Have you noticed it? Pimento cheese popping up on everything from Ritz crackers to burgers. Fried green tomatoes sneaking into your BLT? A sudden craving for cheese grits? As undeniable as the rising temperatures, the cooks of America are going crazy for the South lately!
The cuisine of the American South lends itself perfectly to summer cooking. Nearly every recipe in this collection tastes better in the sunshine, with good friends, an icy beverage and preferably lawn games.
Now, please don't throw stuff at us! There is no way to comprehensively say that these are the best recipes of Southern cuisine. To choose definitive favorites would be almost impossible. And we know that some of these suggestions are not totally traditional or authentic. But that is what we really love about Southern cooking: because it is a uniquely American style that is still evolving, we get to constantly try modern tweaks on classic favorites.
So, again, Southerners, ex-pats and and other warriors of culinary authenticity -- please put the rotten tomatoes down. We would be crazy to say that we know best, but here are a few of the things we can't stop eating this summer or can't wait to try. We would love it if you'd send us some of your favorites so we can try those too. Extra bonus points if you've got a pretty picture and/or a great recipe for Purple Jesus. Southerners, you know what we're talkin about.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://shewearsmanyhats.com/2010/03/boiled-peanuts/" target="_hplink">Boiled Peanuts recipe from She Wears Many Hats</a></strong> This habit-forming snack is deceptively simple and lends itself to customization. Want them spicy? Dump in some hot sauce! After one batch, you'll be a believer.
Classic Pimento Cheese
<strong>Get the <a href="http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/2007/02/comfort-served-with-pimento-cheese.html" target="_hplink">Classic Pimento Cheese recipe from Homesick Texan</a></strong> There are some things with which you do not mess around. Classic pimento cheese is one of them. But that doesn't mean you can't experiment with what to dollop this delicious stuff on -- cheeseburgers, french fries, nachos -- the possibilities are seriously endless.
Cheese Grits Nuggets
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/cheese-grits-nuggets_n_1431684.html" target="_hplink">Cheese Grits Nuggets recipe</a></strong> Cheese grits have long been a southern staple for breakfast and brunch. Some genius turned them into french fries and we couldn't be happier.
Fried Okra With Sriracha Ranch Dipping Sauce
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.bos-bowl.com/2011/05/fried-okra-with-sriracha-ranch-dipping.html" target="_hplink">Fried Okra with Sriracha Ranch Dipping Sauce recipe from Bo's Bowl</a></strong> Fried okra, another Southern staple, is paired here with luscious ranch dressing (here's an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/buttermilk-ranch-dressing_n_1049426.html" target="_hplink">awesome homemade version</a>), that gets spiked with fiery Sriracha sauce. We're in love.
Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/breakfast-biscuit-sandwic_n_1060864.html" target="_hplink">Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches recipe</a></strong> Tender buttermilk biscuits layered with salty country ham are pretty much all we want to eat for breakfast. But then they went and threw an egg, cheese and some sweet raspberry jam in there and we were hooked for life.
Fried Green Tomato BLTs
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/fried-green-tomato-blts_n_1059195.html" target="_hplink">Fried Green Tomato BLTs recipe</a></strong> Look, BLTs are already perfect. Fried green tomatoes, juicy and acidic on the inside and crispy and salty on the outside were already perfect, too. Putting them together in one sandwich is totally mind-blowing.
Nashville Hot Chicken
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.fromaway.com/cooking/nashville-hot-chicken" target="_hplink">Nashville Hot Chicken recipe from From Away</a></strong> Nashville Hot Chicken is a totally different genre of fried chicken than you're used to. A marriage of traditional Southern fried chicken and the spiciest hot wing you've ever tasted, <a href="http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=4613" target="_hplink">Prince's Hot Chicken</a> is probably the most famous purveyor. The traditional white bread and dill pickles are there to try to save you from the heat. We urge you to try this delicious, face-melting recipe, but please don't say we didn't warn you: this stuff is thermonuclear.
