The cover of The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor (Clarkson Potter 2009) is awash in bright sunshine. Matt and Ted Lee are shelling shrimp, and there are jars of homemade pickles set out for a summer meal. It’s just the kind of refreshing image that speaks volumes about how the brothers have lightened and simplified mid-twentieth century Southern cuisine, while keeping the comfort food aspect in their cooking.
If you are in the Washington DC area, Super Chef readers have been invited to attend a program with the Lee Brothers on April 6th at the Smithsonian Institution. Click here and use promotion code 182291. The National Cherry Blossom Festival will be in full swing, so there is no better time to visit the Nation’s capital and enjoy it’s version of Southern charm, while learning about Simple Fresh Southern.
The book starts off with the beginning of a meal – cocktails and coolers:
For many of you this sis going to be the firs time you’ve seen the words Purple and Jesus next to each other and you wine enthusiasts may never have contemplated letting a wine cooler pass your lips, but if you give us a few minutes of your time, we promise that our recipes – even the silliest sounding ones – deliver finely articulated flavors, well-calibrated texture, and an extra jolt of vivacity that comes from using fresh fruits and vegetables. (p. 25)
There is a marvelously refreshing Ginger Lemonade (p. 22) that if served hot would make a great cold and flu remedy – but tastier. The Purple Jesus (p. 45) is an updated frat house drink made of cherries, blackberries, and citrus, with vodka and soda.
The following chapter on appetizers includes the sophisticated Skillet-Roasted Quail with Wilted Spinach (p. 53) and Clams with Sweet Potato, Smoked Sausage, and Watercress (p. 54): “…the synergy of the briny clam, the smoky sausage, soft sweet potato, and crunch-bitter watercress is otherworldly.” There are also a many recipes for those shrimp on the cover, like Lee Bros. Shrimp Pate (p. 60) and Jade Shrimp Cocktail (p. 64) with a tomatillos-avocado sauce, and 8 Simple Fresh Pickles (pp. 69-78) that includes not only Watermelon and Onion Pickles but also the unusual Pickled Grapes with Rosemary and Chiles.
There are plenty of recipes to explore with personal anecdotes and background information that explores how Southern cooking has evolved, and how the Lee brothers have interpreted it for themselves.