Food Network chef Jamie Deen (Paula's son) will visit Pittsburgh
There's nothing quite like mom's cooking — especially when your mom is celebrity cook Paula Deen.
There's no question that Paula was — and continues to be — a big influence on the career of her son, Food Network chef Jamie Deen. Grandma Ginny, as she is known to Jamie and wife, Brooke's, 6-year-old son, Jack, occasionally stops by his cooking show, “Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen,” to hand-churn some ice cream with her grandson or taste a favorite dish that Jamie prepares for her.
Jamie Deen, who will visit with fans at two Pittsburgh-area Giant Eagle Market District stores on Saturday, attributes his love of traditional Southern cooking to his mother, who worked long hours in the family business, The Lady and Sons restaurant, when it first opened in 1989 in their hometown of Savannah, Ga.
The restaurant was started out of necessity, he says, when Paula, a divorced mother with two young sons, was raising him and his younger brother, Bobby. The Lady and Sons grew out of the Deen family's first food-service venture, The Bag Lady, a successful sandwich-delivery service, also in Savannah.
“My mom had boundless energy when she started her business in her early 40s, working seven days a week,” Jamie says. “The only skill she had was her ability to cook. My brother and I learned a lot from her. I feel we got an education that you can't buy.”
The family still owns the restaurant, he says, but both sons and Paula are too busy with their own cooking careers to manage it.
Jamie says some of his favorite memories growing up were of his mother's cooking, including his favorite fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn bread supper — although, he says, “I cook healthier since I have children.” His younger son, Matthew, is 17 months old.
Jamie and Bobby were regulars on their mother's Food Network cooking shows before they launched their own series, “Road Tasted,” in which the Deen brothers traveled across the country, spotlighting regional dishes.
Jamie's current show, “Home for Dinner,” features themes around which he builds meals. In a recent “Dinner with Ginny” episode, he prepared for his mom a grilled chicken entrée and a signature bow-tie pasta salad.
He surprised his then-girlfriend with a special anniversary dinner in another show, in which he re-created a romantic meal he made when he proposed marriage. On the menu was Rosemary Beef Tenderloin with Blackberry Red Wine Sauce served with Potatoes au Gratin and Shredded Brussels Sprouts — and for dessert, an Engagement Ring Parfait created from crumbled almond biscotti, mascarpone, heavy cream and strawberries.
In his “Jack's Favorite Things” episode, Jamie made some of his son's favorite foods, including chicken salad in toast cups, pimento cheese dip, broccoli salad and Jack's Purple Smoothie, a healthy blender beverage made from Greek yogurt, blueberries, mangos, pineapple and a banana.
Jamie says Jack enjoys helping him in the kitchen, and he hopes that Matthew will, too. It's actually beneficial to children's health to involve them in meal preparation, the chef says.
“It's the secret to getting kids to eat,” he says. “The more they put their hands in it, the more likely they are to eat it.”
Jamie and Bobby Dean have published four cookbooks, including their latest, “The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up” (Ballantine Books, $25), which features easy recipes for outdoor fun, including tailgating, picnics and grilling.
At his Pittsburgh appearances, Jamie will present some simple, seasonal recipes for the hectic holidays.
He already knows where he and his family will be celebrating at least part of the festive season.
“Mom does a big Christmas dinner for 20 people at her house,” he says. “We'll all gather there. She just cooks and cooks all day. In this family, you either cook or eat. I like to do both.”
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Roasted Turkey Tostadas with Fresh Cranberry Salsa
1 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
¼ cup chopped, fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
24 tortilla chips
1½ cups roasted, shredded turkey or chicken
1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a medium-size bowl, combine the apple, cranberries, green onion, lime juice, honey, salt and chile pepper. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the tortilla chips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Divide the turkey and cheese over the chips. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Top with the cranberry mixture. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 dozen tostadas.
Light and Creamy Pumpkin Soup
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups finely chopped sweet onion
1½ teaspoons dried rubbed sage
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons flour
6 cans (10½ ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt
6 cups cubed, peeled fresh pumpkin (about 2 pounds)
2 cups cored, peeled and chopped MacIntosh apple
1 cup coconut milk
In a Dutch oven over low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the sage, curry powder and nutmeg; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in the flour; cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, tomato paste and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in the pumpkin and apple; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat; cool slightly. In the container of a blender, add half of the pumpkin mixture. Process until smooth. Repeat the procedure with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. Return the mixture to the Dutch oven; add the coconut milk. Cook until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings
Pumpkin-White Chocolate Pie
½ of a 14.1-ounce package refrigerated pie crust
2½ cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 boxes (3.3ounces each) instant white chocolate-flavor pudding mix
¾ teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
White chocolate curls, for garnish, optional
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Fit the crust into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree, instant-pudding mix and pumpkin-pie spice. Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Cover and chill for at least an hour, or until ready to serve. Garnish with white chocolate curls, if desired.
Makes 8 servings.