Old is New Again: Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

There has been a lot of “buzz” about pimento cheese lately. It is turning up on restaurant menus, in food magazines, and in the dairy section of my grocery store. I remember having it as a kid and I remember hating it. I tried it on our trip to St. Augustine last week on top of broiled oysters, not half bad. So now if you know me I have to make it myself. It’s just my thing. I of course do things the hard way which means roasting my own red peppers, (they sell them in a jar right next to the pickles in my store). Not at all required, but yes I did it, also I like a little heat so I roasted some of the jalapenos from my garden, again not necessary, add some red pepper flakes or hot sauce to your cheese and I am sure it will be just as good. But in case your like me here is what I did.

Wash and dry 3 red bell peppers and 2 jalapenos. Turn on the grill ( mine is gas) You can also do over the stove if you have gas or under the broiler.  Place the peppers on the grill and close the lid, roast pepper until skin is completely black, turning occasionally  to get all sides.

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When all sides are charred place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, leave for about 15 minutes, this helps the skins peel off easily

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using your fingers or small knife peel all the black parts off of the pepper.

roasted red pepper

Then chop the top off of the pepper and removed the seeds, chop into tiny pieces.

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Now you are ready to make the cheese.

Pimento Cheese

8 0z grated yellow cheddar

8 oz grated white cheddar

3 roasted red peppers chopped finely

2 roasted jalapenos seeded and chopped finely (omit if you don’t want the heat)

3/4 c mayo

1 T dijon mustard

2 t sweet paprika

1/4 t cayenne

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir, and stir until the cheese starts to get pasty. cover and chill. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with crackers or celery or try it on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Pimento Cheese

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Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Jalapenos

 

I always thought I hated sweet potatoes/yams when I was young because the only way I had ever had them was canned at Thanksgiving with the marshmallows on top. Well then I realized that they could be used in as many applications as regular potatoes and they were fresh and delicious. This was one of my very first sweet potato recipes and is still my favorite, try this for Thanksgiving instead of the old mushy stand by.

Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Jalapenos

2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 4ths

1 t salt

2 T butter

1 small jalapeno minced ( use more or less depending on your tastes and heat of your pepper)

2 t minced garlic

1/4 c cream cheese

1/4 c milk

salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes with salt in a large pot until tender. Drain potatoes and add to a bowl, add butter, jalapeno, garlic, cream cheese and milk, mash together with a potato masher or whip with a mixer until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and serve. This makes approximately 4 servings, can be doubled or tripled.

 

I Love a Good Jerk: Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Pigeon Peas with Rice

We recently took a little trip down to Boca Raton, Fl and happened upon a cute little Jamaican bistro called Rock Steady Jamaican Bistro. The food and service was excellent. I love a good jerk and the spicy, sweet, fresh flavors of Caribbean cuisine, luckily so do my kids. I realized I don’t make enough of this at home, time to change that. I have used the dry jerk seasoning from the spice aisle at the grocery store but it just doesn’t cut it. Time to try my hand a a real, wet, jerk, marinade. I think it was a hit, it had all the flavors I was looking for. Unfortunately neither my local grocery or produce stand had scotch bonnet peppers so I used fresh jalapenos from my garden. I think it still tasted fine but if you are going for authentic switch out the jalapenos for scotch bonnets, just remember they are much spicier so use half the amount.

Jerk Marinade

Combine the following ingredients in a food processor:

1 T allspice powder

1/3 c brown sugar

2T minced garlic

2-4 jalapenos (depending on your spice preference)

1T fresh Thyme

1 bunch scallions

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg

2 T soy sauce

Pour marinade over 1 1/2 pounds of pork, shrimp or chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

I used chicken cutlets and grilled them over high heat for about 4 minutes per side.

A traditional side in Jamaica is Rice and pigeon peas. Pigeon peas come in red and green and can be found in the ethnic food section of the grocery store. They are not sweet like english peas but more like a legume, or small red bean. This easy recipe is made in a rice cooker.

Rice and Pigeon Peas

2 1/2 c jasmine rice rinsed until water runs clear

2 1/2 c water

8 oz canned pigeon peas (red or green)

1 t fresh thyme

1 t minced jalapeno

1/4 c sliced scallions/green onions

1 t salt

Place all ingredients into a rice cooker, and cook until done.

Serve with a sweet fruit salad to balance out the heat of the Jerk and enjoy a little taste of the islands without leaving home.