Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jamie Tells Us When Our Nuts Are Done

Home for Dinner With Jamie Deen

I just ran across someone who knows someone who works with Jamie Deen. He (or she…let’s stay anonymous) says Jamie is every bit as nice in person as he appears to be on television. That makes me happy, because he seems like such a stand-up guy and I want him to be like that in real life.

This week, Brooke and the kids are going to see his in-laws, so Jamie invites HIS mama over for dinner. How cute is he? If I ever got a call like that, I think I would have a heart attack. Of course, my kids don’t live down the road (or even on the same coast or state), but still… Jamie tells Paula he’s going to cook her dinner and he’s even going to pick her up. (Oh good, so she can party hearty.)

Jamie gets a few things ready first. He starts with couscous. Bobby apparently loves it and Jamie’s making his own version. I almost never make instant couscous anymore. I like the big pearls of the Israeli couscous. It does take longer to cook, but the texture is so much more toothsome!

As Jamie takes out the tilapia, he shows us a video of little Jack playing the harmonica…with his nose. Funny.

Jamie says it’s fun to be cooking for Mama for once. (Love it.) He chops up shallots, garlic, tomatoes and fresh thyme and spoons that mixture over 2 pieces of tilapia, which he’s placed on big pieces of foil. He drizzles over some oil and seals up the foil really well to make airtight packets. He puts them on a baking sheet and they go into a 450°F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Jamie says his mom has proved over and over how she would do anything for her kids. (Love him.)

Jamie roasts some pine nuts in a dry pan to add to the couscous. (I do that in the microwave. Put them on a dinner plate and cook them in 30 second intervals, checking until they’re done.)

Jamie says he didn’t eat couscous for his first 35 years. He mixes up fresh lemon juice, olive oil and fresh parsley to dress it with. He says Bobby NEVER adds nuts to HIS couscous, so Bobby still has stuff he can learn from his older brother.

Then Jamie shares this tip with us: “Y’all will know when your nuts are done, because they’ll be all toasty looking…and you can smell them.” That really says it all.

Jamie says lemon juice adds freshness to anything and now that he has a lemon tree in his backyard, he’ll always have some available. He finishes up the couscous with golden raisins and the toasted nuts. He hopes mama will like it. He says it’s got all good things in it like “pine nuts, which is just like me – it’s the good fat.”

He says he’s gotta run because it’s time for driving Miss Deen.

Paula is waiting for him in her garden, surrounded by herbs. How pretty! I guess it’s something that Food Network doyennes have in common. She picks some basil for him and she’s so happy that it’s just the two of them. Paula says, “I mean not YAY!!! but…” In other words that's EXACTLY what she means - YAY!!! that she gets some face-time with her boy alone.

Paula picks some limes from a little tree to bring with her to Jamie’s.

Next they’re in Jamie’s kitchen and Paula LOVES being there with (just) him. Carefully (and slowly), she tops some of the green beans for a salad, while Jamie does his in seconds. She tells him she was always amazed at his speed in the kitchen of Lady and Sons.

I like the way Paula handles the beans. It reminds me of my mother’s or aunts’ careful work in the kitchen. I like that she cuts as LITTLE off the ends of the beans as is humanly possible, thereby wasting the least amount of each bean.

They blanch the green beans and get an ice bath ready. Jamie shocks them after the beans have cooked for a minute or two.

He makes a dressing of 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and garlic. In a separate bowl, he mixes together cherry tomatoes, almonds and some feta with the green beans. The recipe calls for chopped red onion, but we never see him adding that, even though it does appear to be in the finished salad. A poltergeist must have done it.

See my notes on making this salad at the end of the post.
He asks us what we say the most when we have our mothers over for dinner. “I need a drink!”

Jamie gets to work on a Georgia Peach Perfection. He and Paula rip the mint into pieces to release its flavor and add it to each glass. A half of lime’s worth of juice goes in next. (Remember the best way to squeeze a lime?) Jamie muddles it all up with the stem end of a wooden spoon. Paula adds crushed ice to each glass and Jamie pours peach nectar over and tops it with seltzer. Where’s the alcohol?!!! Instead of seltzer, why not top it off with prosecco??! Oh look! He sends Paula out to the deck, while he gets a bottle that looked like this from the freezer and pours a big shot into his drink. (I guess that’s the gin that the recipe says is optional.)

They serve up their plates. Then Paula asks Jamie if he wants her to play the harmonica. He say sure and she obliges. THEN Jamie shows her the video of Jack. She’s completely delighted until she learns that the same harmonica she’s just had in her mouth, Jack has played WITH HIS NOSE. “Jamie!!!” He cackles.

They finish dinner and Paula says what a treat – just you and me. She says this is a perfect summer meal. He says this is a meal a dad loves to serve to his kids. He asks her what her favorite part was. She says the man sitting to her left. Awww. That’s so sweet, I have to watch it again. Yup, still sweet.

“Cheers Mama,” Jamie says as they clink glasses. “Cheers, son.” Sniff sniff. Cheers Paula! Cheers Jamie. How is it possible that Jamie managed to completely charm me with instant couscous and boiled beans? But let’s not forget the worthwhile toasted nut discussion.

And don’t y’all even THINK of using the word hokey when talking about Jamie and family. He’s adorable and, gosh, he sure does love his mama, which is never a bad thing.

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NOTES on the Green Bean Salad:


I decided to be like Paula and line my string beans up like little soldiers all in a neat row. It didn't help that some of them were wonky, but I persevered. 

I wanted to do it just like Paula did, so I cut the tiniest bit off the ends. 

They did look good. I proceeded that way for at least another 15 or 20...seconds, before I just grabbed the rest of the beans and pushed them into a quick pile and cut them fast. 

Changes to the recipe: I used big tomatoes cut into chunks, instead of cherry tomatoes. I wanted the juice to form part of the dressing. I also added mustard to the dressing and left out the feta. Definitely, chilling the salad for an hour is a good idea to develop the flavors. This is a very nice combination of flavors and textures.

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