Spicy Shrimp And Grits
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/spicy-shrimp-and-grits_n_1631809.html" target="_hplink">Spicy Shrimp and Grits recipe</a></strong> This Low Country favorite makes our mouths water every time. The creamy, buttery grits are the perfect complement to spicy, tender shrimp. We would probably eat shrimp and grits every day if, we could.
Quick Braised Collards With Pot Liquor
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/quick-braised-collards-wi_n_1061486.html" target="_hplink">Quick Braised Collards with Pot Liquor recipe</a></strong> Collard greens are one of those magical vegetables that usually taste like bacon. They also usually cook for at least an hour, but this quick braise makes them easy to prepare anytime, on the fly. Pot liquor, for those who don't know, is the leftover cooking water from a big pot of greens, perfect for sopping up with corn bread, or sipping to cure a summer cold. We swear it has curative properties (we are not doctors, obviously).
Cherry Mountain Pie
<strong>Get the <a href="http://biscuitsandsuch.com/2012/06/29/cherry-mountain-pie/" target="_hplink">Cherry Mountain Pie recipe from Biscuits & Such</a></strong> We'll admit to never having heard of a mountain pie before finding this recipe. Also referred to as a "dump cobbler" (because you just dump everything in and let the oven do the work), this easy, comforting dessert is exactly what we want someone to make for us this summer. We especially love this repeated recipe direction: "DO NOT MIX."
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Coconut-Cake-1000089785" target="_hplink">Coconut Cake recipe from Saveur</a></strong> It's hard to imagine a more beautiful dessert than coconut cake. These light, fluffy, cloud-like cakes make us ready for dessert any time we see one. And it seems like every Southern grandparent has their own secret recipe.
Called America's oldest cocktail, the Sazerac is simple, packs a punch and pairs incredibly well with Southern food. Don't be fooled by its size, it may look small, but it certainly does the job.
"Southern Fried Bride's Heavenly Hummingbird Cake"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/The_Southern_Fried_Bride"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/The_Southern_Fried_Bride">The Southern Fried Bride</a>:<br />2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup canola oil 3 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained 2 bananas, peeled and mashed (ripe bananas work great) 1/2 cup chopped pecans Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon. Stir until well-combined. Set aside. In separate large bowl, add eggs, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple, mashed bananas and chopped pecans. Mix until well-combined. Add dry flour mixture in thirds until all of dry mixture has been added. Mix until well-combined. Pour batter evenly into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and let cool completely before frosting. "Delightfully Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting" 1 stick butter, softened 1 (8 oz.) package light cream cheese, softened 3 cups confectioner's sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon cinnamon 3 tablespoons milk Place butter and cream cheese in mixing bowl. Blend with mixer on low speed until fluffy. Gradually add confectioner's sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons milk until all ingredients are blended. Increase to medium speed and beat until light and fluffy. If mixture becomes stiff, add additional 1 tablespoon of milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Frost cooled layer cake. Enjoy! http://www.thesouthernfriedbride.blogspot.com
Rosemary Peach Lemonade
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jackie_Daniels_Garvin"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1178585323/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jackie_Daniels_Garvin">Jackie Daniels Garvin</a>:<br />Fresh squeezed lemonade made with a rosemary and peach infused simple syrup
Frogmore Stew With Homemade Cocktail Sauce
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jackie_Daniels_Garvin"></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jackie_Daniels_Garvin">Jackie Daniels Garvin</a>:<br />A one pot meal of shrimp, smoked sausage, corn-on-the-cob and potatoes served in a rustic fashion.
Frozen Fruit Salad
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jackie_Daniels_Garvin"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1178585323/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jackie_Daniels_Garvin">Jackie Daniels Garvin</a>:<br />Fruit mixed in a cream cheese and fresh whipped cream base and eaten frozen.