Friday, June 29, 2012

Jamie Deen At Home...In His Own Kitchen

Home for Dinner With Jamie Deen

I really have no idea if this a new show or it’s just on at a different time. We see Jamie with his very cute kid, Jack, baby Matthew and wife, ___??? (I guess wives don’t need names.) Jack seems to be the center of the attention anyway. Daddy asks Jack what he wants for dinner and he says “Cheeseburgers!” Jamie is happy to oblige.

In the kitchen, Jamie takes out an “80/20” mix of ground beef from his butcher. He says using all super lean is no good. He doesn’t take any time to explain what those numbers mean, so I will.

80/20 means that the ground beef is 80% lean and 20% fat. That’s what ground chuck is. Super lean is 93% lean and 7% fat. Obviously, and unfortunately, the more fat, the more flavor. A hamburger that you love will probably be a fattier one.

Having said that, I usually just opt for a veggie burger and put all the good stuff on top, so I don’t even care about the burger itself.

I won’t tell you, oops I just did, about how I had 2, count’em TWO, blue cheese burgers last week and gosh, they were good. In my defense, in neither case did I eat the whole thing. Really! And I don’t even want to think about the lean to fat ratio in those burgers, but they were made with beef from Creekstone farms, so the meat was good! (The funny thing was I thought I was writing about healthy new menu items at Salt Creek Grille and it was the burger that wowed me.)

By the way, the more fat in the burger, the more it shrinks, so you may want to start with a slightly bigger burger if you’re using 80/20 ground beef. Also cheaper meat that’s been “flavor enhanced” shrinks too, because of the solution it’s been injected with.

Oh, maybe “Brooks” is his wife’s name. Not sure.

Jamie adds ¼ cup of chopped (barely) raw onions to his burgers. Good idea. I do that to my meatloaf. OH, then he says (almost as an afterthought) that he uses a Vidalia onion. (Say that with a heavy southern accent). Um, Jamie, you gotta tell us these things in a clearer way. Don’t just mutter Vidalia under your breathe and hope we get it.  There’s all the world of difference between a sweet Georgian Vidalia onion and a pungent, strong Spanish onion. Actually, I think either would be good here, but he’s going for a certain flavor, so he needs to tell us.

Then Jamie gives us his biggest tip. “Don’t overwork your meat.” I’m going to leave that alone.

Wait, he does say he’s not going to “abuse this meat, because it breaks down the fat and that provides the juice and the flavor.” That’s a good rule to live by.

We hear all about little Jack playing baseball. Jamie is the pitcher on the restaurant’s soft ball team and he wears number 21, so Jack wears 21 too. Cute. Although, actually, do they go for that on kids’ baseball teams, where someone requests a special number? Dunno.

Jamie likes to shape the burgers in advance and then refrigerate them, so that when the fire’s ready, he “can go right to work”. He reminds us to press down the center of each burger, since they puff up when they cook. I forgot about that. That is a good tip. He certainly chopped those onions roughly. There are huge bits of onions in the burgers and some have a lot and some have a few.

Jamie says that we “ladies” may be jealous that our men don’t make cakes for us, but he’s going to show us an easy one bowl cake that anyone can make.

I guess it all comes down to what Oprah used to say – “We teach people how to treat us.” My son DOES make me a birthday cake when he’s around. H? Only once in many eons.

Jamie says the kind of cake he's making is called a “dump cake” in the south. That is NOT an attractive name. You just DUMP the ingredients into a bowl and that’s it. He says it takes as long to make it as it takes the oven to preheat, so that’s handy.

This is how Jamie makes the cake. He dumps 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar in the mixer bowl with 1 cup of cocoa powder and baking soda, baking powder and salt.  He says he has a perfect teaspoon measure right here as he pinches together his first three fingers. (I can actually measure a teaspoon pretty accurately in the cupped palm of my hand. That way I can actually SEE how much is there, unlike grabbing a big pinch.)

Jamie melts a stick of butter. I love that he says you might think it’s easier to just buy a box cake, but do you know what’s IN a boxed cake?!! Neither does he, he answers. He says he knows what’s in THIS cake. That’s one of his favorite things about “cooking at the house”.  

(Note to self: In the south, they cook “at” the house, not “in” the house or “at home”.)

Jamie mixes into the dry ingredients 3 eggs with 1 cup of buttermilk, ½ cup warm water, vanilla and the cooled butter. He mixes it super quickly, till there are no dried bits of flour. He Pams his pans and add the batter. I wish he would line his pans with wax paper or parchment. I would never NOT do that. It’s just a bit of insurance.

Oh, his wife is BROOKE, not Brooks. (You never know these days.)

Jamie says a chocolate cake adds a bit of sparkle to their weekdays. He bangs the pans down to remove any air bubbles and bakes them at 350°F for 50 minutes.

His gazpacho recipe comes with a great story, (so he says). Jamie shows us a card from Robert Plante, who LOVED his mother’s gazpacho. After Plante visited their restaurant, Jamie ran to his car to get a CD for him to sign. Robert Plante told Jamie it was the BEST gazpacho he had ever had. When he left, Jamie saw that Plante had left his reading glasses behind. Jamie ran after him and he got four tickets to the next night’s concert as a thank you. At the will-call window…(sorry this story is taking so long, he told it much faster), the person asked, “Who left these tickets for you?” And Jamie said, in an super-loud voice, so EVERYONE could hear, “Robert Plante left me the tickets.”  He took his brother and two babes to the concert and it was great…

Anyhoo, for the gazpacho, he chops up orange peppers, tomatoes and English cucumber. He says to make sure to remove the pepper’s seeds and the cucumber’s skin. He adds one clove of garlic and one small shallot with some salt and pepper. He tastes it for seasoning before he blends it in batches. No vinegar? But I like that he doesn’t add bread or oil.

