Today is the running of the 2022 Kentucky Derby. YAY!! My husband John and I are taking some foods and going to a local brewery with friends to enjoy it. Food is a very important part of the derby, per the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.
Early in 2021, my husband and I got stir crazy to escape our home as the pandemic continued. We didn’t feel safe flying at that point, and, we were traveling with our parrot, Bobbie. So….road trip.
We decided to do a loop to the east coast of the US and down to Savannah, then west to Atlanta and up through Kentucky and back to Michigan. One of my favorite stops was Churchill Downs. It was a bit surreal as was being used as a mass vaccination center with no races, but we did get to visit the museum there. It was fascinating!
I have always loved watching the triple crown races, especially the Kentucky Derby.
But I digress. In our Southern loop we enjoyed some foods not too common in our home state of Michigan. One in particular stood out, Pimento Cheese.
My take on it
When we got home, I researched the cheese. Apparently, there’s a different version for every restaurant and family unit in the South! I made several versions and then set out to create a flavor I liked most. So, at the bottom of this blog post is my favorite. Enjoy! Take it and make your own version.
Churchill Downs. Finally.
One out of the bucket list!
Bobbie hikes and tours with us in his special carrier.
Menu for May 9 – 14
Click to see a calendar of upcoming classes. In addition to the on-site classes that are on the calendar, I am working on developing a few online versions that can be accesses from anywhere. Stay tuned for that!
A yummy Southern cheese that is great on sammies, as a veggy dip, on crackers, and more. Easy to make and always a hit!
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Keyword: Cheese, Pimento
1 Stand Mixer
4ozextra sharp cheddar cheeseshredded small
1/2cmayonnaiseideally Duke's is the brand used
4ozjarred pimentodrained and chopped
1/2jalapenooptional, deseeded & finely minced
8green olivesoptional, finely chopped
Place everything in stand mixer and beat at medium until blended.Makes about two cups.
I like to make this in two styles. To do that, I make a full batch with just the first eight ingredients. Then, remove half. This is your mild version. I then add half of the remining ingredients to the remaining cheese in the mixer bowl, blend and you have a version that bites a bit and with the saltier, umami flavor that olives bring, which I prefer.Remember to use only half:4 olives, 1/4 jalapeno, 1/8 t cayenneIf you decide to add extra olives than noted, keep in mind that they will bring extra saltiness to the cheese.
I would love it if you let me know if you change it and how. The variations are truly endless. Please share your adaptations in the comments.
Chicken, Cheese, and Tamales are an odd combination for a post.
About the Chicken
Indeed! I was intrigued by Chef Michael Symon’s recent appearance on Good Morning America where he shared his recipe for making that now infamous Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. So much so that I made it, and then made it again tweaking it slightly. I then shared them with patrons at our local craft brewery Fetch. They are a huge hit. Thank you Chef Michael! In the final recipe I settled on (see end of this post for full recipe) you see my notes for some of what I changed. Essentially I adjusted the flour, some seasonings, and added onion powder to the mix. You can click the recipe link above to see his recipe.
A lot of you may already know that I love to make my own cheese. I also teach cheesemaking at my Art of Cookery cooking school. Making Soft Cheeses such as Mozzarella and Sour Cream/Crème Fraiche is one class that is popular. On rare occasions over the years I have taught a hard cheese class by private request. Currently, I am considering making it a class that is on our calendar schedule.
I am hoping for feedback from you.
Making cheddar is a time commitment. Here is the schedule.
On day 1 we start the class around noon. The day is over about 6 to 7 hours later. It will definitely be 7 if we use the cheddar’s whey to make ricotta. There are downtimes, such as 45 minute waits here and there but it is a process that moves forward all afternoon.
Next, on day 2 there is a 1 hour session pulling the cheese out of the press. It can be a little more if we are using the ricotta to make Ziergerkase Cheese (DEFINITELY worth it). If making the Zierrgerkase, there is a 1 hour class 24 hours after putting it in the cheesepress. That day would be skipped if not making that second cheese.
Then, 3 days after taking the cheddar out of the press, the last class is about 1 hour long and covers waxing and aging the cheese.
Ziergerkase is soaked for up to four days in a bring of Cabernet and Tarragon. Delicious!
