Fun is in full swing when the Lee brothers throw an easygoing Christmas dinner that's oh-so-Southern.
"Meeerrry Christmas! Come on in," encourages Matt Lee while greeting guests with warm hugs and a cheerful smile. Inside, Matt's younger brother, Ted, pops a bottle of bubbly for a quick toast while folks nibble on peppery Cheese Straws. The mood feels festive and a mouthwatering dinner awaits.
There's something delightfully laid-back about a party hosed by the Lees. But don't let their easygoing style fool you―food is serious business for these guys. In fact, the Charleston natives (and self-described Southern food evangelists) adapted this tempting holiday menu from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook (W.W. Norton, $35), their critically acclaimed collection of regional recipes and witty commentary (not to be missed by any food lover). This merry menu reflects Ted and Matt's knack for updating Southern classics without loosing a lick of their delectable essence. Whatever your style, you'll find these recipes suit it beautifully.
Dip your knife in flour after each cut to give six-ingredient Cheese Straws clean edges. Vary the width of your cuts--from ¼ to ½ inch; then break into desired lengths after baking.
New Ambrosia With Buttermilk-Coconut Dressing
New Ambrosia With Buttermilk-Coconut Dressing is one of the tastiest holiday twists we've seen in a long time. Prepare the Buttermilk-Coconut Dressing ahead; store it in the refrigerator up to three days.
Sweet Potato-Buttermilk Pie
Soul-soothing Sweet Potato-Buttermilk Pie starts with a refrigerated piecrust. We recommend baking it in the morning, letting it cool, and serving it at room temperature.
Hot-Spiced Bourbon Balls
Chopped, toasted pecans and crushed vanilla wafers lend an extra layer of flavor and texture to Hot-Spiced Bourbon Balls. Serve them with coffee, or package them up as take-home gifts.
Boiled Peanuts and So Much More
Have a hankerin' for scuppernong jelly or watermelon rind pickles? How about a bag of stone-ground grits or a 12-pack of Cheerwine? Look no further than Matt and Ted's much-celebrated Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue (BoiledPeanuts.com). What began more than a decade ago as a way for displaced (read: hungry) Southerners to get their hot little hands on fresh boiled peanuts has turned into a superb general store for some of our region's most prized culinary delicacies. While shopping, be sure to order one of their trendy T-shirts or an "I Brake For Boiled Peanuts" bumper sticker ("For safety's sake," say the brothers). You can also purchase a copy of their best-selling cookbook.
"Charleston Cheer" is from the December 2007 issue of Southern Living.