As I mentioned in the Virtual Holiday Party post, one of the biggest benefits of blogging for me is the friendships I've developed along the way. One of these friendships is with the ever-fabulous and famous Annie, of Annie's Eats. She is one of the most talented, smart and funny people I know, and I'm so glad to consider her a friend. I am positively thrilled for her and her sweet family because she is going to have a baby girl in April! Being a mom to a girl myself, I know how much fun they are, how cute (and dangerous) the clothes are, and how incredibly sweet and cuddly they are.
In honor of Annie's impending baby girl, Courtney of Cook Like a Champion put together a virtual baby shower for our dear Annie. Of course I was excited to participate - I had so much fun with the virtual holiday party, and I was looking forward to another fun blogger shindig.
Since Annie is from the midwest and I'm a southern gal, I wanted to introduce a bit of southern culture to her and the other participants. I really don't think I've ever been to a bridal or baby shower where pimiento cheese wasn't served, so I decided that I would make that my contribution. But this shower is for one of my favorite foodies, so I knew I needed to step it up.
For those of you who aren't familiar with pimiento cheese, it is basically a spread for sandwiches that is made up of extra sharp cheddar,diced pimientos (or roasted red peppers), enough cayenne for a small kick, and just enough mayo to bind it all together. I treat it as a condiment and eat it on everything from toasted pita, to grilled cheese sandwiches, as a dip for veggies, to burgers.
One of our favorite restaurants in the area is Relish, and the focus is modern southern cuisine. They are quite famous for these pimiento cheese fritters, and whether we go there for lunch or dinner, we always order a plate of them. They are crispy on the outside, and filled with melted, gooey cheese on the inside. Dipped in a sweet-spicy pepper jelly, they are one of the most addictive snacks (or meals) ever.
I actually tried to make some fritters a few weeks back when I made fried green tomatoes, but they completely melted into the hot oil and were a massive failure. I did a little research, and actually found the recipe from Relish. The keys to successful fritters are using a combination of cream cheese and mayo for stability, and completely covering the cheese with the panko coating. Once those things are taken care of, they are easy-peasy. It is both exciting and dangerous how easy and delicious these fritters are, and since Relish has sadly closed, at least now I know I can get my fix at home.
Both Annie and Courtney have the full round-up of what everyone else contributed to the party. Be sure to check it out - there are so many yummy dishes that it makes me even more sad that we're not throwing a real-life shower! Congratulations, Annie!
sidenote: this recipe makes a LOT of fritters. I actually only made 1/4 of the recipe when I made these and ended up with 10 fritters, so adjust the quantities accordingly.
Pimiento Cheese Fritters
recipe from Relish, via 11 Alive News
- 1 1/4 lbs extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 oz. pepperjack cheese, grated
- 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
- 1 1/3 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 1/4 cup mayo
- pinch kosher salt
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 gallon peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
- red pepper jelly, for serving
Scoop tablespoon-size portions of the pimiento cheese and roll them into smooth balls. Arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Into 3 separate shallow dishes, add the flour, buttermilk, and panko. Dip each ball first into the flour, shaking off any excess. Next roll in the buttermilk, and finally coat with panko. Repeat the buttermilk and panko, being sure that the entire ball is covered - if any of the cheese is showing, it will leak out while frying. Continue until all the pimiento cheese has been coated. Return to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.
Add the oil to a large pot. Place the pot over medium heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees. Fry the pimiento cheese 6-8 fritters at a time, for 3-4 minutes, until they are golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Continue until all the fritters have been fried. Serve immediately with pepper jelly.