Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stella's is Moving

Stella's Virtual Cafe is moving HERE to a location with better exposure for her sort of establishment. Come on over! 

We'll be reposting some old favourites as well as lots of new recipes and stories about Stella, her family, her friends and customers. 

We hope you enjoy her new digs. She's making improvements every day. 

Rebecca and Emma

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Snacking Cake

Stella's husband Oliver has returned from Dubai. The new branch of the hotel company he works for has been successfully built and the running of it set into well-ordered motion. Oliver has come back home to work in the hotel's home office, a relatively short commute by train away from the town in which his wife's cafe is situated. Their girls, Zoe and Kendra are ecstatic to have their dad home with them. Stella has done her best all year to balance the demands of the business with the needs of her daughters, but at times she has greatly missed that other supporting adult in the house, the one who can help keep the dramatic Zoe grounded and Kendra from becoming overly sarcastic. Yes, it is very good to have Oliver home for more than a visit.

After work each day, Oliver steps off the train and walks the five blocks home to the apartment above the cafe. He is hungry and rather grateful that since his lovely wife owns a cafe, that there is no shortage of 'little somethings' to get his blood sugar going again after a long day of crunching numbers and managing staff. Brought up on the grain puddings and fig roll cookies of his Egyptian mother's baking, he appreciates sweet but simple treats. Today he climbs up the stairs in the back of the cafe to the apartment's deck above. The door is open and he smells something chocolatey, yet a little spicy coming from within the house.

"Mmmmm...what have you made today my lovelies?" he says to his daughters by way of a greeting.

"Daddy!" shouts Kendra and practically jumps on him with a giant bear hug.

"Chocolate Zucchini Cake," says Zoe from her perch on a kitchen stool, her voice muffled with chewing, She takes another forkful and gracefully puts it into her mouth, closes her eyes and says, "Mmmmmmmm. So good."

"I'll have some of that, please" says Oliver as he puts down his briefcase, takes off his shoes and loosens his tie. "Delicious. Did your mom or one of you girls make this cake?"

"Mom made it for the cafe this morning, but it all got eaten. So, I made some for us after school," says Zoe.

Oliver drops a kiss on the top of Zoe's glossy brown head. "Thanks, love."

Zoe, her mouth again full of cake, looks up with arched eyebrows and big eyes to say something.

"Don't talk with food in your mouth, Zo. It can wait. I'll just get changed and start supper, shall I? Then you can tell me all about it."

"You're the only dad I know who says 'shall.' It's sort of embarrassing," says Kendra, rolling her eyes.

"I'm British, so sue me." says Oliver, winking at his youngest. "I shall say shall if I like little one, so you are just going to have to deal with it."

"I suppose I shall," says Kendra, beginning to laugh in spite of herself.

Yes, it is good to be home. He cuts himself another tiny sliver of cake.


Chocolate Zucchini Snacking Cake - easy to make, moist and delicious with a hint of cinnamon

Butter and flour a 9x13 cake pan. Set oven at 325 degrees farenheit

2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola or some other mildly flavoured oil)
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (press out any lumps with your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Grate zucchini with peel and set aside. Cream butter, oil and sugar until fluffy and light in colour in a large bowl. Beat eggs, milk and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Blend both mixtures together.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa together in another bowl and add to mixture. 

Stir in zucchini. Pour batter into 9x13 inch prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of batter. Bake in centre of oven for 55 minutes. Test cake with a thin knife inserted into the middle of the cake to make sure it is baked through. If a few moist crumbs cling to the knife, it's ready and moist. If the knife comes out with sticky batter on it, give it another five minutes and try again. 

Enjoy! You won't even notice the zucchini amid all that chocolatey goodness, but it adds moisture and a nice texture to the cake, as well as some extra vitamins. 

Great for the lunchbox, too

Emma took the photos for this post. While no longer writing for Stella's she is posting fantastic stuff over on her own foodie blog, Emu's Eats. Stella's was happy to get her started in the blogging world and is proud she has launched her own site, which is gaining in popularity by the post! She will continue to take many photos for Stella's, for which we are most grateful.