This past weekend was a big one for me. A great friend of mine gave me the opportunity to cater a surprise birthday party that she gave for her husband's fortieth birthday. For 50 people!! I have been helping friends do the food for parties since I started my culinary journey this year, but never for this many people. I admit I was a little nervous about pulling it off on my own, but I rose to the challenge and the result was very successful, and tasty. My friend wanted me to create a menu consisting entirely of appetizer party food that could be easily eaten without a plate and utensils. Some of the finger food I made included prosciutto wrapped melon skewers, cherry tomatoes stuffed with fresh mozzarella and pesto, curry chicken in cucumber cups, feta salsa in phyllo tart shells, sweet and spicy bacon wrapped chicken bites and dark chocolate dipped strawberries drizzled with white chocolate. I also went back to my culinary school binder for a recipe for pimiento cheese spread to make for the party. The recipe was a favorite of all of my classmates, so much so that we served it on the tables at our graduation dinner. Pimiento cheese is the ultimate comfort food that is widespread in the South but is a rarity north of the Mason-Dixon line. I was introduced to it when Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother taught a class on southern style cooking at BU. Barry, who was named Food and Wine best new chef of the year, serves this recipe for pimiento cheese at his restaurant, so you know it has to be good! He serves it cold, in a crock with toasted homemade bread and raw carrots and celery. Although it is great served cold or at room temperature, as I did at the party, it is also out of this world when slathered on crusty bread and broiled until bubbly and golden brown. Or try using it as a sandwich spread or grilled cheese filling. Regardless of how you eat it, this dip/spread is extremely addictive. I recommend only making it for a crowd because it is positively dangerous to have lingering in your refrigerator for any length of time. What's not love about spicy, creamy, cheesy goodness? This is a recipe that would make Paula Deen proud! Just try not to let any thoughts of fat or calories enter your mind while you are eating this, because everyone deserves a little indulgence once in a while.
Spicy Pimiento Cheese Spread
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 lb. sharp yellow cheddar, grated
1/2 lb. sharp white cheddar, grated
1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 1/2 tablespoon tobasco
1 cup mayonnaise
Mix all ingredients together by hand in a large bowl. Add to a food processor in batches and process until all ingredients are well incorporated. Serves 10-12 as a dip.
Recipe courtesy of Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother restaurant
Served my favorite way, broiled on bread