Majestic Chocolate Cake

A couple months ago a local restaurant we loved, called The Majestic Cafe, closed their doors after several successful years. Their menu was based on the idea that “standards” , i.e, pot roast, meatloaf, BLTs and the like – could be just as fabulous as fancier fare if made with top quality ingredients and the same amount of care. They had a menu comprised of nothing particularly earth-shattering; just really well-prepared American Kitchen food. Among the offerings was a chocolate cake. When they closed I kicked myself that I hadn’t asked for the recipe and my sister-in-law and I have been trying to replicate it since then. This recipe is pretty close, and I’m calling it Majestic in honor of the many wonderful meals with friends at The Majestic Cafe.

A moist, dense chocolate. Sinful in the very best way.

The recipe I adapted this from calls for 2 – 9 inch cake pans; I sometimes use smaller diameter, deeper pans so that the finished cake is taller. No reason; I just like that look.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup milkPerfectly chocolate cake

2 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup boiling water

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Tbl vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 – 2 tsp espresso crystals (this plays off the chocolate and makes it richer; if you love coffee, feel free to add a little more to achieve a noticeable coffee undertone.)

Prep:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour 2  9 inch round cake pans.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and mix for a couple minutes.
  3. Stir in the boiling water and pour into pans (the batter will be thin.)
  4. Bake 22 – 25 minutes until it tests just done with a toothpick.
  5. Remove to rack; cool completely, and then frost.

Frosting (start with the smaller amounts of each ingredient and and if you need to up the overall amount or thicken or thin the frosting. I eyeball this part usually, but either way it’s a super rich chocolate frosting:

1  – 1 1/2 stick butter

2/3  – 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

3 – 4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup milk

1-2 tsp vanilla

Throw it all in a bowl and mix it up. Careful the powdered sugar doesn’t puff up in your face! It will look dry and then all of a sudden take on that rich frosting feel.

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Mu Shu Cabbage Cups

Paleo diets are big right now and this dish fits right into that craze. It’s a perfect appetizer, although it’s hearty enough that we often eat it for dinner.  You can either eat it served in the cabbage cups, as shown here, or you can shred the cabbage and simply eat it salad style. It’s great either way.

Ingredients:

1 napa cabbage

1 large onionmushu1]

1 Tbl fresh minced garlic

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbl sesame oil

1 lb each ground chicken and ground pork

8 ounces mushrooms, chopped

1 Tbl minced ginger

1Tbl apple cider vinegar

2 green onions finely chopped

Prep:

Cut the end of the cabbage and discard. Remove and discard any damaged, brown leave bits. Set aside the leaves large enough to be used as cups and finely chop the ones that are too small.

In a large skillet, brown the pork and chicken and then remove from pan. In the same pan, saute the onion, mushrooms, chopped cabbage, garlic and ginger until soft.

Stir in soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Add meat mixture back in and stir.

Fill reserved cabbage cups and garnish  with green onion and / or julienned carrot slices for color.

Dutch Baby; It’s what’s for breakfast!

Have you ever tried a Dutch Baby? Super easy, quick to cook and impressive looking to serve. What could be better?

Traditionally I think these are served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice…..while that’s good, I happen to love real maple syrup so I’m more likely to use that. Just drizzle it, though, because the eggs have a lovely light texture and taste you’ll easily overwhelm.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup milkdutch baby1

3 large eggs

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbl. butter

1 tbl. powdered sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla

3 tbl butter (add’l to above)

1/2 lemon for juice, if you desire

Prep:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and then drop 3 tbl butter into a cast iron skillet (I use a 12 inch) and put it on the stove top to melt the butter – be sure not to scald it.

While the butter is melting, whisk together: milk, flour, eggs, vanilla and salt. Whisk it until smooth. Once the butter is all melted in the pan, swirl it around to coat the whole pan and then pour the egg mixture in. Remove/ turn off heat.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until puffed up and golden with the edges and high spots just browning.

Remove; lightly move the remaining butter along the top and then sprinkle with powdered sugar ( and lemon juice if you choose), I drizzle maple syrup on my piece once I’ve cut and plated it so that it doesn’t risk getting soggy.

Not Your Average Banana Bread

This was a family favorite in my house growing up, and as an adult, has consistently eclipsed all other recipes I’ve tried. Most banana breads  are very much alike – good flavor but veering into the dry side if the baker isn’t careful. Not this one. Including chocolate chips has become mandatory  in our household; nuts not so much although I do use them from time to time.  Both are optional here (use the chocolate chips- trust me!)

If you like your banana bread dense and moist, this is the recipe for you.

Ingredients:bananabred3

  • 3 Ripe Bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup or so semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbl. melted butter

Prep:

  1. Mix the following: 3 Bananas, well-mashed; 2 eggs together in a large bowl
  2. Add: The flour, sugar, salt & baking soda and mix on medium until well combined.
  3. Add: the nuts if you decided to use them, and the chocolate chips as well as the melted butter. Mix well.
  4. Pour into buttered 9 x 5 loaf pan and bake one hour at 350 degrees.

Try it; if you’re like my family this will become the only banana bread recipe you use. Let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Hello world!

This is my very first official Blog Entry (que trumpets), in which I plan to curate recipes, blather about politics or life or whatever tickles my fancy and talk about my favorite topic of all: Books and Writing. I may, from time to time, post “in-progress” stuff I write in the hopes of garnering comments – hopefully of the encouraging type although I’ll take what comes, as long as it’s constructive. It occurs to me that today is April Fools Day, which may turn out to be ironic or prophetic, who knows!

Happy Blog-Day to me!