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Zucchini Cake


Make this zucchini cake for a potluck gathering and people won’t complain they’re on a diet and can’t try it. Even better, call it a zucchini bread and mention there are 3 cups of vegetables (technically a fruit) and no butter in it and they’ll be compelled to taste. Bread or cake, this baked goodie goes great sliced and served with some soup for lunch, a dessert for dinner or on its own for a heartwarming fall breakfast. It can be made in a bundt pan, poured into two small loaf pans or turned into muffins.


  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (2 to 3 medium)
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Grease bundt pan or muffin tin and preheat oven to 350F/175C.

Combine all liquid ingredients including sugar, mix well.

Sift dry ingredients on list above from flour to baking powder.

Incorporate dry mix into liquid mixture without overmixing.

Bake until center of cake or muffins feels firm (toothpick test).

Courtesy of Betty Crocker who also suggests adding nuts and raisins.

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Savory muffins


Savory muffins are just as easy to make as sweet ones. There might be more ingredients to add to the savory ones, therefore less flour is typically used.

There are so many variations as to the filling you can use – any type of deli meat (ham, bacon, etc.), cheese (neutral like swiss but more flavorful can be used, such as parmesan, gruyere..), vegetables (zucchini, carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli and much more), herbs (spring onions, thyme, rosemary..) and spices (nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, etc.).

This is my version:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of nutmeg, allspice, black pepper
  • 2 cups of white flour
  • 1 cup of wheat or multigrain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stalk of leek
  • 100g bacon
  • 50g salami
  • 1 cup grated emmentaler cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated compte/gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 200C/390F. Line muffin tin with paper cups. Grate cheese. Cook bacon in a pan without oil/fat, remove from pan and set aside to cool. Chop salami into tiny squares. Chop leek and cook reusing the fat released from the bacon in the same pan. If not enough, add some oil, stir and cover with a lid. Cook until softened but still green. Sprinkle with sea salt and let cool in pan uncovered.

In a large bowl, beat eggs manually, pour in oil, yogurt, milk, mustard and spices, and stir until well blended. Sift white flour, baking powder and soda into the wet ingredients mixture. Add course flour separately, unsifted. Stir until a homogenous mix has formed. Add filling ingredients – leek, bacon, salami and cheese. Reserve 1/2 cup of cheese for sprinkling on top.

Pour batter into paper cups. The recommended amount is 2/3 of the cup but I fill mine to the top so a nice hilly top forms. For smaller muffins, follow the 2/3 rule. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and done in the center (insert a wooden toothpick to test if the touch test doesn’t work). Sprinkle with cheese 5 mins before they’re done and return to oven. Let cool and serve still warm.



Sunny Bread


This year instead of making a birthday cake for my daughter to bring to school, we tried the delicious pitka slunce or a round bread called ‘sun’. A large ball of dough in the middle glazed with egg yolk stands to connect all the little rolls or bun rays sticking out of the sun. Depending on how large of a ball you form from the dough, the ‘sun’ can fit about 16 to 20 bun rolls around it. Perfect for a class of 20 students! Especially if some are missing that day..the teachers get to take an extra helping;). So the ingredients are as follow:

  • 300ml milk
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 egg yolks + 1 egg white
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil (not olive)
  • 1 cube fresh yeast or 2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1kg+ flour
  • 100g butter
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp melted butter + 1 tbsp milk for glazing

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk with sugar. Add 3-4 tbsp flour and let proof until frothy. Sift flour and make a well. Pour into the well the yogurt, eggs, salt, oil and yeast mixture. Knead soft dough. Let rise until double. Then pinch out a large piece of it, shape into a round, slightly flattened ball and put in center of a greased baking pan or sheet. This is the ‘sun’ – the starting point of your sunny bread:).

Divide the rest of the dough into three equal parts. Roll out three round large sheets of dough. Brush each with melted butter and place on top of each other. Cut into 16 more or less equal triangles (one large line cutting circle in half, then another perpendicular line in quarter, an so on). Roll each triangle starting from the base towards the top.

Arrange buns around the ‘sun’ and let bread rise for 10-20 mins. If you don’t have time, you can skip this step, the bread will rise anyhow during baking. Brush entire bread, sun and rays, with egg yolk mixture, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds (optional) and bake in preheated oven at 170 Celsius until golden brown.

Share with your family, friends or neighbors. This bread is Bulgarian and Bulgarian culture is all about sharing!  


Pumpkin Cake

What banana bread is to winter, pumpkin cake is to fall. Leaving SAT analogies aside, this is simply the quintessential fall cake to make. As the autumn leaves turn a beautiful range of orange-brown colors and people start buying pumpkins for Halloween, the time has come to switch from the summer peach, pear and plum desserts and introduce pumpkin into one’s menu. Pumpkins are native of North America and are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. As its orange color suggests, pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A and its precursor beta-carotene, which is necessary for vision, skin repair and other important physiological functions. In addition, consuming pumpkin may lower one’s cholesterol and be an excellent dietary option for people with diabetes. The seeds of pumpkin as well as the oil extracted from the seeds might have additional health benefits, such as reducing the risk of cancer and prostate disease, and are also known to have antimicrobial properties.


  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée*
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water*
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not overmix.

Pour into a buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan (23x13x7 cm) or 9-inch (23-cm) round pan. Bake around 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

* To make pumpkin purée, cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, lie face down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F/180°C until soft, about 45 min-1h. Cool, scoop out the flesh. You can also boil pumpkin cut into several pieces, peel and then mash. Baking will bring out its flavor more and the purée will be less watery. If boiling the pumpkin, skip the addition of water step above.

