Devil’s Food Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Devil’s Food Cake! Sometimes all you crave is a slice of good old-fashioned chocolate cake like your grandma used to make, before Betty Crocker introduced the world to cake mixes. It’s very simple, really. Take a walk down Memory Lane with a recipe that recaptures youthful musings.

DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup salad oil

1 cup boiling water

1 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add salad oil and boiling water. Stir until lumps are gone. Gradually add milk; stir. Add eggs and vanilla; stir. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert onto serving platter. Cool before frosting or sprinkling with powdered sugar.

Appetizers to Desserts

Everything has a beginning and an ending. Food is no different. It sets the stage for informal gatherings, romantic interludes, festive celebrations, and grande finales. From the first bite of crudité to the last sip of coffee, the entire experience can be extraordinary. If you agree with me, pull up a chair for “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Appetizers to Desserts!” In a short time of blogging, the response continues to amaze me on this journey of the palate. Thanks very much to all of my followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as reciting your A-B-Cs. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Now more than ever, since I am retired, I relish the thought of creating something delicious from scratch. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. Most of the recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be altered in any direction. The leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten again later or shared with others. And I love to share. To me, seeing a smile in gratitude is thanks enough. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: APPETIZERS TO DESSERTS!”

Traditional Plum Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Traditional Plum Pudding! Everyone remembers Little Jack Horner’s fame from a childhood nursery rhyme: “He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum.” It’s hard to resist that urge while eating these sweet, fruity, luscious plums. To pull this off, do like my Gramma used to say, “Honey, just dump everything in the pan, stir a little bit, and bake.” Sometimes we try to make things too difficult.

TRADITIONAL PLUM PUDDING

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

4 cups ripe plums, pits removed, skin on, and sliced

1 cup natural honey

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 2-quart ovenproof baking dish with nonstick oil. Combine flour, sugar, sea salt, and baking powder in the prepared dish. Whisk together. Add melted butter and milk. Stir well. Spread evenly across the bottom of the baking dish. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sliced plums and honey. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully pour over the pudding batter. Do not stir. Bake for 35-40 minutes until pudding is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm with whipped cream.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter P

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Picnic Pork and Beans! Tradition speaks loud and clear at family gatherings and picnics, especially in the summer. No matter the cookout, barbecue, or pitch-in, certain foods are expected on the buffet table. One of them is the coveted baked beans. Usually the unmarried auntie or the matriarch is the keeper of the cherished recipes. The “grande dame” knows all the ingredients, especially the heavily-guarded secret ones. It might be a dab of this or a pinch of that. My advice? Time, patience, and integrity. After all, there’s a lot of responsibility in carrying on the Secret Family Recipes. In the end, it’s all worth it!
PICNIC PORK AND BEANS
Ingredients:

3 slices uncured bacon, thick

1/4 cup sweet onion, sliced

1 tablespoon bacon drippings

28-ounce can pork and beans

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

2 tablespoons pimento, diced

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Fry bacon in a large skillet until partially cooked. Remove bacon from pan and dab on paper towels. Let cool and then break into pieces. Discard all but one tablespoon bacon drippings. Add sweet onion to pan; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Combine sweet onion, pork and beans, seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, diced pimento, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Mix well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Top with bacon pieces. Bake uncovered for one hour, or until beans are bubbly and sauce is thick. Let stand 10 minutes for sauce to thicken slightly. Serve warm. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Foodstuff Redefined!

Whether you sit down for a farm-to-table meal, picnic in your own backyard, or pack a Bento Box and go…food can be customized to fit your current needs. Anything goes! Cooking has been reinvented, mixing the old with the new for award-winning results. By choosing your favorite foods, it automatically turns mealtime into an all-star event. And speaking of stars…Some of my recent posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram @gail_dorna. This remarkable journey of the palate gives me time with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Most recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be easily modified. Leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. Seeing a smile of gratitude keeps me going. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: FOODSTUFF REDEFINED!”

