Lee Brothers’ Pimento Cheese

My friend served delicious pimento cheese sandwiches recently- reminding me how much I enjoy them. 🙂 Eating them also reminded me that I wanted to try this version from Charleston, South Carolina.

The recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by the Lee Brothers. I used Cabot 3-year sharp cheddar cheese. I served it on the Fourth of July as a dip with crackers and pita chips. Alternatively, it could be used to fill about 4 sandwiches. Easy and fabulous.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated with a food processor or hand grater (not pre-grated)
  • 1/4 cup softened cream cheese (2 ounces), pulled into several pieces
  • scant 1/2 cup jarred pimento or other roasted red peppers (from a 7-ounce jar), finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons Duke’s, Hellmann’s or other high-quality store-bought mayonnaise (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large mixing bowl, place the cheddar cheese in an even layer.
  2. Scatter the cream cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise and chile flakes over the cheddar cheese.
  3. Using a spatula, mix the pimento cheese until it is smooth and spreadable, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Transfer the pimento cheese to a plastic container or bowl, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve as a sandwich spread or as a dip.

Note: Pimento cheese keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Strawberry Spoon Cake

There is a lot of (self-imposed!) pressure to use our beautiful freshly picked strawberries in the best possible way. 🙂 I have several treats that we make annually, but I try to select a few new things to make. I had my eye on this spoon cake after seeing it in the New York Times. I loved the name too! Spoon cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. I doubled the strawberries and used a larger baking dish. I also weighed the ingredients, including the berries. I may bake it in a 10-inch cast iron skillet next time.

We ate it for dessert with vanilla ice cream. It could be served as a very special breakfast as well. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for greasing
  • 10 ounces/290 grams (about 2 cups) fresh, hulled strawberries (or thawed frozen strawberries)
  • 2/3 cup/150 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease an 8, 9, or 10-inch (square or round) baking dish with butter. Set aside. (I used a 10-inch round ceramic baking dish.)
  3. Using your hands or the back of a fork, lightly mash the berries to release all their juices, and stir in 1/3 cup of the brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, milk and salt.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder and continue whisking just until the batter is smooth.
  6. Transfer the batter (it’s not much) to the greased baking dish, and spread evenly into corners.
  7. Spoon the strawberries and all their juices over the top of the cake batter.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or just when a toothpick comes out clean in the center. (I baked mine for 22 minutes in a 10-inch round dish.)
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Serve warm with ice cream.

Baker’s Banana-Nut Bread

Yes! Another sourdough recipe- all so good! I love that this recipe combines two of the most popular items to bake during this period of self-isolation- sourdough and banana bread. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from theperfectloaf.com. I incorporated whole wheat flour, added turbinado sugar to the topping, and baked the loaf in a Pullman loaf pan, adjusting the baking time accordingly. I loved that this version included olive oil for moisture and honey for sweetness. Lovely.

We ate it as-is, but the original recipe recommends spreading full-fat Greek yogurt over the top of each slice.

Yield: One standard or Pullman loaf

  • 240g (2 cups) spelt, whole wheat, all-purpose flour, or a mix
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 125g (1 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
  • 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g (3/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
  • 42g (2 tablespoons) raw honey
  • 3 super ripe medium mashed bananas (almost black and mushy)
  • 28g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
  • turbinado sugar, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, mix a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans and a teaspoon or two of turbinado sugar. Set aside to be used as the topping later.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, and olive oil.
  8. Add in the vanilla.
  9. Add the flour mixture slowly, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary.
  10. By hand, fold in the remaining walnuts or pecans and lemon zest.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  12. Sprinkle on the reserved chopped nuts and sugar.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a Pullman loaf pan or 55-65 minutes in a standard loaf pan. (It’s better to undercook this than overcook: you want it moist.)
  14. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to thoroughly cool.

Note: This banana bread will stay moist for days after baking, but be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss.

Vanilla-Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

I have had my eye on a couple of easy sheet cake recipes. My indecisiveness led me to combine them. 😉 It was a successful combination! This cake was moist and delicious.

