Tag Archives: southern food

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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Filed under bread, savory

Mini Sweet Potato Pies

I’ve lived in the South for just over two years now and since then I’ve embraced plenty of good Southern food: fried pickles (pure genius!), Real BBQ (sometimes Northerners like to call Sloppy Joes “BBQ”…tsk tsk!),  pimento cheese (more on that soon), and corn bread. But I shunned sweet potato pie. I love sweet potatoes, especially sweet potato fries. But growing up my only impression of sweet potato pie was this sickly sweet thing with marshmallows on top. No thank you!

But as I’ve discovered time and time again, when something is properly prepared it is delicious. Just because you didn’t like it the first time doesn’t mean won’t like it the next time.  So if you too grew up with that marshmallow concoction that was rather scary, give this a try. You’ll be delighted. It tastes like pumpkin pie, and who doesn’t like pumpkin pie?

I made mine mini since they were for a social event and it is much easier to eat mini pies than try and slice out pieces. Takes a bit more time but they are super cute! If you have no need to make mini ones a big pie will be just as tasty.

Mini Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

One year ago: Peanut butter blondies with chocolate and sea salt

Yield: One 9 inch pie or about 20 mini pies

Difficulty: Easy

Time: Filling batter 10 minutes if using canned puree; Dough 10 minutes plus chill time; Rolling out dough will depend on whether you are doing mini or full pie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and chopped into a 1/2-inch dice*
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup full- or low fat buttermilk*
  • Pie dough

Notes: I used canned organic sweet potato puree, because, well, I had it sitting in my pantry. It worked just fine and sped up the process if you are in a hurry. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (and really, who does?) make your own by adding 1 TB vinegar to 1 cup milk. Let sit at room temperature until curdled, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Directions

1. Prepare your pie dough. Preheat oven to 350F. If making a full pie, roll out the dough large enough to fit your pie pan and press gently into pie pan. Blind bake (cover dough with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights) for 10 minutes or until just barely golden. If making mini pies, I used a 4 inch cookie cutter and a muffin tin. You will have to re-roll scraps several times. Chill dough again if it becomes too tough to handle. I did not use weights when blind baking but just pushed it back down after baking. Let cool completely while you prepare your filling.

2. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

3. Pour 1 1/2 inches of water into a 3-quart stock part with a strainer basket suspended over it and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Place the steamed sweet potatoes in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Mash them into a smooth puree with a food mill. You should have 1 1/4 cups puree; discard any excess. Or just open a can of sweet potato puree and measure out 1 1/4 cups into your mixer bowl. Add the butter, lemon juice if using, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.

4. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until they’re a creamy lemon-yellow color, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated and the filling is a consistent bright orange color. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. Add the buttermilk and again stir until smooth and even.

5. With a cleaned whisk (or electric hand mixer), whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a clean, dry bowl. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the sweet potato-buttermilk mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the prebaked crust and bake on the middle rack of the oven until the center is firm and set, 35 to 40 minutes. If making mini pies, bake about 20 minutes until center springs back when touched.

6. Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature (or cold from the fridge; you can cover it with plastic wrap before chilling) with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Filed under baking, Pie