Monday, November 29, 2010

Olive Pimento Cheese

Okay, so I'm addicted to cooking contests. They inspire me to make things I might not otherwise think of. The Kitchen Play contest this month is sponsored by Lindsey Olives, and I certainly had olives on hand after the Thanksgiving holiday.

I decided to take one more look at the menu on Kitchen Play before the month was over, and see what else I could find and (of course) modify. This time I decided to work on the Amuse Bouche course which was a baked brie.

Cheese and olives are a great pair, but my post-Thanksgiving plans didn't require something as fancy as baked brie. But I had plenty of other cheeses. And ideas. So I went with something a little less geared for entertaining, and went with something a little more geared towards hanging around and snacking.

The cheese is still there and the olives are still plentiful. And there's baking. I served this cheese two ways - atop home made Fire Crackers, and inside pastry as mini turnovers. The pastry was left over from making pie crust for Turkey Pot Pie, but if you're entertaining a crowd and want a lot of turnovers, you might want to make a whole batch of pastry just for this recipe. Or buy pastry crust.

This cheese would also be great in puff pastry shells. Hey, we're getting back around to the original idea!

Instead of brie, I went with more ... common cheeses, and the idea itself is a riff on pimento cheese, is a staple in the southern US. The addition of olives makes it different than the usual, though.

Besides using this on crackers, it would make a savory filling for celery sticks. Or you could loosen it up with a bit of mayonnaise or sour cream, and use at as a dip.

For something with this much flavor, it's simple. Just four ingredients, and if you make it in a food processor, there's not much effort. If you don't have a food processor, you can still make it, with just a tiny bit more effort - but still easy enough that you can whip it up at the last minute for unexpected guests or a sudden snack attack.

If you don't want to roast your own red bell pepper for this recipe, you can use jarred roasted red peppers.  Use 4-5 average-sized pieces, or more, to taste.

Other items are customizable as well, so you can make this from pantry ingredients if you need a quick appetizer and don't have time to shop. Use any combination of cheeses you like, for example. As for the olives, you can use any pitted olive you like. No pitted olives? It's very easy to pit your own with an olive pitter.

Olive Pimento Cheese

4 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup pitted olives (I used a combo of Lindsay green and kalamata olives), chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded.

Put the cheddar cheese in the food processor fitted with the chopping blade and process until it is finely chopped. Add the cream cheese and process until you have a smooth mixture. Add the olives and red pepper and pulse until the mixture is as smooth as you like - smooth, chunky, or in-between, it's up to you.

If you don't have a food processor, finely shred the cheddar cheese, and finely chop both the olives and peppers before combining with the cream cheese. Mix thoroughly.

You can serve immediately, or make it ahead and refrigerate until you need it.

1 comment:

Casey said...

Love these snack ideas! We really enjoy entertaining at our house, and having an appetizer that's quick and simple (and don't forget, tasty!) to put together is in high demand. Thanks for the inspiration, and for joining in the fun at Kitchen Play!

Best,
Casey

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