The simple vanilla cake is from Food 52, from their book Genius Desserts, contributed by Jami Curl. It was proposed to serve it topped with strawberry compote & butterscotch whipped cream. I included these original topping recipes below- just to keep my options open.

The frosting recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It was originally from an easy sheet cake recipe with a “reverse creaming” technique. Of course, I’ll have to try this cake as well at some point. 🙂

For the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 T plus 2 tsp (20 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (105 g) canola oil
  • 1 T (18 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) boiling water

For the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkles, for garnish, optional

To Make the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking oil spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream with a fork, mixing until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and use the fork to mix until they’re incorporated. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and continue to stir until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated. The batter will turn very thick.
  5. Add the boiling water and stir until the batter is smooth and uniform with no traces of unmixed ingredients remaining.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it evenly into the corners.
  7. Bake the cake for 35 (to be safe- check even earlier) to 40 minutes, until it’s golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Make icing while cake cools.
  2. Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and salt and beat again, scraping down sides of bowl, until completely smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy and lightened in color, another minute.
  5. Smooth icing over top of cooled cake (it should not be at all warm to the touch, or else the icing will melt).
  6. Top cake with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Cut into pieces and serve.

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked and frosted 2 days ahead. Chill until icing is solid, then cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For the Alternate Cake Toppings:

For the Strawberry Compote & Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  • 4 cups (600 grams) frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups (800 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (72 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) pure vanilla extract

To Make the Strawberry Compote:

  1. Combine the strawberries and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the fruit is soft and has released some juice.
  2. Add the granulated sugar 1 cup (200 grams) at a time, stirring between additions until the sugar disappears.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and bring the fruit and sugar to a boil. Boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the compote cool before using.

To Make the Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  1. Chill a bowl and a whisk.
  2. Pour the cream into the bowl and add the brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. Whisk the cream until stiff-ish peaks form. Take care that you don’t turn it into butter by overwhipping.(You can use a mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the cream.)
  4. Use immediately.

To Serve the Vanilla Sour-Cream Cake with Compote & Whipped Cream: **Two Options:

Option 1: Spoon the Strawberry Compote over the cake. Top the compote with the Butterscotch Whipped Cream, using the back of a spoon to give it some pretty swirls.

Option 2: Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled cake out of the pan. Cut the cake into 12 equal pieces. Spoon some Strawberry Compote over each piece. Top with a generous dollop of Butterscotch Whipped Cream.

Note: The Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake will keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for several days. Once assembled with the Strawberry Compote and Butterscotch Whipped Cream, plan to enjoy this cake the day you assemble it. That said, if you cover and refrigerate it, it will not disappoint the next day or the day after that. Especially for breakfast.

Sourdough Popovers

This deliciousness was dangerously easy to throw together. :/

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I used a popover pan and modified the baking time for a convection oven. We ate them with rocket soup and green salad but they would also be incredible for breakfast- maybe even with jam.

Instructions for sweet and savory variations are below the recipe.

Yield: 6 popovers

  1. In the microwave or in a small saucepan, warm the milk until it feels just slightly warm to the touch.
  2. Combine the warm milk with the eggs, sourdough starter and salt, then mix in the flour. Don’t over-mix; a few small lumps are OK. The batter should be thinner than a pancake batter, about the consistency of heavy cream.
  3. Heat a muffin or popover pan in the oven while it’s preheating to 450°F, preferably on convection.
  4. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven, and spray it thoroughly with non-stick pan spray, or brush it generously with oil or melted butter. (To use melted butter: Melt 2 T butter and then distribute 1/2 tsp to the base of each popover cup before adding batter.)
  5. Quickly pour the batter into the cups, filling them almost to the top. If you’re using a muffin tin, fill cups all the way to the top. Space the popovers around so there are empty cups among the full ones; this leaves more room for expansion.
  6. Bake the popovers for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 10 (in a convection oven) or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven, until popovers are golden brown.
  7. Remove the popovers from the oven and serve immediately.

Variations:

  • For sweet, cinnamon-sugar popovers: Prepare and bake the popovers as instructed. When the popovers come out of the oven, brush them with melted butter (about 1/4 cup per batch), and roll them in cinnamon-sugar (about 1/4 cup per batch).
  • For savory, cheddar-herb popovers: Mix 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence and 1/4 cup shredded Vermont cheese or cheese powder to the flour before stirring it into the sourdough-egg mixture. Finish the popovers according to the recipe instructions.

