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Green Olive Pimento Cheese

This weekend some friends and I took a “mid-winter” getaway to Morehead.  We planned it in November, as we were discussing how hard life and work can become once it’s cold and dark and dreary.  We were hoping that a getaway to look forward to would help us fight the cold-weather grumps.  And, before I knew it, the last weekend of January was here.  The thing is, the cold weather grumps had never really come.  We’ve had a few days of very cold, even a snow, but for the most part it’s been lovely (and a little terrifying coughglobalwarmingcough).  But wonderful weather certainly wasn’t going to stop us from taking a beach vacation, so on Thursday night we packed up and headed south.

We spent four days in Cateret County, visiting attractions like the aquarium and the Maritime Museum, drinking bloody marys on the beach, and reading on the pier of the Swamp House.  It was wonderful, relaxing, and the weather was amazing.

While we were down there I tried my hand at a recipe I’d been thinking of for a while.  You see, I love pimento cheese.  I love making it, eating it, and serving it to guests.  But I always make the same recipe (my grandfather’s), and I’ve been wanting to try something new.  So I thought about the flavors I wanted to highlight and put together a recipe that included sharp white cheddar, green olives, smoked gouda, pimentos, and of course mayo and spices.

The spread was, as I’d hoped, delicious. The smokey cheese played so nicely against the salty olives, a little bit of garlic and cayenne gave it a hint of a kick, and everything worked together to create a cohesive flavor.  It was perfect with the buttery snack crackers and exactly the sort of snack you want when you’re sitting on the pier all day, reading and watching the marsh life.

This is an owl named Alba that we met at the National Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shore.  She likes to watch the sharks.

Green Olive Pimento Cheese

1 medium size block of white sharp cheddar cheese

1 medium size wheel of smoked gouda

1 small jar of pimentos

1/2 cup green olives

1/4 cup mayonaisse

1 tsp garlic powder

Dash of salt, pepper, cayenne

Grate your cheese.  Dice your olives.  Drain pimentos.  Combine.  Stir in mayo and spices.  Stir until well incorporated, adding more mayo to get your preferred consistency.

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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 2

Okay, we’re back with part two of The Cast Iron Chronicles!  This weekend I took a good long crack at the pan, in total spanning approximately 3 episodes of Criminal Minds. My first step was to knock the gunk and as much rust as possible off with steel wool.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  1) Why didn’t I just use an electric dohickey with a sanding attachment (I know for a fact that the Capt’n is thinking that as he send me an email suggesting that I attack it that way) or 2) Why don’t I just cover it in oven cleaner and let it soak overnight?

So for one- we don’t have any electric dohickeys, and I figured that’s why I have hands. And arms.  I know it would be faster to use power tools, but I’ve got plenty of Criminal Minds in my Netflix queue and all winter to work on this pan.  I’m in no rush.  As for the oven cleaner- because cast iron is such a porous  material I don’t want to use anything on this pan that I wouldn’t squirt on top of my eggs.  Cast iron has a tendency to retain the flavor of things and I don’t care to take the risk with oven cleaner, even if it would probably burn off later in the seasoning process.  I’m very careful with all my cast iron, I never use soap to clean them, only ever hot water. According to my Uncle Everett, Sybil only ever used salt to clean her cast iron, no water at all. So, no harsh chemicals during this process.  Just good old fashioned scrubbing.

I worked on the pan for about 2 1/2 hours. I removed all the pieces of debris and a large amount of the rust.  My plan is to continue with the steel wool and then transition to the coarse sand paper as needed.  I’m already beginning to see through the rust, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!  I’m so glad to hear that y’all are interested in this process, I am personally loving it.  There’s nothing like sanding the hell out of a piece of metal to take your mind off of the stresses of daily life.

Part 1

My posting schedule for this series will be a little behind the actual work I’m doing, so if you’d like to stay up to date check twitter and instagram (user: biscuitsandsuch). Not an iPhone user? Webstagram or Flickr will have the photos!

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Breakfast Nests

I love eggs. And not to sound like a total hipster, but I loved eggs before they were cool.  Pie too. And toy camera photography.  Not leggings though, I’m totally jumping on the trend bandwagon there… But eggs, we’ve always been good friends, especially when a dippy yolk is involved.  Breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizza, pasta carbonara, I love it.  So, it goes without saying that a cupful of breakfast goodness topped with a soft yolked egg is pretty close to heaven in my book.  Egg heaven.

This recipe was very much a Saturday morning refrigerator dump.  My favorite kind of weekend breakfast, where you sauté up all the leftover vegetable odds and ends from the week, add bacon and a fried egg and, voila, breakfast.  I started with a turkey bacon cup (it was what we had on hand, usually I’m a real-bacon-all-the-way kind of girl), filled it with chard and onions, garlic and potato.  Then we topped the whole mess with an egg and baked.

Dan and I have very different preferences when it comes to eggs- I like mine running all over the place and he likes his firm.  This difference of opinions doesn’t usually impact our relationship, (we’re pretty level headed people when it comes to our eggs) except for when I make a dish like this where the eggs are all cooked together.  If, like me, your family has varying levels of egg preference I have a suggestion- for those that like a drippy, yolky egg, follow the recipe.  For those that don’t, leave out the egg and then top the baked bacon/veggies with a fried egg.  Overcooking an egg in the oven leaves the yolk hard and weird, so I’ve found, after a lot of searching for the middle ground, it’s best just to fry a separate egg.

Breakfast Nests

(makes four)

8 pieces of bacon

4 eggs

2 cups chopped (uncooked) chard

1/2 red onion

1 red potato

2 cloves garlic

Salt, pepper, red pepper

1 pat butter

In your pan, cook the bacon until the fat has begun to come off and it starts to crisp.  Take the hot bacon and mold it into a cupcake pan.  Wrap one slice all the way around the inside of the cup, tear the other piece in half and line the bottom. Preheat your oven to 350

Chop onion, potato, and garlic and add it to the pan.  Saute for one minute.  Chop the chard.  Add it in, along with the butter and seasoning.  Toss and cook until chard has wilted.  Divide between the four cups, pushing it down so that there is at least 3/4 inch of room between the vegetables and the top of the bacon.

Crack an egg over the sink, tossing 1/3 of the whites.  Put the yolk and remaining whites into a cup.  Repeat with the remaining three cups.

Bake at 350 until whites have set.  Yolk should be soft, approximately 20 minutes.

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