Baby, it’s hot outside. Really. Swelteringly hot, and not likely to cool down anytime in the near future.
Of course, nothing’s better to beat the heat than a frosty, exotic adult beverage. And if you’re us (that is, Kim and David, not the royal “we”), once you create the perfect, frosty, exotic beverage, then you have to plan a whole meal around it, so ::sigh::…let the culinary hijinks begin…
We’ll start with drinks – always my preference. I’ve been on a fresh ginger kick lately, most likely due to recent encounters with the stellar Moscow Mule offered by our favorite restaurant, 4th and Swift.
Dude, they even make their own ginger beer. Mad props to Sean and his team.
David has a rampant mint plant threatening to take over the corner of the yard and block the driveway, so truly in the spirit of helping-around-the-house, I thought I’d create a drink combining freshly harvested mint leaves AND grated ginger. Yay. David came back from the store with a white rum and some big, fat blueberries and limes, and we were off to Boat Drink Heaven. Excuse me while I do my Buffet dance.Blueberry Ginger Mojitos
Makes 1 drink
5-6 fresh blueberries
5-6 fresh mint leaves
1 lime cut into wedges
1 ounce ginger mint simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 ounces white rum
1 ounce ginger beer or ginger ale
Ginger Mint Simple Syrup
(makes several drinks!)
1/2 cup grated fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
10 -15 mint leaves
Begin by making the ginger simple syrup. Peel and grate the ginger, then add along with the sugar, mint and cold water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain and cool in the refrigerator when done.
Make the mojito. Add blueberries, lime wedges and fresh mint leaves to a glass. Muddle with a wooden spoon so the blueberries are broken and the mint and lime release their juices and flavor. Fill glass with ice. Add simple syrup and rum, and top off with ginger beer. Garnish with a fresh blueberry and a sprig of mint.
Because I’m not the neatest person in the universe, the post-mixology countertop looked like…oh, let’s say the remnants of a third world sugar refinery, a sugar refinery that had been repeatedly pummeled by a small but exuberant tornado. Hey, the results were outstanding, though and totally worth scratching hardened sugar off of the countertops with my fingernails. Icy-cold, with intense berry and mint flavors and a kick of ginger. Thank-you-ma’am-may-I-have-another?
Never one to shirk in the face of aperitifs, David fired up the grill and produced this incredibly tantalizing dinner (and no, I’m not sure exactly how he manages to do it, but I’m overwhelmingly grateful):
Grilled Pork Chops with Rosemary Butter
Ahead of time prepare a rosemary compound butter with 1 stick unsalted butter and 2-3 Tbls fresh chopped rosemary.
(Note from Kim: I think you let the butter sit out and soften and then just mash it all up together)
2″ to 2 1/2″ bone in pork chops
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of worcestershire
Crushed Black Peppercorns
Sit out until room temperature
Coat chops with 1/2 tsp olive oil
Sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt & course black peppercorns
Add a drop of worcestershire onto each chop
Sprinkle with dill (about 1/2 tsp each chop)
Let sit covered on counter
Have ready a sprig of fresh rosemary for each chop off to the side
Light charcoal in chimney starter. When coals are white pour into grill in an even pile along back of grill. Add olive wood or oak wood chips. Close grill cover to allow head to build up. When wood chips become smoldering and a full bed of coals has formed, grill is ready.
Before putting chops on grill heat a large cast iron skillet on cooktop over high heat. When at peak temperature sear chops on all sides about :30 to :45 sec each side. Remove, let rest 5 min
Put chops on grill grate arranging around the edge of the coal mound but not directly on top. Add sprig of fresh rosemary to each chop, close lid.
Cook on grill for approx 15-20 min or until internal temp reads 130F-135F on and instant read thermometer. Just before removing chops from grill move them to upper rack, add a dollop of the rosemary compound butter to each (about 1/2 tsp on each). Close lid to let butter melt.
When butter is melted, remove chops from grill and let rest under tented foil for 5-10min then serve. (Note: keep an eye on the temperature to gauge when to add compound butter. You don’t want them going over 130-135 internal temp at the finish)
David’s not much on cooked vegetables, for some reason (perhaps he was terrorized by an asparagus as a child?), so we always try to include a salad of some sort with our dinners. We love mango and baby spinach leaves, so he whipped up this super simple yet incredibly delectable plate.Mango Pear Salad
2 cups of baby spinach leaves (destemmed)
2 roma tomatoes
2-4 fresh basil leaves
1 whole mango
1 whole bosc pear
1/2 cup shaved almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
red wine vinegar
Peel skin of mango and cut into slices (thin fingers) – 4-5 slices for each plate. Cut pear into slices (skin on) – 3 for each plate
Dice tomatoes into med-small pieces, place into small bowl, chop basil leaves and mix with tomatoes – sprinkle with Kosher salt and set aside. Mix 1-2 Tbls olive oil with 1/4 tsp red wine vinegar – shake together set aside – this is the dressing
In large mixing bowl place baby spinach, tomato-basil mixture, dressing and toss. Serve onto plates, arranging mango and pear fingers over the spinach, sprinkle on the shaved almonds and cranberries and top with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Mmmm. Crazy delicious.
David’s contempt for the common vegetable does not extend to the potato, however; so he added some excellent mashed spuds to the plate.
Garlicky Mashed Potatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/8 cup olive oil
3 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place garlic cloves in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, cover, and bake 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender but firm. Drain, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Place roasted garlic, milk, Parmesan cheese, and butter into the bowl with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Beat to desired consistency with an electric mixer.
Yet another spectacular evening with my rockstar-chef-boyfriend. I am a lucky girl, indeed.
I promise, we’re planning a party soon, and I’m sure you’ll all be invited (umm hummm…don’t stop. Believing…), but in the meantime, hope you enjoy the recipes! Happy summer grilling, and to all of you dads out there, especially mine (card is in the mail!)a very happy Father’s Day!