Do you think you have a fairly good working knowledge of internationally recognised celebratory days? Christmas, New year, Eid, Chinese New year, Diwali, Easter, International Women’s Day, World AIDS day and so forth? Well if you ever wanted to confirm your ignorance, step into the wonderful world of food blogging and learn about all the celebrations you had hitherto been unaware of. World Nutella Day. National Pie Day. International Bacon Day. National Ice-cream Day. World Bread Day. British Cheese Week. Chocolate Week. The list is seemingly endless.
This got me thinking about other weird and wonderful days and celebrations that I might up to now have been shamefully ignorant, such as:
- National Underwear Day
- National Orgasm Day
- International Kissing Day
- International Homeless Animals Day
- National Allotments Week (this week, by coincidence!)
- Bubblewrap Appreciation Day
- Global Belly Laugh Day
Something for everyone, really – and that’s just a small fraction of all the wacky and wonderful days out there!
But the one that really caught my eye was National Sneak A Zucchini Onto Your Neighbour’s Porch Day - which is today 8 August! You see, when we first got our allotment back in May, Nick received all sorts of advice. Plant this, plant that, remove the weeds like this, compost like that – but the one piece of advice that was pretty constant was “don’t plant too many zucchini/courgettes”. ”Why?” asked Nick, “I mean, we love courgettes! We eat them all the time!”. ”You’ll find out”, chuckled the allotment old-timers. Undeterred Nick planted ten. Yes, ten. And over a growing season, each can produce 40-50 courgettes. If you pick diligently every day, this could mean 50 petite, sweet little courgettes – but fail to visit the allotment and pick diligently and within days you will have baseball bat-sized monsters (my friend calls them zucchini cudgels). You can imagine which option has prevailed in this house… So lately I have been on a mission to find recipes that use up a lot of courgettes in one go and this is such a recipe. The original is by French writer Sophie Dudemaine but I found an English version of it here. The coulis is my own addition and a fine one it is too, with the smoky spiciness giving the mild-flavoured terrine a wonderful lift. The terrine can be served warm or cold and makes a fantastic picnic food. It’s also an easily customisable recipe – I threw in a handful of spinach as this is what I had in the fridge, but you could also add grated carrots, peas, leeks; anything that took your fancy, really.
A dish this elegant calls for a considered wine match, and after my trip to the Loire Valley in June, I have been spending more time seeking out examples of the excellent value white wines from the region. Although my trip focused on the Muscadet region around Nantes where the whites are made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes, white wine fans will also definitely find it worth exploring the wines of the Touraine region of the Loire Valley, located around the city of Tours. One of my favourite Touraine appelations is Vouvray, which produces velvety wooded Chenin Blancs, but those looking for crisp and fresh whites need to look no further than Touraine Sauvignon Blanc wines. To match my creamy terrine, I tried the 2012 Thierry Delaunay Touraine Sauvignon Blanc with its gooseberry nose and racy palate of green apples , elderflower and notes of green pepper (£8.99 from Majestic Wines). The fresh, tart notes of the wine were a great foil for the creaminess of the terrine without overpowering it
Now – what to do with the other 200 courgettes… If only my neighbour had a porch!
Here are some more great ways to use up your zucchini crop:
- Zucchini cake with a crunchy lemon glaze from David Labovitz
- Potato, courgette and feta cakes with mint from Greedy Gourmet
- Three-cheese zucchini frittata from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Grilled zucchini pizza with bechamel and red onion from Coffee & Vanilla
- 1 kg courgettes, grated
- Generours handful of spinach leaves, washed and finely shredded
- 2 onions, chopped
- 200 g crumbled feta cheese
- 8 eggs
- 200 ml evaporated milk (I used half milk and half double cream)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used a mix of basil, thyme and mint)
- salt and pepper to taste
- FOR THE COULIS
- 4 red bell peppers
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chilli paste
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180°C (375°F).
- Sauteé the vegetables for about 15 minutes in a little olive oil in a large frying pan, stirring so that they cook evenly.
- In a big bowl, beat together the eggs and the evaporated milk, then stir in the cheese and herbs,as well as the cooked vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Grease two standard sized loaf tins and pour the mixture evenly into them. Make sure to leave half a cm or two of space for the terrine to puff up during cooking.
- Place in the centre of the oven on a baking tray and bake for about an hour, or until the terrine is turning golden at the edges and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- In the meantime, make the coulis. Halve and seed the bell peppers and place them skin side up under a hot grill until they start to char and blacken. Once they are fairly evenly charred, remove from the oven and place them in a ziplock bag and seal tightly. Set aside for about 5 minutes to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, peel them and slice into strips.
- Place the bell pepper strips, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and chipotle paste in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth puree. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- When the terrine is cooked, allow to cool for 10-15 minutes on a cooling rack, then gently run a palette knife around the edge of each loaf tin and unmold onto a plate while still warm.
- Serve with the coulis and drusty bread for mopping up leftovers.