“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”
Jim Davis

Saw something stunning the other day – Zucchini & Orange Marmalade Tea Cake. The minute I saw it at Manggy’s No Special Effects, I could hear Ten in 10 yelling at the back of my head. Having made a Chocolate Zucchini Cake in the past, and the children not figuring that out was a gleeful experience. But I hardly ever make that one because of all the butter it takes to make the cake luscious and delectable.
So when I read that Manggy had made this cake probably 4 times in nearly two months, it was bookmarked in my head. They say that the brain can remeber just about 140  friends on social networking sites, and more than that is forgotten. I’m not really sure about that, because I remember more frineds than those on Twitter, and have even more recipes stashed away in my mind. I’m quite past filing them away on the PC because I just can’t ever seem to find them.
My new mental filing system is good so far. I had this Zucchini Tea Bread  in my Ten in 10 folder. What added to the joy was that I had a couple of jars of fab homemade bitter orange marmalade, some waiting to jump right into this tea bread. The daughter loves orange/marmalade anything, so I thought I could pull this off. Veggies in there and no butter. This is as healthy as cake can get this end with veggies within!
Scared of the kids detecting zucchini and running  a few miles had me hypnotically adding some dark chocolate chips. I like walnuts in tea breads, even thought the daughter doesn’t seem to care for them. Crossroads as always with nutty decisions… Truth be told, I just thought if she gets the chocolate chips in there that she so loves, then she shall need to learn to live with walnuts too. Oh the lessons in life I dream of teaching them through food…he he! Might I add, a lot of them backfire!! 
The response was very good. Mr PAB loved the cake. The daughter asked for a second slice, and then a third, and she liked it enough to ask for 2 more the next day. That was be a good enough verdict! The son was a bit iffy about it, but ate it happily just the same. He thought it was a fruit cake!

Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake
Recipe adapted minimally from Manggy @ No Special Effects
Adapted from Tartine
1 & 3/4 cup s + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small ones)
1/2 cup orange marmalade
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar


Spray, line, and spray again a 23cm x 12.5cm (9×5 inch) loaf pan and set aside (you can also just spray if you’re confident about your pan’s non-stickiness).
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix all the remaining ingredients (except the walnuts, if using) in a large bowl until combined (no giant lumps of marmalade at least).
Sift the dry ingredients into it and stir until just combined (don’t worry about it being smooth, just be gentle). Stir in the walnuts if using. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

Sprinkle the top with the about 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar.
Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

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“Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.”
Auguste Escoffier
Just when we thought that winter was finally on it’s way out, it snowed in the hills up North, & the temperatures here in the plains plummeted. Shiver me timbers…brrrrrrrr…so back it was to slurping hot soup & being bundled into duvets again! The daughter will NOT touch soup in any avatar, but the son loves a hearty tomato soup & I make it often. This time I tried a different one because I had zucchini & wondered how the zucchini would feel to share space with tomatoes! Nudge, nudgedonno about the zucchini, but the soup sure tasted good, & the tomatoes looked happy in there. The son’s had it on 3 occasions, 2 cups each time, with a generous smattering of baked croutons. Then yesterday he asked me if I had posted it, & also asked for the recipe. ??? hmmmmmm…GULP! Should I or shouldn’t I come clean & tell him the soup had ‘green’s? The question haunted me for a while, & then I thought, Why not?. So, I gingerly showed him pictures of the soup & the ingredients, & surprisingly he didn’t as much as bat an eyelid. All he nonchalantly said was, “Oh, what’s that? I didn’t taste the zucchini! Maybe it doesn’t have any taste.” All’s well, that ends well…& this one certainly did. The croutons are yummy, baked, & crisp! My croutons are now always either of multi grain bread or brown bread, whichever is on hand, & only baked. I stopped frying them ages ago.I think these croutons would do well tossed in a salad too!!

My recipe
Tomatoes – 8 medium; cut into 4 quarters
Zucchini – 1/ roughly chopped
Spring onions with greens – 4
Onion – 1 medium; chopped fine
Garlic – 2 cloves, chopped
Garlic – 4 cloves, whole
Butter – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Cream & fresh basil for garnishing


  • Heat butter in a heavy bottom pan (or pressure cooker which is what I use), & saute the chopped garlic & onion will light pink.
  • Add the rest of the veggies, add salt to taste, add about 1 cup of water, & cook till done (under pressure for 5-7 minutes).
  • Once cool, blend & strain.
  • Heat through & serve with a swirl of low fat cream, baked croutons & a sprig of basil.

My recipe
Whole-wheat brown bread – 4 slices, cut into small pieces
Oregano or grill seasoning – 1 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp

  • Toss all ingredients well. Spread out evenly in a cookie tray & bake in a preheated oven at 180C till golden brown & crisp / 15-20 minutes. Watch closely so they don’t get too dark/ burnt.
  • Cool & store in an airtight box for about a week.

