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We’re huge fans of the Lee Brothers and adore their style of Southern Cooking. Their first book, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, was named the 2007 James Beard Cookbook of the Year. Their new offering, Simple Fresh Southern, is a must-have in every cookbook larder. It’s so exciting to have a new cookbook that’s gorgeous to look at, a treat to read (these guys can write!), and filled with abundant great recipes. You know how it is… you get a new cookbook; at first glance it’s fun, but on closer examination there’s not much you’d actually make. Not so with this one—it could keep us busy cooking for the next year.

On Thanksgiving we made the Lee Brother’s yummy, healthy sweet potatoes with zest of lemon, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Naturally, they were gobbled up as soon as they hit the table.

Gift this book to the foodies in your life and you’ll be queen of the holidays.

We recently interviewed Ted Lee and asked important questions like: what’s the sexiest ingredient? and what dish would he suggest for all of us on a budget?

Here’s what he had to say:

BITCH: You’ve got twenty bucks. Not a dime more. Goal: romantic dinner for two. What do you make?

TL: My Gran’s Flank Steak: For 1 lb of steak: marinate in 1/3 cup bourbon, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup water for an hour, turning every 15 mins or so. Pat completely dry, then season with salt and pepper, and broil or grill only until rare, about 2 – 3 mins per side. Let rest 5 mins, then slice *very* thinly. Make a green salad with julienned endive, squeeze half a lemon and drizzle some good olive oil over it. Dinner’s on, and so quickly there’s tons of time for getting romantical.

B: Now it’s brunch (your dinner was successful). Can you bring us to the low country on ten bucks?

TL: Less than $10. Sauté 1/2 pound wild American shrimp in a couple tablespoons unsalted butter and a few dashes of hot sauce. When the shrimp are pink and cooked through, 2 – 3 mins, serve over white corn grits that have been cooked up to creamy, fluffy smoothness with a mixture of milk, water, a little salt and a pinch of sugar.

B: What’s the most underrated vegetable?

TL: It’s a tie: turnips and okra.

B: If you had to live with just one fruit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Red Haven Peaches from Sanders Peach Stand, Clover, SC.

B: What’s the sexiest ingredient you can think of, and why?

Buttermilk. It’s got sass, silkiness and creaminess in every drop.

B: What’s the one ingredient everyone should splurge on?

TL: A high-quality, heirloom-breed Thanksgiving turkey.

B: What are three ingredients always always always in your pantry?

leftover pickle brine (it’s great in vinaigrettes and for marinating meats), unsalted butter, sriracha chili sauce

B: What are your ten all-time favorite Southern restaurants?

TL:

1. Hominy Grill, Charleston, SC

2. Watershed, Decatur, GA

3. Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL

4. Five and Ten, Athens, GA

5. Crooks Corner, Chapel Hill, NC

6. City Grocery, Oxford, MS

7. Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, AL

8 Watts Grocery, Durham, NC

9. Magnolia Grill, Durham, NC

10. Miller Union, Atlanta, GA

B: When traveling (think rest stops, airports, train stations) how do you eat?

TL: Poorly.

B: Any food maxims you live by?

TL: Cook often, simply, and well.

B: What do you hope a non-Southern reader will glean by reading your books and eating your food?

TL: That Southern cuisine is as diverse, and as rich in traditions, and as poised to take over the world as so many of the world’s great cuisines.