Paula's Best Dishes with Paula Deen
Would you trust this woman to give your kids an after school snack?
Remember the butter in the chicken stock? Or eating chocolate cake out of her hands with Liza? Those were pretty bad, but I guess an occasional ride on the fat train is okay. After all, kids have many more years to work it off than we do.
Paula is hosting the adorable Kenton Duty from the Disney Channel in her kitchen. He is really cute. I’ve never heard of him before, but he seems sweet. (And could that truly be his real name? Maybe his parents knew he would be a Disney star and named him accordingly.)
Kenton is very talented. He’s playing guitar and singing Paula a song about cooking. She is completely charmed. She loves the line, “Everything’s better with butter.”
(I wonder how old he is. I’m thinking sixteen. Let’s see what Heartthrobs.com says. OH! Do NOT go to THAT site. There are some rather graphic images there.* Wikipedia says he’s 17. Interesting.)
Kenton says he’s always looked up to Paula and wanted to cook with her. Wow, he’s barely old enough to comb his own hair and he’s cooking for himself?!! Impressive. We learn his show is called “Shake it up.” Paula starts shaking. Whoa Nellie! Don’t scare him away, Paula.
Paula starts with oatmeal raisin cookies. Hers do look really good – browned and crispy, but I’m thinking this might be a waste of precious of Paula-time. She beats butter and eggs together (that’s a little weird), while Kenton mixes the dry ingredients – flour, salt (ugh), baking soda and cinnamon. Paula says, “Bacon is definitely a formula.” Wait! Where’s the bacon? That WOULD be different. OH! “BAKIN’ is definitely a formula,” as in BAKING. That makes more sense.
Kenton agrees and says he started BAKING at 5 years old and that’s where he learned fractions. He said when he got to school, he already knew 5th grade math. Gosh, a kid who’s good at math AND can cook! Paula says that’s wonderful information for kids - that they can really learn from cooking. Forget the math, I just think it’s smart for ANYONE to know how to cook some basic things.
Kenton is measuring the flour with those lavish measuring cups that only a Disney star (or Food Network doyenne) could afford.
Paula says kids love being in the kitchen. “It’s a wonderful place to build memories for ‘em.”
Paula adds the sugar AFTER she’s creamed the butter and eggs together. I still don’t know why she did that. The recipe shows the usual method of creaming the sugar and butter and THEN adding the eggs. The recipe also says to SOAK the pecans. I think that’s a dreadful idea. I would do the opposite and TOAST them, before adding them to the batter.
Kenton says again that he’s always dreamed of cooking with Paula. He says he loves her relationship with her sons. You don’t think he’s trying to scam money out of her, do you? Paula says you never outgrow family. Try telling that to some other child stars.
They continue cooking and agree to go bungee jumping. OFF A CLIFF?!! Oh, there’s some kind of contraption that Paula bought for grandson Jack and they’re going to use that after they cook. Kenton says about Paula, “I thought she would be nice, but she was NICER.” Sweet.
They add the oatmeal, raisins and pecans (in big pieces) to the cookie dough. (There’s no soaking in sight.)
Paula tells Kenton it’s very important to make cookies the same size so they finish baking at the same time. I’m with Paula. To me, that’s one of the most critical points about baking cookies. They should be uniformly sized. The other is that you have to watch them carefully and be prepared to check them constantly - even in 30 second increments. (So it’s not the time to be finishing your Word with Friends game or icing a cake.) Paula has an ice cream scoop in her hand for getting just the right amount of dough. I don’t know how you would do it any other way.
Paula uses silicone mats on her baking sheets. I like Pam-ed foil. Oh, this is interesting. Paula leaves her cookies in the round balls as they come out of the ice cream scoop. I usually smash my unbaked cookies down with wet palms, so they cook more evenly. But her cookies look really crisp and flat, so I may try that next time. She bakes them at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Next, they move on to a vegetable pizza. It’s too bad that Paula is using store-bought dough, which she is pre-baking. Wouldn’t it have been a more valuable lesson to teach Kenton how to make dough from scratch? They could do it in thirty seconds in the food processor and then go out and bungee jump while they wait for it to rise. (Hopefully they won’t have killed themselves and wasted all that effort in the kitchen.)
Paula cuts up and sautés the vegetables while Kenton grates mozzarella and Parmesan. She says, “Be as grate as I know you are!” Funny.
Paula is so cute, she’s calling him “Kitten”. Hold on, no, she isn’t. That’s just her accent and way of saying “Kenton”. I thought it was funny that she was calling this tall guy “Kitten”. For some reason, Paula is making a ranch dressing. She mixes bottled ranch dressing with sour cream and cream cheese.
I don’t want to sound harsh, but I don’t believe bottled dressing has a place on a food maven’s refrigerator shelf. (Every 2 or 3 years, I do buy bottled blue cheese dressing for the Super Bowl, but that is it!) What’s this FOR anyway?
This is different. Paula “forgot” to make marinara for the pizza and she’s using ranch dressing instead. She spreads the ranch dressing on top of the dough and covers it with the cooked vegetables and sliced tomatoes. A few basil leaves go on top with the cheese. She bakes it at 450°F.
Incidentally, her recipe details how to make pizza dough, so I don’t know why Paula didn’t share that with Kenton. I suppose if the kid didn’t even realize Paula was making her cookies in a weird way, then a yeast dough might have been way too advanced.
The pizza comes out and Paula slices it up. Of course, they love it. They like the ranch dressing oozing all over the place. That IS a good idea, but make your own. While they chomp on their pizza, Paula starts on the grouper fish fingers, while she talks about how she’s going to be the envy of every teenage girl in Georgia.
Kenton is really psyched to use Paula’s in-the-counter deep fryer. They coat the fish in flour, then buttermilk, then back in the flour and Kenton drops the pieces in the fryer. That would be fun for a kid…under the proper supervision, of course. (Is that a Southern thing – the way she coated the fish, I wonder? I learned what I guess is the English way – flour, eggs, crumbs.)
Paula makes a tartar sauce with grated onion, dill relish, mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasonings. Paula spills the cooked fish out onto a paper towel. It looks fabulous. That fancy fryer is amazing.
By the way, have you heard about the hottest new “non-fryer” on the market? Oprah is in love with it. It does sound cool, but way too pricey to buy on a whim.
Lastly, Paula shows “Kitten” (sorry, I can’t help myself) how to make lemonade. Oh, now she’s calling him “Dumpling”.
They juice twelve lemons and add mint and simple syrup and that’s it. The cookies are ready too. Paula explains why they’re flat. She didn’t add any baking powder, so they come out almost like a lace cookie. I love that idea.
Kitten LOVES the lemonade. She pushes him outside to the bungee jumping thing. Is that safe? Did his people have to arrange with her people about insurance? He has a turn, then he suggests Paula try it.
Paula gets all strapped it and says, “It’s like those seatbelts in the airplane. You just pray it’s going to meet.” She jumps and down in the bungee thing. Paula says Kitten had a ball on the jumper, but WATCHING Paula is probably as much fun as actually going on it. I like that she can keep up with a 17 year old Disney star.
Here’s Paula on the jumping thingie. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!
*Did you actually go to Heartthrobs.com?!! Hah! Fooled you!!! It’s a big nothing, but that WOULD be a great name for a website of teen-idol types.