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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column:  Marching Toward Month’s End With More Reasons to Celebrate

By Sherrie Norris

If St. Patrick’s Day was not enough to celebrate in March, I can tell you now that there have been many more food-related occasions that we could’ve acknowledged: National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, International Pancake Day, Chocolate Chip Cookie Week, Pound Cake Day, National Cereal Day — and those are just a few from the first week!

However, we know that the month is not over, just yet, so let’s explore a few (final) reasons to celebrate the passing of another month and season. Spring has arrived and with it, countless possibilities for a food column. So, here we go!

March 26 is National Spinach Day. March 28 – National Black Forest Cake Day and March 31, Oranges and Lemon Day (we’ll combine this with National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day on March 29.)

I promise you, I am not making this up. It’s real!!

Spinach and Feta Pizza

1 refrigerated, packaged pizza dough

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tsp. dried basil for seasoning

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out pizza dough and place on a baking tray, pizza stone or cookie sheet, sprayed or covered with parchment paper.

Heat olive oil in a small pan; add minced garlic and cook on low for about 4-5 minutes until slightly browned. Remove from heat.

Brush the garlic mixture all over the pizza dough.

Sprinkle spinach over the oiled dough; add feta and mozzarella cheese.

Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. The crust should lightly brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with dried basil and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Slice, serve and enjoy.

(As one who rarely follows a recipe more than once, I’m already thinking how well a nice, minced caramelized onion would go with this. Could be cooked with the garlic.)

Black Forest Cake

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 cups white sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract


2 (20 oz.) cans pitted sour cherries

1 cup white sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1 tsp. vanilla extract


3 cups heavy whipping cream

⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Place a medium bowl in the refrigerator to chill.

Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Pour cake batter into the prepared pans.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool layers for about 10 minutes before removing onto rack until completely cooled.

While cake layers are baking, drain cherries for topping, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until thickened. Stir in vanilla. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely before assembling cake.

Combine whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar for frosting in the chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

Split each cake layer in half horizontally using a long serrated knife. Tear one layer into crumbs; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and sides of remaining layers using a pastry brush or your hands. Reserve 1 ½  cups frosting for piping decorations on cake; set aside.

To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with ¾  cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer and frost sides of cake.

Pat reserved cake crumbs onto sides of cake. Spoon reserved 1 ½  cups frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping on top of cake.

Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Or the Sherrie way for a simple, maybe close second: Prepare a chocolate cake mix as directed on the box. Have a can of cherry pie filling available, and the whipping cream, whipped per directions (or even whipped topping thawed and in the fridge.)

Then, assemble and store following the directions above.

Orange Chiffon Cake

6 large eggs, separated

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½  cups sugar

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

¾  cup fresh orange juice

½  cup canola oil

2 Tbsp. grated orange zest

½  tsp. cream of tartar

Orange glaze:

½ cup butter

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 to 4 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

½  tsp. grated orange zest

Let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, orange juice, oil and orange zest; add to dry ingredients. Beat until well blended.

In another large bowl and with clean beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into orange mixture.

Gently spoon batter into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through the batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake on lowest rack in oven at 350° for 45-50 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool completely. Run a knife around sides and center tube of pan. Invert cake onto a serving plate.

For glaze, melt butter in a small saucepan; add remaining glaze ingredients. Stir until smooth. Pour over top of cake, allowing it to drizzle down sides.