Recipe: Mouthwatering potato gratin with Parma Ham

Today I’m cooking a delightful potato dish with a very special ingredient – Parma Ham.

This amazing product is made from only four ingredients: pork, salt, air and time. Love that!

The pigs must be bred on one of the 10 northern and central Italian regions and only three breeds can be used to produce this delectable ham. There’s a special salting process which is a vital part of the curing process and of course there’s that special Parma air which helps to give the ham it’s incredible sweetness. I’ve been to Parma (lucky me) and must admit the air certainly smells sweeter.

The hams must be cured for at least a year, and up to three years. And all of this comes together to give us one of my absolute favourite products ever. How I wish I could have a leg hanging in my kitchen for convenient slicing.

Parma ham: hanging

The tempting hams hanging in line

Potato gratin with Parma Ham

The ingredients

Serves 4

2 large potatoes

4 slices of Parma Ham

1 ball of Buffalo Mozarella

2 tbsps olive oil

The process

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Wash, peel and slice the potatoes into 3mm slices. Pan fry the slices in the olive oil until lightly browned on both sides.

Place a layer of potato slices at the bottom of the dish. Then alternately layer the ham and potato. Finish off with a layer of the Buffalo Mozzarella.

Cover with foil and cook for 20 mins. Remove the foil and return to the oven for another 5-10 mins or until the top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and press down the top of the dish with a spatula so the juices cover the top.

Let rest for about 30 mins in a warm place before serving.

Parma Ham: potato recipe

The deliciously cheesy, hammy potato dish

Parma Ham: gratin

Layering the tasty dish with Parma Ham

Parma Ham: Le Cordon Bleu

Welcome to the world of Parma Ham at Le Cordon Bleu

I took part in the Parma Ham masterclass at London’s Le Cordon Bleu professional cookery school. It’s part of the international network of culinary schools around the world.

Parma Ham: kitchen

Getting ready to cook…can you spot me?

You can find out more about Parma Ham at prosciuttodiparma.com 

 

Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

Today I’m back in the kitchen creating a spicy lamb and chickpea soup. More one-pot cooking just for you.

I’m always inspired by the fresh ingredients I encounter on my travels and I’ve recently got back from another lovely visit to the Murcia region of Spain. There’s a fabulous market in the fishing village of Cabo de Palos that sells pretty much everything – including a wonderful array of fresh produce. I bought a large bag of garlic bulbs there for €1 (I know, what a bargain!) so because of that I’ve been on a quest to create dishes including this delicious ingredient.

Another Spanish staple I love are the wonderful chickpeas (garbanzo) you can buy bottled in the supermarket. They’re so versatile and this version is easy to cook with – ready to go straight into the pot – no need for remembering to give them that overnight soak. Even more convenient.

So with that in mind I’ve created this delicious soup, which also includes a little bit of Moroccan inspiration in the spicy harissa. It adds a lovely flavour and kick of heat. And everything goes in one pot, making for practically no washing up.  Oh and if you’re vegetarian, simply leave out the lamb, it tastes just as good. You should certainly give it a try.

Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

Serves 4

Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

A deliciously rich and satisfying bowl of soup

The ingredients

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

500g lamb neck fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsps harissa

2 tbsps tomato puree

500g vegetable stock

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

400g tinned or bottled chickpeas, drained

The process

Heat the olive oil in large saucepan over a low heat and fry the onions, carrots, garlic and ginger for about 10mins until softened.

Add the lamb and cook for another 10 mins.

Stir in the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon coriander and tomato puree, making sure the meat is well coated.

Add the vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes and drained chickpeas. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer on low for 1 hour.

Remove the lid and cook on low for another 30mins to reduce the soup to a thicker consistency.

This is a substantial enough dish to serve on its own, but it also works well with warmed pitta breads for dipping satisfaction.

Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

The soup bubbling away on the stove top

Don’t worry if you’re not going to Spain – you can even buy the Spanish bottled chickpeas in supermarkets. There’s so much you can do with them.

Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

Chickpeas really are such an inspiring ingredient

And finally…

Have you been inspired by ingredients you’ve discovered on your travels to come up with exciting new dishes at home?

I’d love to hear about them.

Recipe: Hake on a bed of paprika butter beans

One-pot cooking

It’s been way too long since I shared a recipe with you…very remiss of me I know. So today I’m going to make up for it by starting a new series of recipes for one-pot dishes. Quick and easy to make and requiring very little washing up afterwards, they are also going to be absolutely delicious. Like this one.

It captures the flavours of Spain perfectly, with its smokey paprika tones and sweetly salty chorizo flavours. And there’s a lovely little chilli kick to the sauce.

If you can’t find hake you could use any firm-fleshed fish like cod or haddock. It sits on the bed of beans and steams perfectly, coming out flaky and light, a great match for the sauce.

