Go Nana Bananas!

Go Nana Bananas!

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When you want something homemade to gather grandkids around the kitchen…

Join me in the kitchen for more memories and recipes with our featured ingredient: BANANAS! 

I will show you how to whip bananas into delicious homemade delights, from breakfast (or anytime!) bread to donuts and finally my one-of-a-kind Banana Pudding Ice Cream!

Join Jorj In The Kitchen!

The Art of The Fresh Market

Grab the book that contains my favorite travel adventures, with inspired original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.

New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

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

The BEST Lemon Cake Recipe and Berries, Cherries, and Pies (Oh My!)

The BEST Lemon Cake Recipe and Berries, Cherries, and Pies (Oh My!)

Spring means berries and cherries and all the delicious baking that goes with it! Even if you can’t go to the farm, let the farm come to you by way of your local grocer and get ready to cherry and berry. Click to skip to the recipe

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

 

When I think of Spring, I think about berry pickin’. When I was little, my grandparents had a huge garden. (They also raised pigs and chickens… but that’s another story.) In the garden we picked ripe strawberries from vines for Gram when asked.

We usually ate more than we turned over for Gram’s famous berry pies as was evidenced by our stained (and somewhat guilty) smiles.

At the end of Gram and Gramp’s long, dirt drive was a hedge of berry bushes. I think they were huckleberries, but they could have been blackberries. I remember my brother and sister and I would pick the berries and thread them onto long straws and then eat them like an ear of corn. Yumm! Many of these didn’t make it to the pies, either.

Luckily, Gram had nine grandchildren, and even given our full bellies, pies were baked!

Today, I love to take my grandkids to a strawberry patch at this time of year, but, in this climate of social distancing, the patches are devoid of pickers, yet abundant in berries. I recently bought a box of over-sized deeply red, ripe, strawberries from my grocery store. The handwritten sign told me that they came from a local farm, not but five miles away.

Which leads me to my berry recipes! The first is not a recipe. It’s a “just a little extra’ to your everyday standard.

I’m talking about blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup.

Blueberry Pancakes with Berry Sauce

easy blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce

I add a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon to my standard boxed pancake batter. Then I substitute melted butter for vegetable oil. This creates rich batter for your cakes.

I reserve about twenty blueberries from a pint. The rest I place into a deep saucepan. Pour maple syrup over the berries and simmer on low until the berries break down. Be careful, the berry syrup can bubble up if you’re not watching. Turn off the heat so that the syrup cools down a bit.

Make the pancakes as you normally would, but place a few of the reserved berries onto each one before you flip it over. Stack the blueberry pancakes on a plate. Top with a dollop of butter and ladle warm berry syrup over the top. The cakes absorb the berrieness from inside and out! It’s a treat.

As you might imagine, I can find myself with a bunch of leftover berries. These, I freeze and use to make smoothies and sauces. My lemon cake is the perfect foil for an easy berry sauce.

Glazed Lemon Cake With Very Berry Sauce

Serves:

Time:

A crowd

30-Minute Cuisine, Plus 1 Hour Baking

Ingredients

This lemony cake with berry sauce is just puckerable enough to make it into the lip smackin’ category.

For cake:

1 ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup butter, 1 ½ sticks, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

¼ cup sour cream

Zest from 2 lemons, about 2 tablespoons

Juice from 2 lemons, about ¼ cup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Juice from 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For berries:

4 cups assorted berries (I used frozen left-over berries)

½ cup granulated sugar

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9” x 5” loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Fit a piece of parchment paper into the pan with some of the sheets overlapping so that you can use the paper to remove the cake after baking. Then spray the paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy and smooth. Stir in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the lemon zest and juice from 2 lemons, sour cream, and vanilla. Add the flour about ½ cup at a time, until the batter is just mixed together. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 60 minutes. Cool the pan on the rack for 30 minutes, then transfer the cake from the pan to the rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, juice from 1 lemon, cream, and vanilla. The glaze will be thick, but pourable. Place the cake onto your serving platter. Pour the glaze over top.

