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Miss Verba’s Pimiento Cheese

MARY ANN SEZ: Tom gets a lot of cookbooks in the mail. They’re a great source of entertainment for me and our daughter Mary Leigh. They’re great to look at, and occasionally we cook from them. One we especially like–because it’s beautiful and serves up a lifestyle as well as recipes–is Frank Stitt’s Southern Table. He’s the Emeril of Birmingham, and the chef-owner of the superb Highlands Grill there. One of the first pages describes a cherished employee and her famous pimiento cheese dip. I made the recipe as instructed. Frank and the food stylists who took the pictures of the dip don’t lie. It’s killer. So good that my daughter was compelled to remark, “Mom, save some for the guests!” It’s simple to make, but take her advice: Make two batches so the guests can have some!

I give the recipe as it comes from the book, but I made a few changes to my tastes. (That’s allowed.) I note those in the ingredient list.–Mary Ann Fitzmorris.

  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • I lb. sharp yellow cheddar, shredded
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (I use Blue Plate)
  • 1 tsp. sugar (didn’t use that)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Hot sauce to taste

1. Heat up the broiler to 550 degrees. Put the bell peppers on a metal pan, and put them about three inches below the heat. Check them every minute or so. When the skins become black and blistered at the tops of the peppers, turn them with tongs. Repeat the process until the peppers are black over most of their exteriors. the

2. Remove the peppers and let them cool until you can handle them. Peel the thin, darkened skin off. Cut out the stem and pull out the seeds. Cut the peppers in half and remove the vane-like membranes inside. Chop the remaining soft red flesh finely.

3. Combine the roasted peppers with all the other ingredients in a bowl, thoroughly. Serve with toasted rustic bread or crackers.

Makes about 50 bite-size nibbles.

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