So, it is about a 10 hour class time commitment, broken up over a few days. That is followed by the students themselves aging the cheese. That entails turning it over a couple times a week and storing it in a dark cool place.
Questions to help me with:
I would have to charge $100 per person. Do you believe it is worth the time and money?
I think it is a great way for someone to decide they want to go into cheesemaking without the costly equipment purchase (For instance, a cheese press alone is not cheap!) Do you agree?
The participant(s) would have to commit to keeping the schedule. Do you believe it is a doable schedule? Any other questions or feedback?
Tamales – Yum
Rita and her husband with John Gonzales of Michigan’s Best.
I like to teach a lot of various cuisines. As a result, some of my cooking classes are involved in making some Asian, Moroccan, and Mexican dishes for example. One topic I have never approached but always wanted to is Tamales. I love them but know they can be a failure for many reasons if you don’t know the secrets.
Recently, I reached out to Rita Rodriguez, owner of Two Hot Tamales in neighboring Newaygo County and asked if she would be interested in being a guest chef at Art of Cookery and teach a Tamale class with me as her sous chef. She Said YES! As a result, we have settled on December 8, 2019 at 1 pm. This special event will take place at 1 pm and last approximately 2 hours. However, stay tuned, pricing has not yet been set.
So here is what I am asking:
Are you interested? We’d like to have a number for planning purposes. Responding that you are interested doesn’t mean you are committed or registered, just interested. Please comment below, and/or send an email to ICan@artcookery.com. You can private message on our facebook page too. Or just look for the even on our facebook page and click on interested.
And now for that Chicken Sandwich recipe
· 2, 10 to 12-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 4 small ones)
· 1 cup buttermilk
· 1 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
· 1 teaspoon garlic powder
· 1 tsp onion powder
· 1 1/4 teaspoon table salt
· 1 teaspoon black pepper
· 1 ½ TBSP Hot Sauce (Chef Michael suggests Louisiana brand but use what you have. Increase to 2 tablespoons if making the spicy version)
· 3/4 cup flour (I use a blend of one part “00” flour, 1 part extra fancy Durum semolina and 2 parts unbleached all-purpose flour. All all-purpose will work just fine, in fact it’s what Chef Symon used, but in my opinion, the flour blend gives a better coating and crunchier result.)
· 3/4 cup cornstarch
· 2 tsp sweet paprika
· 1 tablespoon garlic powder
· 1 tsp onion powder
· 2 tsp cayenne powder, optional (if making the spicy version, even more if desired)
· Oil for frying
· 4 soft brioche hamburger buns
· unsalted butter
· Dill pickle chips
· Miracle Whip or Mayo, for serving (I use Miracle Whip but Hellman’s is ok and Dukes Mayo is the southern standard)
Lay out your chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken to an even half-inch thickness. Cut each in half to make four. If your breasts are very large, trim two bun size pieces from each breast and use the two smaller cuts as a pair of bonus chicken slices or make a fifth sandwich from them.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the buttermilk and next six ingredients. Submerge the chicken in the buttermilk and soak. Chef Symon recommends at overnight or for at least 4 hours I recommend at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
Once the chicken is fully marinated. Heat a pot of oil or deep-fryer to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour(s), cornstarch and seasonings.
Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk marinade into the flour mixture and mix loosely with a fork, creating some small clumps. This will help the chicken achieve a jagged, flakey crunch.
Bread and fry the chicken.
Remove one piece of chicken from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off. Place it in the flour mixture and turn to coat evenly. Gently press the breading into the chicken and repeat with the remaining pieces.
Deep fry for four to five minutes, until the chicken is crunchy and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Remove to a draining rack and season with salt, if desired. I do not salt them. While they rest and cool slightly, finish the sandwich.
Finish and assemble the sandwich.
Heat a skillet or griddle. Rub a stick of butter on the griddle so there’s a melted smear for each Brioche half. Place the cut side of the brioche buns over melted butter and lightly toast. (Chef Symon melts the butter and brushes it over the buns with a pastry brush and then toasts. My way is easier)
To finish, spread both halves of the buns with generously with Miracle Whip or mayo and add a layer pickle slices to the bottom half. Place a piece of chicken on and top with the other half of the bun. Serve fresh and hot.