I love French terrines -- potted and gently cooked bricks of meat, liver and (less commonly) fish or vegetable mixtures enjoyed slice by slice, scoop by scoop with rustic French bread.
Auntie Kathy has some advice. She married a Frenchman from Nantes and subsequently became the matriarch of a French family, overseeing two kids and lots of French dinner guests. When throwing a dinner party at home, she advises focusing on a "wow" starter and an "oooh" dessert; grand entrances and exits are more memorable than the main course in between. So here I've made a colourful vegetable terrine that is sure to impress and feeds vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Hours of tireless labour and a culinary degree? Nope, this flavourful and pretty starter barely takes more than rudimentary knowledge of how to boil water, a bit of nimble finger-work and 40 minutes of hands-free time in the oven. Suggestions for what to do with this spare time include: your iPad yoga routine; cringing to the next episode of The Last Man on Earth; watching another smokey eye makeup tutorial on YouTube (and never actually applying your newly acquired cosmetic knowledge); read my blog; write your blog. The sky's the limit.
The Rainbow Terrine can be made one day ahead; after it is cooled completely, wrap it in a new sheet of clingfilm and keep it in the refrigerator. If you want to serve it warm, keep it covered in clingfilm and microwave on medium heat for 1 minute.
- 1 loaf pan measuring about 23cm x 13cm
- 2 zucchinis (optional: 1 yellow and 1 green)
- 75g broad beans
- 75g petits pois
- 75g broccoli, cut into florets
- 75g okra
- 75g baby carrots, peeled, tops cut off and sliced lengthwise into halves or thirds if they are quite thick
- ½ red onion, sliced lengthwise into wedges and peeled apart for onion “petals”
- 10 whole basil leaves (or more if you wish)
- 380g whole eggs (I used 9 small eggs)
- 400ml double cream
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Line your loaf pan with a big, long piece of clingfilm, making sure there's plenty of extra hanging off the sides.
- Use a vegetable peeler make long zucchini ribbons (avoid making the slices too thin); go around the zucchini four times (lengthwise) in a square shape, peeling about 5-6 slices per side. You’ll be left with a long rectangular zucchini core, which you can discard or save for a stir-fry. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of salt over all your zucchini ribbons and set aside to let the water from the zucchini sweat out.
- Boil a pot of water, about 6 liters, with a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar, and blanch the vegetables one by one (make sure you have a bowl for each vegetable): the broad beans for 2 minutes, the petit pois for 1 minute, the broccoli for 2 minutes, the okra (stem on) for 1 minute, the baby carrots for 4 minutes. After each vegetable is blanched, use a wide slotted spoon to scoop it out of the pot and set aside in a bowl, then repeat with the next vegetables (no need to put boiled vegetables in an ice water bath as with normal blanching instructions).
- Sauté the red onions petals in a frying pan with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, until softened but careful not to brown it too much to retain the purple colour.
- Use the strips of zucchini to line the clingfilm-covered loaf pan; the long ribbons of zucchini should go up the side of the pan, and the next piece of zucchini should overlap with half of the previous strip of zucchini. Before laying the zucchini into the pan, lay them neatly on a paper towel and pat dry with another paper towel. When the pan is fully lined with the zucchini strips, set aside. You will have extra zucchini strips which we will use later.
- Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until well combined, then add the cream, the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 tsp salt. Mix until well combined.
- Preheat oven to 180*C and bring a big pot of water to boil. Layer the vegetables into the zucchini-lined loaf pan: I like to first add the peas, then the basil leaves, then broad beans, carrots, extra zucchini ribbons, then okra (important: make sure they are placed lengthwise like to long loaf pan, so when you slice it you can see star shapes), red onion and the broccoli.
- Gently pour the egg-cream mixture into the loaf pan, then gently lift the pan and tap it against the table to make sure the egg gets into all the cracks between the veggies. Fold over the overhanging clingfilm onto the top of the vegetable terrine, pressing it lightly against the liquid egg mixture to cover it well. Place the loaf pan into a deep baking dish or roasting tray
- Pour the boiling water into the baking dish/roasting tray to halfway up the sides of the loaf pan, and bake in your preheated oven for 40 minutes; check for doneness with a knife, which should come out clean when you insert it into the middle of the terrine. Sometimes the clingfilm will burn a little bit on the top or edges of the pan; don’t worry, just gently scrape or pick it off.
- Wait about 20 minutes for the terrine to cool inside the pan. Cover the terrine with your serving dish then gently turn them both over to invert the terrine; it should come out very easily. Remove the clingfilm and serve warm or at room temperature (can be covered with a new piece of clingfilm and kept refrigerated for 24 hours).