For those of you who have not met my mom, you may not know that she loves talking about the time she spent on her grandparents' tobacco farm in Maryland in a Southern accent and reading books written by Southern authors. So when we went down to Hilton Head she just had to bring down a book that was written about a woman who used to live in Alpine, NJ and then moved down to a small South Carolina island. My mom kept relating herself to the woman: they both read the Bergen Record, drove down I-95 to the low country, went to the Piggly Wiggly, and bought Palmetto cheese. None of us had any idea what Palmetto cheese actually was but my mother insisted that we get it. This cheese, to all of our surprise, was delicious. By the end of the week, we went through about three tubs and brought one home.
So I thought it would be fitting for me to try to recreate this cheese for my mother's birthday. I used a recipe I had found online because I did not want to get it wrong, yet it turns out the recipe itself is very simple. It’s pretty much cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, pimento (Palmetto cheese is also called pimento cheese), and some spices. What's a pimento you ask? It's that red stuff that is sometimes stuffed in olives (I thought it was actually the olive pit - the more you know...). But before it was stuffed in olives it was actually a slice of a red chili pepper, soaked in oil. Alone it's very delicious and you could use the leftovers in the jar to put on sandwiches or with some Italian meats and cheeses in an antipasto dish.
When my brother and I were in Hilton Head we were putting that Palmetto cheese on everything. Literally everything. We'd dip crackers and pretzels into the spread, or slather it on BLTs and hot dogs. It really goes well with anything that you'd put cheese on (and maybe even some things you wouldn't...)
Makes about 2 cups
Adapted from: Paula Deen
4 oz cream cheese
¼ c mayo
1 ½ c shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp pimentos, diced and crushed
1 tsp onion, grated
Pinch salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste
Place cream cheese in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, like a frosting. Fold in remaining ingredients with a spatula. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and serve cold.