Southern Feast, part 1

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

A little over a week ago, I had a few friends over for a southern feast. While most of the food here is fine Texas fare, I must admit the fried green tomatoes are something I picked up from my time with my parents in Memphis.

It was impossible to do all fine southern treats in one go, so there will have to be some other feasts of southern cuisine later in the summer (besides, okra isn’t in season here yet). I’m also not going to put all the recipes here because, well mostly because I’m lazy. too lazy to type them and was too lazy to measure things at the time. I also must admit with shame that I did not make good cream gravy to accompany everything, not because I’m lazy, but because I’m terrible at timing cooking, and we were all too hungry to wait for gravy. So I provide instead our menu with links to a few recipes for some of these items, followed by one recipe.

Menu:

  • Pimento Cheese with celery sticks and crackers
  • Chicken Fried Steak
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Fried Green Tomatoes with ranch dressing
  • Homemade Biscuits with butter and honey
  • Strawberry Shortcakes
  • Minty Spiked Lemonade

Pimento Cheese

For those not familiar with pimento cheese, it’s more of a dip than a cheese. You can serve it with celery, crackers, or whatever you like. It’s served cool to room temp., not hot. Any good homemade version should not be anything like that disgusting schmear found on “pimento cheese sandwiches” cut into quarters.

Serves: about 6 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (real Longhorn cheddar w/ the red wax is best if available, but it’s not in Iowa and it was still fine)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (light is fine-do not use fat free)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (same as above)
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • a few pecan halves (optional)
  1. Grate the cheddar cheese while it is still cold from the fridge (don’t use prepackaged shreds. They don’t have as much moisture). Then set the cheese aside to warm to room temperature. It’s easier to mix if it’s warmer, but easier to grate cooler.
  2. Meanwhile, dice the garlic clove and drain the pimentos (and dice them if you couldn’t find a jar of diced).
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic, pimentos, mayo, sour cream, mustard and spices. Then mix in the cheese. Blend well.
  4. Pack into a smaller bowl, preferably one you will use for presentation. Cover tightly and chill at least two hours, preferably overnight. When ready to serve, garnish with a few pecan halves on top, perhaps in a nice pattern. Serve with dipping items.
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