find glistening in the rear the red, green and yellow hot cherry peppers. Nick and I would grab forks and pierce a pepper each. If we were lucky there were leftover anchovies. What can I say? Was this weird? Or maybe there were other choices but our palates craved for what we knew I need to ask my children what snack did they sneak? I really do hope I gave them more normal options like bagels and cream cheese! Or maybe tortilla chips! Â In honor of my Saturday ritual with my brother, I am sharing our restaurant recipe of Chicken Scarpariello. It’s a little different than most recipes because we only used boneless chicken breasts. Hope you enjoy the hot cherry peppers as much as my brother and I do! Maybe you can put on Rocky and Bullwinkle and make it complete!
PS I love hot cherry peppers so much that I make my own every summer! I pickled them with black peppercorns, bay leaves and peeled garlic this year! Also Scarpariello means shoemaker. Don’t ask! It makes no sense to me why it’s called that.
4 Boneless Chicken breasts about a pound
½ cup of flour
Canola Oil for frying
4 cloves of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup of white wine
½ chicken stock
½ cup of butter
4 hot cherry peppers packed in vinegar (slivered with seeds removed)
4 small Yukon potatoes (peeled and sliced in rounds boiled until tender)
Cut chicken in chunks
Place cut up chicken in a zip lock bag with flour, salt and pepper to taste and shake.
Place in a colander and shake off flour
Fry chicken in Canola Oil
Drain chicken on paper towels
Slice garlic and
Saute garlic in 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil until a pale brown
Add wine, chicken stock, and butter and cook on medium heat ( salt and pepper to taste)
Add cooked chicken and potatoes and cook until bubbly.
You may add a few tablespoons of vinegar that peppers were packed in for extra tartness
My Pickled Hot Cherry Peppers with black peppercorns, bay leaves and peeled garlic!