Thursday, January 21, 2021


I always loved the spiced shrimp in Ocean City, Maryland or at a restaurant called Dancing Crab in Washington, DC. Serve them with Spicy Cocktail Sauce and corn on the cob. Totally delicious!

1 bottle (12 oz) of beer
2 T cider vinegar
1 small onion, sliced
2 t celery seed
1 t celery salt
2 T pickling spice
1 T whole black peppercorns
2 t ground black pepper
¼ cup Old Bay Seasoning
1 T hot sauce
1 t red pepper flakes
2 lbs medium to large shrimp, deveined and shells left on or just tails left on

Lemon wedges, for serving

Combine all of the above ingredients, except shrimp, in a saucepan.  
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. 
Add shrimp, stir and bring back to a boil then lower heat, cover and simmer 2 minutes.  
Turn off heat and let stand 2 more minutes.
Remove shrimp to a bowl or platter with a slotted spoon.

Serve with Tangy Cocktail Sauce and lemon wedges.

Tangy Cocktail Sauce
1 cup ketchup
½ cup chili sauce
1 T Cajun Power garlic sauce (optional)
1 to 2 T prepared horseradish sauce, drained
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce
½ t freshly ground black pepper
2 T fresh lemon juice

In a medium bowl, mix together the cocktail sauce ingredients

Serves 2 as a main meal (or 1 if you are really hungry!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


There are generally two types of barbecue in the state of North Carolina. The farther west you go, the sauce contains more ketchup. I prefer a 'middle of the state' sauce, which contain some ketchup. I also added a recipe for Eastern barbecue sauce, which has a vinegar base and no ketchup at all. Either way, there is nothing like a good North Carolina pulled pork BBQ sandwich. My recipe for Izetta's Southern Coleslaw is in another post.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:

Here is the difference between a pork butt/Boston butt and a pork shoulder/pork picnic.
The pork butt and Boston butt are the same cut of meat from the top portion of the ‘whole shoulder’ of the hog. It is sold boneless or bone-in.
The pork shoulder and pork picnic are the same cut of meat from the lower portion of the shoulder below the joint and above the shank or leg. It is sold boneless or bone-in. A pork shoulder is perfect for pulled pork that is cooked long and slow and is less expensive than a Boston butt.
If using a gas grill, you can place soaked wood chips in a packet or two of aluminum foil and poke holes in the top.

1 (6 to 7 lb) bone-in pork shoulder or Boston butt
¼ cup pork barbecue rub (of your choice)

Rub pork with barbecue rub and let sit in the refrigerator, covered, 12 to 24 hours.

Place about 4 cups hickory wood chips in water and soak for 12 to 24 hours.

Mopping Sauce

2 T avocado oil
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 T dark brown sugar

Place ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes and turn off.
When cool, pour into a squeeze bottle to drizzle over pork or just keep in the pan to spoon over pork.  
Place about 20 lit charcoals on each side of the bottom of the grill and place a disposable aluminum pan to spoon over pork.
Place a thermometer on the grill near the edge, if your grill doesn't have a built-in one.
Fold a paper towel into about a 3-inch square and dip into some vegetable oil.
With tongs, rub the oiled paper towel over the center of the grill where the pork will sit.

When the temperature reaches 300 degrees F, place pork in the center directly on the grill, fat side up.
Close grill and grill for 1 hour. Open the lid and check to see that the temperature stays between 275 to 300 degrees F. 
Add a few coals at a time to maintain this temperature and a few pieces of soaked hickory. Do this every hour.
When pork internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F, drizzle or spoon on Mopping Sauce every 30 minutes.

Total cooking time should be 8 to 9 hours and the outside of the pork should have a nice dark bark.
Pork is done when internal temperature registers 190 degrees F.
Remove to a cutting board and allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes. Pull off large chunks and shred with gloved hands or two forks. 
Transfer to a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with some of the BBQ sauce, cover with aluminum foil and place in a 300 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve on buns with extra sauce, coleslaw, and hot sauce on the side.

Middle of the State BBQ Sauce
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T dry mustard
1 T hot sauce
½ t onion powder
¾ cup ketchup
¼ dark brown sugar
2 T unsalted butter
2 t red pepper flakes
½ t sea salt 
½ t fine ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.

Eastern North Carolina Vinegar-Pepper Sauce
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 t hot sauce
2 t red pepper flakes
1 t sea salt 
1 t fine ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer 3 minutes.

Sunday, January 10, 2021


My husband loves oysters. . .raw, fried, and baked like these oysters.  He had them in Antoine's Restaurant at the French Quarter in New Orleans, but loves these even more.  He is also very good at shucking the oysters.  It is still oyster season here in eastern Virginia.  The typical liqueur to use in Oysters Rockefeller is anise-flavored Pernod, but we prefer dry Vermouth.

12 live oysters
3 T unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup baby spinach, packed & minced
¼ cup white vermouth
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T lemon juice
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
¼ t red pepper flakes
2 T fresh Italian parsley, minced
2 T fresh arugula or watercress, minced
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
Lemon wedges for serving

Shuck oysters over a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl or glass pitcher to collect the juice.
Save the deeper shell.  Wash and dry them and place an oyster into each of the 12 shells.