Broccoli & Egg Fried Rice

I am taking a break from bombarding everyone with sourdough recipes. I still have quite a few tasty ones to share! 😉

This vegetarian fried rice dish was fast, easy, crowd-pleasing comfort food. Making it in a large cast iron skillet was the perfect vessel to create just the right amount of crispy rice and caramelized vegetables. According to the original recipe, another secret to getting color on the rice was the inclusion of sugar.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kat Boytsova. I modified the proportions and substituted Basmati rice for sushi rice. It is a wonderful base recipe to incorporate any vegetables and/or protein with leftover rice in the fridge.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 5 cups of broccoli florets and stems (pieces should be of similar size)
  • 1 large bunch scallions (I used 7)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 6-7 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 4-5 cups cooked, day-old sushi rice (I used leftover brown and white Basmati rice)
  • 4 T toasted sesame oil
  • 3 T unseasoned rice vinegar

This fried rice comes together really quickly, so it’s important that all of your ingredients are prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.

To Prep:

  1. Place broccoli to a medium bowl.
  2. Trim scallions on both ends, then cut crosswise into 1″ pieces. Transfer to bowl with broccoli.
  3. Whisk eggs in another medium bowl to combine and season with 3/4 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Whisk sugar, soy sauce, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a small bowl.
  5. Grate the ginger and garlic cloves into the bowl of sauce and give it another whisk.

To Cook:

  1. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet (or non-stick if you don’t have one)over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  2. Add broccoli and scallions, season with a good pinch of salt, and toss with a spatula to coat in oil. Cook, undisturbed, until well charred on one side, about 5 minutes. When we say “undisturbed,” we mean it! You need consistent, direct contact with the hot pan in order to get color on the veggies, so resist the urge to constantly fuss with them.
  3. Mix with spatula and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until broccoli is crisp-tender and scallions are wilted, about 2 more minutes. Transfer veggies back to the bowl they came from.
  4. Heat remaining 5 tablespoons vegetable oil in skillet over medium-low.
  5. Add eggs and cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until large curds begin to form, about 30 seconds. The eggs will cook very quickly, so try to err on the side of runny and less-cooked because they can become spongy if overcooked.
  6. Add the rice and soy sauce mixture to eggs. Toss well to combine, then press down evenly into skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until rice is slightly crisped on one side, about 5 minutes. (Remember: undisturbed!)
  7. Return veggies to skillet and toss well to combine.
  8. Remove from heat, add sesame oil and rice vinegar, and toss once more. Serve.

Buttery Sourdough Sandwich Biscuits

I usually eat my favorite Saturday morning fried egg over a bed of arugula with Swiss cheese and extra pepper. This biscuit sandwich brought it to the next level! The bacon was a nice bonus too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur flour. I grated the butter and modified the baking time. They were very buttery and full-flavored.

Yield: 6  3-inch biscuits

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection, with a rack in the upper third.
  2. Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Work the cold, grated butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
  5. Add the starter, mixing gently until the dough is cohesive. If necessary, depending on the consistency of your starter, add buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make the dough come together.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (a piece of parchment works well), and gently pat it into a 6″ round about 1″-thick.
  7. Use a sharp 2 3/8″ biscuit cutter to cut four rounds, cutting them as close to one another as possible.
  8. Gently push and pat the scraps into a 2 1/2″ x 5″ rectangle. Cut two more biscuits.
  9. Push and pat the remaining scraps into a 1″-thick biscuit; it’ll be slightly smaller than the others.
  10. Place the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2″ between them; they’ll spread as they bake.
  11. Bake the biscuits in the upper third of your oven for 17 to 23 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
  12. Remove the biscuits from the oven, and serve warm.

Note: Once cooled completely, the biscuits can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for several days. Freeze, well-wrapped, for longer storage.

*To make smaller biscuits: The dough can be patted 1/2-inch thick, cut into 2-inch rounds, and baked for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown.*

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