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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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.

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

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.

 

Mother’s Day Best Recipes: Make Together Ideas!

Mother’s Day Best Recipes: Make Together Ideas!

It’s Mother’s Day, and I have just the (fool-proof!) plan for your at-home celebrations. These dishes don’t skimp on thoughtful details but are quick and easy to prepare with all of the kiddos!

No matter what they call you (or how many times they shout your name), when they call for mom, they are calling out of need.

“Mom, where’s this…”
“Mom, can you believe she did that?”
“Mom, tell him to stop touching me!!!”
“Mom, I can’t find……………..”

Well, on this one Sunday in May, we Moms don’t need to have all of the answers.

In fact, it may be the only day of the year when you can reply, “Ask your father,” without ending your marriage in the process.

Let me help get your Mother’s Day morning (or noon or Saturday before!) inspired with a few of my favorite recipes that are easy enough to prepare, absolutely perfect to share, and will definitely show your care.

Ask your family to whip these up or make it a group activity!

When Life Gives You Lemons….. Make Lemon Curd!

When life gives you lemons…..Make lemon curd! You can spread lemon curd on your English muffin, swirl it in the center of a pound cake, whip it into a mousse, transform it into ice cream or make lemon curd parfaits for a light, airy, and bright spring dessert.

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Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

Here’s my make-it-at-home version of breakfast pizza that’s easily prepared, and tastes just like the one from the market. It’s just a little slice of breakfast heaven!

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Camp Greystone Famous Opening-Day Scones

This is the recipe for the famous Camp Greystone opening day scones. The campers are greeted with these on the first day of camp. The parents are given some to take on the trip home and then hustled out the door. It’s a camp tradition that has met with success for generations, and one I am always excited to recreate with my granddaughter.

 

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Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

Say, “Hello” to DOUGHNUT Muffins! Get everyone into the act when making these delicious treats. My grandson Sammy LOVES donuts and has got in on the fun: Little ones can brush the warm butter and sprinkle the toppings and the older kids can stir the ingredients together and wash up the bowls! 

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What to Feed Your April Fool? How About Dinner for Breakfast?

There are so many savory breakfast classics, but this one is something special.  In Spain, it’s just a tapa, but in my house, it can be breakfast, brunch, and even dinner! Try this potato torte and pair it with sangria for an authentic experience. 😉

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Just A Little (Italian) Cookie

Just A Little (Italian) Cookie

Those that have tip-toed out of their bubble have plenty of tales to tell, and this one is about a little (Italian) cookie. Click to skip to the recipe

Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Those of us that have tip-toed out of our bubble to enjoy a restaurant meal have plenty of tales to tell.

Mine is about a lovely restaurant in Tequesta called EVO. Chef Erik Pettersen has a stellar reputation that reaches beyond our quiet community. He specializes in authentic Italian fare just like his mother Nancy envisioned. The restaurant has won awards noting the transition from her local farm-to-table dinner fare to the “EVOlution” of Chef Erik’s fine dining.

Let’s just say it’s a real treat.

Like many restaurants, EVO has adapted to the current situation by spacing indoor tables and adapting outdoor space to accommodate as many safely-distanced tables as possible. The dinner we shared with two other (bubble) friends was simply delish!

But what impressed me most came after the main meal. 

Here’s the deal: When I finally get to a lovely restaurant, I ABSOLUTELY chow down on everything put in front of me.

The olives, the shavings of Parmesan cheese; the fresh, warm bread dipped into a saucer of olive oil with EVO written in balsamic vinegar. Yes, written in balsamic vinegar!

And then, not yet full, and still excited to be OUT, I order. I order a copious amount of food and swallow each bite with a fair amount of delicious wine.

By the time I finish the last bite from the plate, I feel pretty darn good. Dessert menus are offered, and we all decline (Gluttony is for closets, not outdoor dining tables, after all).

Then, the waitress brings out two small plates of Italian cookies. These teeny, little buttery bites are just sitting there…on the table…in front of me. Well, who can resist? Certainly, not me!

In an attempt to tamper down my desire for restaurant dining, I decided to bake these cookies at home, hoping that if I had them at my fingertips, then I wouldn’t feel the need to make dining reservations.