Place oysters on a sheet pan in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Melt butter in a large skillet.
Add shallot and sauté 3 to 4 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
Add he vermouth, Worcestershire, lemon juice, black pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley, and arugula or watercress.
Turn off heat and mix until combined.
Mix in the ¼ cup grated cheese.

Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so to slightly solidify.

Remove oysters from refrigerator and drizzle any of the extra juice over each oyster.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a tablespoon of spinach filling on top of each oyster.
Top each oyster with panko bread crumbs.
Top each oyster again with the extra grated cheese.

Place oysters on an oyster baking sheet or a cast-iron skillet with 1-inch of ice cream salt.
Bake oysters for 10 to 12 minutes until topping is golden brown.

Serve oysters on a bed of ice cream salt with lemon slices.

Thursday, January 7, 2021


make chicken noodle soup two or three times during the autumn and winter, and I make it with boneless chicken breasts. Chicken wings are first cooked to make the extra rich stock. You can also pull off some of the meat from the chicken wings and add to the soup or give that meat to your pet.

2 lbs chicken wings
2 quarts chicken broth or stock
1 quart water
1 t black peppercorns
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

2 T unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 leek, diced
4 carrots, cut in half lengthwise, sliced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 T minced fresh parsley
3 cups egg noodles, or pasta of your choice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Place chicken wings in a large stockpot, add the chicken broth or stock, water, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil, skim off the foam from top and discard.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour.

In another large pot or Dutch oven, over medium-low heat add butter and sauté the onion, leek, celery, and carrots for 5 minutes. 
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

When stock is finished cooking, remove wings with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. 
Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve into the pot with the onion mixture.
Add the cut up chicken breasts and minced parsley. 
Simmer, partially covered for 15 minutes.
Add the noodles and simmer another 8 to 10 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 6 to 8

Thursday, December 31, 2020


When you cook your black-eyed peas with rice, it is known as Hoppin' John. The southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's day is believed to have started after the Civil War. It was first planted as food for livestock and the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as General Sherman's Union troops destroyed other crops. It became a nourishing food source for the surviving Confederates who considered themselves lucky. Serve them with either, collards, mustard greens, or turnip greens, which represents paper money, and cornbread, which represents gold. Adding a shiny impeccably clean penny to the pot of greens or Hoppin' John just before serving will bring extra luck to the one who finds it. Let everyone know to look for the penny so they don't choke. Flavor the peas with ham and bacon and the tradition is complete. These legumes are a good source of calcium, folate, fiber, and vitamin A. 

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
3 slices bacon, diced
1 T unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 t dried thyme or 1 sprig of fresh thyme
cup white rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup diced ham (preferably Virginia ham, optional)
Minced parsley, for garnish (optional)
Hot sauce, at the table

Pour black-eyed peas into a large bowl and sort through them to make sure there aren’t any small pebbles.

In the large saucepan, cook bacon pieces until crisp. 
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Pour out most but not all of the bacon grease and add the butter and sauté the onion and celery for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes.
Sauté another 2 minutes.
Add chicken stock, water, thyme, and black-eyed peas.
Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Cover and simmer slowly for 30 to 40 minutes.
Add rice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer slowly for 15 minutes, add a little more chicken stock or water, if too dry.

Stir in the diced ham (if using), cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes.
Spoon into a warm serving bowl.
Garnish with bacon and parsley and take hot sauce to the table.

Serves 4 to 6

Sunday, December 20, 2020


These cookies are wonderful at Christmas and if you use heart cookie cutters, they make great little cookies for Valentine's Day.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ t salt

Raspberry jam or jelly
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and sugar and beat on medium speed to combine.
Add flour and salt and continue to beat.

Divide dough into two equal pieces.
Place each on plastic wrap and form into flat discs.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, work with one disc at a time, roll dough into ¼-inch thickness.

Cut out with a cookie cutter.  Transfer to a cookie sheet.
Do the same with the other disc and then use a smaller cookie cutter and cut out the middle.

Bake for 12 minutes.

Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.
Dust the cookies with the cut-out with confectioners' sugar.
Spread some jam on the solid cookie and gently top with the sugar dusted cut-out cookie.

Makes 2 to 2 ½ dozen 

Sunday, December 13, 2020


Wine has been used in stews for hundreds of years. My Cheddar-Garlic Drop Biscuits or country rolls are a perfect accompaniment to this hearty stew. 

3 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into bite size chunks
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T avocado oil
1 T unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
½ t paprika
1 cup red wine 
2 T soy sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves

2 T all-purpose flour

5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
15 small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
2 cups frozen white pearl onions
Parsley, for garnish (optional)

Pat beef dry with paper towels and generously season with salt and pepper.
In a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add the oil and butter.
Add half of the beef and brown well on all sides.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and brown the other half of the beef.
Remove to the bowl with the rest of the browned beef.

Add garlic to the pot and sauté 1 minute
Add the tomato paste, beef broth, paprika, wine, soy sauce, Worcestershire, bay leaves, and browned beef.

Bring to a very low simmer, cover and let simmer for 2 hours.

Ladle out about 3 tablespoons of the broth from the pot into a small bowl.
Add the flour and mix with a fork to eliminate any lumps.
Pour into the pot and stir with a spoon.

Add the carrots, potatoes, and onions.
Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat and vegetables are tender, about another hour.

Remove bay leaves and serve.

Serves 6