SIMPLE FRESH SOUTHERN
BY MATT AND TED LEE
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307453594 0307453596
In this Southern cookbook, Matt Lee and Ted Lee show home cooks that South Carolina regional American cuisine can be simple to make and light to eat. Recipes don't have to be deep-fried. The quick and easy dinner recipes in Simple Fresh Southern range from drinks and appetizers to main courses and desserts.
To select the simple recipes for the cookbook, the Lee brothers evaluated how long it took to shop, prepare, cook and clean up for each recipe. Some of their easy recipes are out-of-the-box versions of Southern cuisine, such as rice pudding pops. Other easy recipes, such as mint julep panna cotta, convert international cuisine into Southern foods.
Homemade wine coolers
Matt and Ted Lee give clear and helpful instructions for each Southern recipe, just as they do in their cooking classes.
Each chapter of The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern begins with an introduction and a list of recipes. In the recipe introductions, the authors provide sources for ingredients, cooking tips and serving suggestions.
Recipes include preparation time and number of servings. For example, their strawberry wine coolers recipe serves six and takes only 15 minutes to make. The brothers claim that these fresh fruit wine coolers are a healthier and tastier alternative to commercial wine coolers. They recommend making the honeydew and tangerine wine coolers as well as the strawberry, so you can offer guests the trio of green, orange and pink drinks.
Southern cooking ingredients
Garnish It sidebars suggest toppings for the Southern recipes (e.g., top lemon-glazed sweet potatoes with sour cream mixed with curry powder or garam masala and kosher salt to taste).
Shopping Notes include tips for buying ingredients for Southern cooking. For example, the Lee brothers recommend buying large shrimp (26 to 30 shrimp per pound) rather than jumbo, because jumbo shrimp can become rubbery on the outside by the time the insides are cooked.
Bed It Down sidebars feature serving suggestions (e.g., place crispy skin salmon with buttermilk mint sauce on a bed of steamed fresh spinach).
Color photos by Ben Fink depict Southern dishes, Matt Lee and Ted Lee shopping, fishing, cooking and serving food, as well as Southern foods like blue crabs and collard greens.
Tips for smoking foods
The Lee brothers explain how to do stovetop smoking with a stainless steel or aluminum pan and a roasting rack. They recommend smoking chips made from apple, cherry and hickory hardwoods, and provide delicious recipes, like smoked shrimp, smoked trout and smoked cauliflower.
Simple Fresh Southern includes a simple recipe for homemade buttermilk cheese, with variations, including black pepper fresh cheese, lemon zest fresh cheese, herbed fresh cheese and vanilla fresh cheese. Ted and Matt Lee also give readers easy and quick recipes for fresh cheese snacks, like smoked fresh cheese, pecan crusted fresh cheese and basil fresh cheese wrapped in roasted red pepper strips.
The 256-page Southern cookbook includes eight unusual pickle recipes, such as pickled grapes with rosemary and chiles, radish pickles and watermelon and onion pickles.
Sample recipes from the US South
Watermelon margaritas. Ginger lemonade. Peach iced tea. Cheese relish. Lee Bros. shrimp pate. Gingered beet pickles. Radish butter. Creamy sweet onion soup. Roasted zucchini with toasted pecans and lemon. Cabbage and lime salad with roasted peanuts. Skillet green beans with orange. Pimento cheese potato gratin. Roasted parsnips with mint. Pork loin chops with mushroom chutney. Brandied plums. Black walnut ice cream. Jasmine tea ice cream.
- Cocktails and coolers
- Snacks and appetizers
- Salads and cold sides
- Hot sides
- Main dishes
Brothers Matt Lee and Ted Lee are food and wine writers who teach cooking classes. Their first cookbook was The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.