Recipe: hake and beans

The sweet hake steams on the bed of beans

The ingredients

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil

150g cooking chorizo, chopped

1 x tin butter beans, drained

100ml water

8 cherry tomatoes

1 tsp paprika

1 dried chilli

2 hake fillets

Recipe: ingredients

Red ingredients ready to cook with the beans

The process

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the chopped chorizo to the pan. Fry for about 5 mins.

Add the paprika and crumble the dried chilli into the mix.

Add the drained butter beans to the pan and mix well.

Recipe: beans

The paprika and chorizo add a lovely colour to the beans

Pour over the water and bring to the boil, then turn down to low.

Place the whole cherry tomatoes on top of the beans.

Lay the fillets of hake on top of the tomatoes.

Recipe: hake

The fresh hake rests on the bed of beans

Cover and cook on low for 15-20 mins until the fish is cooked through.

Recipe: final dish

Close up on the delicious dish

Do you have a favourite one-pot recipe?

I’d love to hear about it and try it out, so do get in touch.

 

 

Recipe: Spicy apple chutney

Recipe: Spicy Apple Chutney

I love autumn in London. There’s the beauty of all the leaves changing colour, atmospheric misty mornings and still warmth in the sun when it pops out. September is often the best month, especially after we’ve had a particularly lacklustre summer like we’ve had this year.

And it’s apple time – particularly good when your neighbours have an extremely fruitful apple tree in their garden. Always love a bit of free food and they are positively begging me to come and help myself before all the fruit goes sadly to waste.

So I popped over for some pickings and it was time for some apple cooking. First up, this really easy spicy apple chutney. It goes beautifully with cheese and cold meats, spicing up sandwiches and to serve with curries. Well, it kind of goes with most things. I made quite a big batch and shared it out with my neighbours. Spreading a bit of tasty autumn cheer.

Recipe: apple chutney

Apple chutney for the neighbourhood

Apple Chutney

The ingredients

12 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 dried red chillies

3 tbsps fresh ginger, chopped

2 cloves of garlic

300ml cider vinegar

200g brown sugar

100g caster sugar

Half a tsp ground cardamom

Half a tsp ground cloves

The process

Put  all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and cover.

Simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently, check that the apples are tender and the chutney is thickened. Keep an eye on it to make sure it’s not getting too dry and mix in some water if you need to keep it moist.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Ladle it into vacuum sealed jars and keep in the fridge until it is ready to serve.

What’s your favourite recipe using apples? These versatile fruits can be used in so many different ways. There’ll be more apple cooking coming soon so watch this space. And do let me have some of your favourites to try out for myself.

Wood-fired oven recipes to inspire you

I always love finding new ways to cook and I was very interested in learning all about the versatility of the wood-fired oven. While everyone knows they’re great for cooking pizzas, that’s only a tiny part of their capability as David and Holly Jones from Manna from Devon Cooking School are on a mission to prove.

I was lucky enough to meet them at a recent workshop where they cooked a delicious menu for us in the stylish Morsø wood-fired ovens. Everything from beautifully light focaccia, succulent peri peri chicken, Greek-style kebabs and even a fruity dessert.

Wood-fired ovens

Up close on the stylish Morsø wood-fired oven

David and Holly hold wood-fired oven cookery courses at their school Manna from Devon overlooking the River Dart in beautiful South Devon – one of my favourite areas of the UK. It’s such an amazing area for food-lovers that’s well worth a visit. You can find out more on www.foodanddrinkdevon.co.uk

The Jones’ fabulous Wo0d-Fired Oven Cookbook is a comprehensive guide to how to cook with your oven, including plenty of inspiring recipes. Here are three to whet your appetite and motivate you to branch out and do more than make pizza in this amazing outdoor kitchen. Buy the book for £9.99 by clicking here.

Scallops with chilli and mint

Serves 6 as an appetiser

Like all fish, scallops respond well to the hot temperatures in the wood-fired oven – they get a good charring on the outside, which adds to the flavours of the recipe. By baking the scallops in their round shells you won’t have any dishes to wash.

12 large cleaned scallops with their shells, also cleaned

juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

1 tbsp chilli oil

2 tbsp olive oil

25g butter, softened

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp dried white breadcrumbs

salt and ground black pepper

4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint

fresh, crusty bread, to serve

Wood-fired oven recipes

Build up the fire in the oven until the temperature reaches 300°C/570°F. This will take about 60 minutes. When it is up to temperature, push the fire to the back of the oven with a metal peel or coal hook, and keep the door open to encourage a hot fire with high flames.

In a bowl, mix the lemon juice and grated rind with the chilli oil and olive oil, the butter, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. Season well.

Cut the scallops in half to make discs and put them with their roes back in the cleaned half shells. Divide the breadcrumb mixture over the scallops.

