Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

I’ve baked this chocolate cake for every birthday for every child and friend for years and years. It’s dark, rich, and has a flavor all its own. Try this featured Women’s Day Magazine recipe that everyone will ask you for!

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January 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day and this recipe was featured in Women’s Day Magazine!

In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, I give a nod to my late mother-in-law, Mary Jane Morgan, and the legacy chocolate cake she passed down to me from her mother, Irene Seeley.

I remember traveling with my firstborn, Trey, to visit George’s parents in September 1979.

Trey turned two that visit, and Mary Jane made chocolate cupcakes turned into clowns using ice cream cones as hats and candies for their faces. Trey was delighted and I noticed something funny.

Hubby, George, would sneak into the fridge and scoop from a bowl spoonful of left-over frosting again and again and again. 

Mary Jane shared the cake recipe and I’ve baked it for every birthday for every child and friend for years and years.

I’ve made it as a sheet cake, a two-layer round cake, and a four-layer square cake. The frosting is so gooey that the more layers you try the more the cake slides to one side or another leaving it a tiered cake or as my sons refer to it the AVALANCHE cake!

No matter how it looks, the cake is incredible.

It’s dark, rich, and has a flavor all its own.

The secret ingredient is black walnut flavoring. McCormick produced this essence until ten or so years ago when it was dropped.

Lovers of the cake would ransack their grandmother’s pantry for stored bottles of the stuff. We found quite a few that way!

Today, Amazon will give you a good selection of choices when you search, and I’ve tried them all. It works!

This is truly our family’s legacy cake. It was featured in Women’s Day magazine when my first book was published in 2000.

In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, I will share with you the short-cut secret to making this cake for your family.

Yes, it is a departure from the original, but I’m sure both Mary Jane and Irene will approve of this modernization.

 

For the frosting, dump 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of your electric mixer.

Add ¾ cup cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix in 4 tablespoons melted butter, ½ cup brewed coffee, 2 tablespoons black walnut flavoring, and ⅓ cup milk or cream. Mix this all together, scraping down the sides.

Now, here’s the tricky part. If the frosting is too loose, add more sugar. If it’s too tight, add more milk. And this is the trick, just to be safe, mix in a can of prepared chocolate frosting. This stabilizes the frosting and gives you even more than you need. (Plenty for that bowl you’re going to stash in the fridge.)

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

30-35 Minutes Until You’re Ready

Good For:

Everything!

Ingredients

  • Devil’s Food Cake recipe or boxed mix
  • ¾ cup Sprite
  • ¾ cups brewed coffee
  • 4 tablespoons of black walnut flavoring
  • 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar 
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ⅓ cup milk or cream

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Start with a Devil’s food cake recipe.

In place of water, use ¾ cup Sprite and ¼ cup brewed coffee.

Add 2 tablespoons of black walnut flavoring.

Continue as directed on the box and bake as either cupcakes or any version of your favorite layer cake. Cool the cakes.

 

National Chocolate Cake Day Mahogany Cake

For the frosting:

  1. Add 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of your electric mixer
  2. Add ¾ cup cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon salt
  3. Mix in 4 tablespoons melted butter, ½ cup brewed coffee, 2 tablespoons black walnut flavoring, and ⅓ cup milk or cream
  4. Mix this all together, scraping down the sides

Hom

If the frosting is too loose, add more sugar. If it’s too tight, add more milk. Keep a can of prepared chocolate frosting on hand just to be safe

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation on social media with #inthekitchenwithjorj and be sure to show us in my free private home cooking group, Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj!

Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach
Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach
Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach

My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

My Thanksgiving Recipe Planner for 2021 (And BEYOND!)

thanksgiving dinner ideas 2021

It’s TURKEY TIME and we’re together again…finally! Extraordinary times call for extraordinary meals, and this year is especially filled with gratitude and good meals at the family dinner table.

When is Thanksgiving in 2021?  Thursday, November 25th!  That’s right around the corner.

Whether you’re hosting a family gathering, a Friendsgiving or a neighborhood potluck, we come to gather and give thanks at this time of year and this year is special.

