Tag Archives: cheese

Pimento Cheese and Pretzel Sticks

Time once again to explore Southern food that once seemed so strange to this Northern gal. I’ve talked about corn bread and sweet potato pie in particular, but I think I’m most upset that I just now discovered Pimento Cheese. I’ve missed out on so many years! I don’t know if I ever tried it before (if I had it was obviously forgettable), but it always sounded like one of those “weird” foods that I’d be just fine without ever trying. And once again, I was proved incredibly wrong. I can’t get enough of it now that I’ve had it. I’ve been doing a lot of taste testing to tweak this recipe- all for your benefit of course. You’re welcome! It’s been tough but I survived. Yum.

According to our buddy Wikipedia, traditional pimento is pretty basic: sharp cheddar, mayo, pimentos, salt, and pepper. Pretty easy! But so many regional twists have been added that include hot sauce, cream cheese, jalapeños, and pickles. The possibilities are endless. And did you know that pimentos are just a version of red peppers? Slightly different and a little more expensive.

I used my new favorite cookbook Frank Stitt’s Southern Table to find a recipe base. Just a quick note on this cookbook: it’s a beautiful addition to any cookbook collection. Everything I’ve made has been fantastic and it has beautiful pictures with wonderful stories to accompany it. So if you are looking for a good Southern food cookbook (and if you aren’t, then why not?) this is it. (Note: I am not paid to say that! The cookbook was a gift from Dear Hubby.) But my recipe ended up quite different. First, I wanted to add pepper jack cheese in addition to sharp cheddar. Second, the mayo incident. He recommends making your own mayo (and has a recipe for it) but this was just not my day to make mayo. I’ve made it many times before without any issues but it just kept breaking on me, even after adding a second yolk! I didn’t want to spend all day making mayo so I just doubled the cream cheese. I also substituted jarred pimentos for roasting fresh red peppers to save time. And finally, I added some capers for a little color and tang.

And the pretzel sticks are just a variation of these pretzels. Just take a small piece of dough and roll them out super thin. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or just salt and bake at 425F until brown and crispy. Easy! This is one of my favorite dough recipes. It comes together in no time at all and always tastes good. Dear hubby actually did this batch. I made the dough and he took it from there!

How’s that for football food?  Enjoy!

Pimento Cheese

Adapted from  Chef Frank Stitt

One year ago: Sourdough Pretzels

Yield: About 3 cups

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar
  • 7 oz jar pimentos, drained (you can use roasted red peppers if you can’t find pimentos)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 juice lemon
  • 1 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • Splash of hot sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 TB capers, rinsed and drained

Directions

1. Finely shred the pepper jack or sharp cheddar. Coarsely shred it if you’d prefer more texture.

2. Add the remaining ingredients: drained pimentos, cream cheese, lemon, pepper, hot sauce, cayenne, and sugar. Mix until well combined. This may take a bit of muscle.

3. Eat! Leftovers will keep for several days in the refrigerator. But, you will want to let it come to room temperature or microwave very briefly, about 5 seconds, or it will be rather challenging to dip.

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Parmesan Herb Crackers

Today I went to a Change of Command ceremony. For you non-military peeps, that’s when a new boss takes over for an old boss. It’s very traditional and symbolic. I love attending these ceremonies because they just make me proud to be part of the military.  Before I left I had written a draft post about how good crackers are hard to find in stores and how easy they are to make at home.

 

Now I feel compelled to share with you the words of wisdom I heard from the outgoing commander, a man who has been a pleasure to know these past couple of years. My husband worked for him the first year we were here before moving on to another job.

He said a lot of great things but what really stood out was this piece of advice: Do your job. That sounds pretty simple, right? But think about it for a second. How often are you worrying about what someone else is doing instead of just focusing on what you should be doing? It happens a lot, especially for Perfectionists like Me. We’ve all worked with someone who was a slacker and we had to pick up their slack. Think about how easier your job would be if the slacker just did their job! And think for a second about the job you have to do. If you are spending all your time worrying about what the person next to you is doing, what’s happening to the job you are doing? It suffers. This doesn’t just happen at the office. It happens everywhere and in every aspect of life.

So do your job and do it the best that you can. Everything else will work itself out. Can’t ask for much more, right?

Thanks, Peaches. We’ll miss you!

 

Why, yes, I did drink that wine in this photo. I couldn’t let it go to waste. One of the downsides of using wine as a photo prop! 

One year ago: Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Parmesan Herb Crackers

Inspired from Pastry Affair and NYT

Yield: Several dozen 1 inch crackers

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 20 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to bake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1 TB fresh herbs, chopped
  • 3 TB cold butter
  • 1/4 cup +2TB  milk, divided
Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare two baking sheets with silpat or parchment.

2. You can use either a food processor, a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, a pastry cutter, or your hands! I think the food processor works best but mine broke while making these the first time. It is not a good year for small appliances in my kitchen.

3. Using your tool of choice, mix together the dry ingredients. Add  the parmesan and herbs. Cut your butter into small cubes and mix with the dry ingredients until it resembles fine cornmeal.

4. Add in the 1/4 cup of milk. If the mixture is still dry, add one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together nicely. It should not be wet, but should form a ball easily.

5. If it is warm in your kitchen, and it probably is considering how hot the whole country is right now, wrap the dough in plastic and chill for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to roll. When you are ready to rock and roll, divide the dough in half.  You should not need any additional flour for dusting, but if you do, use as little as possible. Roll to 1/8″ or smaller. The most I have the patience for is 1/8″ but you will have crispier crackers if you can get them thinner. Using your rolling pin to help, roll some of the dough onto the pin and transfer to a baking sheet. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1 inch squares (no need to separate, they will not rise or spread). It is much easier to cut on the baking sheet than try and move all those little crackers to the sheet! If you want bigger crackers, by all means knock yourself out. Do the same with the second half of the dough.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven and how crispy you want your crackers. I wanted mine crispy so I baked mine a little longer.

7. Let cool completely. They will crisp up as they cool. Enjoy with cheese, olives, and wine for a delightful snack!

Notes: You can use any cheese you want, just make sure it is finely shredded so it mixes in with the dough. If you don’t like herbs, feel free to leave them out. I liked the white whole wheat flour here because it gives that nice nutty wheat flavor, but still easy to work with like white flour. You can find it in most grocery stores now.

 

 

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