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The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners Hardcover – October 17, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description:
From Matt Lee and Ted Lee, the New York Times food writers who defended lard and demystified gumbo comes a collection of exceptional southern recipes for everyday cooks. The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook tells the story of the brothers' culinary coming-of-age in Charleston--how they triumphed over their northern roots and learned to cook southern without a southern grandmother. Here are recipes for classics like Fried Chicken, Crab Cakes, and Pecan Pie, as well as little-known preparations such as St. Cecilia Punch, Pickled Peaches, and Shrimp Burgers. Others bear the hallmark of the brothers' resourceful cooking style—simple, sophisticated dishes like Blackened Potato Salad, Saigon Hoppin' John, and Buttermilk-Sweet Potato Pie that usher southern cooking into the twenty-first century without losing sight of its roots. With helpful sourcing and substitution tips, this is a practical and personal guide that will have readers cooking southern tonight, wherever they live.

Amazon.com Exclusive: "A Night in Louisville" by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
On a clear, brisk February afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, in the asphalt parking lot of Lynn's Paradise Cafe, we started a fire. All it took to get going was some wadded-up newspaper, a small pyramid of charcoal, and a match. To keep the flame alive, we put our cheeks to the chilly pavement and blew on the bottom layer of coals. Diners leaving the cafe from early dinners glanced at us, chuckled nervously, and hurried along to their cars. When the pile was glowing, we added some split logs and the plume of smoke rising from the pavement became woodsy and fragrant. By the time the sun went down, the flames were hotter and brighter, so we added more oak. Once the fire was roaring, customers in the restaurant became concerned, and the chef, Sarah, in clogs and a kerchief, shuffled out with the buttoned-up manager, Lori, to check on us.

Continue Reading "A Night in Louisville"

Recipe Excerpts from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

A New Ambrosia

Texas Red-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Red Velvet Cake

Praise for The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

"The Lee Bros. have written the classic Southern cookbook. They write with flair, brilliance, and hilarious commentary on the recipes, customs, and eccentricities of the South they celebrate with such passion. Their recipes are so good that I believe cookbook writers like the Lee Bros. may turn Southern cooking into an actual cuisine." --Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides

"I'm a bag fan of that particular brand of Southern poetry and smarts that make up the Lee Bros.' contributions--the best food pieces I read in the Wednesday New York Times each week--so I attacked Matt and Ted's new book like a hungry wolf. I found the same genius and eye for a good story, as well as simple-to-make recipes of the new exotic cooking of the American South. These recipes make my mouth water, and the prose makes my eyes well up for its beauty, simplicity, and truth." --Mario Batali, chef/owner, Babbo restaurant

"These guys can cook! Just reading the recipes makes me ravenous for scintillating Southern dishes. Sign me up for Tuesday Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie!" --Bobby Flay, chef/owner, Mesa Grill, BOLO, and Bar Americain

"The brothers Lee chronicle a South unbound by geography. They celebrate a people loosed from the burden of history but still mindful of the ties that bind. In the Lee South, boiled peanuts and edamame play well together. So do black and white, young and old, native and outlander. You'll feel welcome here." --John T. Edge, author of Southern Belly: the Ultimate Food Lover's Companion to the South

"The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook makes me daydream of a long ago summer on a Pawleys Island back porch, the aroma of the marsh and the dinner table mingling with laughter of many generations of families and a few too many glasses of wine. Oh to the magic of being at table together in the South." --Frank Stitt, author of Frank Stitt's Southern Table

"The wit and enthusiasm of the Lee Bros. is irresistible, as are the recipes--a mix of traditional Southern classics and unique, highly individual creations--which will have you reaching for your cast- iron (or stainless steel) skillet." --Scott Peacock, author of The Gift of Southern Cooking

