Everyday Food Blog

pimiento cheese: the star of any relish tray

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The star of the relish tray is always the pimiento cheeseWhen our managing editor, Kellee Miller, took a few weeks off to get married and honeymoon in Sardinia (hard life!), we had to send her off in style, and there was no doubt what should be the centerpiece of the celebration: a relish tray. A Kansas native, Kellee has spent years educating confused New Yorkers about the significance of the relish tray. In fact, a couple years ago, Kellee wrote a blog post on the subject, so I used it as a blueprint for the one I assembled.

It couldn't have been easier (the toughest part was washing all the veggies). On two platters, I arranged the following: celery sticks, carrots, cornichons, sliced radishes, pickled beets (toothpicks make it easy to avoid stained fingers), pitted mixed olives, ranch dip, and pimiento cheese. Lesley, one of our food editors, whipped up a batch that afternoon (you can make it yourself or buy a tub at the store), and I stuffed a few of the celery sticks, serving the rest in a large ramekin. Coupled with Lesley's dainty tea sandwiches and recipe tester Jessie's gorgeous puff pastry fruit-and-cream cups, we had quite an afternoon treat.

A couple weeks later, I learned about another regional cheese-spread staple, this time from Kentucky: beer cheese (a simple pureed dip made with shredded cheddar, flat beer, garlic, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a little cayenne). I made some for a barbecue I attended and, as with the pimento cheese at Kellee's shower, that beer cheese was gobbled up right away. News flash: Americans love their cheese.

Do you have any appetizer traditions that are specific to your neck of the woods? And do they involve cheese? Please share with us in the comments!

EDF managing editor Kellee with her relish tray

EDF managing editor Kellee poses near the spread.

The spread, coupled with a banner

Recipe tester Jessie made this darling banner.

Comments (6)

  • avatar

    I only eat American cheese in Texas as an appetizer queso. Two recipes.... both equal parts, melt and serve with corn chips
    1) cheese + 1 can rotel tomatoe w/ chilis
    2) cheese + 1 can wolf brand chili

    Is it the fresh melt of the two ingrediants? The beer? The "I never eat this stuff"! That makes it so irresistable.

    One more recipe.... a slab of cream cheese with an entire bottle of Louisiana Pick a Peppa sauce poured over it.

  • avatar

    In Texas, no party is complete without chili con queso, commonly referred to simply as queso. It can be as simple as velveeta with rotel, or it can be a mix of cheeses with a little velveeta to help the texture, seasoned ground beef, salsa or pico de gallo, black beans, or avocado. It can also include any combination of the above! Yummy!

  • avatar Author Comment:

    Queso is much beloved in this office! One of our recipe editors has gone so far as to bring large cans of Ro-Tel back to the city when she visits Texas, since it's tougher to find in this area.

    Rebecca, I've never had queso with so many other ingredients mixed in. Sounds delicious -- almost like a warm seven-layer dip (without layers).

    Barbara, I'm fascinated by this cream cheese notion. Do you mix the Pickapeppa in, or just leave the brick swimming in it on a plate?

  • avatar

    hi! it is all beautiful and sounds delightfully yummy!! do you happen to have a recipe for the beer cheese? i would love to make some!
    thank you!

  • avatar

    Thanks for the tips. When hosting a get together, I always like to include a scrumptious salad with LOTS of ingredients or raw veggies and fruits in some form. Guess I am a health nut!

  • avatar Author Comment:

    KimberlyS, I sort of made it up as I went along, but I followed the first recipe in this Washington Post article as a guideline.

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