Southern Pimiento Cheese

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2  cups (8 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 

1  cup (3 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

One 4-ounce jar pimiento peppers, drained and chopped 

1⁄2  cup your favorite or Homemade Mayonnaise (page 280) 

1  tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

1  teaspoon honey 

Pinch of ground cayenne pepper 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Combine the Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, pimiento peppers, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, cayenne, and salt and black pepper to taste in a bowl and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, or for up to 1 week. For best flavor, make 1 day ahead.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Cornbread Toasts

These crunchy, savory toasts are the upside of cornbread’s short shelf life. Scrumptious and versatile, they can be used in dozens of dishes and snacks—but I’m especially partial to the way they complement zingy Pimiento Cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut day-old cornbread into slices about 1⁄4 inch thick and 2 inches long. Brush lightly with olive oil and place in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Spoon a dollop of Pimiento Cheese (recipe above) on one end of each toast and garnish with an arugula or celery leaf. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Know-how:  making crostini and toast points

Crostini and toast points are practically the same thing made with different kinds of bread, and both make great vehicles for cheeses, spreads, and dips. Toast points are usually made from thin white sandwich bread cut into triangles, while crostini are made from small, crusty baguettes sliced into rounds. Follow your inspiration and experiment with different types of bread—most any kind will work, from crusty sourdough to whole wheat—and different combinations of herbs and spices.

For toast points, trim the crusts from slices of thin white sandwich bread and cut diagonally into quarters to form triangles. Brush lightly with melted unsalted butter and place in a preheated 400°F oven to lightly toast.

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