We may not have seen each other in a while, so this Thanksgiving it’s more important than ever that you, the host, enjoy your day as much as everyone else does!

I have a sure-fire plan that allows you to make sure that you have as much FUN on Thanksgiving as your guests.

Here’s how we’ll do it!

 

Turkey Day Planning

Avoid Shortages: Order Ahead

This year especially you want to make sure that you reserve the items that you need for your menu and that you pick them up in plenty of time. Pick up your frozen turkey as soon as you can (and put it on your calendar to order ahead for festivities in December).

If you’re choosing a fresh turkey, make sure you reserve it at the grocery store for pick up several days in advance. The same is true if you are getting your turkey from the farm or market.

Make sure you are ready to pick up your reserved turkey when the farmer is ready to deliver.

Accept Help!

 

If Aunt Edna’s offers her pumpkin pie, accept!! If Cousin Ben offers to bring an appy, accept!!

If your best friend offers to help with the dishes, accept!!

You are the host, not the restaurant owner. This meal is about being thankful for our blessings and friends and family are those blessings.

 

Turkey Day Take-Alongs

Plan Your Menu

Turkey is the star, of course.

But choose the sides based on your oven space. If you have one oven, having six casserole dishes that need heated at the last minute won’t work out well.

Make use of your slow cooker, Instapot or warming drawer for extra help.

 

Break Down Everything into Its Smallest Part

 

If your appy is a cheese platter, have everything chopped and rolled so that all you have to do is assemble it.

Make your desserts ahead. Assemble your casserole dishes ahead, so all you have to do is bake them.

Make your gravy ahead and heat it on the stove while you carve the turkey.

Set your table in advance. If you are tackling a centerpiece, do this in advance.

Have a plan that lets you wake on Thanksgiving morning to a day with very few chores left to do!

 

Take a look at these ideas to get you started:

The Best Gravy Recipe EVER

 

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever. This full proof make-ahead gravy recipe not only saves you time but is also the most flavorful gravy you’ve ever made!

Out of time or inspiration? Get my very best Thanksgiving recipes with easy-to-follow instructions to make this the most tasty holiday yet!

Shop Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
Great Gift Ideas 😉

National Gumbo Day Recipe to Savor

National Gumbo Day Recipe to Savor

national gumbo day recipe october 12

If you’re looking for a dish that’s perfect to prepare it in the morning and heat up as family gets in, look no further!  This soup/stew has just enough spice to keep things interesting. The roux makes the dish… it’s rich, luscious and full of flavor!

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October 12th is National Gumbo Day and I have JUST the recipe to see that you celebrate deliciously.

The dish of many cultures, gumbo is a melting pot for flavors. National Gumbo Day is a day to enjoy the bold, savory signature stew from Louisiana.

This multifaceted dish reflects its origins as an adaptation of many different cultures’ recipes blended together into one delicious dish that we know today.

According to SouthernFoodWays.com, gumbo was first served at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans in 1803.

There’s no certainly no better way to celebrate than enjoying a hot, savory dish of gumbo.  Give this recipe a try!

 

Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

40 Minutes Until You’re Ready

Good For:

Dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, 2 sticks
  • 1 red pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 1 green pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth, or
  • prepared low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage, sliced and cut in half
  • 2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled, deveined with tails removed
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked white rice

Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage Recipe

Spread the flour onto a baking sheet. Toast the flour in the oven for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the toasted flour. Stir in the diced peppers. Cook the roux until it is amber brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pot. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook until the liquid is incorporated. Stir in the chicken broth, clam juice, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Pour in the roux and cook for 5 minutes. Season with hot pepper sauce and additional salt and pepper. Stir in the sausage, shrimp and okra. Simmer until the shrimp is cooked through and the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.

Serve the gumbo by placing a scoop of rice in the middle of a bowl. Surround the rice with gumbo. Serve additional hot pepper sauce on the side!

Nana Network Tip
Use thawed, frozen shrimp and frozen okra in this recipe. It’s perfect and way less expensive!

