Q&A with Paula Deen
The audience has come prepared with their cooking questions, so it's a good thing Rachael has some backup -- Paula Deen! Check out their answers below, and click here to watch Paula and Rach make Margarita Ice Pops.
Who inspired both of you to cook?
Rachael answers first: "My mom, Marcella Hazan, everybody on Food Network, of course. They really opened up; I mean, back in the day [the Food Network] was just Emeril doing like seven shows a day..."
"That was in her day," Paula interrupts with a laugh. "Back in my day, there was only the Galloping Gourmet!" Paula says that it really doesn't matter where you find inspiration. "The important thing is that you get in there and do it - and it doesn't have to be complicated."
Paula explains how cooking was therapeutic for her during her 20-year bout with agoraphobia. "I would forget about all the fears and things that made me so scared," she says. "I would just think about things that were in my pot!"
My fried chicken is either overcooked on the outside or always raw on the inside. What am I doing wrong?
Paula shares a few tips passed down from her grandma. "Always take your chicken, cut it up, wash it real good, salt and pepper it (or whatever seasonings you like) and then put it back in the refrigerator that morning. That way it has all day to soak up that seasoning. Then pull it out and let it kind of almost get to room temperature on your counter so it won't be so cold when it goes in [to the oil]." Paula explains that dark meat - the thighs and the legs - contain all of the blood and take longer to cook, whereas the breast and wings cook rather quickly. "At our restaurant," Paula shares, "I think we do 10 or 12 minutes on the white and 14 on the dark. I eat a lot of things medium rare, but chicken isn't one of them!"
Do you have any low-fat substitutes that are as good as the real thing?
"If you're asking me," Rachael answers, "I say no." Paula agrees: "The eyelashes I buy at the store might be the only thing that's as good as my own!"
What are your must-haves in the kitchen?
"I do not live without minute rice," Paula admits. "In five minutes I'll bring my water up to a boil, put in a stick of butter and salt ... I put that rice in and in five minutes I've got the finest pot of rice you'll ever eat." Paula adds that she also buys frozen dumplings which she can throw in a pot with some chicken, cream of chicken soup, celery and onion, and have chicken & dumplings in 30-45 minutes. "And frozen biscuits," she recalls. "They are delicious. You can put those out with anything. You can make a fabulous sandwich with them in only a matter of minutes."
How do I keep my meringue cookies from becoming gummy in the summertime when it's humid?
"Meringue is not going to work if it's raining -- period," Paula states. "I don't know of any tricks. I'm hard-headed; I tried making those meringue pies on a rainy day, it doesn't work. How those egg whites know that it's raining outside I don't know! Just choose a hot, dry day."
Is there any way to make foods such as lobster rolls or crab cakes, but without using pricey lobster and crab?
"Fish cakes," Rachael recommends. "You can make cod cakes, tuna cakes, salmon cakes. Also, if you're going to adapt those other recipes, you could cook up cod in a little bit of milk and flake it up, use it as crab or as lobster in any of those cake recipes." Paula offers a simple, inexpensive substitution. "Take a can of tuna, drain it, put your BBQ sauce on it, put it in a sauce pan and heat it up, and it is a healthy BBQ sandwich -- so good! And people never know; they think they're eating pork."
Whenever I make cheesecake, the top cracks. Any tips to prevent this?
While Paula tries to remember a tip she'd once heard (and since Rachael doesn't bake she can't help!), an audience member comes to the rescue with her own tip. "I put a pan of water under the cheesecake in the oven and it prevents it from cracking," she advises.
"I never cared whether mine cracked or not," Paula adds, "because they tasted just as good and I usually pile cherries or blueberries on top of it."
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