Place the berries and ½ cup sugar into a deep saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat. Cook the berries until they break down and are soft and mushy. Cool to room temperature. Place a colander into a larger bowl. Push the berries through the colander, using the potato masher. You want most of the pulp and seeds to stay in the colander. Transfer what’s left in the bowl to a small pitcher.

Drizzle the sauce onto a plate. Top with a slice of cake and a few extra berries for garnish.

Best Cherry Tart Recipe

I have a thing with cherries. I love cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry chutney. Just eating freshly pitted cherries with grandson, Ben, is a blast. He loves the pitting!

On the flip side, I deeply dislike canned cherry pie filling; Don’t get me started!

So, I came up with a way to satisfy my cherry pie craving, using fresh cherries and time-saving refrigerated puff pastry dough. It’s easy and delish!

Serves:

Time:

Makes about 20 palm-sized tarts

30-Minute Cuisine

Ingredients

These little tarts are best warm from the oven. You can make them and freeze them and bake them off when you’re ready for a treat!

For cherry filling:

2 pints fresh cherries, pitted about 3 cups

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

Zest from 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon

Juice from 2 lemons, about ¼ cup

For pies:

1 (13.5-ounce) refrigerated package puff pastry dough

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon coarse sugar (I used raspberry flavored coarse sugar)

Mini Cherry Tarts

Place the cherries into a deep saucepan. Add the sugar and splash in about 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the cherries over medium heat until they begin to breakdown and the sugar dissolves, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Stir together the cornstarch, lemon zest and juice until smooth and pour into the pot. Continue simmering until the cherries begin to bubble up the sides of the pan. Use a potato masher to mush together the cherries in the syrupy sauce. Continue simmering until the mixture resembles fruit jam. Remove the pot from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Place the dough onto your floured board or work surface. Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 15” x 18” and about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into four equal strips, horizontally and 5 equal pieces, vertically. You will end up with about 20 squares.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Place a colander into a larger bowl. Pour the cherries through the colander, using the potato masher to squeeze out as much of the juice as possible. Place a tablespoon of cherry filling on each square of dough. Fold the dough over and seal with the tines of a fork. I folded mine into triangles, but rectangles or squares are fine too! Place each tart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each tart with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until the tarts are puffed and golden, about 15 to 18 minutes.

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

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

If there is a Facebook Quiz that analyzes your personality traits and tells you what color you are, I would be YELLOW. It’s my favorite color. I love all things yellow; yellow blouses, yellow tulips, yellow dishes, yellow gift wrap, yellow lemons…… yellow everything! Yellow is so not brown. Yellow is not red hot. Yellow is not calmingly green. Yellow is not a sad shade of blue. Yellow is perky and optimistic and bright and personable and…. well… me!

So, while others were hording toilet tissue, I was hording sunflowers (for my kitchen vase), eggs (sunny side up of course), semolina flour (that’s for my brand new pizza oven) and lemons. Lots and lots of lemons. Sure, lemons are sour, which is why God gave us sugar!

The combination of egg yolks with the zest and juice of lemons, produces a custard with a consistency between pudding and jam. 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.

And that’s what I did here. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd Parfaits

with Strawberries and Mascarpone Cream

makes 6

30 minute cuisine, plus 20 minutes for biscuits

For lemon curd

3 large lemons, about 2 tablespoons zest and ½ cup juice

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¼ pound butter, room temperature, 1 stick

5 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon kosher salt

For berries

1 pint strawberries, stemmed and cut in half

For mascarpone cream

1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cream

¼ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

For biscuits

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup granulated sugar

⅓ cup shortening

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Zest the lemons and place into a bowl with the sugar. Use a fork to combine. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the lemon-sugar, which you will need later when you assemble the parfaits. Pour the remaining lemon-sugar blend into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and mix until creamy. Add the egg yolks, the juice from the lemons and the salt.