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation on social media with #inthekitchenwithjorj and be sure to show us in my free private home cooking group, Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj!

Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Easy Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe – Farmer’s Market Edition!

This garden bread art recipe was inspired by traditional Azerbaijani outdoor cooking and my love for all things fresh from the Farmer’s Market! Join me as I revisit my focaccia bread that first appeared in “Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market” 

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Sometimes inspiration just hits! For me it started with the Azerbaijan cooking vlogs that constantly show up in my Facebook feed. 

I used to look forward to seeing friends and kids of friends and grandkids of friends. 

Now, I peer into the screen waiting to see my adorable Azerbaijan friends as they emerge through the green door of their tiny house to forage through the woods, harvesting as they go. 

The only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves and chirping birds. He throws down a metal pan, slices some logs and before you know it there is a working oven in the middle of a field or by the side of a stream or at the top of a ridge!

She uses a clever wooden board to chop everything from onions to a whole leg of lamb. He makes tea out of the flowers he picks as he passes the field. 

I’m inspired by everything that they cook – always outdoors and always on an open fire. But what gets me the most is how she (Lord, I wish I knew her name) bakes bread at almost every meal using nothing but her hands and a covered skillet. 

It’s amazing! 

And even more, it makes me crave fresh baked bread almost daily. 

Let’s face it…I have every modern tool known to man starting with electricity and ending with a machine fitted with a dough hook and still, I find bread making to be daunting.

I’m over it! If my Azerbaijan friend can bake gloriously delicious-looking bread over an open fire, then I can certainly take my bread baking to a new level using my state of the art kitchen. Right?

I have a really good recipe for focaccia bread in my book “Canvas and Cuisine: Art of the Fresh Market”.

The dough comes together quickly and rises when requested. It bakes in about 15 minutes and has just enough crumb to distinguish itself from flatbread. It’s my go-to bread recipe, so I decided that my focaccia dough would be my canvas.

My morning trip to the Farmer’s market yielded all sorts of treasurers. I purchased peppers and multi-colored carrots. I gathered my favorite purple-green tomatoes and all sorts of herbs. When I laid out all of these, I saw my plan come together. I would create a flower garden using veggies and herbs to decorate my bread. I would make my Azerbaijan friend proud! 

It’s all in the planning, so I laid out my design on parchment paper while the bread was rising. This was the smartest thing that I did, because I could change things around on paper that I would have been stuck with when placed on the bread dough.

I used red onions for flower petals and chives for stems. I sliced the carrots using my mandoline and cut olives, red cherry bomb peppers and grape tomatoes into thin slices. Sage and parsley leaves pulled everything together and my flower garden was born.

In the end, it worked like a charm and my pals oohed and awed at the results. I must admit I was pretty impressed with myself!

My Azerbaijan friend started me on this journey. (I feel I have more to come!!) The Farmer’s market furthered my vision.

And here’s my take from this experience. Inspiration can be found anywhere; you just have to open your eyes. 

What’s going to inspire you this week??

Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe

 

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

20 Minutes plus a few hours for bread to rise

Good For:

Appetizer, Brunch

Ingredients for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread

 

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water

  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup olive oil, divided

  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Directions for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread 

 

Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the warm water. Place the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and fragrant, about 15 minutes. I use the proof setting on my warming drawer for this.

Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine the flour, salt, ½ cup of olive oil and the yeast to form a dough. Once the dough comes together, continue to knead the dough in the machine until smooth. Stop the machine and check the dough every couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, hold its shape around the dough hook and spring back when you indent it with your finger. This takes anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes using the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, knead until you can’t knead anymore!

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for an additional 30 seconds. If the dough is too sticky, you can sprinkle with additional flour. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I use my warming drawer for this step, too.

 

Pour the remaining cup of olive oil onto a 12 ½ x 17 ½ x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, stretching it out to fill the pan. Turn and coat with oil on both sides. Use your finger to poke indentations into the dough. These will be the “nooks and crannies” to hold the seasoning in the next step. Place the dough in a warm place to rise again, for 1 hour. Yep, the warming drawer is still the best place!

