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April 11, 2013

The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

I’ve always liked Southern cuisine, but since my visit to Charleston last year, my appreciation and interest have grown exponentially. With restaurants like Seersucker in Brooklyn, Lowcountry cuisine is at its height right now. Matt and Ted Lee, who grew up in Charleston, have come out with their third cookbook, “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen,” and it’s their best one so far. They include not only classic recipes for she-crab soup and hoppin’ john, but also illustrate the vibrancy of the cuisine with new twists on classic cocktails such as the loquat Manhattan and kumquat-chile bloody mary. Personal stories and the history of both the food and the city interlace throughout the book; it feels intensely personal and offers a glimpse of what it’s like to grow up in Charleston. I enjoy “meeting” the local farmers, fisherman, chefs and caterers. The Lee brothers explain that while Charleston has in the last decade become a destination for dining out, it has always been a world-class home cooking haven. I am head-over-heels for all these recipes, from savory benne (sesame) wafers, shrimp popovers and Wentworth Street crab meat to the strawberry delight. If I can’t make it to Charleston this spring, bringing Charleston to my kitchen is the next best thing.

Try the she-crab soup and butter beans recipes to the right.