Monday, August 8, 2011

Mama Deen Cooks With That Guy She Calls “Son”

Paula’s Best Dishes with Paula Deen

I really should pay better attention. When I glanced quickly at what Paula was doing this week, I thought I saw “CHEESY” Shrimp Dip and “OLD” Meatloaf.  That didn’t sound very inviting. Then I looked closer and it was actually “Cheesy Shrimp Dip” (where you put those quotation marks makes all the difference) and old FASHIONED meatloaf. Thank goodness, that’s an entirely different matter.

Paula tells us that these are classic recipes that people want again and again. Her son, Billy Bob, sorry, Billy Ray Deen, says ALL of her recipes are classics. She strokes his face. WHO is he again? Hey, I have a good idea for a game. Since sonny boy’s name is escaping me for the moment, let’s see if I can come up with a different famous southern boy’s name, each time I refer to him. I’ll make it less confusing by italicizing my great ideas. Then at the end, we can pick our favorite.*)

Okay let’s get started. Paula and Opie begin with the shrimp dip. (C’mon, THAT was a good one!)

Truman is dicing up red pepper and Paula is chopping up the shrimp, which have been peeled and deveined. 

I would have liked to have seen her do a few. Sometimes I’m so grossed out by the veins in the shrimp, which can be on the top AND bottom, that I end up ripping them to shreds as I devein them. But, at least, there isn’t ONE scintilla of digestive matter left on them. Of course, they look like rags, but looks aren’t everything.

Paula’s are perfectly deveined AND beautiful looking. Atticus says those are little small shrimp. (That’s funny…LITTLE SMALL shrimp. He didn’t mean to be funny, but he is.)

Paula tells us the smaller shrimp are cheaper and for a dip that’s fine. Great, but every time I’ve bought small shrimp (what’s the opposite of an oxymoron?) I’ve rued the day, since it takes SO long to peel and devein them. I always buy the bigger ones to save cleaning time, if I can handle the price.

Paula puts “a little” butter in her pan…it’s actually not more than 2 tablespoons. The recipe says ¼ cup…FOUR tablespoons.  B.B. asks her if that’s enough butter. She giggles and says she can always add more. Jerry Lee adds the peppers to the pan and says he loves the smell of peppers and onions. But there ARE no onions there. Oh, he’s chopping up some scallions.

Paula grates a cup of parm and a cup of mozzarella. She says to freeze the cheese for 10 minutes before grating to make your life easier and to spray the grater with a nonstick cooking spray. BOTH ARE EXCELLENT IDEAS, although if I had that much cheese to grate, it would be the food processor doing the work.

Elvis (I’m getting a little too obvious, aren’t I?) adds the scallions and sautés the mixture until soft. Then he starts on the homemade pita chips. Paula says when she’s having the family over, she just throws them into the deep fryer…which I imagine is continuously on at her house, waiting for the next delectable morsel to by transformed by boiling oil.

But in honor of RPW, she’s BAKING them today. He IS looking quite trim, so if baking the chips, as opposed to frying them, works, then why not? He cuts the pitas into wedges and separates the halves and then places them on a silpat-ed baking sheet. He never says the time and temperature to bake them, but I would say 400° F for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, Paula adds the shrimp to the pepper and scallions, y’all, with 8 oz. of sour cream. Tennessee thinks that’s a lot of sour cream. She also adds ½ cup mayonnaise. Then Shelby says, “Butter, sour cream, mayonnaise, but we’re going to BAKE the pita chips?” Paula cackles her assent. She throws in her two cheeses. Oh my! That’s some dip!

I’m not sure she even needed the shrimp…or the peppers or scallions. Hank wants to know if he’s adding anything to the chips before baking. Paula says some salt after, but nothing now.

Huey sprays a baking dish and Paula heaps the shrimp mixture into the dish to bake for 30 minutes at 350° F, y’all.

Next up is the secret to Aunt Peggy’s MEATLOAD. SORRY, that was a typo. I mean meatLOAF...or maybe I don’t, I’ll have to see.

