Chocolate cake and tomato soup

But no, NOT in the same recipe.

Behold, the cake:

That, my friends, is a Chocolate Blackout Cake. Three layers of devil’s food cake filled and frosted with chocolate pudding and covered in more devil’s food cake crumbs. Get your fork and a tall glass of milk.

The original recipe was created in a Brooklyn bakery called Ebinger’s, and you can read a little history about it here. Google tells me there have been many attempts to recreate the recipe, and though I’ve only tried one and have no opinion as to its authenticity, I can heartily recommend it. Gale Gand shared her version in the latest issue of Food and Wine, and I found it on her own website as well. Compared to some other recipes for blackout cake, this one is streamlined, using the same chocolate custard for both the filling and the frosting. It’s rich, it’s moist, it’s cake AND pudding, for goodness’ sake!

I just thought you should know about it, in case you have a birthday coming up soon, or maybe you’re thinking about Valentine’s Day. Mr. Ten asked for chocolate cake for his birthday last week, and he was not disappointed.

But what of the tomato soup? It’s Friday, it’s cold (we even finally have snow on the ground), maybe you just want something simple for dinner. Grilled cheese (properly known as the Cheese Toastie) and tomato soup. I love a cheese toastie, but I never much liked tomato soup from a can. Too sweet for me, and don’t canned soups tend to have too much sodium and other unnecessary stuff? Somewhere along the line, I tried the tomato soup from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, and will never go back. I don’t even consult the cookbook anymore. It takes about two minutes of effort, and it still relies on opening a can. And when I answer the what’s for dinner question with, “Grilled cheese and tomato soup,” I get a “Yay!” Sometimes you want a good review even if you didn’t put in a lot of effort.

Tomato Soup

serves 2-3 people (I have to double it)

Open a 28-oz. can of tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed–doesn’t matter). Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Mince or press 1-2 cloves of garlic and add them to the oil. Add a couple shakes of mild paprika (if you like hot or smoked paprika, go for it). As soon as the garlic is fragrant, but not too brown, pour in the tomatoes. Stir and heat through. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender (easiest) or in a regular blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like, stir in a few tablespoons of cream.

Monday Menu

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s Tuesday. But yesterday was a holiday and we treated it as one, puttering around the house. (Mostly, I tried not to leave the house so I could ignore the oppressive heat and humidity. Fall, I am ready for you.)

Though the big kids have been in school for more than a week, this week marks the beginning of most of their extracurricular activities. Three nights a week we have two activities, with dinner sandwiched in between. On those three nights I will have to make dinner ahead of time, because there’s just enough time to eat and run, but no time for prep. I won’t lie–I’m a little anxious. We’re a family that needs our down time. And we still need to squeeze homework into the equation.

Monday: We received a bounty of garden veggies from Aunt Karen, so we had BLTs for lunch, and Moosewood Country Style Moussaka for dinner (2 out of 3 kids were not thrilled, but we made them eat it anyway).

Tuesday: Chili and cornbread (make ahead and reheat between piano and karate)

Wednesday: Asian Cabbage Salad (more garden veggies to use), grilled chicken and potstickers

Thursday: Pan-fried pollack and fried green tomatoes with avocado mayonnaise, Cumin seed roasted cauliflower

Friday: Pasta pesto

I’m also hoping to make a streamlined version of this Pasta and Chicken Gratin (using extra grilled chicken) and freeze it for next week. And if we have any leftover chili, I plan to freeze it immediately and use it later (maybe there will be enough for chili dogs).

How do you manage dinner when there are multiple evening activities to juggle?