Hope this keeps you warm too…

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“Light, refined, learned and noble, harmonious and orderly, clear and logical, the cooking of France is, in some strange manner, intimately linked to the genius of her greatest men.”
Rouff Marcel
Salut! There’s a new event at Antonio Tahan’s blog that has had me inspired ever since I read about it. A Taste of the Mediterranean… “The premise of this culinary excursion is to virtually travel to the different regions of the Mediterranean through food and our blogs. Hold on, it gets better. Each month a traditional dish of the region we are visiting will be presented.” “The first challenge for A Taste of the Mediterranean is a stop-over at France this January, where you create your own tart, sweet or savory.” January has been a devilishly busy month & time is flying by at an astonishing speed. It’s never been so hurried before, but this is one post that has to be put out. Here is my twist to the classic French pastry dough, pate brisée. I desperately wanted to use my new rectangular tart pan that I bought from Sydney in November, & savoury was on my mind. January has been sugar high until now, & this tart seems to be just what the doc ordered!! C’était délicieux!
Buckwheat made an entry back into my life just at the end of last year… here, when we returned from Sydney. It’s been a fun journey experimenting & baking with this nutty flour. The texture of this flour is slightly sandy, & adds a characteristic crunch to baked goods. Healthy too, as I tread carefully, trying to incorporate it in Savoury Herb Creame Cheese Crackers here, in Nibbly Buckwheat Chocolate-chip Cookies here, & now in the pastry dough for this savoury tart. The tart shell came out nice & crisp…nibbly & delicious. It’s a wonderful pastry base if you are looking at weaning off plain flour, & exploring alternative grains.
My romance with balsamic vinegar also began sometime last year when I found this yummy Balsamic Tomato Bruischetta at Nic @ Cherrapeno & some fabulous Balsamic & Herb Grilled Chicken @ Proud Italian Cook that Marie posted. The aged vinegar adds a good punch to food. I love the flavours it draws out. A marriage of buckwheat tart & balsamic marinated roasted bell peppers & mushrooms made this tart delicious? Tres Bien!
The tart can be made in advance, like a quiche. Sliced & served as finger food, packed in the picnic basket, or included in the snack box…it’s good!! I made 2 variants. The very veggie laden one for us with sliced zucchinis in the base, & then everything mixed together sans zucchini one for the kids. The hub loved both, but I preferred the kids version where the creamy mix was flavoured with the marinated & cooked peppers & mushrooms. The pastry can also be made in advance, & the shell frozen too for future use. I prefer a thin pastry so I rolled out 2 shells.
My own recipe…
Pastry for tart shell
Makes 2 thin crust rectangular pastry shells
Buckwheat flour – 1 cup
Flour – 1 cup
Butter – 1/2 cup; chilled
Salt – 1 tsp
Freshly ground Pepper
2-3 tbsps of chilled water
  • Put the flours + salt + pepper with chilled butter into food processor. Pulse short durations till breadcrumbs mixture forms.
  • Add chilled water gradually & pull together to form a firm dough. Don’t over knead, or the crust will become tough. Divide into 2 patties, cling wrap & chill for 15 minutes & roll out thin to line the tart pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Bake blind for 15 minutes, & then remove pie weights / beans & bake for another 10 minutes to allow pastry to dry out & become crisp.
  • The pastry was really good enough to nibble away on its own…light & oh-s0-crisp!!

Enough for 2 thin crust savoury tarts
Curd cheese – Made from 1 kg of curd hung for 24 hours, (or you can use cream cheese)
Low fat cream – 150ml
Eggs – 2
Cheese – 100-150 gms; grated
Red bell pepper – 1
Yellow bell pepper -1
Button mushrooms – 200gms; finely sliced
Balsamic vinegar – 2 tsps
Splash of red wine (optional)
Olive oil – 2 tsps
Demerera sugar – 1 tsp
Garlic – 1 head (roasted)
Salt & pepper to taste

  • Roast the bell peppers & garlic in the oven for 30 minutes a 180C. Turn the peppers over 2-3 times to ensure even char-grilling. Remove from oven, & shut the peppers in a baggie till cool. Then remove outer skin & seeds, & chop up.
  • Squeeze all the garlic out, with whatever juices. (I usually keep a small tub of roasted garlic with olive oil & freshly ground black pepper in the fridge.)
  • Toss the roasted garlic, bell peppers & mushrooms into a pan. Add 1 tsp of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar & a splash of red wine (about 1/4 cup).
  • Stir well on high heat till all the juices have been absorbed & the mushrooms are cooked through & wilted. Season with salt & freshly ground pepper. (This can be made in advance)

Version 1:

  • Slice 1 zucchini & line the base of 1 of the tart shells. Top with half the bell pepper/mushroom mix. Top with half the cheese/egg mix, grate a little cheddar over it.
  • Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes till set. Rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

Version 2:

  • Take the remaining bell pepper/mushroom mix & mix it well into the cheese/egg mixture. (I added some extra cheese, sweetcorn & oregano for the kids.)
  • Fill into the pastry shell, top with thickly sliced tomatoes, grate cheese over the top. Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes till set. Rest at least 30 minutes before slicing up. (I made this 3 hours before the kids ate it for dinner)

Bon appetit! This is also headed for Original Recipes @ Culinarty for Lore’s event.

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