I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s summer time. We moved from the Westside of Los Angeles to the Valley in January and it’s fair to say that it feels like we officially live ON THE EQUATOR. Holy cow, it’s HOT! Last weekend it was a balmy 110 degrees. The husband was out of town and so entertaining 2 kids while not really being able to go outside was challenging, to say the least. We finally settled on a local mall that, lucky for us, was super fancy and so had installed an outdoor splash fountain that kids were allowed to play in. Not so lucky for them (them being the fancy outdoor mall we were at), was the site of my oldest attempting to strip down to her undies so as to really get the full cool-down experience that he fountain had to offer. Luckily, we were with our girl, Aunt Jessie, who quickly and loudly pointed out to us that there was a GIANT sign close by the read, “All patrons must remain clothed”. Oops.
Summer brings on a lot of goodness — vacation/break from work, an excuse to eat ice cream every day, and, most especially for me as I get older, LOTS of memories of growing up. I don’t know why but every summer for the last couple of years, I have been getting strong hankerin’s for the South. I’m talking fireflies and fishing excursion, sweet tea and ski-tubing at the lake, and Southern food. This week alone saw some Southern dishes emerging during meal time. I started Monday off with biscuit making. Then mid-week brought us a peach cobbler (on request from the husband) and, of course, pimento cheese! Sweet merciful Lord, I LOOOOOVE me some pimento cheese dip. When I was living in Athens, GA for a hot minute (working at the University of Georgia’s Hillel), I used to hit up a little local cafe and order the same thing — their homemade pimento cheese. I have yet to be able to replicate their perfect cheese dip until I found Sean Brock’s recipe in Garden & Gun. Sean Brock is the chef at McCrady’s and Husk, in Charleston, South Carolina as well as Nashville so I think it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about about Southern food. I’ve changed a few things but really, very little of his recipe. In my mind, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You can use this recipe as a basic recipe for both the sweet potato and the dip and eat them separately or independently. We ate the dip all week-long. We had it with cut vegetables and pita chips as well as on this here sweet potato. And hey, it’s a gluten-free recipe so, I guess you can kinda consider it healthy, right?
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
- 4 oz. whipped cream cheese cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s (cause really, there's no other mayo like it)
- ½ tsp. Frank's Hot Sauce
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- ⅛ tsp. freshly ground white pepper
- ⅛ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ cup finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles and brine
- 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater
- For the Sweet Potatoes -- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the outside of your sweet potato of any dirt. Using a fork, poke holes all over it (careful not to poke yourself!). Place on a baking sheet and roast for roughly 40 - 45 minutes or until a fork can easily move through it.
- While roasting, put the cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until softened. Add the mayonnaise and mix well. Add the hot sauce, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and smoked paprika and stir to blend. Add the pickles, brine, and cheddar cheese and stir again. Fold in the diced pimentos.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Tightly covered, the pimento cheese will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.