Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese…

80DB15D0-3FF3-49C8-BB76-D2BB0F852A13Mimi never knew her pimento cheese won an award, it would have thrilled her, yet I don’t think she’d have been too surprised. Anyone who ever tasted one of her Tea Sandwiches would have agreed. Her recipe for Pimento Cheese was highly prized. Mimi kept a bowl of pimento cheese made up most of the time. My job was to grate the sharp cheddar cheese, in a little cheese grater with a handle which I turned in amazement. It’s still one of my favorite kitchen tools.

44EB0E2F-C33C-4B48-BA4A-28647A0D9AC4The grated cheese was as fine as angel hair- Mimi’s Pimento Cheese was devilishly spiced, I’m not sure she ever wrote down the recipe but I can still see her now, conjuring up a mixture that’s pure Southern Soul in a bowl. It’s only sharp cheddar cheese, a jar of pimentos and mayonnaise- the spices make Mimi’s Pimento Cheese memorable. Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes and what we call Pepper Sauce, the brine from a jar of hot peppers that we use to spice things up and even pour over turnip greens or blackeyed peas. Pepper Sauce is one of those secret ingredients that even now, mostly only real southerners know. Go to a local meat and three in small towns across the South and you’ll see a small bottle of pickled hot peppers with a hole in the top of the bottle- a shaker if you will. The bottle’s not there for anyone to actually eat the peppers- no, it’s for the brine, the ‘sauce’ . Pit masters add pepper sauce to their barbecue sauces, old wisened cooks hardly even think about adding pepper sauce to their cooking. Pepper Sauce isn’t the same as ‘hot sauce’ that fiery red hot sauce shaken over… well, lots of things. Mimi added several drops of hot sauce to her Egg Salad but never in her Award Winning Pimento Cheese! So! Here’s how you make it!

Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese

The classic and highly prized southern classic- Pimento Cheese. Spicy with cayenne pepper and sharp cheddar cheese, is wonderful for tea sandwiches, picnic sandwiches and as a dip for crackers or celery sticks. 
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 12 Ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese Finely Grated * Do not use pre- grated!
  • 1 Small Jar Pimentos - partially drained Do not use ‘diced’
  • 1/2-3/4 Cup Good Quality Mayonnaise * look for lemon juice in the ingredients
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Brine of pickled hot peppers * clear vinegary liquid only

Instructions

  • On the fine side of a box grater, shred sharp cheddar cheese.. In a medium sized bowl, put grated cheese. Add brine of hot pepper to fill partially drained jar of pimentos. Add cayenne pepper to pimento jar also. Scoop Mayonnaise over grated cheese. Pour spiced pimentos over Mayonnaise and add red pepper flakes. Stir gently to combine. Mimi’s Pimento Cheese will occasionally need additional mayonnaise- add a bit at a time to desired consistency. Chill, until ready to use. Spread thinly for tea sandwiches. 

Notes

Mimi’s Pimento Cheese is a time tested recipe - she often used extra sharp cheese, please do not try this recipe with pre- grated packaged cheese. Fine Grated Cheese is best, however you may like a chunkier Pimento Cheese and a food processor will work well for that.. It is wonderful molded with an indention in the center filled with red pepper jelly or strawberry jam, then surrounded with party crackers...it’s a crowd pleaser! For Tea sandwiches, a thinned out version (do this with more mayonnaise bit by bit) spread thinly on loaf bread, crusts removed,  cut into desired shapes with a serrated knife. Pimento Cheese is used to top burgers, to make grilled cheese and many other uses. Mimi would probably have disapproved, still,  enjoy it however you wish! 

Now a word of caution, don’t use pre-grated cheese, it won’t work! And don’t even think about using a milder cheddar cheese, use sharp or even extra sharp cheddar. The flavor depends on it! Finely grated is best, I never saw Mimi use even a medium grate. Still. It’s not just about ingredients- it’s about the Method too! And if you have a recipe for Pimento Cheese that contains Cream Cheese? Well, Mimi would have been horrified. Don’t use it. Period.

