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

Home Chef Tip!

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 by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

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.

 

Let There Be Harvesting: Jalapeno Corn Bisque

Let There Be Harvesting: Jalapeno Corn Bisque

Creamy and sweet with a touch of heat, this soup is fabulous served after a brisk walk on a cold day!  Welcome Fall with my Jalapeno Corn Bisque! Click to skip to the recipe

 

We took a drive through the countryside this past week. This was by complete accident.

We were on our way to our friend’s home across the state, about a three-hour drive. Usually, we take freeway to by-pass freeway to alternate state road freeway and bam…we’re there.

Not this time. I pecked in the address, plugged the phone into the car, and listened to my (Aussie-voiced) virtual assistant as he directed me along the way. In an entirely different way!

We were on roads that we had never traveled.

Once hubby looked up from his iPad and asked me where we were…and I couldn’t say…we began to look around at our whereabouts.

We drove through town after town and passed farm after farm and noticed the fields full of growing cornstalks. Hubby noted that it was soon to be harvest time for that corn and that was just enough insight to send me off in that direction.

I found my recipe for Jalapeno Corn Bisque from Canvas and Cuisine and altered it by placing the ingredients into a slow cooker while I skedaddled towards errand running.

The results were delish.

But I pushed the meal up a step by adding a wedge of home-baked focaccia bread (Also, a recipe from Canvas and Cuisine). Now, it was both delish and tummy-filling.

If you are in the mountains of North Carolina, then you know fall is in the air. If you are living by the ocean in Florida, then you are experiencing the dog days of summer.

Either way, you will find corn is most plentiful at this time of year and I invite you to “harvest” some of your own and chow down on this really yummy soup.

Jalapeno Corn Bisque

Creamy and sweet with a touch of heat, this soup is fabulous served after a brisk walk on a cold day; I like my bowls fireside! I was introduced to this soup, by a super chef in Banner Elk, North Carolina. It was that kind of bone-chilling Autumn day when you just need a big bowl of soup to warm you from the inside out. It didn’t hurt that the corn is grown right down the street from the restaurant.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup

1 whole leek, washed, white part chopped, about 1 cup

4 large jalapeno peppers, seeded, veins removed, diced, about 1 cup

8 ears of corn, kernels removed from cobb, about 6 cups

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup sherry 

3 cups homemade chicken stock or prepared low sodium broth 

4 cups half and half

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed with 1 tablespoon room temperature butter (beurre manié)

Fresh chopped cilantro

Serves:   8

Time:   60-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Heat the olive oil in a deep soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leek, and jalapeno pepper and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. Pour in the sherry. Cook until the liquid is almost all evaporated, about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the veggies are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Use your gadget of choice (food processor, blender, or immersion blender) to emulsify the soup. 

Return the soup to the pot if you have used a blender or food processor. Heat the soup over low heat. Stir in the half and half. Drop small pieces of the beurre manié (flour mixed with butter) into the soup. Stir until the soup thickens to your desired consistency. You can add more cream to thin the soup or more of the beurre manié to thicken it.

Garnish with fresh herbs, cheddar cheese, salsa, cooked bacon, or all the above!

My First Supper from Farmer’s Market Opening Day!

My First Supper from Farmer’s Market Opening Day!

My friends, the farmers, are all over social media promising the fruits of their spring labors – I start drooling and reaching for my tote bags every time I go online. I couldn’t wait to get to my favorite place in the mountains, Watauga Farmers Market, which opened for the season on May 4th.  Over the last few weekends, I’ve gotten my hands on those lovely purple spring onions and the coils of garlic scapes, painted and cooked a lot within the pages of CANVAS & CUISINE: the art of the fresh market.

Watauga will have early (greenhouse) tomatoes this year and the tender leaves of baby greens. Here I come, and will continue to come through October!

After my first visit this year, I created a dish that pulls together some of my favorite farmer’s market finds: tender collard greens and rich pork belly. It makes for a lovely first course or a wonderful side dish…once you’ve chopped up the belly and stir it into the greens. Either way, it’s sure to delight and perhaps motivate you to find a fresh farmer’s market opening near you. If you find a new one in your neighborhood, please share the experience with us! I love posting scrumptious possibilities to my social media @jorjmorgancooking.

Now, please excuse me while I simmer my greens…

Collard Greens with Slow Roasted Pork Belly

serves 6 or more

30 minute cuisine plus slow cooking

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 (1 ½ pound) piece pork belly

3 bunches collard greens, stemmed, rolled and chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

3 to 4 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Mix together the onion, garlic and chili powder with salt and pepper. Season both sides of the pork belly with some of the seasoning. Reserve about a tablespoon for the collards. Heat your slow cooker (or Dutch oven) over medium high heat. Place the pork belly into the cooker and brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the pork and brown on the second side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the pork belly to a baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and cook on low heat (about 275 to 300°) for several hours until the meat falls apart when pulled with a fork.

Place the onion into the bottom of the slow cooker and cook until soft. Add the chopped collard greens and stir. Season with the remaining spices. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock. Set your slow cooker on high and place the lid on to top. If you are using a Dutch oven, place the lid on top and move it into the oven with the pork belly.  Continue cooking adding more liquid as needed to produce soft, syrupy greens. Before serving, stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Serve the collard greens on a plate with pieces of tender pork belly on the top. Drizzle the juices from the pork belly pan over the top.

Cookbook Give-Away, Day after Mother’s Day!

Cookbook Give-Away, Day after Mother’s Day!

The month of May has been good to me, my family and my friends! I hope everyone had a happy Mother’s Day weekend that left them full of love and good vibes. In the spirit of that, I am offering to give away a free copy of CANVAS & CUISINE to the first person who comments on, or shares this post!

If the public reaction to the book is any indication, I think you will love this artful cookbook as well. My co-author, Sue Fazio and I just hosted a book signing party in Jupiter, Florida. It was a grand open house event to introduce our neighbors to our new book. For those who don’t already know, Canvas and Cuisine: the art of the fresh market was inspired by trips Sue and I took around the world, ogling at all the exotic fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses of France, Spain, Russia, Vietnam and so much more.

For just one day, we hosted an art gallery/cooking demo. Our readers were able to preview the original artwork that was my whole inspiration for this cookbook.

During the event, guests perused Sue’s (abundant) paintings not only of fresh markets around the globe, but also many of her other passionate pieces. They also sampled several dishes from the recipes I created to go along with Sue’s paintings.

But the real fun occurred when Sue demonstrated how she creates an original painting. Guests huddled around to watch the magic take place. From blank canvas to her vision of the 16th hole at Jupiter Hills…. all in just minutes. She is an inspiration for any aspiring artist!

My blank canvas began with a few cutting boards and a sharp knife. I demonstrated how to prepare the dishes the guests were sampling. My Grilled Guac was a big hit, as were the Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms and Cauliflower Risotto— these recipes were posted to Jorj.com recently – and go over well at any party.

Good times were had by all and great benefits were reaped for our charities with painting and book sales soaring!

Thank you to everyone who opened their hearts and their checkbooks and thank you to all of you who are enjoying our book!

Ciao – Jorj!