- I’m busy. That’s a bit vague so I’ll elaborate: I’m working full time, writing a weekly column for The Tipperary Star, renovating the farm house, raising a busy toddler and feeding what sometimes feels like the Irish army. Not that I’m complaining; I’m just busy, ok?
- My mom and dad are here. My mom’s been here since early July, which is around the time I started saying “OK, I really need to write this blog post”, which hasn’t really happened… My spare time is generally spent with them, and not blogging. Gimme a break, I really only see them once a year! It’s nice seeing Maeve interact with Nana and Grandpa.
- WE’RE RENOVATING THE FARMHOUSE. My Dad is a super-carpenter extraordinaire and my Mom is mad into interior design, so why wouldn’t we renovate while they’re both here? My house is currently torn apart in many ways, but the wall I wanted gone is gone and the flooring is completely done (no exposed concrete anywhere!) and my dad has up-cycled numerous beautiful, but slightly worn, pieces of old furniture we didn’t want to part with.
- I’M COOKING FOR AN ARMY. I know I’m repeating the last two points, but this is seriously taking up a lot of my time – from elaborate breakfasts in the morning to evening feasts. My parents are doing a lot of work here, so why wouldn’t I spend a lot of time cooking lovely food for them?
- Oh yeah. Probably the biggest reason I haven’t blogged lately? I’m pregnant. And parenting a toddler. And exhausted. I’m like, so, so, exhausted. I’m halfway there, though, and we are getting excited to introduce Maeve to her new sibling in early January.
The thing is, I have too much to write about. I’ve been eating such great food this summer and big life changes are coming our way.
Weather-wise, this summer in Ireland has been total and complete crap. Cold, rainy jacket weather all summer. Things are starting to dry up a little as we prepare for September (and our second cutting of silage; gawd help me) but the window for hot, sunny beach weather has definitely passed. Oh well.
This coming week we’re takin’ off on an epic road trip, starting in Belfast and ending at Electric Picnic (one of Ireland’s biggest annual music festivals). Friends from Canada arrive on Sunday and we’re taking them along the Wild Atlantic Way, eventually doing the Ring of Kerry (something I’ve never done) so watch this space! My next post is bound to be a big one.
In the meantime, here’s a summer recipe I make each year when the zucchini (or courgette, depending on which side of the ocean you’re living) is ripe and plentiful and I’m wondering what the eff I’m going to do with ALL THE COURGETTE (or zucchini!). I make this several times during the course of the summer, actually, since it’s the only way I can get my husband to eat zucchini (courgette!).
Honestly, if you just follow the first part of the recipe you’re good. Just eat the fried zucchini with some sea salt. It makes your belly happy. If you’re ambitious (and can hold back), THEN you should make the casserole – it really is worth it.
Summery Zucchini/Courgette Parmesan
2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups AP flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup rapeseed oil (or olive oil), for frying
2 balls fresh Buffalo Mozzarella (I use Toonsbridge), torn into small pieces
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 bunch baby spinach, washed
For the sauce:
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili flakes OR 1 tsp fresh chili paste
2 8oz cans crushed tomato
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 tsp sugar
Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Make your zucchini fritters: season the flour with the salt and pepper; mix. Lightly coat the slices of zucchini with flour, then dip each slice in the beaten egg. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan (I used a wok) or saucepan and shallow fry the egg and flour-coated zucchini slices until golden brown. Add more oil to the pan if necessary, and fry them in batches – not all at once. Let them drain on paper towel when they’re fried.Set aside.
- Make the tomato sauce: heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan. When it’s hot, add the onions. Allow them to fry, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until they’re tender and translucent. Add the garlic and chili; cook another minute. Add the tomato paste and canned tomatoes;bring to a simmer. Allow the tomatoes to cook down, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. When the sauce is thick and bubbly, add the sugar and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the sauce aside until ready to use.
- Make the casserole: preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan). Add a bit of sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer half of the zucchini fritters, spinach, Buffalo mozzarella, Parmesan and more sauce. Repeat until everything is used. Top with the rest of the sauce and lots more cheese.
- Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour. The cheese should be golden brown and the sauce should be bubbly. Chop some fresh herbs to garnish and serve hot with lots more Parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper and some al dente pasta. Serves eight hungry souls. Makes great leftovers, but you probably won’t have any.