Now- this is important- don’t buy diced pimentos, buy pimentos. And don’t get fancy and add roasted red pepper. Okay, not if you want the Award Winning taste. You may add an extra small jar if you like, though one will do.  Just partially drain the jar of pimentos, leave them in the jar, fill up the jar with the pepper sauce, add the cayenne pepper- screw the lid of the jar back on the pimentos and gently shake before adding to the grated cheese and mayonnaise.

Now, about that mayonnaise- Mimi made her own for years, until she found brands of store bought mayonnaise that contained lemon juice in the ingredients! This is a must! Truth be told she didn’t always add red pepper flakes, yet when she did? Mimi thought they gave her Pimento Cheese flecks of color that she liked to see.  The sharp cheddar, the cool mayonnaise and pimentos are the perfect balance for the heat of the pepper sauce and the spices! Trust me on this.

Now, about that Award… Several years ago, I was cajoled out of Mimi’s recipe, this friend also had a recipe for another famous Pimento Cheese- which was also entered in this fairly high fallutin’ private contest. The competition was fierce, the folks who attended had fine credentials. By all accounts it was a well orchestrated event. I have to say, I wasn’t one bit surprised  her pimento cheese on first place. After all, it was Mimi’s and her Pimento Cheese has always been First Place to me!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. As you can see, I couldn’t resist making up a few Tea Sandwiches…

Camellia’s Bleu Pig…

Camellia’s Bleu Pig

Imagine showing up at your next gathering with a Bleu Pig! It does tend to create a sensation,   Okay, actually If you tell the hostess you’re bringing one, it creates mystery, curiosity and anticipation. Still. A Bleu Pig is versatile, a team player and welcome almost anywhere… including a silver tray or the fanciest charcuterie board.A Bleu Pig is a unique blend of sharp cheddar, bleu cheese and bacon – lots of it- a whole half pound of crumbled bacon rolled into a Cheese Ball or appetizer Cheese Logs. Of course, like most cheese appetizers, it’s wonderful with crackers and I especially like it served along with tart apples… a pig is known for loving apples, y’all- bleu or not. The Bleu Pig is also wonderful dolloped on  a grilled steak, a hot baked potato, melted on top of burgers, crumbled over a salad and yes, with party crackers on a cheese board! Okay, let’s be honest, some folks just don’t like bleu cheese… feel free to make yours anyway you like by changing out that bit of bleu cheese for another type, or go whole hog and make it with just sharp cheddar cheese! Here’s how you make a Bleu Pig…

Camellia's Bleu Pig...

An easy versatile cheese ball with cheddar and bleu cheeses and bacon, lots of it!
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese
  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon fried crisp, crumbled
  • 2 Tablespoons grated yellow (or mild) onion finely grated
  • 1/4 pound bleu cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3-4 drops worchestershire sauce to taste

Instructions

  • Have all ingredients at room temperature, mix together cheddar and cream cheese together- add bleu cheese, grated onion, garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce together- mixing all loosely. Add crumbled bacon last evenly distributing over the cheese mixture and incorporate carefully. Shape into one medium size ball or 2 logs. Freezes well.

*I enjoy serving this cheese ball for a crowd, however, I tend to make it up into logs. Allow to soften before serving. Slices from these logs are a perfect topping for grilled steaks or baked potatoes. *Note if you aren't a fan of bleu cheese- feel free to increase the amount of with cheddar or another type of cheese you prefer.

  • And a special treat, smear on a dark leafy green such as baby collards, roll and cut in cigar fashion, pile onto a platter or along with other offerings on a cheese board.

A good many years ago- the famous Lee Brothers of Charleston inspired me by rolling up their Fresh Cheese in Collard leaves! I’ve never forgotten their unique appetizer – so, when a friend recently sent a big bag of baby collard greens to the cottage…I just had to…Wait for it…Make Bleu Piggies in Green Blankets! Turns out that might be my favorite way to serve a Bleu Pig!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine!

Find Lee Brothers here-