Monday, July 27, 2020


Lemon pie is a staple of the South and often served at seafood restaurants in the Carolinas. You can make a meringue for the topping or whipped cream. I made it with whipped cream and butter crackers, for the crust instead of Saltines. Keebler has 'Club Crackers', Pepperidge Farm has 'Golden Butter', 'Townhouse' is another brand and Trader Joe's has 'Social Snackers'. Add the whipped cream per serving.

Butter Cracker Crust
1½ cups butter crackers, about 34 (you can use saltine crackers if preferred)
¼ cup granulated sugar
6 T unsalted butter, melted

Break up the crackers and place in a food processor.  
Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse until combined.
Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Dip your fingers in water and press along the bottom and sides of pan to form a border around the edge. Don't worry if it isn't perfect, you can tidy it up before it goes into the oven.
Place on a large plate and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place pie pan on a baking sheet or pizza pan to keep crumbs from falling on the oven floor.
Bake until lightly brown, about 15 minutes. 
Remove from oven and let cool while making the filling.

4 egg yolks
1 T grated lemon zest
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, beat the egg yolks and lemon zest at high speed until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, about another 3 minutes.
Lower the speed and slowly add the lemon juice and mix a few more seconds.
Pour into the crust and bake the pie for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool completely then cover and refrigerate until completely cold.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T granulated sugar
½ t pure lemon extract (if desired)

Whip until medium peaks are formed and spread on top of pie slices before serving.

Saturday, July 25, 2020


I make my macaroni & cheese with a combination of 4 cheeses. Use your favorite combination of melting cheeses or just use all cheddar, if you wish. I don't normally use processed cheeses but a little Velveeta makes the sauce very creamy. I baked one medium casserole and froze two smaller ones for later.

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
½ cup grated Gouda or Edam cheese
½ cup Velveeta cut into small cubes

3 cups elbow macaroni
½ cup unsalted butter 
3 T all-purpose flour
2 t dry mustard
1 t paprika
½ t freshly ground nutmeg
½ t sea salt

½ t fine ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
½ cup sour cream

Place all of the cheeses in a large bowl and set aside.
Save about ½ cup of the mixed cheeses for topping and set aside.
Boil the macaroni for 5 minutes in salted water and drain through a colander.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the same saucepan that you boiled the macaroni in, melt the butter over low heat. 
Whisk in the flour and cook, while whisking, a couple of minutes.  
Whisk in the mustard, paprika, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Whisk in the whole milk and evaporated milk until smooth.  
Raise heat to medium and gradually whisk in the grated cheeses and cook while whisking until the cheeses have melted and the mixture bubbles. 

Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and finally, the macaroni. 
Pour into a large shallow gratin or casserole dish. 
Sprinkle with reserved grated cheese.

Bake until cheese is bubbling around edges and top is a light golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Serves 8

Monday, July 20, 2020


Jalapeño Margaritas are very popular now. This recipe is not real spicy and you can actually taste the chile pepper. If you want it spicier, add two chile peppers or you can completely leave it out, if you prefer. There is something delicious about the flavor of the jalapeño chile with the ice-cold tequila drink.

Jalapeño Simple Syrup 
¼ cup granulated sugar 
¼ cup filtered or spring water
1 jalapeño chile pepper 

Place water and sugar in a small saucepan.
Heat to almost a boil.
Poke a few holes in the chile pepper and add to the saucepan.
Lower heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.
Set aside to cool and then refrigerate.

1 wedge of cut lime
Sea salt
1 cup (8 oz) blanco or silver tequila                                                 
½ cup Cointreau or Triple Sec                                               
½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 5 to 6 limes)      

Jalapeño Simple Syrup                     
1 lime cut into thin circles 

Rub a wedge of cut lime over rims of glasses and dip in salt.
Place glasses in freezer.
Add tequila and Cointreau to a pitcher or large cocktail shaker. 
Remove chile pepper from simple syrup and discard.
Add the simple syrup to the pitcher.
Add a few ice cubes and stir very well.
Pour into glasses filled with some pounded ice.
Add a couple of thin lime circles.

Makes 4 drinks

Thursday, July 16, 2020


I think almost everyone loves a good Reuben sandwich. Traditionally the sandwich is made with a Jewish Rye bread. I made it with one of my favorite Swiss cheeses called Emmentaler. You can buy a bottled Russian Dressing, but making your own is so easy and no artificial ingredients are added. Russian Dressing was invented in New Hampshire by James E Colburn in the early 1900s. He added Russian caviar which gave the dressing its name. There is a bit of a controversy on who created the Reuben. Whether it was created in Omaha, Nebraska or New York City, it is a well loved deli sandwich that you can make at home.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
The delicious Swiss Emmentaler (or Emmental cheese) is a medium-hard cheese that is ideal for melting in a sandwich or fondu. Emmental is the name of the place in Switzerland. Emmentaler describes something from there. . .like America versus American.

