With this in mind, I decided to tackle Matt and Ted Lee's new book, "The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern." The Lees hail from Charleston, S.C. and founded the Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts. A friend had been raving about the recipes she got to preview before the book was published and I got a copy as soon as it became available.
I'm not a fan of most Southern cooking but show me a great bowl of grits, crispy fried chicken and I'm blissed out. The Lee Brothers do not disappoint in their take on some classics, and their introduction of some terrific dishes with a Southern twist.
I talked Holly and Peabody into joining me and they've set the stage beautifully with an appetizer of homemade Vanilla Buttermilk Cheese, and a Snow Pea and Carrot Salad with Ginger Dressing for the salad course.
It doesn't seem right to come to the potluck with anything other than a fried dish -- so I made the Crispy Skin Salmon with Buttermilk Mint Sauce. Now, the only problem is, when the recipe calls for salmon with skin on and the fishmonger's assistant helpfully removes the skin and you don't notice until you're already home and ready to make dinner -- well...ergh. I did manage to crisp up one side of the salmon so it wasn't a total loss, but skinless-salmon is like skinless fried chicken (e.g., what's the point?). BUT, despite the fact that the salmon skin had been removed (why oh why would you do that?), the buttermilk-mint sauce was a very refreshing and rich sauce that isn't intimidated by the salmon's very distinct flavor. The sauce is also a beautiful counterpoint to the spinach we sauteed -- so much so that the boys wolfed down their portions.
And obviously after the main course comes dessert. The guest who was originally tasked with bring the sweet portion of our potluck had to beg off at the last minute to attend some family matters, so as a good hostess, I can't let our guests leave without some sugar; next Sunday I'll be following up with dessert -- I'm thinking either the Mint Julep Panna Cotta or the Buttermilk Pudding Cake (maybe instead of the Complete Meal I should have called this event the Almost Completely Buttermilk Meal?).
But Southern meal or not, there is no way I am making Red Velvet Cake, not even the Lees' version of it.