Recipe adapted from here.

Pad See Ew

Every time I’ve been to a Thai restaurant, I ended up ordering Pad Thai. Every time I go to a Thai restaurant, I tell myself I will order something other than Pad Thai and then again, it happens. The problem was that I could make Thai Curry and its various derivative dishes but I could never create that Pad Thai flavor you got at a restaurant. Until I found a really great and simple recipe online demonstrated in a live video by a Thai cook at …a British restaurant. Needless to say, the recipe was Westernized. Since I discovered that recipe and successfully obtained the long-sought after Pad Thai taste – a combination of all kinds of sweet, salty, sour, spicy and other flavors – I have made Pad Thai several times. In fact it was about time to try a different recipe. That’s how I drifted to the less complicated Pad See Ew, another stir-fry noodle dish requiring fewer ingredients and less time. Pad See it for Ewrselves.


  • 250g flat and wide rice noodles
  • 1/2 kg ground pork, beef or mix of two (or calamari)
  • 3 cups Chinese broccoli
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sweet dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (palm or regular granulated)
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic (pressed)

Prepare in advance:

  1. Noodles – method 1) soak dry noodles for 20 min in cold water until pliable but not too soft; method 2) blanch noodles for 3-5 min in boiling water until softened but not cooked.
  2. Meat – in a pan with some oil, cook ground meat until fully done and ready to use. (I used seafood instead.)
  3. Vegetable – chop Chinese broccoli or regular broccoli into large chunks and blanch or cook in a pan separately for 2-5 min or until semi-soft.
  4. Sauce – mix sweet dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, thin soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and garlic and set aside for stir-fry.

Heat two tablespoons of vegetable or sesame oil in a wok or any deep large pan. Crack egg and scramble quickly. Add noodles, stir with egg for 2 min, add sauce, stir some more. Turn heat to the maximum. Quickly add meat, stir again and cook until noodles begin to form slightly burnt edges. Stir in chopped, semi-cooked vegetable chunks, stir fry for only a few more minutes and serve piled up on a large plate. If using seafood, add last on top of noodles and vegetables before serving.


Some notes for the beginners:
For more info on different types of rice noodles and cooking methods, visit this site:
For more Thai dishes, visit this site showing videos of Thai food street vendors:
For examples of Pad See Ew recipes, visit these sites:
For a dramatic video of Pad See Ew noodles set on fire, scroll down this site:

Apple Walnut Caramel Cake

This recipe is very similar to my pear ginger caramel cake except that there’s nothing exotic about it. On the contrary, it is a very basic, down-to-earth, standard or traditional to various cultures, if you will, type of cake. The French have their tart tatin, the Russians make a traditional apple cake called sharlotka, in the US we have the apple pie, South or North, that is made around Thanksgiving and I’m sure in the Northern countries in Europe they probably make some apple coffee cake. In the Bavarian province of Germany, Apfelkuchen is the Kuchen to eat. And so on..

Whatever cultural variation you opt for, the general recommendation is to use tart and rather hard apples. The amount, slicing shape and patterns to arrange the apples in the cake can vary and the use of caramel is entirely up to you. In the recipe I am offering below, there are two layers of batter separated by a second layer of apples-cinnamon-walnuts. However, it is perfectly alright to just have the bottom layer on the pan and one layer of batter on top, in a tart-tatin style. Let us convince ourselves of the simplicity of this cake recipe now.



  • 5 eggs
  • 150 ml oil
  • 330 g flour
  • 300 g sugar
  • 10 g baking powder


  • 100 g sugar
  • 40 g butter


  • 400 g apples
  • 150 g walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

In a pan, spread evenly the 100 g sugar and bake at 350F/180C until medium brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Grate or cut the butter in thin slices and place over caramel pan bottom. Arrange sliced apples in a circular pattern over, sprinkle 1 tsp cinnamon, half of the chopped walnuts and pour over half of the batter. To make batter, simply mix all the ingredients.

Repeat layer of apples, cinnamon and walnuts over the first batter layer and top with the second half/remaining batter. (I usually use slightly less than half for the first layer just to be sure to have enough batter to cover the second layer of apples/walnuts.

Bake at 350F/180C until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, let cool and turn upside-down on a cake plate. If the cake is sliced while still warm, it can be served with vanilla ice cream. Otherwise, serve completely cooled. Ideal for a potluck party or a weekend breakfast.


Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche is a popular dish in the United States and England. It could be served for breakfast but of course, it makes a quick and easy dinner dish as well. You can also make it for a weekend brunch and enjoy it in itself or as part of a bigger buffet or potluck selection. It contains protein, calcium, fiber and antioxidants and despite the fact that it is a vegetarian dish, it can taste quite rich and heavy.

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  • 1 pie shell
  • 1 broccoli head
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Blanch or quickly boil broccoli cut in flowerets and set aside to cool. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Roll out store-bought or home-made pie dough in a pie shell and arrange broccoli flowerets on the bottom. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over. Pour filling mixture on top and bake for 40-50 minutes or until set in center. Let cool 5 min and serve cut in slices.

A note on the ingredients: The amount of eggs, milk and cheese in the filling can be varied depending on taste and consistency preference. Some people prefer their quiche more eggy, others more cheesy. For a lighter version, you can omit the heavy cream and add only milk thickening it with an extra tablespoon of flour. Also, herbs can be experimented with, as for example, adding fresh parsley or dill.


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