Punch, Cocktails Katie Lee Joel's Way

Katie Lee Joel, accomplished cook and food writer and wife of rock star Billy Joel, is out with her first cookbook, "The Comfort Table."

She's also a brand new Early Show contributor.

The book is a compilation of her favorite recipes from her childhood. In addition, it also features tips on preparing and throwing fabulous and effortless dinner parties.

Says Katie Lee, "My dining and entertainment philosophy -- I can boil it down to "the three C's -- I like my food like my fashion: casual, classic, and with a touch of couture."

Katie Lee, who goes by Katie, also says, "I love to have a dinner party. I love to have people over. I like the feeling it creates in my home -- having guests laughing and telling their stories, and I put a lot of thought into it. I plan my menu kind of depending on whatever mood I'm in.

"I think it's fun to serve comfort food, because it's an instant ice-breaker. If somebody's expecting fancy food and you whip out some fried chicken, they feel like, you know, they can put their elbows on the table and the etiquette police aren't going to come out.

"I also like to set my table. I like to make it look really nice, and I do that usually the night before, so I'm not rushing around, and I like to get as much done ahead of time as possible."

This week, The Early Show will feature Katie in three segments, during which she'll prepare recipes from her book.

On Monday, she showed how to make a few of her favorite cocktails and punches.

Tuesday, she'll make appetizers. And Wednesday -- desserts, including a peach cobbler she says is husband Billy's favorite.

Editor's note: "The Comfort Table" is from Simon Spotlight Entertainment, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is part of the CBS Corporation, as is CBSNews.com.

Katie, who was raised in a modest, tight-knit West Virginia family, began cooking at the tender age of four, under the guidance of her mentor, Grandma Dora. Using fresh vegetables from her grandpa's garden and meat from the family's cattle and pig farms, Katie quickly learned the value of seasonal ingredients. Many of the classic recipes in "The Comfort Table" come directly from her Grandma's kitchen, but with Katie's special twist.

DRINKS MENU
Peach Fizz
Polar Bear
Iced Sweet Tea
Bourbon Slush
Ahmad's Marga-tini

TIPS

  • Katie suggests preparing a signature drink when hosting a party, particularly one that complements the night's theme and menu. If the menu's calling for Mexican food, she whips up marguerites.
  • Prepare the drink ahead of time so, as soon as guests arrive, they can poor a glass.
  • Set up a bar area where you'll be entertaining, complete with glasses, stirrers and cocktail napkins. That way, guests can serve themselves.
  • Always offer a non-alcoholic option.

    RECIPES

    Drinks/Cocktails

    Iced Sweet Tea


    If there were an official beverage of the South, it would be sweet tea. Katie only calls for a half-cup of sugar, but says you should adjust it to your taste. She has friends who put in a whole cup, some even a cup-and-a-half!

    4 tea bags, such as Lipton or Luzianne
    1/2 cup sugar
    4 cups boiling water

    Place the tea bags and sugar in a heatproof pitcher. Pour the boiling water over and let the tea steep about 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature and serve over ice.
    Garnish with mint or lemon slices.

    Yield: 4 cups (4 to 6 servings)

    Peach Fizz

    When peaches are in season, Katie eats them every day. She usually just cuts them up on her cereal or makes a peach cobbler, but, "When I'm feeling especially festive, I make this peach fizz."

    6 fresh peaches (about 2 pounds), peeled and roughly chopped (about 5 cups)
    One 6-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
    1/4 cup gin
    1/2 cup ice
    Fresh mint sprigs

    Combine peaches, lemonade, gin, and ice in a blender. Make in batches if necessary. Blend until smooth. Pour into cocktail glasses and garnish with mint sprigs.

    Yield: about 5 1/2 cups (4 servings)

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