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Paula's Birthday Bash
Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Corn on the Cob
Green Beans with New Potatoes
Lace Hoecake Corn Bread
Buttermilk Pound Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream
Since my recent marriage, my family has doubled in size, which means so have the birthdays. And that's all right by me, because I just love throwing birthday parties for my family and close family friends. Because some months have multiple birthdays, I've found that it was easier if I picked one Sunday in each month and celebrated all the birthdays for that month on the same day. Take March, for example. This past March we had five birthdays, which meant five cakes, because one of the rules is "Everybody has his own cake." For this I have to confess I just go to the local grocery store, head straight for the bakery department, and order each guest of honor a personalized birthday cake. Then I bake a homemade pound cake and serve it along with fresh sweetened strawberries, ice cream, and fresh whipped cream. That gives everybody a traditional cake as well as that scrumptious, scrumptious homemade cake. Well, I'm really getting ahead of myself with this story, though, because before anyone can sing, blow out their candles, and eat birthday cake, there are a lot of things that have to happen first!
A few years back, I realized that our childhoods were getting further and further behind us, and that made me sad. So I set out to find a way to step back in time and recapture a small piece of that time when our lives were worry free. I decided one way to do this was through the wonderful, silly games we all played at our childhood birthday parties. Well, needless to say, when I announced that this birthday celebration was going to involve games, the moans and groans commenced. All the adult children said, "But we don't want to play games," and my response was, "If you're physically able, you must play the games, or no cake for you." Well, it took all of about three minutes for the hoots and hollers of laughter to begin. To this day, I cannot tell you who had the most fun -- Jamie and Bobby playing pin the tail on the donkey, or Michelle and Anthony running the three-legged race. I also found that the guys love bashing a piñata.
So I'm happy to say, now on Birthday Sundays, when I clap my hands and yell, "Okay, let the games begin," everybody is eager to play. I also found that these games really work up a hearty appetite. So after the games and before the birthday cake we all share a scrumptious meal together. Michael and I always make sure to plan a meal that is easy to prepare for a large crowd. Michael does the outside cooking while I prepare the inside dishes. It's really a toss-up between the most requested meal, but it's almost always a low-country boil or a Beer-in-the-Rear Chicken.
Michael and I would like to share with y'all one of our Birthday Bash menus and hope that your family and friends enjoy it as much as ours do.
1. Wash and drain the chicken and pat dry. Coat the chicken inside and out with seasoned salt and House Seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
2. Prepare the charcoal grill. When the coals are hot and glowing, carefully push them over to the sides of the grill, leaving an open space in the middle of the grill. Open the can of beer and pour off approximately 1/4 cup. Insert the sprig of rosemary into the can, then place the beer can, keeping it upright, into the rear cavity of the chicken. Carefully place the chicken, standing up on the beer can, in the center of the grill, facing one of the banks of coals, making sure not to spill the beer. Cover the grill and cook the chicken for approximately 1 hour, or until done, rotating the chicken as necessary. The chicken is done when the juice runs clear when pierced with a fork.
3. Carefully remove the beer can from the chicken using mitts and discard the can. Cut the chicken into halves or quarters. I personally don't want any sauce on this chicken, but I always offer barbecue sauces and hot sauces to my guests.
One chicken serves 2 to 4, depending on appetites. My crowd can all eat half a chicken each, easy.
Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Corn on the Cob
1. Gently pull back the husks, completely exposing the kernels, but do not remove the husks. Remove the corn silk and use a brush to make sure all the silk is removed. In a large pot filled with water, soak the corn for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the grill to medium.
3. Remove the corn from the water and pat dry. Take a slice of bacon and wrap it spiral-fashion around an ear of corn. Fold the husk back over the corn and bacon. Tie the husk with butcher string. Repeat the process for each ear of corn. Place the corn on the hot grill and cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon is cooked and the corn is tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The bacon will not be brown, which doesn't bother me one bit, but if it bothers you, gently pull the husks back and run the corn under the broiler for a few minutes until the bacon is brown. Serve with butter!
