Lansdowne punch

Since the brothers Lee began writing about food, they say they've collected more than 300 Southern cookbooks, hailing from Key West to Richmond. "Some are slender pamphlets from the local church, fragile as tissue; others are spiral-bound fundraisers for the PTA or Junior League. Each, though, captures the flavor of a specific place," the brothers say. "We look to these regionalisms to reassure us that America is still quirky and diverse, even if its airports and strip malls all look the same."

"Though some might see our collection as a road map for how to cook Southern, we view it as an album of postcards," they say. "The recipes excite us, but many leave out important information ('cook until done') or use antiquated terms ('a hogshead of beaten pompion'). Still, they provide loads of inspiration, in this case for a picnic menu."

Fresh pineapple and green tea put a new spin on Lansdowne Punch , a fruity rum cocktail.
A basket of shrimp and deviled-egg sandwiches with sherried chicken salad

"The food of Charleston, South Carolina, where we grew up, is brimming with fresh crab, oysters, and shrimp from nearby marshes," say Matt and Ted Lee.

A shrimp and deviled-egg casserole from Georgia, for instance, started as a cheesy concoction served over "a can of crisped Chinese noodles." The Lee brothers reimagined it as scrumptious Shrimp and Deviled-Egg Salad Sandwiches (shown in the two outer rows above).

These Sherried Chicken Salad Sandwiches (in the center row), inspired by a hot entrée, are simple, portable, and delicious.
Green Goddess potato salad

"The Appalachian South has its own treasures: superior beans, tomatoes, hams," Matt and Ted say. "And don't even get us started about New Orleans cuisine—whole libraries exist on the subject."

The brothers added lime and fresh tarragon to a dressing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to give their Green Goddess Potato Salad a kick.
White gazpacho

"'Southern Food' doesn't really exist, in that there isn't one blob of a South united in its appreciation of grits and greens," say Ted and Matt Lee. "The American Southeast contains at least (we're guesstimating here) 25 cultural regions, as different from one another as Alaska is from Alabama."

A chilled soup, like this White Gazpacho , is an innovative addition to your picnic menu.

The Lee brothers' nontraditional take on Cantaloupe Balls incorporates fresh mint and a dash of freshly ground pepper.
Caramel cupcakes

Finish off your outdoor feast by indulging in a Southern staple—sweet, simple Caramel Cupcakes .

More recipes for your perfect menu


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