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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Kalamata Olive Aioli: The Paris Wife

Book Club time again, this month’s selection was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. It tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemmingway’s first wife. I loved it, but then of course historical fiction is my favorite genre, and Paris in the 1920’s intrigues me. It also meant the food for book club would be easy, Paris, Spain, champagne and elegant meals, there was lots to choose from. And did I mention costumes, I do love to dress up and putting together a flapper costume was great fun. The hardest part this month was narrowing my options down. I chose to go with olives as my ingredient. In chapter three, Hadley tries olives for the first time at a greek restaurant in Chicago, she says, “I suppose it’s embarrassing, but I’ve never had olives before.” Ernest replies, “That should be illegal. Here open”. and feeds her an olive which starts their romance. I made an olive plate, but also wanted to actually make something so I made a dip that I also served at my sons chip and dip graduation party.

A kalamata olive aioli, which I loosely based on the Kalamata dip served at Nordstrom’s cafe with their fries (it is delicious, try it if you ever get a chance). It is simple, elegant, and has lots of applications, it is a great dip for crunchy potato chips or raw veggies, a great spread for bread and cheese or chicken sandwiches, and would also be great on roasted vegetables or french fries.

Kalamata Olive Aioli

1 1/2 c mayo

3 cloves of garlic, or 5 cloves of roasted garlic

1/2 c pitted kalamata olives

1 T lemon juice

1/2 t lemon zest

cracked pepper

add mayo, olives, garlic and lemon juice and zest to a food processor, blend until olives are completely incorporated into the mayo.

Add pepper and stir, and serve.

Lemon Curd: The Most Delicious Way to Use Up Egg Yolks.

The other day when I made dark chocolate mousse in the blender I found myself with 6 left over egg yolks, what was I going to do with that? I googled recipes and found one for lemon curd, which was funny because I also had an abundance of lemons. I went ahead and made it, it was super easy, and I was surprised at how delicious it was, I found that I wanted to put it on everything. The recipe I found was on about.com from John Mitzewhich. I will be making this again.

Classic Lemon Curd

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
  • 2 T grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick butter), cut into 1/8-in slices
  1. Add 1-inch of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. In a medium metal bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about 2 minutes until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest until combined.
  2. Place the mixing bowl on top of saucepan (the bowl should be wide enough to fit on top of the saucepan, but shouldn’t be touching the simmering water). Stir the mixture constantly with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you stir, until it begins to thicken, and will coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Whisk in the butter, one slice at a time. Wait until each piece almost disappears before adding the next.

 

We served it on pancakes with blueberries for a sunday breakfast, also try it on scones, muffins, biscuits, pound cake or as a filling for layer cakes.

 

Bacon Jam: Yes, there is such a thing and it’s delicious

I have a friend who lives in England and I kept seeing her posts on Facebook about something called Bacon Jam. I had never heard of such a thing here in the states. I googled it and saw some jars of it all available in Europe, but not here. But it was bacon so I somehow had to try it.looked for a recipe for it and of course my favorite woman to love and hate but mostly love, Martha Stewart had one on her site. I am never one to follow a recipe verbatim but I have never actually had bacon jam so I didn’t want to start experimenting too much until I actually tasted it. I was envisioning serving it with cheese and crackers or maybe as a topping on pizza so the only thing I did differently was change out the vinegar, as I thought balsamic would go better with those things.

1 1/2 lbs of bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

2 medium yellow onions diced

3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 pure maple syrup

3/4 c strong brewed coffee

Cook bacon pieces in a large pan over med-med high heat until they are slightly browned about 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Reserve one tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan  and discard the rest. Heat onions in garlic in pan over medium heat and cook until translucent about 5-6 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add bacon back to pan and stir.

Add contents of pan to a slow cooker and heat on high with a piece of foil loosely place on the top for about 3 hours or until liquid becomes syrupy.

Place mixture into a food processor and pulse until it becomes jam like.

The possibilities are now endless. Serve with a cheese plate, on pizza, in a quesadilla, we even tried it with peanut butter on a chocolate graham cracker. Will keep up to 4 weeks, in the refrigerator in an air tight container.

with apple slices on crostini

With goat cheese on crackers