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In search of white cheddar

September 27, 2011

The first time I made this dip, I searched for the actual ingredients.
Where in the world can you find white cheddar in the Golden Triangle area? In my limited knowledge of cheeses, I had never heard of it, but assumed that because it was in a cookbook, it should be reasonably easy to find. I was wrong.
If you see white cheddar at Piggly Wiggly or Kroger or Walmart here in Starkville, let me know. I would love to know what the original recipe tastes like.
I even bought white pepper. It was another surprise. I had never heard or cooked with white pepper. They make it and I did find it in the spice isle.
I am not usually one to try new recipes with unusual ingredients. I like knowing what I am cooking with, but I was given this brand new cookbook and needed something quick to make for a swimming party I had to attend that week. I had signed up for chip and dip, and a few 2-liter drinks. I had to work that day, and just like for all events that take place after a work day, I am all about “easy breezy” dishes.
I knew there would be tons of amazing food, so I didn’t feel obligated to add more to the event or my list of things to bring. And “easy breezy” is a must for social butterflies with a long chore list.
It didn’t take long to decide that if I couldn’t find white cheddar, orange would have to do.
And despite the fact that the original recipe also calls for three jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced, I am not that spicy. It was easy to modify this recipe to one jalapeno pepper. My mom lived in Texas a few years and came back to Mississippi with a much spicier palate. She would probably put five jalapenos in it, but I am not that “Texas.”
At the swimming party, the instant I unwrapped the dip and opened the Fritos Scoops, people started “taste testing.”. It was almost gone before the food was actually served.
These days, I know these ingredients by heart and do not a lot of actual “measuring.” I throw things in a bowl and mix.
This is fantastic if it is allowed to sit an hour or two. So if I am so organized that I can make this dip the night before I have to go somewhere, it is awesome.
The recipe comes from “Absolutely A la Carte: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Bistro and Gift Shop in the Midst of the Mississippi Delta.” There are a lot of great recipes in this cookbook, but this dip is definitely a favorite.

White Cheddar and Jalapeno Spread
1/2 pound white cheddar cheese, shredded at room temperature (we use medium or sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 -1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (I only use one pepper)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. white pepper
Pinch of salt
Hot pepper sauce to taste

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. This spread can be used as a sandwich filling, with herbed pita crisps, crackers or vegetables.

Gwen Sisson is the Lifestyles Editor at Starkville Daily News. Contact her at sdnlife@bellsouth.net.

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