Heirloom Recipe Series: Lenny and Denise of Chez Us.

It thrills me to have two special guests for the Heirloom Recipe Series. I am oh so lucky to have several people be excited to do this series as it is one of my favorites. Hearing what each one has learned from their family and the recipes they have cherished for years. This brings me so much joy to hear these stories and sharing of recipes.
The dynamic duo, Lenny and Denise from the blog Chez Us are going to share with us today a couple of their favorite family dishes. I love their little tag “She cooks. He devours.” And, after seeing their recipes below I can certainly see why! They have always taken pleasure in home cooking while staying close to their roots. Enjoy!


Both Lenny and I come from a long-line of home-cooks, and making nearly everything from scratch, at our home is just second nature.  For as long as I can remember, I have always received pleasure from cooking.  Not only the smiles that a home-cooked meal  produces;  but, knowing that I am putting something wholesome into my body.  Lenny, he has always indulged as an eater and continues to enjoy the simple pleasures of being our at home food-critic.

Home-cooked meals were always present in both of our child-hood homes, and this tradition continues into the present.  My heritage on my mother’s side is Basque, and one could always find a pot of something delicious bubbling away someone’s stove.  Whether it was a big pot of beans mingling with a spicy Spanish-Basque sauce or lamb roasting in the oven, we knew we would be enjoying a warm meal made with love.  My mom put a twist into cooking at home, but using new, and innovative ideas in the kitchen.  One thing was always guaranteed, that whatever we ate would be fresh, and homemade.

Lenny is first generation Portuguese.  His family came over from the Azores, merely, four years before he was born.  His mother’s recipes came from her mother, and they came from her mother, and so on …. these recipes are traditional, rustic, and simple.  She stores all of them in a recipe box that is buried deep in her memory and she shares them with her family every day when bringing a home-cooked meal to the table.

My mother was a genius at trying to disguise foods that she thought we would not enjoy.  From breading thinly sliced cow-tongue, frying it and then presenting it as a steak, to putting vegetables into fresh baked breads.  A favorite recipe of mine was a garden-fresh zucchini bread. It was always moist, sweet, and I loved how the top of the bread baked into a crusty, gooey topping.  It is lovely when served with a lemon glaze or as I prefer, on its own.

One of Lenny’s favorite dishes is his mother’s Camarao Mozambique, otherwise known as Spicy Portuguese Shrimp.  This was the first Portuguese recipe I learned to cook for Lenny.  It was his birthday, and I wanted to make something special.  He called his mother, and asked her to send us the recipe.  Unfortunately, her response was that she did not have a recipe, and she simply added a little of this and a little of that.  While it is served as a special occasion meal at his parent’s home, we enjoy it often.  Warm, crusty bread is perfect for dipping into the spicy sauce that the shrimp are swimming in.

We hope you enjoy this little bite of us that we have shared with you.  It has been a gentle reminder that we need to preserve more of our heritage by sharing our family recipes with you more often.  It keeps the flavors alive for generations to come.

Camarao Mozambique
  • 1 large shallot, minced finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. shrimp, leave the shells on
  • 1 cup white wine, I used Vinho Verde (water or stock can be used instead)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon piri piri, or your favorite hot sauce
  • handful parsley for garnish

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over low heat.  Add the shallot, cook over medium-low heat (about a 4 on our gas stove) until soft, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir, and cook for a minute.  Sprinkle the Goya Sazon over the onion, and garlic;  add the shrimp.  Stir, and continue cooking over medium low heat, for 5 minutes;  stirring often.  Add the white wine, lemon juice, and piri piri, stir, lower heat to a simmer and cook until shrimp are cooked;  about 5 – 8 minutes, depending on how large they are.  At this point, I remove the shrimp, and continue cooking the broth until it is slightly reduced, and a bit thicker than when I started.  It will take about 3 – 5 minutes.  I then return the shrimp to the pan, stir, and turn off the heat.  I like to let it sit for about 10 minutes, to really marriage the flavors.  Then I gently reheat, stir in the parsley, and remove from the heat.  Serve. Eat.

Zucchini Bread

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or cardamon
  • 2 cups grated, unpeeled raw zucchini
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 325.  Sift dry ingredients (except sugar) into a large bowl.  In a mixer bowl combine eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla;  beat thoroughly.  Add the dry ingredients and blend well.  Add the zucchini and nuts, mix gently.

Lightly oil and flour two loaf pans ( 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2) and divide the batter between the two.  Bake for 60 – 70 minutes or until done.  Cool.  Drizzle with lemon icing, if desired.

Lemon Icing

Blend together 1 teaspoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon milk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 cup sifted powdered sugar.

Be sure to connect with Lenny and Denise {how cute are they??} on their blog at Chez Us and also on Twitter and Facebook too!

Part of our Heirloom Recipe Series, featuring foodies, chefs, artisans, Southerners & fabulous folks willing to share their stories, recipes and photos in an effort to help preserve and share these family recipes for generations to come.

I’m an old soul based in Atlanta, GA and mom of 3 with a deep love of all things from the past with a story to tell, on a mission to keep heirlooms around for another generation - whether it be a tradition, splattered family recipe, or historic home.

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