Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rosie Makes Pimiento Cheese Fritters.

On October 10, 2012, the Hawthornes were wanderlusting through Georgia, on the road somewhere between Savannah and Atlanta.  Much of our road trips is spent with my reading to Mr. Hawthorne.  He likes to be read to.  I do not. 

I remember one time when I embarrassed my family at the Outhouse Steakback Restaurant in South Nags Head.  The children were heading back to school and Mr. H. and I actually took them there for a family meal at a restaurant of their choice, not mine.  At the Outhouse, our waitress came over and started talking and after a few seconds, I said, "Excuse me, but are you going to continue reading the menu to us?"  And she looked down at me and said, "Yes."  And Rosie responded with, "No. You're not."  And our waitress became flustered.  She sputtered, "Bbbbbbut, I have too."  And Rosie said, "No.  You don't."  Poor waitress had never been confronted before. I think she went to get her manager.   Good times.  And all the Little Hawthornelets turned to me and said, "Mama, why did you do that????"  Pffft.
Like I said, I don't like to be read to.

Anyways, back to on the road between Savannah and Atlanta.  I'm reading a Georgia tourism magazine to Mr. Hawthorne.  Whenever we travel, we put the back seats down in the Avalanche and that opens up to the whole cargo area.  We carry a Rubbermaid container right behind me, filled with AAA books, state maps, and state tourism books for every state.  Somewhere in Georgia, I started reading the Georgia tourism book and found a recipe for Pimiento Cheese Fritters.  I decided right then and there to make those little buggers. 

I've already made one version of it.
After I made it,
I realized my three-dip station for frying
was supposed to be flour, buttermilk, and panko.
I was careless
and used my regular flour, eggs, and panko line-up.
I don't think my first fried pimiento cheese balls suffered,
but I was still yearning to do the buttermilk version.

I also adjusted the ingredients ratios.

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING,
is etched in stone.
(Unless you're baking.)

This recipe veers dangerously close to Pauler Deen Territory.

I love pimiento cheese.
 A Pimiento Cheese Sandwich 
on cheap white bread is a quintessential Southern table staple.
Mr. Hawthorne tries to health it up with whole wheat.
   This is a NO-NO.
Do not do this.
This is a sandwich for Wonder Bread.

  Then I thought I'd died and gone to heaven
when I had a Fried Pimiento Cheese Sandwich.

But to batter and fry it?
Oh my! 

 Here's my mise en place.
And by the way,
I'm weighing things today.
If I gave you volume measurements for the cheeses,
everybody would come up with different weights,
depending on the density of the cheese, i.e.,
 how much cheese you packed into the measuring cup.
Pimiento Cheese Fritters (Makes 36.)
(Recipe adapted from some Georgia Tourism magazine.)
8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
3 TB mayonnaise
pinch salt
7 oz. can pimientos
1 heaping TB minced pickled jalapenos


Rosie's Basil Jalapeno Jelly. Recipe to follow.

Mix cheddar and Jack cheeses.

In mini-processor, mix cream cheese, Cajun spice, mayo, and salt.  Process until no lumps.

Add cream cheese mixture to cheeses and fork until well-combined. 

Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Scoop small mounds of the pimiento cheese mixture and roll into smooth balls.
I used a melon baller to get uniform amounts and rolled the pimiento cheese mixture into tight balls.

Chill for 2-3 hours.

Put flour, buttermilk, and panko in three separate bowls.

Completely coat pimiento ball in flour.  Roll in buttermilk.  Roll in panko, pressing the crumbs into the cheese.  Completely coat balls to prevent leakage while frying.

Chill for one hour.

Heat oil to 325 degrees.  Fry a few balls at a time.  Do not crowd the pan; you'll lower the heat and end up with greasy, not crisp.

Serve with Rosie's Basil and Jalapeno Jelly for an intense experience.

8 ounces cheddar
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese

Process mayo, cream cheese, Cajun seasoning, and salt.

Add mayo mixture to cheeses.

Mix well.

Add in a heaping tablespoon or more, to taste,
of pickled jalapenos.

Add in the pimientos.

Mix well.
Taste test.
Cover and chill.

Roll into tight, little balls.


Set up your 3-stage fry prep -
flour, buttermilk, panko.

Roll balls in flour.

Coat well.
Shake off excess.

Roll in buttermilk.

Then roll in panko crumbs.

Press panko into the balls,
being sure they're thoroughly coated.

Chill again before frying.

Heat peanut oil to 325°.

Place balls in oil, one at a time.
Fry a few at a time.
Do not crowd the pan.
You don't want to lower the oil temperature.
Fry until golden brown.
About 90 seconds.
Drain on paper towels.

Oh yes.
That's some kind of gooey goodness.

Basil Jalapeno Jelly

1 1/2 cups vinegar
6 cups sugar
1/2 cup minced jalapenos, seeds mostly removed.  I like to leave some in for extra heat.
1 cup chopped green bell peppers, ribbed and seeded.
8 ounces pectin
2/3 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup shredded, fresh basil

Sterilize 7 - 8 half-pint jars, their lids, and rings in a large stockpot.  Boil over high heat for 10 minutes.

Bring vinegar and sugar to the boil in a saucepan and cook 5 minutes.  Add all peppers and boil one more minute.

Add in liquid pectin, scallions, and basil.

Boil for one more minute.

Pour into jars.  Clean rims and threads with a clean towel dipped into boiling water.  Secure lids.  Invert about 30 seconds.  Then turn upright to cool.  As with jellies, this is ready to eat now.

I've always eaten this with cream cheese on a Ritz.  You have no idea how wonderful that is.
Now I've found something else to eat with my jelly and I am happy.

There's another twist I put on this jelly recipe.  Later in the gardening season, my peppers, both jalapenos and sweet bells go through a maturing process, turning red.  I use my red jalapenos and red bells to make a red version of the jelly.

 These makes a nice pair for a Christmas present.

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