Green Beans with New Potatoes
My children's favorite green beans were cooked by their Great-Grandmother Paul. She used very little water and always wilted them. It dawned on me a couple of months back that while I had been cookin' these like Grandmama Paul did for years, I didn't have an exact formula. So the other day, I went into the kitchen at the restaurant and wrote down exactly everything I did. Well, I brought home that pot of beans and potatoes for Michael's supper. I served them alongside of Lace Hoecake Corn Bread and sliced tomatoes with onions. We fixed our plates and started eating, when all of a sudden Michael put down his fork, looked at me, and said, "Paula, those are the best green beans I have ever eaten." Needless to say, that little statement made me very happy, and once again proved that Grandmama Paul was a fabulous teacher.
1. Remove the ends from the beans. Snap the beans in two, place into a colander, wash, and set aside to drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron Dutch oven, lightly brown the salt pork in the bacon grease over medium heat, turning often, for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Toss the green beans into the pot, stirring them with a wooden spoon to coat well with the pork fat. Add the stock and House Seasoning. Cook over medium-low heat, covered tightly, for approximately 30 minutes, or until the beans are half done.
4. While the beans are cooking, peel a center strip from each new potato with a potato peeler. At the end of 30 minutes, add the potatoes and onion to the beans; add 1/4 cup more broth if needed. Cook, covered tightly, until the potatoes are tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes, periodically checking the pot to make sure a small amount of liquid remains. When the potatoes are tender, tilt the lid slightly, off to the side of the pot, and continue to cook until the green beans are wilted, approximately 15 minutes.
Serves 8 to 10
My tips for cooking phenomenal green beans: Stir often. Add additional chicken broth in small amounts as needed, but don't drown your beans.
Lace Hoecake Corn bread
1. Combine the cornmeal, salt, and 2 1/2 cups water and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.
2. Spray a flat hoe skillet with vegetable oil cooking spray and drizzle with approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Pour about three 2-ounce ladlefuls of the batter onto the skillet. The batter will sizzle and have a lacy appearance. If the batter gets too thick, add a bit of water. When the edges are slightly brown, place a wet glass plate over the hoecake. With a pot holder, grab the handle of the pan and flip the plate and pan so the hoecake falls onto the plate. Slide the hoecake off the plate back into the pan to cook the other side, and cook until golden brown.
3. Stir the batter and add additional oil to the pan before making your next hoecake.
Makes 8 to 10 large hoecakes, or 24 to 36 small hoecakes
note: If you do not have a hoe skillet, make small (2- to 3-inch) hoecakes in a flat, cast-iron skillet.
This is my son Jamie's favorite way to eat carrots. I buy the baby carrots already peeled and cleaned; they are uniform in size and cook evenly; but you can peel and quarter large carrots if you prefer. This dish is so simple, yet so delicious.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, coat the carrots with the olive oil. Toss with the House Seasoning and place in a 13-by-9-inch roasting pan. Roast until tender, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the carrots with the butter and chopped parsley.
Serves 6 to 8
Do yourself a huge favor and pick up frozen Pillsbury Oven Baked Buttermilk Biscuits. Hide the bag and take the bows!
Buttermilk Pound Cake
Buttermilk gives this cake its delicious tang.
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the vanilla and mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 13/4 hours, or until the cake is done. (The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan when ready, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.) Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cake plate and serve each big slice of cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream.
Dissolve the sugar in 1/3 cup warm water, add to the strawberries, and toss. Let stand, tossing a few times before serving. They will make their own juice in about 30 minutes.
Makes 31/2 cups
Fresh Whipped Cream
Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream and sugar until stiff.
Makes approximately 2 cups, enough for a dollop on 8 slices of strawberry-topped cake
Copyright © 2005 by Paula Deen