Well, that didn’t work. I have a reservation at EVO tomorrow night. 😉

But these home-baked cookies are fun to make, fun to dip in chocolate, and fun to dust with sprinkles. Just a great little bite!

Italian Butter Cookies

Serves: Makes about three dozen 2-inch cookies

Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, 2 sticks

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles

Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it is fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar. Mix in the sugar on low speed working up to medium speed. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Stop the machine and then add the flour, stirring it in a little bit at a time.

Spoon about a third of the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet in about 2-inch lengths about 2-inches apart. Continue until all the cookies are on the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are just beginning to turn golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Cool the cookies on a rack.

Place the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Melt the chocolate using 30 second intervals until soft and smooth. Dip the ends of the cookies into the chocolate and dust with your favorite sprinkles.

Tip 1:

For true Italian butter cookies, you can use the star tip to pipe. But for fun, you can use other tips to create your favorite shapes. If you’re in a hurry, use an ice cream scoop to mound cookies onto the baking sheet and flatten to form circles.

My Oh My Oh Myer Lemon Cake

My Oh My Oh Myer Lemon Cake

When life gives you lemons, make THIS cake and give it your fresh take, layer after layer.  Click to skip to the recipe

Meyer Lemon Layer Cake

Back in the day, when you wanted to get your hands on Meyer lemons, you had to know a guy who knew a guy.

Luckily, today, Meyer lemons show up in the produce department in your local grocery store with regularity.

A Meyer lemon is sweeter than it’s sourpuss counterpart and not quite as sweet as its orange blossomy friend. It’s perfect to use in layer cakes, both in the batter and the buttercream frosting. 

I accent this yummy cake with a scoop of orange sherbet because, well cake just has to have ice cream on the side. And, I add some strawberries not only for color, but I sprinkle each one with a bit of cracked pepper for just a little hint of heat to tame down all that sweet.

This cake screams for your invention. Use any citrus, lemon, orange, or lime and layer it up by using three small pans to bake the cake making it three layers tall. It all works!

Remember when life gives you lemons….Reach for the Meyer’s Rum. Is that how that saying goes??

Meyer Lemon Layer Cake
With Orange Sherbet and Peppered Strawberries

Serves: A Crowd

Time:  20 minutes plus baking and frosting and altogether about 1 ½ hours

Ingredients

For cake:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1.2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature

1 ¾ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Zest from 3 Meyer lemons, about 2 tablespoons

Juice from 2 Meyer lemons, about ⅓ cup


For frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks room temperature

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Juice from 1 Meyer lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Orange Sherbet

Strawberries, halved, cut side dipped in coarse black pepper

 

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the eggplants with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place into a colander for 30 minutes to exude excess moisture. Stir together ½ cup olive oil, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Brush both sides of the eggplant with the seasoned olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and roast until the slices are tender and golden, about 30 minutes. The slices can overlap. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.  Cook the onion and carrots until soft and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the lamb to the pan.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  

Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cinnamon stick.  Simmer the ragù for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

Heat the butter in a deep pot over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook until golden and bubbling, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Pour in the milk.  Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.  Season with ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Assemble the casserole by placing a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Top with half of lamb ragù.  Add another layer of eggplant and another layer of lamb.  Finish with a layer of eggplant.  Top the casserole with béchamel sauce.  Bake until the casserole is bubbly, and the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow the casserole to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

 

The holidays are here, and cookies and cocktails are the name of the game as we countdown to Christmas Day!  Check out my favorite recipes with a healthy dose of Yuletide cheer.

Our cookies give new meaning to “tree trimming”, and sparkle with Fancy Sprinkles.  Read On

I came up with a holiday punch idea for my next party: a coconut margarita punch that had me saying Mele Kalikimaka! Read On

These cookies are perfect when you’re looking for just a little something, as Doreen would say.  Pair with a spiked hot chocolate, vodka martini, or a big red wine like a spicy zin.  Read On

Moscow Mules aren’t just for summertime!  Try cranberries and rosemary for a holiday twist.  Read On

These ginger cookies are perfect to stack and pack and safely share.  Read On

Once you make these lovelies, just about any candy or specialty chips work in a batch!  Read On