Wednesday, June 16, 2010
My Venture into Spreadable Cheese
The South has given us many culinary delicacies including fried chicken, cornbread, fried green tomatoes, and biscuits. However, one of my personal favorites is pimento cheese spread. Oooh, yessss. It's traditionally made with sharp cheddar cheese, pimentos, and mayonnaise and often eaten on sandwich bread. Could I improve upon this classic southern cheese spread? Probably not but I thought I'd give it the old college try.
When I was growing up, pimento cheese was not a staple in my house. It was only when I went to college that I began eating it in earnest. A few years ago, I ordered some from a mail-order company called Zingerman's and LOVED it. I especially loved the crock it came in, which you can see in the picture above. I love their cheese spread because it's a bit spicy. You'll notice that I add cayenne or chili peppers to a lot of my recipes because I definitely appreciate spiciness in my food. My recipe for pimento cheese spread is no exception. It's assertively flavored with onion powder, garlic powder, and yes, cayenne. Don't worry though! You can decrease those spices, if desired.
There is so much you can do with pimento cheese spread. My mother likes it in grilled cheese sandwiches and on top of baked potatoes. I like in on hamburgers, crackers, or celery. Your options are endless. I do like it with sharp cheddar cheese but I often change it up a bit and make it with one of my favorite cheeses, manchego, which is a sheep's milk cheese from Spain. For today's post, I made one batch with sharp cheddar and the other with manchego. The lighter of the two spreads is made with manchego. You can click on the above picture to get a better view.
Many moons ago, I let my friend Denise try some of my pimento cheese spread – which I make far spicier for myself than the recipe you will see below. She also likes spicy food but I think I blew her socks off. Trust me – the recipe below is MUCH tamer than I make it for myself.
This is a great summer treat. Take some to work to snack on or take it to the park with your kids. I hope you like it. Enjoy – and happy spreading!
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Pimento Cheese Spread
3 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3/4 c mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
8 oz brick of cheese (cheddar, colby, and manchego all work well), ground or finely shredded
2 oz jar pimentos, drained
Using the paddle attachment of your mixture, beat together the cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, cayenne (if using), and mayonnaise. The texture of the spread is creamiest when you grind the cheese and pimentos using the grinding attachment of your mixer. If you have a grinding attachment, grind the cheese and pimentos into the bowl containing the cream cheese mixture. If you do not have a grinding attachment, grate the cheese using a fine grater and finely chop the pimentos then add them to the bowl containing the cream cheese mixture.
Beat the cheese and other ingredients together on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy – about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and beat another minute or so.
Transfer the cheese spread to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
1) With this amount of onion and garlic powder, this recipe is more assertively flavored that other pimento cheese spreads. If you are sensitive to the flavor of onions and garlic, use less in this recipe.
2) My personal favorite is to use manchego cheese (a Spanish sheep's milk cheese). Very yummy!
3) My mother likes this spread in grilled cheese sandwiches and on top of baked potatoes.
4) Whatever you do, do NOT use pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated to prevent the cheese from sticking together – which is not what you want in a cheese spread. Be sure to use fresh cheese in this particular recipe.
5) This tastes great when made with 2% sharp cheddar, light cream cheese, and reduced-fat mayo. It's so flavorful, you'll never miss all of the fat.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 2:20 PM