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Tradition is an aesthetic in modern cooking. My ancestral tree has its roots in West Africa, where the indigenous cuisine’s pairing of savory items with sweet is as ancient as the continent itself. From simple dishes of toast and honey or sweet potatoes with bitter greens, sweet and savory have long been the hallmark of traditional coastal African cooking.
Great pimiento cheese is all about spice. Red peppers and hot sauce are essential to cutting through the richness of the cream cheese and Cheddar. You need that spicy zing to tame the fat. Mustard also steps in to balance the rich flavors.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as an entrée

Posted by GMC Group Published See GMC Group's 304 projects » © 2024 Todd Richards / GMC Publications · Reproduced with permission. · SOUL by Todd Richards, published by Oxmoor House (£30.00)
  • Step 1

    pimiento cheese

    Makes about 3 cups

    1. Cook bacon in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels; chop. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon drippings, and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean.

    2. Return the skillet to medium. Add the blended oil and the red bell peppers. Cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the bacon drippings. Add the adobo sauce, and cook 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the bacon, mayonnaise, vinegar, hot sauce, dry mustard, granulated garlic, and black pepper.

    3. Combine the Cheddar cheeses, cream cheese, and bell pepper mixture in a large bowl. Stir in the chives, and serve at room temperature.

  • Step 2

    Preheat a grill to medium-high (450°F).

  • Step 3

    Brush the peach halves with 1 tablespoon of the blended oil, and place on the grill grates, cut sides down. Grill, uncovered, until grill marks appear and the juices begin to release, about 3 minutes. Remove from the grill, and slice. Set aside.

  • Step 4

    Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, pit, and brush cut sides with 1 teaspoon of the blended oil. Place halves, cut sides down, on the grill grates. Grill, uncovered, just until the avocado is charred and begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from the grill.

  • Step 5

    Brush the bread slices with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and place on the grill grates. Grill until the bread is toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill.

  • Step 6

    Spread Pimiento Cheese onto 1 side of each piece of toast. Cut each piece into 4 equal rectangles, keeping the pieces together.

  • Step 7

    Scoop the avocado from the peel into a medium bowl and mash with 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil until it is chunky and spreadable. Spoon onto the toast, and top with sliced peaches.

  • Step 8

    Top the toast slices with radish slices and watercress leaves. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over the toast slices, and sprinkle with gray sea salt and black pepper.

    Note: If watercress is unavailable, arugula or curly mustard greens can be substituted.

    To Drink: White Burgundy, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, red blends, rosé, sparkling rosé, sparkling Shiraz, full hoppy beers, bourbon cocktails

    Serve with: Lamb sausage; red beans with shrimp; grilled sardines; grilled and smoked meats; grilled, smoked, and fried fish; roasted, grilled, and smoky poultry dishes; roasted and pickled vegetables; rice or grits dishes

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