Pasture’s Pimento Cheese

February 1, 2017

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Here it is…February already. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is on the way. Groundhog Day is nigh! I gotta admit, I don’t feel like we’ve really had any winter yet. There has only been a few wee dustings of snow in the morning and the temperatures have only ventured into the real wintery territories a handful of times. So yeah, I hope that Punxsutawney critter sees his shadow tomorrow.

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only ones celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 6th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Six years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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Last year I shared one of my favorite recipes: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

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I’ve posted some other tasty “Anniversary Edition” recipes since then as well like Banana Rum Muffins:

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And who can forget when a genuine Crack Pie made an appearance:

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And this year I have really got a winner of a recipe for you. A definite favorite around here – Pimento Cheese!

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It is the perfect appetizer to bring along with you no matter what the festivity! This magical “caviar of the South” is so delicious and quite versatile. You can serve it with crackers (Ritz preferably) and veggies, it is delicious scooped up with a Frito, you can mix it into the yolks of deviled eggs, you can spread it on burgers, it makes one heck of a decadent grilled cheese or if you’re short on time it is pretty wonderful simply spread between two slices of bread! The husband and I have been spending a lot of time in Richmond Virginia and let me tell you…they love some pimento cheese in that town. This particular recipe I’m sharing today comes from Chef Jason Alley and is served in one of his restaurants, Pasture. If you are ever visiting Richmond, do yourself a favor and stop by for lunch or dinner. Pasture specializes in Southern Cooking, but with a modern twist. Instead of those huge plates of food you would get a grandma’s house, Pasture serves up small plates which are meant to be shared. Their seasonal menu is full of dishes made with fresh locally sourced ingredients. You will definitely find this Pimento Cheese on the menu (year round) along with many many more amazing offerings.

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Pimento Cheese is pretty easy to make, but I would like to give you a bit of advice that will make your Pimento Cheese completely over the top delicious. First of all, grate the cheese yourself, don’t buy bags of pre-shredded cheese. Why? Because the pre-shredded cheese is coated with a cellulose product to keep it from sticking together. This makes it a bit less creamy, so just take a few seconds and grate the cheese yourself. The second thing is the mayonnaise. You’ve gotta use Duke’s! Seriously. Not Hellman’s. Dukes. Dukes is actually the 3rd largest brand of mayonnaise sold in the United States. However, its popularity is largely limited to the South. But there it has a cult following. Using any other brand is out of the question. And truth be told, Duke’s tastes different. It has more egg yolks and has no added sugar giving it a much brighter, tangy flavor and a creamier texture. And lets face it, mayonnaise is a pretty important ingredient in Pimento Cheese, so if you can, go with the authentic Southern brand, Dukes. As far as the roasted red peppers. I actually roasted the peppers myself. It is pretty easy. You just put the peppers on a parchment lined baking tray and pop them into an oven which has been preheated to 400° F. You roast them for 20 minutes and then turn them over and roast them for 20 more minutes. Remove them from the oven and place them on a cutting board. Cover them with a bowl and allow them to steam for 15 minutes. Steaming them will make the skins very easy to remove. Then you peel them, seed them and there you have it. Easy peasy. Though perhaps an easier thing would be buying a jar in the grocery store. I’ll let you decide. That’s pretty much it. I will admit though that I have gilded this lily of a recipe once or twice by adding a bit of chopped bacon and some diced jalapeño peppers to up the heat. What can I say? Everything is better with bacon and we love our spice. But I’ll wager you’ll be very pleased with Pasture’s unadorned version. So what in the world are you waiting for?!! Might I remind you that the Super Bowl is happening this Sunday!

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Pimento Cheese

  • Servings: 4- 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Chef Jason Alley – Pasture Restaurant

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, roasted , peeled, seeded and finely diced*
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 sprigs tarragon, leaves removed, minced
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise, Duke’s preferably
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • chives for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-blended.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to one day.

Serve with crackers (preferably Ritz), pickles and crudités.

Enjoy!

*You can buy roasted red peppers in the the grocery store. If you are interested in roasting your own: Place the peppers on a parchment lined baking tray and pop them into an oven which has been preheated to 400° F. Roast them for 20 minutes and then turn them over and roast them for 20 more minutes. Remove them from the oven and place them on a cutting board. Cover them with a bowl and allow them to steam for 15 minutes. Peel the skins and remove the seeds.

Pasture’s Pimento Cheese brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Pasture’s Pimento Cheese:

Duke’s Mayonnaise

 

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Guacamole

April 30, 2013

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Yuuuuummm! Guacamole!!! I’ve recently been blogging about some great Mexican style dishes in preparation for Cinco de Mayo, which will be here before you know it! First there was the Carnitas Tacos and just a few days ago, I shared my favourite homemade Salsa recipe. Up next is Guacamole, that delicious avocado based sauce. It seems that in addition to Salsa, the Aztecs are also the folks who gave us “ahuaca-mulli” or avocado mix, which we know as Guacamole. Like Salsa, this dish is easy to prepare, with just a small amount of chopping, no food processor is necessary here. The big difference between the two sauces is that Guacamole must be made the day it is to be served. You really can’t refrigerate the stuff long before that yummy vibrant green begins to take on a very unappetizing brown hue. One fun trick I’ve learned is that you can save the three avocado pits and place them on top of your finished Guacamole while you are waiting to serve it. This will actually slow the oxidation which results in the unfortunate color change. The Guacamole recipe that I am sharing today is really more of an El Salvadorian style Guacamole, than Mexican. However, I’m sure you can still serve it on Cinco de Mayo without too many folks getting their panties in a bunch. Though you never know…last year I shared a recipe for one of my favourite dips, Santa Fe Dip and said it would be a great dish to serve at a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Next thing I knew I got a snippity comment informing me that I needed a geography lesson and that Santa Fe was in the United States. Clearly a dish with Santa Fe in the name could NOT be enjoyed on Cinco de Mayo a Mexican holiday!….Really?!! Perhaps we could relax a bit, it’s just a food blog here… Anyway…

