Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Pico de gallo (pronounced peek-O-day-GY-o) translates to rooster’s beak. It is an authentic fresh Mexican salsa, also called salsa fresca. Serve this along with fajitas, tacos, or quesadillas.

3 cups diced cherry or grape tomatoes
½ small red onion, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
½ English cucumber, diced
2 Jalapeño chiles, seeds removed and diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 well washed lime
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ t sea salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper

Place all of the above ingredients in a bowl; gently toss and set aside for 30 minutes, for the flavors to develop.


This is one of my go-to meals in the summer. I like to grill the chicken on the barbecue grill. I like to cook the quesadillas in a grill pan on the stove or a large cast-iron skillet, where I have much more control of the cheese and golden browning of the tortillas. Serve with Pico de Gallo or Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa.

2 boneless chicken breast halves
2 T Southwest or Mexican Seasoning
1 T avocado oil
2 T Tequila or white wine

Place chicken in a shallow dish and season with above ingredients.  
Cover and refrigerate for at 2 to 4 hours.

4 flour tortillas
Avocado oil, for cooking
4 oz Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, thinly sliced or grated 
4 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced or grated
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Place cheeses and cilantro in a medium bowl and toss to combine.

Grill chicken directly over coals for 3 minutes.  
Flip the chicken over and grill another 3 minutes
Push to cooler side of grill and grill another 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  
Remove from grill and place on a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Brush one side of 2 tortillas with avocado oil and place on a cookie sheet, oil side down.

Divide half of the cheese mixture evenly between the 2 tortillas.
Evenly distribute the chicken on top of the cheese.
Add the rest of the cheese mixture and top with the rest of the tortillas.
Brush tops of tortillas with the oil. 

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and using a large spatula, add one quesadilla to the pan and brown.  
Gently press down on the tortilla to stick everything together, and then carefully flip over and cook on the other side, until you can see that the cheese is melting.

Keep quesadilla warm in a 225 degree F oven while cooking the other quesadilla.
Transfer each to a cutting board and cut into 4 wedges.

Serves 2 to 4

Monday, May 28, 2018


This salad is not a southern dish, but I want to share this recipe anyway. I make quite a lot of dinner salads during the summer. I was introduced to this salad back in the early 1970s at the original Brown Derby Restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, California. I even imagined Lucy Ricardo (I Love Lucy) peeking over the booth where William Holden was having lunch.
I prefer most of the ingredients sliced instead of everything chopped, like most Cobb Salads and this make a better presentation.
You can easily double the recipe to make four servings.

1 T Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t honey or granulated sugar
½ t English dry mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
Juice of ½ small lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix everything together in a small bowl, except the olive oil.
Whisk in the olive oil until well combined.
You can also place the ingredients in a mason jar fitted with a lid and shake.

Several leaves of mixed salad greens
1 large bunch of watercress or arugula
½ head of Bibb lettuce or other soft lettuce, chopped

2 boneless chicken breast halves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Avocado oil
Maple syrup
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

½ cup Roquefort cheese or other blue cheese, crumbled
1 T snipped fresh chives

Brush chicken with a little oil and maple syrup.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grill on barbecue grill until cooked through. Let cool to room temperature, then slice

Toss greens in a large bowl with a little of the dressing and place equal amounts on 2 plates.

Arrange the rest of the ingredients in sections on top of the lettuces.
Scatter on some crumbled cheese, a few snipped chives, and drizzle with a little more salad dressing.
You will have leftover dressing.

Serves 2


This is my favorite way to roast salmon. You can find seafood rubs or grilling spices in the supermarket these days or you can make your own. Bourbon adds a nice smokey layer of flavor to the salmon. Did you know that all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon? Bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels. The more corn, the sweeter the bourbon. It cannot be labeled “bourbon” if it is not distilled in the United States, and it cannot be labeled “Kentucky Bourbon” unless it is distilled in Kentucky.

Lee’s Kitchen Tips:
If you cannot find Chinook (King) or Sockeye (Red) salmon, Coho is another good choice. Start your rice after you take your salmon out of the refrigerator. While the rice is set aside after simmering 10 minutes, you can roast your salmon.

2 (6 to 8 oz) portions of Alaskan King Salmon (Chinook) or Red Salmon (Sockeye)
1 T avocado oil
2 T grilling spices (any brand of salmon or fish grilling or rubbing spices)

Lime wedges, for serving

Drizzle oil over each salmon fillet and sprinkle with grilling spices.
Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

About a half hour before salmon is to be removed from the refrigerator, make your Bourbon Glaze.

Bourbon Glaze
1 T avocado oil
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
½ t red pepper flakes
2 T low sodium soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
2 T bourbon
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 t freshly grated ginger
1 t sesame oil

In a small saucepan, add the oil and slowly cook the garlic for 1 minute. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and and add to the saucepan. Gently simmer for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken. Turn off heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

Remove salmon from the refrigerator and place, skin side down, on an un-oiled roasting pan. Let sit on the counter for 15 minutes, while the oven is preheating and you can make your Yellow Rice Pilaf.

Yellow Rice Pilaf
2 T avocado oil
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup white rice
½ t turmeric
Pinch of saffron threads or powder (optional)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 cups chicken stock or broth
½ t sea salt
½ t fine ground black pepper
½ cup frozen peas
3 scallions, thinly sliced

In a skillet, sauté the shallot and carrot in the oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the rice, turmeric, saffron, and cinnamon and cook a minute or two.
Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper.

Let slowly simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Stir in the peas, cover and set aside to keep warm for 10 more minutes.
Stir in the scallions, just before serving.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place salmon in oven and roast for about 8 minutes.
Remove and drizzle with some of the Bourbon Glaze and continue to roast until fish is almost opaque in center, about another 3 to 4 minutes.
You can return the glaze to low heat while salmon is roasting.

Lift salmon with a spatula (skin should remain on roasting pan) and place on two warm  plates.
Spoon a little more Bourbon Glaze over the fillets before serving.

Add lime wedges and serve with the Yellow Rice Pilaf

Serves 2 (with extra rice pilaf for another meal)