Oops, in the last blender batch, he adds 1/3 cup olive oil. He also adds sherry vinegar.

Really and truly, you can make great gazpacho without the olive oil. Or just add a tablespoon if you have to OR just float a little bit on the top. But I never add olive oil and then you can feel completely good about having it (along with your fat-laden  blue cheese burgers).

Jamie tastes it and says if you have that with a grilled cheese sandwich, “You will hurt yourself.” I like him.

Two other gazpacho things. I like to finely dice vegetables and serve those as a garnish. And in Spain (and most of the time in my kitchen), gazpacho is strained through a fine sieve. Of course, you’re getting rid of the great-for-you fiber, so it’s fine not to strain it, unless you’re serving Spaniard aristocrats.

For the cake’s icing, Jamie melts a stick of butter and 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate. He takes it off the stove and beats in cocoa powder, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. I like this recipe. He thins out the whole thing with sour cream. That’s a nice recipe. It looks great.

Jamie goes to see his buddy, Randy, at Davis Produce to get some burger toppers in the form of fresh vegetables. He walks out with tomatoes, avocados,  lettuce and Vidalia onions right out of the ground. (Say it with me – “vie-DAY-ee-yuh”.)

Jamie “roasts off” applewood bacon in the oven, so it’s not too “greezy” at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes. He cooks the burgers on a stove top grill. But then what was that about getting the fire going? He cooks them for 5 or 6 minutes on each side.

Jamie likes that he can control everything his kids eat in his kitchen. That seems to be a recurrent theme. He wants to know what’s in everything he cooks and where the ingredients come from.

That’s the whole point of cooking in your own kitchen “at the house”, isn’t it? That’s why I like the philosophy of basically eating what your grandparents ate (for some of you young’uns, your GREAT grandparents), then you should be okay. Want chocolate cake? Fine, but make it yourself with as many non-processed ingredients as possible. And make it a special treat. Want hamburgers? Okay, but know where the meat comes from and flavor it and handle it yourself. 

Jamie opens the windows while he grills the burgers. He makes a special sauce out of equal parts of mayo, ketchup and yellow mustard. Okay, I know those could be considered processed foods, but you’re eating a tablespoon, not a boatload. I would add some chopped pickles or relish to that. And making your own ketchup is always an option.

As Jamie cooks the burgers, he says he NEVER presses down on any cut or kind of meat that he’s cooking, because he’ll lose the juices and it will dry out and become super-hard. Oh, he’s talking about flattening the burger with the utensil he’s turning it with, NOT touching it for doneness, which he does do. He says a thermometer is the only way to know for sure if it’s done, but he doesn’t bother with that.

He washes all the vegetables and slices them all up. He salts and peppers the tomatoes and wedges up the avocado. He adds cheese to the top of the burgers and then the crisp bacon. He leaves them to sit on the stove-top grill for just a minute to set the juices.

Jamie frosts the cooled cake (which looks a bit concave and doesn't have exactly the most evenly-sized layers I’ve ever seen). But I promise that ANYONE who bakes me a cake will hear only praise…and lipsmacking.

Dinner is served and Brooke has some cake while there’s still a big hamburger on her plate. They have to rush to Jack’s baseball practice, so she’s eating the important thing first. (I approve.)  
So what about this show? How does it stack up to his mother’s? Well, he’s a lot calmer. He focuses somewhat on good food, but his last name IS Deen, so there had to be a cheeseburger or cheesecake or something.

Did I learn anything? Not really, but I haven’t made a chocolate icing with sour cream in forever and I forgot how good that is. Plus I admire his commitment, stated several times, to cook real food. Not necessarily diet food, but with REAL ingredients (mostly). If you can understand everything on the label, then it’s probably okay, although it’s even better not to HAVE a label.

In general, Jamie is cooking real home-style food that doesn’t break the budget bank of calories with each bite (with a few exceptions). And in those cases, just have SOME, not most of whatever it is.

Jamie cooks in a knowledgeable, rather serene way that is a pleasure to watch. Can’t you always tell the difference between a person whose family cooked and one who is coming to the culinary world without a cooking pedigree? Plus he has years of restaurant experience which shows.

Will I hoot with delight at Jamie's antics? No, but I’ll smile at the fresh, delicious food he produces, with his devotion to his family served up as more than just a side dish. He’s cooking for THEM and that’s what lots of us do every single day (for weeks and months and YEARS)!!! Oy, maybe he’ll take us to Hawaii on the next episode. We could probably both use a break...


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

This isn't the "Not My Mother's Recipes" show then? The one where he supposedly cooks more healthful recipes? I would guess not since he is encouraging fattier hamburgers - not that I would disagree with him on that. Bring on the fat, I say!

My husband has never baked me a cake, or cookies, or even cooked me a burger. He hasn't cooked a meal or a dessert since the day we met. He swears to me he can cook and that he even baked before he met me. I guess he doesn't want to embarass himself in front of the master. ;-) He complains that when I do bake that it's never for him and that I'm always taking my baked goods to parties or to work or to give out as gifts. Maybe if he wants baked goods so badly, he should make it himself!

Emily said...

I've only seen the "NMMR" show. I do like him and find the show entertaining. The other Deen boy is going to have a new show too I heard. I like the idea of a one bowl chocolate cake.

Also, I've craving a blue cheese burger now thanks to you.