Homemade Russian Dressing
½ cup mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt
1 T chili sauce
1 T ketchup
1 t prepared horseradish
½ t Worcestershire sauce
½ t paprika
¼ t onion powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Reuben Sandwich

4 slices marble rye bread or plain rye bread
2 T unsalted butter, softened
¼ lb thinly sliced deli corn beef 
8 slices Swiss Emmentaler cheese
1 cup well drained sauerkraut
Homemade Russian Dressing

Spread butter on one side of 2 slices of bread.

You will be building your sandwiches in the skillet that you grill the sandwiches in.

Place two slices of bread, buttered side down, in a cold, large cast-iron skillet.

Add 2 slices of Swiss cheese to each.
Spread some of the Homemade Russian Dressing on the top of the cheese.
Divide the corn beef between each sandwich.
Add equal amounts of the drained sauerkraut on top.
Spread a little more Russian Dressing on top of the sauerkraut.
Add 2 more slices of Swiss cheese.
Top with the last 2 slices of bread and spread butter on top of the bread.

Using a large spatula, press down on the sandwich slightly to stablize. 

Grill over medium heat until golden on each side and cheese is melted.

Cut in half and serve with a pickle and potato chips.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Saturday, July 11, 2020


I have very fond memories of this dish. My mom made this, usually on a Sunday, and served it with roast beef or chicken. If you add a little more ham, it can be a one-pot meal. I will always think of her when I make this southern favorite.

2 lbs fresh green beans
3 slices bacon, preferably applewood smoked, cut into small pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
6 small slices, country ham or honey baked ham, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 large yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 cups chicken broth
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper

Place green beans in a colander and rinse.
Break off the root end and break beans in half.
Set aside in a bowl.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until browned.
Discard half of the bacon grease.
Add onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent about 5 minutes.
Add ham and garlic and cook another minute.
Add green beans, potatoes, and chicken broth.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serves 6 to 8

Thursday, July 9, 2020


My daughter gave me this recipe for her easy restaurant-style salsa. It tastes just as good as the salsa in our favorite southwest restaurant in Seattle.

2 (14-oz) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
½ medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
½ poblano pepper, roughly chopped
1 bunch rinsed cilantro leaves and stems
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
½ t ground cumin
1 ½ t sea salt
½ t finely ground black pepper
Juice of ½ lime
¼ to ½ t granulated sugar

Put everything in a blender and blend very quickly or pulse, to leave it slightly chunky.

Thursday, June 25, 2020


You can make your own sourdough starter anytime of the year, but if you make it in the summer, the fresh air will give your sourdough the flavor of your part of the world. San Francisco sourdough is so unique because of the marine air. 
Make your starter about 5 days before you make the bread. When you take out a cup of sourdough, replace it with equal parts of water and flour and let sit on your counter, covered with cheesecloth, for a couple of days before refrigerating. I have been feeding and using the same starter for years. You can also buy an established starter online, but it is very rewarding to make your own. 

Sourdough Starter
1 small bunch washed red grapes (about 12-15)
4 peels of an organic apple
Double layer of cheese cloth
Kitchen string
2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 cups lukewarm water

Place the bunch of grapes and apple peels in the cheesecloth and tie up with string.
Lightly smash with a mallet or large spoon to release their juices.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and water and place in a large glass jar. 
Add the grapes and apple peels and cover with a a layer of cheesecloth, to keep out any debris.
Set aside, near an open window for two to five days. 
Remove the cheesecloth bundle and lightly squeeze the grapes and apple peels, to release their juices.

1 ½ cups lukewarm water, divided                                  
1 T dry yeast 
1 T honey
1 cup sourdough starter, room temperature 
2 T extra-light olive oil
2 T melted unsalted butter                      
4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 T sea salt
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
Grated zest of one large lemon
Warm water to brush on loaves before baking

Pour ½ cup of the water into the bowl of an electric mixer, add yeast and honey.
Swirl to combine and let proof for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, the mixture should be bubbly and the volume should slightly increase. If this doesn't happen, your yeast may be old. 
Attach the bowl to the mixer and add a dough hook.
Add the sourdough starter, oil and butter.
Gradually add the flour, alternating with the rest of the water and salt. 
Finally, mix in the rosemary and lemon.
Mix at medium speed for about 5 minutes.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute or so.
Form dough into a smooth ball and place into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot for 2 hours.

Punch dough down and form into a round ball or oblong shape.
Place dough onto a pizza stone that has been sprinkled with cornmeal or on a baking sheet and let rise another 45 minutes.

Place a small oven-proof pan of boiling water in oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Just before baking make diagonal slashes on the top of the loaf with a wet serrated knife and brush with warm water.

Bake for 20 minutes; reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake an additional 15 minutes, until golden. 

Transfer bread with a large spatula to a rack to cool.