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Zakarian Chocolate Pudding! Sometimes you look to a celebrity chef for inspiration. Today’s feature recipe is brought to you by “Iron Chef”, Geoffrey Zakarian. Although it is filed under Dark Chocolate Pudding, its decadent taste and smooth consistency remind me more of a French Silk Pie. Do I have your undivided attention? Can you hear me now? This is most definitely a chocolate-lovers dream! By serving it in shot glasses, you control the portion and everyone gets a taste. Mr. Zakarian serves it with whipped sour cream. I modified it a bit by adding crushed pistachios and a slice of strawberry. 
ZAKARIAN CHOCOLATE PUDDING 
Ingredients:

6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 pinch sea salt

4 large egg yolks

Whipped sour cream, optional

Strawberries for garnish

Pistachios for garnish
Instructions:

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream and light cream to a bare simmer. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla extract, sea salt, and egg yolks. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper it, whisking all the while. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour into glasses or custard cups. Refrigerate until chief and set, about 3 hours. Serve with whipped sour cream, if desired. Garnish with fresh strawberry slice and chopped pistachios. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter B

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Burrata Meatballs! Time is of the essence. You can either make your own homemade meatballs, or you can bypass one step and use a store bought variety like I did. I put my energy into the homemade marinara sauce simply because the results are between night and day, in my opinion. If you select to use your favorite pasta sauce, be my guest. The focus today is actually on that incredible Burrata cheese! I think I could drown in a bathtub of Burrata and happily eat my way out of it. Don’t judge me. 
BURRATA MEATBALLS
Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage-style meatballs, precooked

2 cups San Marzano crushed tomatoes*

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

7 ounces mushrooms, sliced and drained

6 ounces Burrata cheese, chunks
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, combine crushed tomatoes, basil, marjoram, oregano, garlic powder, and mushrooms. Simmer until sauce thickens. Add meatballs. Spoon marinara sauce generously over meatballs. Transfer portions to individual serving casseroles. Randomly place Burrata cheese between meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve Burrata Meatballs with garlic bread or spoon over pasta.  
* I receive no recompense for the suggestion of San Marzano Certified Italian Tomatoes. 

Get Your Daily Double

The Mint Julep has got to be the greatest afternoon drink south of the Mason-Dixon Line, next to its nonalcoholic partner, Sweet Tea. Anyone who has ever heard of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby appreciates this smooth concoction of bourbon whiskey, sugar, mint, water, and ice. Derby Day is traditionally celebrated the first Saturday in May, as the Earth announces the arrival of mint. And if you’ve ever planted this herb, you already know it must be contained or it will overpower everything within its reach. Hence the reason for consuming this signature drink in a frosty chilled highball glass. Crowd control. Now that’s what I call Southern hospitality! 
MINT JULEP 
Ingredients:

4 mint leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons water

Cracked Ice

2 ounces Bourbon whiskey

Splash of sparkling water

Mint sprigs
Instructions:

In a chilled highball glass, gently muddle mint leaves. Add sugar and water. Stir to combine. Fill the glass with cracked ice. Add Bourbon whiskey and stir well; it keeps the glass frosted. Top off with sparkling water. Garnish with a mint sprig. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter C

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Corned Beef Dinner! Eating corned beef brisket isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day anymore. However, it’s the best time to stock up when it’s popular and readily available at the nearby market. Go from the traditional favorite dinner one day to corned beef hash and eggs the next morning and Reuben sliders for a late night snack. Are you getting the idea? Be creative and tell me yours!
CORNED BEEF BRISKET 
Ingredients:

3-pound corned beef brisket, boneless

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 tablespoon peppercorns 

1 tablespoon bay leaves

1 cup ginger beer or water

1-pound baby carrots, peeled

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon paprika 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, in a covered roaster. Sprinkle spices on top. Add 1 cup of ginger beer or water. Cover and roast for three hours. The guideline is one hour per pound. After 2 hours add carrots to roaster. Cover and cook for 1 hour. At that time, the contents should be fork tender. Let the brisket rest for 15 minutes before slicing across the grain. Remove carrots and place in a bowl. Add butter to coat. Sprinkle with paprika. 
BOILED CABBAGE 

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

In a deep pan, add 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add cabbage quarters and salt. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Turn cabbage with tongs. Simmer 5 minutes longer until tender. Drain well. Add butter to coat cabbage thoroughly. 
PARSLEY BOILED POTATOES 

Ingredients:

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into sections

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon parsley

Instructions:

Place potatoes in 2 quart saucepan. Pour in enough water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook potatoes 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Add butter to coat. Garnish with parsley.