Friday, September 24

Sneaky vegetable muffins, a spanish mama's tortilla and a newsletter idea.....

The Zucchini muffins are the absolute best, I know you should not rave about your own food (although if you dont who else will?) but I have been making them for years and I know they are foolproof. I had a lovely email this morning from one of the girls who came on Wednesday, she made these to take to her daughters Kindy shared morning tea, and they went down a treat. She commented the parents loved the hidden vegetables, which is just great. I dont have kids, but I have made them before for children who seem to like them as much as grown ups (I think the vege makes them slightly sweet?), little do those small bundles of energy know, but they are eating loads of vegetables with every bite! Ha ha, I feel so subversive.....

Zucchini Muffins

This makes about 12 normal size muffins, or 24 mini muffins, which make fantastic canapés

Approx 500 grams grated zucchini (this is 5 normal sized vegetables, not marrows!)
1 carrot grated
1 medium onion peeled and diced finely
About 2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 cup grated cheese (Tasty is fine here)
1 cup self-raising flour
¼ cup canola oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4-5 eggs (depending on size)

Pre heat your oven to 180C/350F

Drain your grated zucchini, by placing them in a clean tea towel, and squeezing out as much moisture as you can, you will be surprised how much comes out of even very firm vegetables.

Put into a large bowl, and add the grated carrot, onion, cheese, flour and canola oil. Stir together, and add plenty of salt and pepper.
Add 4 eggs, and stir the mixture thoroughly, it should be moist but not to runny. Unlike normal muffins, this batter can take plenty of stirring without producing a tough result. If the mixture looks to dry, add the remaining egg.
Bake in greased muffin trays for about 20-25 mins at 180C until golden brown. Mini muffins will only take 15-20 mins.

These are so moist they don’t need buttering, but the mini version are divine split and filled with cream cheese and a sliver of smoked salmon as a canapé.

I have also served them filled with goat cheese and a tsp of beetroot relish

If you are feeding meat eaters, 3-4 rashers of chopped bacon can also be added to the mixture before baking.

Well, a few small branches on the Silver Birch aside, we survived the big storm which battered most of New Zealand last week. I felt so feeble after posting about my fair weather gardening, I actually got myself outside, dodging rain showers, and planted out a whole bunch of seedlings and lettuce plants. The neighbours must think I'm slightly deranged, standing in a force 10 gales trying not to inhale all my potting mix, while simultaneously getting minuscule seeds out of a tiny packet which refuses to open (if you want to keep something safe, put it in a foil seed sachet, they are practically impenetrable)

I felt very pleased with myself, thinking when everyone turned up at my cooking class on Wednesday night they could admire all my new herbs pots while coming up the path. Given it was dark by 7pm, and the front light bulb has blown, they were probably just lucky not to fall over one.......

The cooking class was great fun, and thanks to the lovely Mairi over at Toast and her whizz iPhone, I even have pics for you. It is usually impossible for me to take pictures and conduct the class, so it was great to get some nice ones to show you.

First up we made a proper Spanish Tortilla. I am using the word proper, even though we are a long way from Espana, as I see so many "tortilla" in cafes which would make any Spaniards blood boil. A tortilla is not a stodgy lump of leaden egg and potato, nor is it a dumping ground for every root vegetable known to man. It should be sweet, light, and yet substantial, and should never, ever have seen the inside of a fridge.....

This really is so much more than the sum of its parts……it was taught to me by my friend Jose’s mama Victoria, in her kitchen in Sedella in Andalusia. She is a great cook, but even if you are not using your own eggs, onions, potatoes AND olive oil as she does, this will still taste fab....the ingredient list looks sparse I know, but trust me...

Victoria's Spanish Tortilla
3-4 good size potatoes (as you probably know by now, I use Agria)
2 cups of Olive oil (I KNOW, it seems horrendous, but most of it is drained away & can be reused)
2 medium onions
4-5 eggs

Peel and slice your potatoes into small chunks. A Spanish mama would do it in her hand straight into a bowl, but feel free to use a chopping board (I do!) I cut the potato in half, then half again, and cut slim half moon shapes, as i like the way it looks when cooked and sliced, but it is really up to you
Peel your onions; slice in half then into thin crescents and chuck in bowl with your spuds. Add 1 1/2 cups of oil and mix all around to coat vegetables. Season generously, and I mean generously, potatoes need salt.

