Paula Deen: It Ain't All About Cooking

Known as the "Queen of Southern Cuisine," Southern Belle chef and Food Network veteran Paula Deen shares her secrets of success that she learned on her rocky road to culinary stardom in her new book, "Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin." She shared recipes that represent pivotal times in her life on "Good Morning America."

Paula Deen's Mississippi Mud Cake

Mississippi Mud Cake is serious comfort food, my friends. You can sink into that deep, chocolate-y mud, and those sweet and mushy marshmallows, and feel safe. I could eat a whole cake when I was hidin' under my bed.

For Cake:

2 cups sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick unsalted butter

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup cocoa

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 bag miniature marshmallows

For Icing:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons cocoa

6 tablespoons milk

1 one-pound box confectioner's sugar

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350? F. Grease and flour a 13" x 9" baking pan.

2. Combine the sugar, salt, and flour in a large mixing bowl. Bring butter, oil, cocoa, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add to the flour mixture.

3. Beat together the eggs, baking soda, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add to the chocolate mixture, mix well, and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

4. While the cake is baking, make the icing by melting the butter in the cocoa and milk over low heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the confectioner's sugar. Slowly mix in the nuts and the vanilla. Take the cake from the oven, and when it cools a bit cover it with miniature marshmallows. Pour the warm icing over the cake and the marshmallows. Cool the cake before serving.

Paula Deen's Biscuits and Sawmill Gravy

If you ask me really how you can get a cookbook published, make sure there's a cookbook editor in your friend's kitchen when you bring over your offering for a potluck supper. This is the recipe that will definitely seduce that editor into publishing your cookbook, because it is so divine. I promise!

For Biscuits:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable shortening

1 to 1 ¼ cups milk

¼ cup melted unsalted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a fork until it looks like cornmeal. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly until well mixed.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly two or three times. Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin to ½-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch cutter. Place the biscuits in a greased iron skillet. Brush the biscuits with half the melted butter. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the hot biscuits with the remaining butter. Slit the biscuits in half and ladle Sawmill Gravy (recipe follows) over the hot biscuits.

For Sawmill Gravy:

1 pound ground sausage

4 slices thick-cut bacon

½ medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 cups half-and-half

2 tablespoons butter

In a large skillet, combine the sausage, bacon, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the sausage is browned and crumbles. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Stir in the butter until well blended.

Mrs. Groover's Banana Nut Delight Cake

From Michael's momma's memory and my cooking smarts, we reconstructed Banana Nut Delight Cake, his supreme favorite dessert, for his groom's cake at our wedding. It turned out to be delicious, but not exactly the cake he remembered so fondly. Imagine my own delight when, a year later, we found Mrs. Groover's original recipe box and the true Banana Nut Delight Cake recipe written in pencil on a little card in her own hand. Here it is. Now we have to have the weddin' all over again with this exactly right groom's cake.

For Cake:

2 ½ cups sifted cake flour

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup vegetable shortening

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 ¼ cups mashed ripe banana

2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350?F. Grease and flour three 8-inch or two 9-inch cake pans.

2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl; add the shortening, buttermilk, and banana. Mix until all the dry ingredients are dampened then beat at low speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out on a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Banana Nut Frosting:

1 eight-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 one-pound box confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine all the ingredients, except for the pecans, and beat until fluffy. Fold in the pecans, and frost the cake. If you love lots of icing, you can make 1 ½ times this recipe. Remember, this is not banana bread but a stacked cake, so be sure to frost between the layers as well as the outside.

From PAULA DEEN by Paula Deen. Copyright © 2007 by Paula Deen. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

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