Back in the early days of Chile Pepper magazine, 1987-90, I was extremely fortunate to have a talented food editor–Nancy Gerlach, plus a triumvirate of accomplished freelancers: Richard Sterling, Robb Walsh, and Sharon Hudgins. Together, the five of us created a national-quality magazine from a tiny office in Albuquerque. All of us went on to become book authors, so it’s fair to say that those early days launched a bunch of careers. Of course, a magazine is more than just the writing. We had a fair and understanding publisher, Robert Spiegel, good sales people, and a great art director/designer, Lois Bergthold (now Lois Manno). Lois designed my book, Precious Cargo, in 2014.
I bring all this up now because Sharon is still writing for me! Recently, she penned “The Joys of Cooking in a Crisis,” which everyone can read here. She opens her article with this observation: “A century from now when historians look back at how we coped with the 2020 pandemic, two things will stand out: toilet paper and home cooking.”
Here is a recipe from her article:
This spicy, garlicky cheese is a popular appetizer in many parts of Russia, especially as a stuffing for ripe red tomatoes or mounded atop thick slices of tomato. It’s also great for topping baked potatoes and spreading on rye bread.
1/2 pound medium-sharp white cheddar cheese, finely grated*
1/2 pound Emmentaler cheese, finely grated*
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
8 to 10 large garlic cloves, squeezed through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or hot paprika (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
* Use a box grater, not a Microplane grater (which makes the cheese too fluffy and soft).
- Toss the grated cheeses together by hand in a large bowl. Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, pressed garlic, hot pepper, and salt in a small bowl, then add to the cheese, stirring to mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) for the flavors to develop. Let the cheese mixture come to room temperature before serving. Use as a stuffing for small firm ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, a topping for baked potatoes, or a spread for dark bread.
Makes approximately 3 cups.
►Tomatoes Stuffed with Garlic Cheese: Use small, firm, ripe round tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes. Slice off enough of each tomato’s top to remove the stem but retain as much of the whole tomato as possible. Carefully slice each tomato 2/3 of the way down from the top toward the bottom, without cutting all the way through. Rotate the tomato a quarter of a turn and slice downward again in the same way. Gently open up the tomato, scoop out and discard the seeds, and fill the tomato with some of the garlic cheese (at room temperature), mounding the cheese into a small dome on the top. Garnish with chopped chives for color. Refrigerate any leftover cheese.