Paula and Davy taste the shrimp dip. They love it. Conway allows himself only one taste.

For the meatloaf, Paula mixes up a pound of lean beef, one cup of onion, some diced green pepper, an egg, some quick oatmeal, salt and pepper and an entire 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Hmmmm, interesting. Paula “goes in hands and all” and really mixes up all that stuff.

(That’s a really huge diamond ring she’ll have to clean off with that raw meat all over it.) She reminds us that “you can’t hardly make a meatloaf and do it up with a spoon”. Are you listening, y’all? Use your (hopefully jewel-encrusted) hands to really mix it up real good.

Chipper (wait, I decided that doesn’t really count – he comes from Florida) STROM mixes up the “topping” for the meatloaf – ketchup, Dijon and brown sugar. At least it’s not Cool Whip.

Merle moves on to the fried potato cakes. He mashes together a few cooked potatoes with an onion and chive-flavored cream cheese. (Why couldn’t he have just chopped a little extra scallion at the beginning and added that to regular cream cheese?) Then Johnny adds a cup of panko to the potatoes and puts some in a dish for coating. He adds an egg to the potato mixture and form patties. Then he coats them in the panko.

Paula puts the meat loaf in a loaf pan. I NEVER do that. I always put it in a roasting pan and form it into a loaf shape. Then I slice potatoes and put them around the loaf. Of course, she has another idea for potatoes today, but I would still not bake it in a loaf pan. I hate the crusty edges. Ick.

Paula cuts 4 strips from the bell pepper and lays them across the top widthwise. Very attractive….y’all.

D.W. wants to know when his topping will go on. His mama says she’s fixin’ to do that now. She spoons it over. It bakes at 375° F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Paula fries the potato patties in vegetable oil for 5 or 6 minutes on each side.

Paula serves up a helping to each of them. Sour cream goes on top of the potato cakes. Lynyrd loves the meatloaf.

They finish up with Pecan Caramel Layer Cake. I’m sure glad they BAKED those chips, otherwise this whole meal would have been really gluttonous.

BTW, Billy’s shirt matches Paula’s pale, mint-colored glass mixing bowl perfectly.

They beat together 2 sticks of butter, 3 eggs and 2 cups of brown sugar and some vanilla. Yum! Now, she’s talking my language. Paula measures 1 cup of cocoa and stirs in a cup and a half of boiling water and sets it aside. Interesting.

She measures out 3 cups of cake flour and 1¼ teaspoons of baking soda. She shows George a tiny ceramic chicken that holds a teaspoon of salt, which she adds to the mix. I like the chicken, but I don’t like the salt. I KNOW that EVERYONE says you need a bit of salt to bring out the sweetness of things, but I’ll do just fine without it, y’all.

Paula whisks the dry ingredients and Muddy adds 3 eggs to the cake batter. Then Paula adds the dry ingredients alternately with her cocoa “water”. That’s different. Usually I sift the cocoa with the dry ingredients and just add boiling water to the batter for my devil’s food cake. (Start with flour and end with flour, Paula says). She gives it a really good beat at the end.

Dale (Jr.) sprays the paper-lined pans with Pam and Mama asks him if he wants to lick the beater. He says he’ll wait until it’s cooked. What IS wrong with him?

Paula tells us something about herself that, heretofore, I had no idea about.  She likes her cakes PERFECTLY even and, to that end, she actually measures the batter into each pan.

I’m always rigorous in my cookie-making, using an ice cream scoop to get each cookie the same size, but I have never done that with a cake and I really should.

This is how she does it:

She uses this kind of wide-mouthed measuring cup, which is shaped like a scoop and she MEASURES equal amounts of batter into each pan. They don’t show how she deals with that last, not inconsiderable, bit left in the mixing bowl. I guess she eyeballs it.

She bakes the layers of the cake at 350° F for 25 minutes.

