Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Perfect Southern Summer Meal

I love everything about summer in Arkansas (except the humidity and mosquitoes).  My favorite part about summer is cooking with foods that are in season, so for this meal I centered many of the dishes around foods I found at my local farmer’s market.

For dinner we had grilled pork chops, homemade cornbread, fried okra, and caprese salad.

And for dessert (the most important part of the meal) we had homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream!

So if you’re looking for the perfect southern summer meal you have come to the right spot!

Grilled Pork Chops
4 pork chops
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
5-7 tablespoons Honey

Salt and pepper each pork chop and set aside.  Mix ½ cup Balsamic vinegar, 4 tablespoons honey, and garlic in a medium bowl.  Place pork chops a gallon ziplock bag and pour in the marinade.  Make sure to coat each of the pork chops.  Place bag in refrigerator over night.  Remove pork chops from the bag and grill on high heat for 4-5 minutes per side.  While the pork chops are cooking, make a simple reduction sauce using Balsamic vinegar and honey.  Pour ½ cup Balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons honey in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Stir until it is reduced to thick sauce.  Pour over the pork chops before serving.

Homemade Cornbread
1 cup yellow corn meal – I used Aunt Jemima
1 cup flour
2-4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425.  Grease a medium cast iron skillet and place it in the oven to heat. Mix corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Add milk, egg, and oil and beat until fairly smooth.  Remove the skillet from the oven and pour the mixture.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Fried Okra
3-4 cups of vegetable oil for frying
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 ¾ cup flour
1 1/2 pounds of fresh okra, sliced ½ inch thick
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon pepper
¾ tablespoon garlic powder

Mix salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Mix corn meal and flour in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon of salt mixture.  Slice okra and place in a bowl with buttermilk (you may need to do this in shifts depending on how big the bowl is).  Add okra to the corn meal mixture and coat evenly. Place a large cast iron skillet on medium-high heat.  After a couple of minutes carefully pour ½ cup – 1 cup oil into the skillet.  Allow that to heat for about a minute and start to add the okra.  Let the okra cook for 2-3 minutes, making sure to carefully rotate the pieces.  Remove from pan and place on a paper towel covered plate.  Repeat until all of the okra has been fried.

Caprese Salad
2 ripe tomatoes
8 oz. mozzarella cheese
10 fresh basil leaves
Olive oil

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  Place a slice of mozzarella on top of a tomato slice and add basil leaf to the top, repeat once.  Once you have four stacks of tomato and cheese, sprinkle olive oil.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
3 cups half and half
1 cup heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
9 ounces sugar
2 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
Green food coloring
1 cup mini chocolate morsels

Place half and half and heavy cream in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.  Whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color.  Gradually add sugar and whisk to combine. Gradually add the cream mixture to the eggs until 1/3 has been added.  Pour in the rest and return the mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the spoon.  Pour mixture into a container and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Add food coloring until you reach your desired color.  Add peppermint extract. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more.  Pour into the ice cream machine and follow manufacturer’s instructions.  Add the mini chocolate chips towards the end of the mixing time. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this meal and will stop by my blog to check out the other recipes I’ve tried!

Jennifer is a twenty-something blogger that has found a love for cooking and baking.  She went from being a terrible cook in high school and college to learning the ins and outs of some of the most complicated desserts.  Jennifer is back in Little Rock, her childhood home, after graduating from Rhodes College two years ago.  She works for a public relations firm and is a member of the Junior League and her sorority's alumnae group.  Check out her blog, Bake Your Heart Out, for recipes ranging from chocolate-chocolate desserts to appetizers for every occasion!