There’s nothing more American than apple pie, baseball, and bald eagles.
Unless it’s pimento cheese.
Pimento cheese is a thoroughly southern staple, one whose history goes back to the early 20th century. According to Indy Week’s Brief History of Pimento Cheese, it started as a status symbol for the fancies, gracing the tables during tea parties.
Eventually, as pimentos and processed cheese became more readily available, pimento cheese found its way into the lunch bags of textile workers, eaten on white bread or with crackers.
Nowadays, pimento cheese is practically available on every corner. Creamy and fatty and so good you don’t want to stop. Pimento cheese, you are saucy minx.
There are a lot of good options down here in the south, like Stan’s Original Pimento Cheese or the Winston-Salem jam Red Clay Gourmet Pimento Cheese. (Try their Hickory Smoked Cheddar. I can’t even.)
But, you can make pimento cheese just as easily as you can buy it. Every self respecting southern Grandma/Maw-Maw/Me-Maw or Granny has some in her fridge.
I made this recipe for pimento cheese from Food 52. I didn’t have celery salt, so I used celery seed and it worked just as well.
Whip up a batch today. Keep it in the fridge. Slather it on a cracker or scoop it up with some celery. Put it on a grilled cheese with some bacon and tomato.
1 cup drained pimentos or roasted red peppers, finely chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon celery salt
Salt and freshly ground pepper
To serve: crackers, baguette slices, assorted raw vegetables
Mix ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill. Transfer dip to serving bowl. Surround with crackers, baguette slices, and vegetables. Alternately, make sandwiches (below).
Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches with Bacon & Tomato
Pimento Cheese Dip (above)
12 slices sourdough bread
12 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
1 large, ripe tomato, sliced
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread pimento cheese on 6 of the slices of sourdough. Top the cheese for each sandwich with 2 slices of bacon, 1 slice of tomato, then a second slice of bread. Toast each sandwich in a large skillet over low heat till golden brown on both sides, flipping as needed.
Transfer sandwiches to a baking sheet in the oven to finish warming through and melt the cheese. Serve hot.
Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. Naturally, I was craving all of my favorite Irish foods: barbecue, cole slaw, and lemon yogurt cake.
Now, before you start throwing you blarney stones at me, I have an EXPLANATION.
The weather on Saturday was damn near flawless. It was 70. I wore flip flops. I wore a tank top. I ate dinner on the patio of a restaurant. ON THE GD PATIO.
And despite the fact that St. Patrick’s Day turned colder and I should’ve been seasonally celebrating the aforementioned St. Patrick, who did…a thing…for which he will always be remembered, I was not craving anything Irish. As much I love some corned beef and cabbage, the only thing Irish I was craving was Tom Branson.
Anyways. Warm weather! (That went away and became cold weather!) Delicious barbecue! (That was made indoors and is made of chicken and not porks!)
When you’re needing the south in your mouth (…ew….), who better to turn to than Paula Deen? She seems really nice and also, a little bit terrifying at the same time. Let me prove the terrifying point to you right now.
Um? I’m kind of terrified of Oprah, too.
I rarely crave cole slaw. But when I do, I fiend for it like an extra on The Wire. This recipe is from the Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro, who won Next Food Network Star a few years back. I prefer to think of him coming to his title as Sandwich King by more traditional means, having ascended to the throne of Sandwichlandia when is father finally succumbed to the delicious, yet fatal, pastrami-thelioma.
….that joke sure was a long way to go for a ham sandwich.
This sandwich is good. And simple. The sweetness of the barbecue matches up well with the cool (temperature) of the cole slaw, with a tiny heat (spice) from the sriracha. Plus, you can’t go wrong with the earthy flavor of celery seeds. Cause bonus, they WILL always get in your teeth.
I also made this Lemon Yogurt Cake by my best friend Ina Garten. Because, well, she’s great at everything. Everything except making things that are low in fat or calories. In the paragraph about this recipe in Barefoot Contressa at Home, she says that because it has no butter, it’s a lighter version of a lemon cake. Huzzah! The replacement for the butter is whole milk yogurt (healthy!) and vegetable oil (…um….). Plus, it still has plenty of sugar in the cake and essentially two glazes. I’m not convinced it’s any more healthy unless you just want to say “well, there’s NO butter in this cake. Isn’t that marvelous!” But it DOES taste good, especially with a cup of coffee. For breakfast.
HASHTAG BREAKFAST CAKE.
It was a lovely St. Patrick’s Day. Even though I didn’t wear any green. Or eat any colcannon. I’m gonna save that shit for the 4th of July.
Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium high heat. Once it shimmers, add the chicken thighs and sear until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in apple cider vinegar; using a wooden spoon stir up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pan as well as any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 40 minutes.
Once chicken is cooked, shred the meat with a fork in the skillet. Toss the meat through the sauce so it’s covered. Divide the pulled meat between 6 hamburger buns. Serve alongside with some coleslaw, if desired.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
B.W., Before Whisking
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Cake? Or Murderous Plant from Little Shop of Horrors?
Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.
Finished Cake? Or glazed murderous plant from Little Shop of Horrors?