Preheat the oven to 400°. Transfer the pan from its warm place. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, sea salt, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan before cutting into squares.

 

Movie Star Mushrooms: Netflix & Delish With This Mushroom Dish

Movie Star Mushrooms: Netflix & Delish With This Mushroom Dish

meals to make with mushrooms

I LOVE cooking mushrooms. These edible fungi inspire my dishes with their complex flavors and many uses. Spinach Au Gratin With Sauteed Mushrooms is one of my favorite recipes that is easy to make and will make you feel like a celebrity chef!

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September is mushroom month. Who knew???

Mushrooms are all the rage right now. Netflix just aired a mushroom documentary that someone spent fifteen years filming…FIFTEEN YEARS!!

Although I have always loved mushrooms and at least one container jumps into my shopping basket each grocery store visit, my love affair entered new territory when I visited the farmer’s market this season

There were not one, but two stands devoted to the most interesting varieties of mushrooms I have ever seen. I’m used to working with portobello and button ‘shrooms. 

I even dabble with shitake and oyster. But the giant varieties at the stands are as amazing as they are beautiful. 

There were baskets of Black Pearl and Blue Oyster mushrooms. Turkey Tail, Lions Maine and Chicken of the Woods were names of even more exotic ‘shrooms.

The Boone Fungi company offers a wild (yes, pun intended) arrangement of mushrooms and I bought a bag of assorted mushrooms and brought them home to experiment. 

The farmers suggested roasting the mushrooms, which I did. This did nothing more than dehydrate them. So, I tackled them the way I usually do which is to add fat and flavor, and this worked beautifully!

I do have a secret for getting the best flavor from the shroom. The secret is high heat and a butter bath. You can cook an entire mushroom steak this way or chop a giant mushroom into smaller pieces. Let the mushrooms or mushroom pieces crisp in the pan until you see a golden crust. Now they are ready for whatever comes next.

Serve them atop a juicy steak, or your favorite veggie casserole.

Use a mushroom broth to create a luscious soup or sauce.

Whatever your fancy, the fancy mushrooms will add flavor and FUN to your next meal!

Who knows? Maybe Netflix will come-a knockin’……..

Here’s one of my favorite recipes that uses mushrooms just perfectly!

Spinach Au Gratin With Sauteed Mushrooms

Servings

4-6

Ready In:

30 Minutes Until Done

Good For:

Dinner

Ingredients for Spinach

  • 1 (20-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (you can substitute with fresh spinach leaves)

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided

  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cups milk

  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated, about ½ cup

  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ¼ cup

  • Paprika

Ingredients for Mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 8 ounces of your choice of mushroom type, sliced or chopped to equal about 2 ½ cups

  • ¼ cup sherry

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Spinach Au Gratin With Sauteed Mushrooms Recipe

Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms. Don’t mess with them! Let the mushrooms cook until they are golden brown on the bottom, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn them to cook on the second side, about 2 more minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and pour in the sherry. Cook until the liquid disappears, about 3 minutes more. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the spinach in the microwave.  Drain in a colander and use paper towels to press out excess moisture.  If you choose to use fresh spinach, 1 pound fresh spinach will cook down to about the same amount as 10 ounces cooked frozen spinach.  For this recipe, you will need 2 pounds of fresh spinach, chopped which will be about 8 cups. Steam the spinach in a microwave oven or in a steamer over boiling water. Drain as directed above.)

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat until melted.  Stir in the flour and cook until the mixture begins to bubble.  Pour in the milk and stir until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Stir in the Gruyere cheese and cook until melted.  Remove the sauce from the heat.

Place the spinach into a bowl.  Pour in half of the sauce and stir.  Pour in the remaining sauce and stir once more.  Pour the spinach mixture into a casserole dish (or several smaller individual casserole dishes).   

Top the spinach mixture with the mushrooms and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and sprinkle with a bit of paprika.  Cook until the casserole is golden on the top and bubbling, about 10 to 12 minutes (depending on the size of the casserole dish).

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation on social media with #inthekitchenwithjorj and be sure to show us in my free private home cooking group, Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj!

Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach