Pimiento Cheese

Now this post is near and dear to my heart. I doubt you’ll find many southern families that don’t have a bowl of pimiento cheese in their fridge from time to time. It’s just one of those things we love without question or hesitation. While Darcie is a yankee-girl, we forgive her that failing because she spent some time in New Orleans, where she developed a love of pimiento cheese, among other staples. (I kid, I kid; we’ll always hold it against her.)

Darcie’s recipe is brilliant because it replaces most of the mayo that standard recipes call for (which is a completely insane amount, generally speaking) with cream cheese, so it’s a lot creamier and less greasy. The fat content still isn’t all that great, but this isn’t exactly a salad; use lowfat cream cheese if you must. I’ll look the other way, but may lift my eyebrow of judgement slightly.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Pimiento Cheese

Allergy Milk
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
If Southerners know anything, it's how to make food that'll keep you coming back for more. Count this Pimiento Cheese as one of those foods.

Ingredients

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 8oz cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
  • 4oz jar pimiento peppers (drained, juice reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pimiento pepper juice
  • 1 tablespoon chives (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (such as Lowry's)

Optional

  • hot sauce or cayenne pepper (to taste)

Directions

Using an electric hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, mayonnaise, dijon, pimento juice and seasoned salt until creamy. Fold in the remaining ingredients, refrigerate and allow to sit for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to come together.
Serve in hollowed out mini peppers or with crackers. Also makes a great grilled cheese sandwich or burger topping.

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan crisps are usually found in salads, where you’ve likely encountered them over the years without giving them much thought. But I think these crisps are a delicious snack on their own — delicate and lacy, but aggressively flavorful — and pair incredibly well with champagne or other sparkling wines, making them a perfect bite for parties at this time of the year. That they’re a snap to make doesn’t hurt, either. Just make sure to use parchment paper or a silicone pan liner for success. Find Darcie’s post on the subject here.

Parmesan Crisps | Amy Roth Photo

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Parmesan Crisps

Allergy Milk
Meal type Appetizer, Snack
Parmesan Crisps — delicate, lacy and flavorful — are a welcome addition to any party snacking table.

Ingredients

  • 1 wedge aged Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F (about 200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Do not attempt this recipe without one or the other.)
Grate the Parmesan cheese finely, then drop tablespoonfuls on the lined baking sheet, leaving space between each. Spread the mounds into thin rounds. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and slightly browned. Remove from the oven, let cool, then carefully remove with a thin spatula.

A New Look + The Winter Market

It’s done! Nearly eight years after starting this blog, I gave it a major design overhaul last week! And thank goodness; I just couldn’t look at that raggedy old thing any longer. My lack of anything resembling technical knowledge kept me from tackling it for all those years, but I figured I’d give it a stab, because how hard could it be with one of WordPress‘s highly-praised themes? But still, I couldn’t do it alone, so here’s a big thank you to Gil for setting up a test site and to our friend Jason, who helped me get this behemoth up and running yesterday.

There are a few new features here that I’d like to tell you about. First of all, there’s a top nav to help you get around and a proper home page with some fun features! I’ll likely add some functionality to it in the future, but for now, you can find recent blog posts as well as projects there. Think of the Projects page as a portfolio-lite; it has a few selected images from projects I’ve worked on (mostly cookbooks) along with descriptions and external links to each. To see more of my photography, just click on the Portfolio link in the top nav.

You can sign up to receive an email when new posts are published by using the subscribe box in the blog side navigation or in the footer. Connect with me on social media via the links above the main logo or write to me (I’d love to hear from you!) from the Contact page. There’s also an honest-to-goodness About page now; I figure it’s about time you know a little more about me, and maybe see a picture, even.

Anyway, take a look around — I hope you like what you see! (And if something isn’t working, please let me know.)

Now for some food!

I’m not sure why I gave up the Farmers’ Market Feast series when our weekly market moved to a monthly one over the winter because I never miss one, even though I don’t get to load up on local vegetables at it. So this is my inaugural Winter Market post, and also the last until November because I’ll be back to a weekly schedule in May! Hooray!

Aged Goat's Milk Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

This lovely specimen of aged goat cheese comes from our friends at Edgwick Farm. There was a bit of give around the edges which promised a creamy interior; it was all I could do to hold off from cutting into it before taking this shot.

Aged Goat Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

Just look at that gooey loveliness! The slight goatiness was offset by a drizzle of local honey from Nina’s Red Barn Farm. I’ve consumed a little over half of the cheese in the past two days, which is why I don’t buy it too often; I simply can’t resist the temptation it throws my way.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Now this little slice of heaven was my Sunday morning breakfast. In my 20s I really loved brunch or brunching; it seemed like such a civilized way to start the day and served as a good excuse to have a bloody mary at an outrageously early hour. (So naughty!) But after years of consuming lord knows how many mediocre egg dishes and entire fields of lukewarm fried potato chunks, I realized I really was in love with the idea of brunch. Now that I’m older, I find I can make a better meal than most brunchy restaurants offer, so it’s a good excuse to indulge.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Wiltbank Farm is new to our market, selling flavorful oyster and shiitake mushrooms. I wanted to feature the oysters without much interference, so I tossed the mushrooms with some olive oil, a hefty amount of thyme and red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and threw in a few whole garlic cloves for good measure. After 15 minutes on a roasting pan in a 425 degree oven, they were deliciously schlumped and caramelized, so I smashed the garlic cloves into a paste, tossed the paste with the mushrooms and the angels sang.

This was an ideal nest for a perfectly fried duck egg from Edgwick Farm. After trying them for the first time this weekend, I feel sure they’ll be on the menu for as long as I can find them. The flavor isn’t so different from a chicken egg, but they’re much more substantial, and if you’re a yolk lover like I am, you’ll love the ridiculous size of these. I felt I ate like a queen.

And here’s a little yolk porn, just cuz. Have a great week!

Yolk Porn @ Minimally Invasive

Day 13, Pear Pizzas

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 13

There will be more DIY gifts and desserts to come, but for now, kick back, hang out with the family (or friends, or pets), and make some pizza. Maybe put on a movie and some comfy loungewear and enjoy an evening in.

I was inspired by both the arrival of the new Cup4Cup Pizza Crust Mix in stores and this recipe, though I changed it up pretty significantly. I kept the pear base but played around with nearly everything else.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 13

Pears and gorgonzola are a beautiful thing, but add a drizzle of honey (truffle, if you have it), and the whole thing sings.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 13

If you’re worried about gorgonzola or blue cheese being gluten-free, you need to check into it, but you certainly can find GF versions of them both. This page is old, but lists commercial options for each. Or, if you get the good stuff, your cheesemonger should be able to steer you in the right direction.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Day 13, Pear Pizzas”

Triple-Garlic Pizza

Or, the whole of the pie is greater than the sum of its alliums.

gluten-free white pizza with garlic

We visited the last monthly winter market this weekend to find the very first sign of Spring — wild garlic — at Nina’s booth. She’s my go-to source for fresh eggs and local honey, but she always has some lagniappe I appreciate — last year it was callaloo and micro greens and last month, freshly smoked jalapenos. But as soon as I saw this month’s wild garlic offering, I knew it was destined for spring’s perfect pizza. You can keep your ramps; I’ll stick to locally-grown wild garlic for $1 a bunch! (Sadly, we don’t have any growing in our yard or it’d be even cheaper.)

Locally-grown — a beautiful sign of Spring

Since I’m pathologically incapable of making anything the same way twice, I subbed in a gluten-free crust and added layers of flavor with garlic oil and garlic confit. Frankly, I wouldn’t know where to draw the “too much garlic” line, but this wasn’t even close. On this pie, at least, it’s all mellow and sweet and borderline addictive.

garlic, olive oil, black peppercorns

Garlic confit, like creme fraiche and sofrito, is one of those things that’s nice to have on hand to add a little something to a dish. Whole cloves are slow-cooked in olive oil until they’re soft and sweetly caramelized, which is nice on its own, but as a bonus you get that lovely oil to use for drizzling, dipping, salad dressings, etc.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic, truffle oil

The gluten-free pizza crust is the best I’ve yet tried, but I’m still on the lookout for something less…squeaky. (Those of you who’ve had the heavily starch-based crusts know what I mean.) Something a little breadier would be really nice in this application.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic and truffle oil

Not that I’m complaining — far from it. These toppings just deserve the very best base you can give them. I’m doing it for the garlic, you see.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Triple-Garlic Pizza”

Tarted up

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Restorative.

That’s what this weekend has been for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It began Friday with an afternoon spent wandering Tribeca searching out lonely cobblestone streets for a portrait session next weekend. I found a couple of candidates that will work wonderfully, but the best part of the afternoon was simply being alone with my thoughts, not working, not stressing, just being. 13+ hours of working and commuting each day is draining during good weeks, but has been especially brutal for the past few months with no hope of vacation between April and Christmas and deadlines upon deadlines. It really got to me.

So that simple half day meant more to me than I can say. I returned home that evening practically dancing and ready to greet the weekend. We paid our weekly visit to the farmers’ market Saturday morning where I loaded up on produce, fresh cheese and grass-fed beef, then spent the rest of the day out and about. So there was no cooking until today, really, unless you count the white chili I made last night with the remnants of our mid-week roasted chicken. It was nothing out of the ordinary — just the usual suspects with cannellini beans and some Rancho Gordo hominy (and cooking liquid) thrown in for good measure. Oh, and topped with farmer cheese and some of that green salsa from a couple of weeks ago. Yum.

090920_tart_sm

I skipped the greyhound hike today to spend a little extra time cooking, so as soon as the boys left, I cranked up some bluegrass and got to work on this pear tart. I went savory instead of sweet, and finally got to try Clotilde’s olive oil tart crust (which deserves every rave review it got). It featured the goodness of caramelized onions, fresh herbs, gorgonzola, walnuts and fig vinegar. Again, nothing too out of the ordinary, but why reinvent the wheel when this combo is so very, very good?

But the first bite proved it was still missing a little something, so I sprinkled it with a little fleur de sel and grated a little Balinese long pepper over it. Yes, I sound like a brat, but this pepper is amazing stuff and went perfectly with the tart. Per-fect-l-y. It’s been sitting in my pantry since Memorial Day, and I can’t believe all the time I wasted not using it.

090920_pears_sm
Bosc pears channeling Rosalind Russell

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Tarted up”

Anticip…ation

Last week, I paid another early-morning visit to Buon Italia for the express purpose of buying my weight in cheese. Naturally, pork products leaped into my basket as well (insistent little buggers, they are), but the primary purpose of this trip was loading up on cheese, glorious cheese, because one of the recipes at the top of my weekend to-do list was marinated feta, inspired by this David Lebovitz post.

It seems to be a pretty simple recipe, open to any number of variations. French feta was available at Buon Italia, so that’s what I used here, but once Corrado’s Family Affair opens its Wayne branch, you can bet I’ll be up to my ears in Bulgarian feta, my favorite. I kept the flavorings to a minimum for this first batch, though you can really let your creativity shine. My thyme plant is one of the few herbs that produced for me this summer, so I gathered about 10-15 sprigs and layered them in a large glass jar with the cubed feta (about 1 1/2-inch pieces), a couple of sage leaves from a less prolific herb plant, a few thin strips of lemon zest, dried oregano, lots of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and a couple of small bay leaves. (Because it’s a simple thing to grow your very own jar of botulism when storing garlic in olive oil, I avoided adding it to the blend.)

Oh, did I forget to mention the olive oil?

Yeah, this recipe uses a lot of it, so I went with my basic everyday stuff — Colavita extra virgin — instead of a good finishing oil. It’s exceptionally fruity, very affordable, available at my local grocery, and comes with Lidia’s stamp of approval — what more could I want?

This marinated feta holds the promise of getting better with age, but will I be able to resist its siren song long enough to find out?

You see, I have plans for this stuff. While tomatoes are still in season, they’re demanding a date with the feta. Then there’s grilled pizza, perhaps a nice spinach pie with roasted garlic, and of course, sampling it straight from the jar.

But for now, the feta marinates…