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I say this is an El Salvadoran style Guacamole because it has chopped hard-boiled egg in it. I first encountered this type of Guacamole at my favourite Mexican restaurant, DiOGi’s. They serve up amazing latin style cuisine there. If you ever find yourself in Fayetteville, West Virginia, you must pay them a visit! The chef and owner, Oscar Aguilar, is from El Salvador and told us that the egg bit is an El Salvadoran thing. Now don’t scrunch up your nose like that until you try it. It is really good and while pretty subtle it really adds that extra layer of flavour. Bursting with freshness, this Guacamole is great with a basket of tortilla chips, on a taco or even a burger. It easily puts any store-bought cups of green stuff called guacamole to shame. Make a batch up today!

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Guacamole

recipe adapted from: Alton Brown and Oscar Aguilar

Ingredients

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

Directions:

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and chopped egg. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Enjoy!


Salsa

April 23, 2013

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Cinco de Mayo isn’t far off and I just shared a great recipe with you for Carnitas Tacos, which I’m sure would be warmly welcomed at any Cinco de Mayo celebration. One of the fixings you will definitely need to have on hand when you make up a bunch of those afore-mentioned Tacos is a spicy fresh salsa. So I thought I’d go ahead and share my favourite salsa recipe with you. Salsa is easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. But even if you don’t, it is still pretty straightforward, just requiring a bit of chopping. And it tastes fantastic. Wonderfully fresh! So different from that stuff you find on supermarket shelves you’ll be wondering what in the world it was that you were eating out of those jars for all those years. Salsa which simply means “sauce” in Spanish has been around for a long time. In the mid 1500’s, Spanish Franciscan missionaries mentioned it in their writings as a dish the Aztecs enjoyed. And it is still being enjoyed today all over the world. As it turns out Americans have been eating a whole lot of Salsa. In 1991 it overtook ketchup as the top-selling condiment here! This homemade version goes along great with any mexican dish or simply on its own with a big old basket of tortilla chips. Make up a batch for any Cinco de Mayo celebration and you will be the talk of the town. But remember, it takes a little while for all of the lovely flavours to come together, so it is best if you can make this salsa at least 12 hours before you want to serve it. I usually make it the day before. So what are you waiting for? Get chopping!

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Salsa

recipe adapted from: Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 seeded and minced jalapeños
  • 1 red bell pepper, fine dice
  • 1/2 red onion, fine chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (We love cilantro, but if you don’t, you may want to reduce this a bit)
  • Chili powder, salt, and pepper, to taste
  • 5 Fresh scallions, chopped

Directions:

Get a large bowl out and set aside. I use my food processor to chop the tomatoes, red pepper, garlic and onion. I process each vegetable individually (with the exception of the garlic and onion which go in together) so that I can get them to the texture I prefer. As you finish chopping each vegetable, add it to the large bowl and then add in the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, scallions and spices. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator for up to 12 hours for optimum flavour infusion.

Serve with tortilla chips.


Santa Fe Dip

May 4, 2012

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here you have it, the dish for which everyone who takes a bite asks me for the recipe…Santa Fe Dip. Believe me, you can’t go wrong with this on your Cinco de Mayo table! This delicious dip is chock full of onions, red peppers, green chilis, corn and spices all held together by gooey Monterey Jack cheese and topped with jalapeños for good measure. YUM!

Folks gobble this before I can even set the dish down on the table. I’m not kidding, the second I emerge from the kitchen with this bubbling hot zesty dip, people armed with tortilla chips start circling round me like sharks! But I get it, it is that good! And since you can prepare the veggie part of the dip ahead of time, it comes together rather quickly. A fact that works out great when you’re in that last few minutes crunch before your get together, you know where folks have started arriving and you’re still trying to get your party fixins out of the kitchen? Or perhaps that’s just my poor planning…Anyway, you’ve got to try this dip. I mean today. With Cinco de Mayo happening tomorrow, you’ve got to get busy and you won’t want to miss out on this treat!

Santa Fe Dip

recipe from: my mom

ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 1/2 Cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup (4 oz. tin) Ortega chilies
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
  • 1 Cup mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cholula sauce to taste (you can use any hot sauce you prefer)
  • sliced jalapeño peppers to garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet. Add corn, salt, pepper and cook until deep golden brown. Transfer to bowl to cool.

Melt remaining butter in pan and add onions, peppers, garlic and chilis. Saute until onions and peppers are soft and no liquid remains.

Add corn to mixture and let it cool. **At this point you can refrigerate the veggie mixture overnight if you wish and assemble the rest of the dip on the day you wish to serve it.**

Mix the mayonnaise, cheese, cayenne pepper together in large bowl. Add the veggie mixture and stir until combined. Add Cholula or hot sauce of your choice to taste.

Transfer mixture to a baking dish (I used an oval dish about 10″ long and 2″ deep, but have also just used a shallow round casserole dish. A 9″ pie dish would work as well.) Top with some remaining cheese and sliced jalapeños.

Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

Enjoy!


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