I worked with Kaye at the same place where I met Francine Genovaldi (she of the legendarily moist, rich, dark chocolate cake). Kaye was legend, with a new outrageous story for every decade of her life every time you asked. Born a sharecropper’s daughter, she had been a gangster’s moll, a showgirl, the owner of a pre-statehood Alaskan uh night club, operator of the second Kirlian camera to enter the United States, and a recording artist / club singer. How she ended up typing in the offices of a bunch of stuffy consultants I never learned.
One other thing. Kaye could cook.
On a hot Chicago summer’s day, my hubby and I walked sixty blocks to Kaye’s house for dinner, and when we finally crawled in the door, sweaty, exhausted, famished, she served us this layered bean dip. Kaye was Southern, so we should have known what would happen. We cleaned the dish. (See Hunter’s smoky egg dip). Memo: don’t stuff yourself on the first course at a Southerner’s table, ’cause you’ll be in trouble before the fourth.
Then Kaye gave us prime rib, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, buttery carrots, steamed asparagus, homemade dinner rolls, jello, and The Pound Cake That Killed Elvis. I regret to say that I did not obtain this recipe from her. I was too busy groaning.
The Pound Cake That Killed Elvis was baked for the King (so Kaye told us) and mailed to him weekly by a little old lady. Each cake contained among other things twelve eggs, two pounds of sugar, and a pound of butter. Kaye was right, it was light as a feather.
Kaye Grandolfo’s five-layer bean dip
Serves way more than three
Ingredients in the order used:
2 cans refried beans
3 medium-ripe avocados, chopped
2 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 bunch green onions, snipped up
3 medium tomatoes chopped
2 cans chopped green chiles
8 oz shredded cheddar
Mash together the avocados, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Reserve in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo, and taco mix seasoning.
Use a really big, relatively deep casserole. 64-oz is not too large.
Bottom layer: Spread the refried beans in a shallow platter
Next layer up: Avocado mixture
Next layer up: Sour cream taco-seasoning mixture
Next layer up: Sprinkle green onions, tomatoes, green chiles
Top layer: Shredded cheese
Serve with tortilla chips.
You can use plain full-fat Greek yogurt in place of mayo if you don’t have sour cream.
What do four undercover cops, three con artists, two mad scientists, and a black widow have in common with Kaye Grandolfo? I think of her going all over the American South with her Kirlian camera and her diabolical powers of persuasion, taking pictures of phantom limbs and the auras of the dying, and then I reach for The Hinky Velvet Chair, a novel centered around an elaborate machine created in the late 1700s to enhance the sexual attractiveness of whatever person sits in the chair within the machine. The con artists, the mad scientists, and the black widow are all vying for possession of the machine, and my fraud-cop heroine Jewel Heiss, her sex-demon sidekick Randy, and her far-from-straight-arrow partner Clay Dawes are all that stand between Chicago and a tidal wave of hinky flimflam.