Heat water to a simmer in a pan (some bubbling, but not a mad boil). Place a heat proof bowl over the simmering water. You can use a double boiler for this. Pour the mixture into the bowl. Stir and simmer until the curd thickens, about 10 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, you can make sure your curd is plenty thick when it reaches 170°. Cool the curd and then transfer it to a jar or plastic container. You can refrigerate the curd for up to 2 weeks.

Place the strawberries into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the reserved lemon-sugar. Stir and set aside. You can chill the berries for up to several days.

Place the mascarpone cheese, sour cream and vanilla into a small bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture together until smooth and creamy.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and ½ cup sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix together. Take off the lid of the machine. Pinch the shortening into small pieces on top of the flour mixture. Return the top to the machine. Pulse until the flour turns into coarse crumbs and begins to climb up the side of the bowl. With the machine running, slowly pour in the buttermilk/eggs. The dough will clump together and begin to wrap around the blade.

Dump the dough onto your floured work surface. It will be soft and sticky! Dust the top of the dough with additional flour. Use your hands to pat the dough down to about ½-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter (or top of a glass) to cut 12 circles from the dough, reusing the scraps. Place the dough circles onto the baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits begin to rise and turn golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Melt 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved lemon-sugar into the melted butter. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush with the sugared butter. Cool to room temperature.

To assemble the parfaits, cut one biscuit in half. Break a biscuit half into pieces and place into the bottom of a glass (or container of your choice). Spoon some of the strawberries over the biscuit. Add a spoonful of mascarpone cream and a large spoonful of lemon curd. Repeat with the other half of the biscuit, strawberries, cream and curd. You can drizzle some of the sugared berry juice on the top. Place the remaining 6 biscuits into a resealable plastic bag. You can keep these in the fridge or freezer.

 

 

A Cake for All Occasions

A Cake for All Occasions

Here’s a tall tale for you: I was hiking the Profile Trail in Pisgah National Forest, when I ran smack dab into a budding blueberry bush, that sent me down an exciting path with black bears, and ultimately led to the baking of my Blueberry-Lemon Sour Cream Cake. That’s a fairy tale, here’s the truth:

Actually, I was poking around the woods (behind the Ninth Green), looking for my lost golf ball, when – scout’s honor – I crawled under a blueberry bush with little green blueberries budding on the branches. The ball was lost, but the inspiration was found!

It will be a while before those blueberries are ready for pickin’, so a quick trip to the farmer’s market (or grocery store) is just about all you need for this yummy snack. I stick the blueberries in the middle and top of the cake, but you can stir them right into the batter if you like.

The only thing you absolutely cannot do, is NOT bake this cake! I won’t make you eat the whole thing instead, BUT I WILL suggest you bake the cake, and take half to a pal who needs to smile. You never know when even a small act of kindness can make a large difference in someone’s day! It’s perfect for a morning snack with your piping hot cup of coffee, an afternoon bite with a chilled glass of lemonade, and an after-dinner treat with a soothing cup of tea. Guess this makes it a must-bake cake for all occasions.

 

Blueberry-Lemon Sour Cream Cake

serves 8 to 10

15 minute cuisine, plus about an hour to bake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

½ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Juice from 1 Meyer lemon, about 2 tablespoons

Zest from 1 Meyer lemon, about 1 tablespoon

2 pints fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375°. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the eggs with the granulated sugar until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Mix in the sour cream, oil and vanilla. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Stir the dry ingredients into the batter.

Stir the cornstarch into the blueberries. Pour half of the batter into a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment paper. Top with half of the blueberries. Pour the remaining batter on top and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries over the top. Bake until a tester inserted into the cake comes out with crumbs, (it will mostly come out with melting blueberries, but you can see crumbs rather than batter) about 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.