Put the whole lot into your non-stick frying pan. The size of your pan will dictate how many potatoes you use; this is enough for a 23cm pan. If the oil isn’t really coating the potato, add more, you are basically stewing the vege in the oil. But remember as the oil heats it becomes more liquid, so it will cover the potatoes more, check once they start simmering and add more then if needed.
Cook over a low heat for approx 20 mins until the potato feels tender, then drain off the oil (which can be used again no problem).I keep my oil in a jar in the pantry

Tip the spud mix into a bowl, and add 4 beaten eggs (add the remaining egg if the mixture looks too dry). Mix and add a little more seasoning, then tip the whole lot back into your frying pan, and put back on the heat. You can turn the heat to med-low, and cook for about 10-15 mins, until the bottom is golden and the egg mixture is reasonably set (so when you turn it out it isn't going to run everywhere)

Flip onto a plate, and then slide back into the pan to cook the underside for another couple of minutes.
This isn't nearly as tricky as it sounds. Take the pan off the heat, put a plate on top of the frying pan, and using a tea towel to protect your hands, grab the plate & pan together and flip. The tortilla will drop onto the plate. Now put the pan back on the heat, and slide the tortilla off the plate and back into the pan to cook for about 5 more mins. Turn out onto a serving plate

I like to serve this warm or room temperature. It travels well, so is great to take on a picnic or BBQ, I actually made this to take to the Ronan Keating concert at Villa Maria last Feb. A slice of tortilla and a glass of chardonnay was rather nice sitting in the sun! I usually just have it plain, but you could serve with a chutney or sauce to if you like, and maybe a salad, for a lovely spring/summer lunch.

We also made some Zucchini muffins, and rather delish Broadbean cakes, adapted from Yotom Ottolehghi's Plenty, I think I have raved about this book already.

On a totally different tangent, I came across this neat magazine the other day, Extra Curricular for people who like craft and do it in their spare time. It is published independently by Ellie Smith and some of her crafty pals. I love the mag, it is quirky and interesting and I love the fact it is put together without the aid of a big publisher or huge budget. Check the link for stockists, I got my copy at Mag Nation on Queen Street.

On this theme, I am eagerly awaiting my copy of Martha Goes Green, a vegetarian cookbook put together by three girls in Australia (a couple are originally from this side of the ditch) ,designed and  published by them independently, how gorgeous does it look? I cant wait to get my mitts on this & get cooking.....

Speaking of doing things independently, and being rather wonderful about it, check out the Underground Farmers Market, held in the flat and garden of Ms Marmitelover. This woman is fabulous, not only does she run an amazing underground restaurant in London (and is a total pioneer in the whole movement, setting up the network I belong to) but she does completely fabbo things like this, I mean, a whole market in a 2 bed flat & cool?

Cooking classes in kitchens, books from bedrooms, markets in flats, nothing like the spirit of DIY people, it's very inspiring:)
On that theme, I am setting up a little publication of my own, a Plum Kitchen Newsletter, which will be sent out monthly. It will have cooking class updates, supperclub dates, tip, recipes (of course!) , reviews and hopefully even some interviews (that's if a) I can find someone interesting who wants to talk to me, and b) I can shut my trap long enough to listen,) plus anything else I care to chuck in.....
To subscribe, please just send me an email and I will add you to my mailing list. Dont worry, I will NEVER send you crappy jokes, inspirational messages or ads for mens pharmacuticals, or give your email address to anyone else:)

Have a great weekend!


  1. Yummy! Can't wait to try this when I get back to New Zealand!

  2. Sounds like a busy evening! I know what you mean about taking photos at class! I have a soufflé class those morning, let's see if I can capture the moment!

  3. The courgette (I'm British!) muffins look delicious. I've printed out the recipe already to make some mini bite-sized ones.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to comment:)
    Do give the recipes a go, no one will realize just how easy they are (unless you tell them!)
    Hope you got some souffle pics Pease,that really would be impressive!

  5. Perfect for this weekend - off to a brunch & reckon these will be just the ticket!

  6. I made these vegetable muffins for part of a wedding feast, They went down a treat, I added some corn, Yummy everyone loved them. thank you.

  7. I planted "Eight Ball" zuchinni this year, and wondered if you could give me an idea of how many CUPS of grated zuchinni I need. These squashes are round, and I like them much better than the long ones that take over your whole garden (like my acorn squashes have done!).

  8. I am an American, and I don't know what "marrows" are.

  9. Hi there Pekichin, I would say 2.5-3 cups of grated zucchini, sorry, a marrow is just a zucchini that has been allowed to grow way too big, they get really watery & tasteless:)


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