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With respect for the past and an enlightened, modern sensibility, the Lee brothers roll up their sleeves and get elbow-deep in Southern cooking in all its sugary, fried goodness. The authors grew up in Charleston, S.C., where they developed a love for boiled peanuts, shrimp and grits, and she-crab soup. Now New Yorkers (and co-proprietors of a mail-order source for Southern pantry staples), the brothers are aware that certain Southern foods have quite a reputation elsewhere in the country ("grits run a close second to lard as the longest-running joke about southern food, perceived by the uninitiated to be a curiosity rather than what they are: a pillar of southern cooking"). As a result, their approach to the cuisine is steeped in research and never snobby. Many recipes are coded "quick knockout," meaning they use just a few ingredients and can be prepared relatively quickly (Fried Oysters, Shrimp Burgers). More involved recipes (Lady Baltimore Cake; Kentucky Burgoo, a meat stew) come with fascinating asides on their origins. Classy, matter-of-fact and welcoming, this volume deserves a permanent place on cooks' shelves by day and on bedside tables by night, as a browsable primer on a world and its food. Photos, line drawings. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 600 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039305781X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393057812
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Melissa Dunn on October 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Lee Bros. Cookbook is really inspiring--it makes me want to take the day off and go crabbing, mix up a frosty pitcher of mint julips for my friends, or drink a whole glass of buttermilk (like my Grandpa used to do). It makes me--a New Yorker via Southern California--want to go to the South! Right now, this very minute. The recipes are welcoming, homey, conjure images of grandma's kitchen (Grandma was from Chicago but made a mean fried chicken and biscuit). They are also elegant in their simplicity, in their respect for pure, fresh ingredients--and completely unpretentious. The book includes a long, affectionate mediation on grits (a much maligned delicious food): lemon grits, herb grits blue cheese grits!!! It is truly grit-tastic. Vegetarians who love Southern food--take heart--this book loves you: collards, okra,field peas, squash,jerusalem artichokes and ramps! The buttermilk lime dressing and pimento cheese sandwiches are killer. And of course, there is plenty of meat--things like hot-pepper roasted duck and fiery BBQ pork tenderloin, not to mention the classic--fried chicken.

And something else that is great about this book--and really rare in a cookbook--is that it is a pleasure to read (don't worry--there are also plenty of lovely pictures). I found myself curling up in bed with it in the evening to read all the text. The stories in the book are both historical--contextualizing the amazing variety of Southern food and the origins of regional favorites--as well as personal, quirky recollections about the connections between place, food, people and memory. This book has lots of unabashed red-hot food-love and heaps of heart and soul.
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Format: Hardcover
Bless their hearts, they state early on in the book that they didn't have a southern grandma - let me tell you, they needed one. While some of the recipes appear to have promise, I'm not loving what I've tried. The buttermilk sweet potato pie is a sour (not tart, sour) fluffy travesty. The directions for cleaning and preparing collards are the most labor intensive I've ever heard of. I'm southern, with a southern mama and grandmama, this is how it's done: Hold the leaf in one hand and fold it along the stem so the top sides are together, then pull the leaf away from the stem with your other hand, all the parts of the veins that are too tough to eat will come away with the stem. Roll several leaves together like a cigar and slice in two inch pieces. Fill your sink with water, put the collards in and swish them around, remove them, empty the sink and refill, repeat twice. No need to cut the stem out of each collard or hand wash each leaf. Collards are cut and come again plants. Most growers are going to sell cut leaves, that way they can continue to harvest from the plant. If you're buying roots and stalk, you're paying for a lot of roughage you can't eat. And putting your fried okra in the oven - never. It's just going to get soft, so forget the cute little cones to surprise your guests with. Put it in a basket with some newspaper or paper towels. The recipe directions are also off, don't put the cornmeal dredge in the bowl with the okra and eggs. Remove the okra from the eggs with a slotted spoon and place it in the dredge a little at a time. And NEVER eat country ham raw. These are just a few of the things I've noticed that seem not so well thought out.

All in all, the book seems more for would-be-southerners than the genuine article.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook' by South Carolinian / New Yorkers, Matt Lee and Ted Lee weighs in at the top of my list for best `practical' go to book for Southern cooking. That approbation is with the understanding that I have not finished looking yet, but this one is a strong early candidate. At the moment, the best competition is the far more general `James Beard's American Cookery'.

One may guess from the number of restaurateur's endorsing blurbs on the back jacket that our two Southern gentlemen are not themselves restrauranteurs, and in direct competition with Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and especially fellow southerner, Frank Stitt. The brothers Lee are actually the L. L. Bean for purveying southern cuisine staples, beginning with their dear boiled peanuts. Their `day job' also happens to be culinary travel writers for many of the bigger names in New York culinary journalism such as `The New York Times', `Travel + Leisure', `Martha Stewart Living', and `Food and Wine'. They also have an hour show on Martha Stewart's Sirius Radio channel. Which is surprising, as there is no evidence of any reference to Ms. Martha in the acknowledgments, introduction, or index.

Since these gentlemen are neither restaurateurs nor professional chefs in any capacity, and learned how to cook out of personal necessity, the title of the book reflecting a `personal' cookbook is probably as accurate as one may hope. The book is composed exclusively of recipes the boys have cooked themselves, or cribbed from friends or relatives' cooking. This source is broadened and made more professional by the fact that the recipes have been collected and edited for the last ten (10) to twelve (12) years with an eye to professional publication in these very same august publications.
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