Tuesday, December 27, 2016

PIMENTO CHEESE (AKA CONVERSION TOOLS)

Food art created my daughter..this is pretty representative of what she eats.

This blog originally started as an outlet for the area in my adult life 
where I've been most consistently creative and focused....
FOOD.

I don't actually do much cooking now.
This is not a cause for sadness or consternation (for me).
I've got other creative outlets and when I do cook, I focus on pleasing myself....
and not so much on trying to prove my value. 

However, all of those years spent nuttering away in my home kitchen have given me mad skills.  I'm not your average home cook and when I break out the moves...watch out.


It's kind of like stepping back into a separate life...and remembering why it was fun while it lasted. Over the years, I have perfected quite a few recipes that are truly delicious and easily accessible to the home cook (I'm looking at you cornbread cobbler).  

Back to now though....my moves right now focus on chopping and roasting with an occasional folding into...
it is unusual for me to spend more than 15 minutes a day in the kitchen.
And my shopping time is about an hour a week.
Yep.  1 hour.
I get a lot online.
I swoop through the closest farmer's market or butcher.
While focusing on the easiest and healthiest things.
And then I move on.
I've just got other things to do.



Then come the holidays...when people who KNOW you don't really cook anymore 
still want you to make that favorite thing of theirs.
Mostly I decline.
BUT
There are still a couple of things that I'll break out for loved ones.
My Aunt Opal's Maple cremes.
My grandma's Lemon meringue pie. 
And.... 
Annie-Ruth's Lemon Meringue Pie



Pimento cheese!


Please don't start about how you don't like pimento cheese.  
No one wants to hear your finicky biases relating to foodstuffs (or politics or race).
Grow up.
You've tried in inferior incarnations.
Or you've been prejudiced by loud mouths.
Accept that you are not correct.





If you haven't tried this pimento cheese, then you truly 
don't know what you're talking about.
This is the pimento cheese that makes pimento cheese possible.
It is the pimento cheese equivalent of a revival.
A conversion has occurred often when even experienced 
people have tried this recipe.

Still whining?  
That's ok.  
I used to have a similar attitude towards lots of foodstuffs.
Let's have some confession time.

I used to hate tomatoes.
despised them really.
I could not understand how anyone could put that slimy, tasteless thing in their mouth.
Much less enjoy it.
My grandparents used to throw their hands up at my stubborn palate.
My brother would pop cherry tomatoes just to make me gag.
There were lines that could not be crossed-
and eating a tomato was one of them.


And then
in a fit of teenage rebellion
I had a TOMATO
Caprese salad with a rainbow of delicious tomatoes.

It was a mid-summer beauty, heavy with sunshine enhanced micro-nutrients.
I am not ashamed to admit that I became a overnight convert.
Tomatoes are phenomenal.
When they are done right, treated like tomatoes should be 
(not refrigerated ever)
, and are in season....
there is no fruit that is more versatile or flavorful.
I got it.
And I never let it go.
What was the difference?
tomatoes need to be treated right.
When they are wrong....
when they've been abused and mistreated...
.there is no path to redemption.
I had tried multiple tomatoes that had been treated wrong.
And decided that was representative of the whole.
And threw the baby out with the bathwater.

That is how most pimento cheese is experienced.  
Let that go.
Step out on faith.
If all else fails...think of this as a cheese spread and the pimentos are holiday flair.


It is very very important that you buy well for this recipe to work it's magic.  
This is not inexpensive.
It is not healthy.
Nor is it possible to morph it into something 'healthy'.
It is worth it.
probably....i should have led off with this picture.

Ingredients:

12 ounces of best quality, white sharp New York Cheddar shredded
12 ounces of best quality, orange sharp New York Cheddar shredded
3/4 cup Duke's mayonnaise
1 jar of pimentos
juice from 2-3 lemons
1 tbsp cayenne (or more if you like)

Instructions:


All of the ingredients amounts are guesses.  Sorry about that.  You're just going to have to mix and fiddle until it looks more like a spread and less like grated cheese.  

You can use Vermont cheddar or really great Irish cheddar.  But it needs to be crumbly and more dry than moist.  Do not even attempt this with store brand or mass produced cheddar.  And SHARP.  It needs the bite.

Also....if you are even thinking of using a store bought mayo that is not Duke's.  Just stop.  I don't know how to help you.  Possibly there are twelve step programs or some hypnotic cleanse.  I'm not capable of helping you overcome anything if you don't use Duke's.  You CAN substitute your own homemade mayo in place of Duke's as long as it's not sweet and not 'low calorie'.  That is absolutely heretical.

Eat on everything.
Here are some ideas:  
as a dip for cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes (green or red) and pickles
on sandwiches (with turkey and bacon and pickled red onions and arugula!)
on crackers 
on a spoon in the middle of the night
on top of just scrambled eggs
with some jam or some Valentina (or both)



it is literally good with everything.
Including family holidays.
which is saying something.






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