What’s a fantastic way to spend a Monday evening in Alabama? Try sipping champagne cocktails and nibbling on pickled shrimp alongside our favorite culinary duo, Matt Lee and Ted Lee. Last night, the Southern Living Test Kitchen threw an impromptu cocktail party to celebrate the Lee Bros. visit to Birmingham, the most recent stop on a book tour for their newest cookbook, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen.
We love the book’s charming collection of stories, characters, and fool-proof recipes from Charleston, Matt and Ted’s hometown. Our al fresco party featured drinks and appetizers straight from the book like Kumquat Gin Sparklers (made with Kumquat’s from a neighbor’s backyard!), Smoked Egg Salad Toasts, Pickled Shrimp with Fennel and a creamy, fiery, pickle-ish concoction the Lee brothers call Henry’s Cheese Spread; a cheesy horseradish dip that just might be the solution for pimiento cheese fatigue.
Matt and Ted’s Birmingham pit stop marks the end of week five of a whirlwind, 4,000-miles-and-counting Southern road trip. “It’s a real treat for us to be able to take a deep breath and share a taste of Charleston with our homies at Southern Living,” says Matt. “We love the ups and downs of book tour, but there’s something very home-like about throwing down with old friends. There’s something very hospitable and very Charleston about happy hour out on the piazza.”
Pickled Shrimp with Fennel
Adapted from The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen
1 small fennel bulb
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 small serrano or bird pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup thinly sliced white onion
1. Slice fennel bulb thinly, reserving fronds. Chop fronds to equal 1 Tbsp. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water.
2. Bring 1 Tbsp. kosher salt and 2 qt. water to a boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Remove from heat; add shrimp, and let stand, stirring once, 1 minute or just until shrimp turn pink.
3. Transfer shrimp to ice water, using a slotted spoon. Reserve 2 cups hot cooking liquid in a medium bowl. Let shrimp stand 10 minutes, stirring once. Transfer shrimp to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving ice water in bowl.
4. Whisk lemon juice and next 4 ingredients into reserved hot cooking liquid until salt and sugar dissolve. Place bowl in reserved ice water, and whisk lemon juice mixture until cooled to room temperature (about 10 minutes).
5. Remove lemon juice mixture from ice water; discard ice water, reserving chilled bowl for shrimp. Stir together onion, fennel slices, chopped fennel fronds, and shrimp in chilled bowl. Pour cooled lemon juice mixture over shrimp mixture. Cover and chill 1 hour to 2 days. Serve with a slotted spoon.