When we come back from the break, Paula has already made a filling from brown sugar, butter, a little milk and vanilla. Rhett, wanting to assist in any way he can, asks Paula to “help him, help her”. He’s kind of adorable, even for a grown man.

Hold on! Vanilla extract alert! WHY, oh why, is Paula COOKING vanilla extract on top of the stove? In baked goods, of course, it gets cooked, but ANYTHING on the stove, should have the vanilla added AFTER it comes off the heat. You burn off the flavor (it’s expensive and a waste) AND it can get bitter. Stir in the vanilla AFTER.

But we've got bigger problems now! Paula is punching GINORMOUS holes in the tops of her cake layers. She’s using a handle of a wooden spoon. They are huge, I tell you! It looks like a jack hammer had its way with the cake.

It turns out she has her reasons. She spoons that brown sugar mixture all over the top (with that same wide, flat measuring spoon – I gotta get me some of those, y’all) and it really gets into the cake, because of the gullies that she’s made with the wooden spoon.  

Wait, did that stuff just go only on the bottom layer? Then why did she have to poke holes in the top layer?

For the icing (frosting? I actually say both), they mix together 6 tablespoons of melted butter, 2/3 cup brown sugar and ¼ cup cream and vanilla. TAKE THAT POT OFF THE HEAT. William beats in 2½ cups of confectioners’ sugar, while Paula chops pecans.

To assemble the cake, Paula adds a little dollop of the frosting to the bottom layer (on top of that yummy brown sugar filling). Then she places the other layer with holes on top. 

Why DID she make holes in the TOP layer? Oh, she puts that same brown sugar stuff on the top and it goes down all those holes and THEN she spreads the rest of the frosting on top of that and then covers the whole thing with lots of chopped nuts.

I want to see what a piece of that cake looks like with all the gooey stuff in the middle, running down those holes. BTW, her measuring efforts paid off - those layers DO look very even.

Paula cuts a piece (a big piece) for Jimmy, but it’s hard to see the inside. I think I see long rivulets of gooeyness running down from the top of each layer.

Zachary heads for the fridge to get some milk. Bear has no words for how much he likes the cake.

Paula sends us “love and best dishes” from her “kitchen to y’all’s”. She bids us farewell with “Happy cooking, families.”

If there are people in the universe who don’t like Paula, they have hearts of stone and I feel really sorry for them. For whatever ails you, she’s the antidote.

By the way, I finally remembered that “Bobby” is her southern son’s name. That’s a pretty good name, but I like some of my ideas just as much.

*So which name was the best? I think, based on the excellent relationship between this parent and son, that one of my first ones was the most fitting – Opie.  

Whatever you call him, he’s her “s-uh-n”. That’s son with a southern accent. And he’s a pretty great one at that. He laughs at his mama’s jokes, does her bidding AND knows his way around a stove.  What more could any mother want?

PS Measuring Cup update. No wonder those measuring cups of Paula’s are so great. They are amazingly pricey. Take a look.


Two Rivers Soap Company said...

You are so funny Sue! I've got to stop reading your posts at work, everyone here is going to think I'm a lunatic laughing out loud all the time!

Sue said...

Jennifer (right?),
Thanks so much. I find Paula so charming and warm. I could watch her shovel butter around the kitchen all day long.

Abandoned By Wolves said...

Wait, doesn't Paula have two sons? (I mention this because "the Deen Brothers" have put out something like 4 overpriced hardcover cookbooks.) I wonder which one this was..? Did the absent one sell his birth right for a mess of pottage - or at least spare ribs?

Nice catch with the wedding ring and the meat loaf - if my wife caught me doing that, I'd be in the dog house ("dawg" house?) for a week!

Sue said...

Hiya James,
This son turned out to be Bobby (Deen)...I like saying his first and last name together. It sounds more southern.

I actually think Paula used good sense NOT taking off that enormous ring. On the one hand, it would be hard to lose, but, on the other, Lloyds of London would probably have to be called in if she did misplace it.