I have a confession. When Liza announced the that the theme for our next Gourmet Dinner Club was “the south”, I got a bit nervous. The few times I’ve been south, I haven’t had the best food (aside from the ribs at Rendezvous, of course) and when I think of southern food, I think of grease, pools of butter and all things fried. Not that any of these are bad, but just not my typical fare.
Well let me just say, after eating like we did at this dinner party, I’m a southern convert!
We had such a great meal and so much fun in the process.
One of the points of the GDC is to try things you haven’t tried before and to venture out of your comfort zone. That is precisly why I chose to make hush puppies. I knew it would involve deep frying. This is something I’ve never actually done desipte the fact that we received a deep fryer as a wedding gift 8 years ago. I finally cracked open the box and gave it a go.
I followed Paula Deen’s recipe (I consider her an authority on southern fare). The batter was a cinch to throw together. And really, once I pulled up my big girl pants, the frying part was easy too.
I sprinkled them with salt right after they came out of the fryer (Liza’s suggestion) and they were quite tasty. I’ve never actually had a hush puppy before, but according to the experts in the room, these were spot on. Yay!
Our special guest, Liza’s neighbor Stephanie, brought another Paula Deen creation – similar to a hush puppy, but called Spicy Corn and Crab Puffs. These were also deep fried and I must say…awesome. I loved the chunks of crab and veggies and they had the perfect amount of spice for my taste.
Also on the appetizer front, we had two different crab cakes. Because there can never be enough crab cakes.
Kari made hers following this recipe and served them with an avocado and yogurt dip. Lee used a recipe from guess who? Yep, Paula Deen. Apparently she has a reputation. Both were good, yet very different. I love all things crab.
Enjoying the pre-dinner appetizers.
After all of that, we weren’t even to the actual dinner!
Liza went all out for the main course. Pulled pork is one of my all-time favorties and this version was fantastic.
Liza’s husband, Rob, is also a fantastic cook and happens to be a pro pork shredder.
I also realized how much I like the Memphis style. That means you put coleslaw on top of your pork. There is just something about the combination of the crunchy coleslaw and tender pork that creates the most amazing sandwich. She followed this recipe for the pork and this recipe for the slaw. Both were seriously awesome. (Liza did note that the recipe did not make nearly enough sauce as it claims.)
Amanda and Becky (our special out of town guest) made collard greens. When I think of collard greens, I think copious amounts of pork fat and cooked to death greens. These were just the opposite. Fresh and delicious and instead of pork? Raisins! I loved the combo of raisins and greens. They used this recipe.
Lee also brought succotash. That word just screams the south, doesn’t it? This dish had bacon. Mmm…bacon.
After all of that, we were all stuffed. However, we still had 3 desserts. Yes, 3!
Amanda and Becky were busy bees and also put together this Mississippi Mud Pie. Holy chocolatey and rich!
Michael also made a pie. A Buttermilk pie. This buttermilk pie using this pie crust recipe. Did I mention he added fresh whipped cream spiked with Grand Marnier on top? He did. Then he added candied orange peels. Mike claims he’s not a baker. He lies. He’s an awesome baker. The buttermilk pie reminded me a lot of a ricotta cheesecake. It was awesome. Not to sweet and super creamy.
Mike also decided to whip up these Pecan Pralines. I think because he was worried we wouldn’t hit our caloric needs for the day. Or maybe just because it was the south, and they eat pralines there.
Can you believe all of that? It was such a fun and delicious evening. I am always amazed at the dinners this group is able to pull off.
Do you like Southern Food? What’s your favorite?