We keep a number of recipes in reserve just so that, from time to time, we can mix and match new recipes with old. That way, when we make something for others, such as this cheese spread, it keeps them on their toes, hopefully wondering, “What will they think of next?” Plus, it keeps us from getting bored making the same things over and over, and, being the chefs, we get to test-taste everything before it heads out the door.
We picked up this particular recipe from the Lee brothers, Matt Lee and Ted Lee, in their book Simple, Fresh, Southern, well over a year ago, and hadn’t had the opportunity to test its mettle. For some reason, we have the idea that the explanatory text around this relish indicated that this relish is quite popular in DC area. Of course, that’s just what we remember; we don’t think we’ve ever seen such a relish when we’ve been in DC, but that might be because we were doing other things, rather than looking for cheese spreads.
Fortunately for us, the Lee brothers look for cheese spread, and they tell us how we can make them at home. So, let’s get scratchin’!
First up, we’re making a double batch in the photos. Keep that in mind.
Now, we always try to make our own sour cream. It’s not as sour as the commercial brands, and just seems to have a better taste. If you haven’t made your own, try it, it’s super easy. For the cheese, use a Swiss cheese you like, at least if you want to have the traditional version of this relish; otherwise, change it by using another cheese. Banana peppers: it seems as if they all have yellow dye number something or other added, making them look rather fluorescent and disconcerting. While we would have preferred something with a color found in nature, we went with a jar of mild pepper rings, mixed with some of our own peppers. Aren’t capers funny? Just the name is funny. But buy a small jar, anyway, as they’re quite tasty in savory dishes.
Procedure in detail:
Drain and mince peppers. Place a colander in the sink, pour out the peppers, and let them drain. Since we used the food processor to make simple work of shredding the cheese, we also used it to mince the peppers. But a knife will work, too. We put the drained peppers in the processor and gave it a few pulses (about 5), and presto: minced peppers.
Drain and rinse capers. Place the capers in a small bowl and cover with water. Swish around, and then count to 60. Now, drain off the water. This rinsing will remove some of the saltiness of the capers, so that nobody will bite into a “salt bomb” as he or she eats the spread.
Combine. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, stirring to get everything well-mixed. Once mixed, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving, but preferably overnight, so the flavors can meld.
Don’t you love recipes like this? Basically, just mix and eat. We served this with fresh pita bread wedges and it was quite well received. It was a little spicy, probably from the red pepper flake, so keep that in mind if you don’t like spicy foods, and adjust the heat level accordingly. Here in Scratchin’ Central, we ate our relish by simply scooping it up on pretzel sticks (not scratched — we’re looking for a good pretzel recipe). Four stars.