Put the shells on a baking sheet; use two if you need to. Place the baking sheets in the oven, as close to the fire as possible. Keep the door open and bake for just 4–5 minutes, until the tops are golden and sizzling.

Carefully move the baking sheets to the front of the oven, using a metal peel to do so. Pick up the baking sheets, but be careful to keep them level so you don’t lose any of the delicious juices.

Sprinkle the chopped mint over the scallops and serve immediately with some fresh, crusty bread to mop up all the juices, remembering that the shells will be very hot.

Roast duck with orange, star anise and cinnamon and roast potatoes

Serves 4-6

Duck, like pork, cooks beautifully in a wood-fired oven – the fat melts through the meat, keeping it juicy and tender, and the skin crisps up well. It makes a rich meal, so all you need to go with it is some braised red cabbage or a watercress salad.Wood-fired oven cooking

1 large duck, about 2kg

juice of 2 oranges

2 whole star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

1 small bunch fresh sage

1.5kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tbsp canned duck or goose fat or olive oil

100ml red wine

600ml chicken stock

2 tbsp plain flour

salt and ground black pepper

Build up the fire in the oven until the temperature reaches 190°C/375°F, this will take about 40 minutes. When it is up to temperature, push the fire to the back of the oven with a metal peel or coal hook, and close the door to retain the heat.

Put the orange juice into a small pan on the stove and simmer gently with the star anise and cinnamon stick for 5 minutes to infuse the orange juice. Stir in the redcurrant jelly and simmer gently for 10 minutes until tacky. Remove the spices and season the liquid with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prick the duck skin all over with a skewer. Generously brush the orange and redcurrant liquid over the duck. Put the bunch of sage in the duck’s body cavity.

Put the potatoes in a large roasting pan and spoon over the duck fat. Put the duck on a wire rack and place in the roasting pan, over the potatoes. Open the oven door and put the roasting pan on the oven floor.

Close the door and roast the duck and potatoes for 1 hour, then take the roasting pan out of the oven. Remove the duck and rack from the roasting pan, drain off the excess fat and any juices into a measuring jug (cup), and turn the potatoes over. Replace the rack and duck, and return the roasting pan to the oven for another 30–60 minutes. Separate the fat from the meat juices in the jug, and set both aside.

Check that the duck is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thigh to make sure the juices run clear. The potatoes should also be cooked through and crisped up by all the duck fat that has been released.

Transfer the duck to rest on a platter. Drain the rest of the juices from the roasting pan into the measuring jug.

Put 2 tbsp of the reserved duck fat and the flour into the roasting pan and stir together on the stove. When the flour has absorbed the fat, stir in the juices from the jug with the red wine and the chicken stock. Keep stirring until it has come to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper.

Carve the duck meat and serve it with the gravy and potatoes and some braised red cabbage.

Cook’s tip

Any leftover duck is delicious shredded and served cold in sandwiches or wraps. Duck fat is great for roasting potatoes so do keep any left over in the refrigerator for just that.

Apple pie with spices

Serves 6

Another all-time classic, apple pie is delicious baked in a wood-fired oven, which crisps up the pastry on the top and the bottom of the pie, giving a crunchy outside and a tender fruity inside. Use the lower heat of the oven to cook the eating apples initially and then build up the fire to get a higher temperature for cooking the pastry. This recipe uses a mixture of dessert apples, which hold together well in the pie, and baking apples, which collapse more during cooking; the baking apples provide a contrasting tartness to the sweeter eating apples.

675g eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges

2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 2.5cm pieces

50g butter

50g caster sugar

50g light muscovado (brown) sugar

1tsp each ground mixed spice, cinnamon and ginger or 15ml/3 tsp apple pie spice

juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

2 pieces ready-rolled shortcrust pastry 30 x 30cm

1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

clotted cream, ice cream or custard, to serve

Build up the fire in the oven until the temperature reaches 200°C/400°F. When it is up to temperature, which will take about 40 minutes, push the embers to the back of the oven using a metal peel or coal hook. Leave the oven door closed to retain the heat.

Put the apple wedges, butter, sugars and spices in an ovenproof dish. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or some foil, and put the dish on the oven floor. Close the door and cook for 12–15 minutes, until the apples are tender, stirring a couple of times during cooking.

Take the dish containing the apples out of the oven, and close the door to keep the heat inside.

Transfer the apples to a large bowl and gently fold in the lemon juice and rind. Set aside to cool.

Line the base of a 25cm/10in deep ovenproof pie dish with one of the sheets of pastry, pressing it into the bases and sides. Spoon the cooled apples in to the pastry-lined pie dish and spread evenly. Lift the second sheet of pastry with the rolling pin and carefully place it on top of the dish.

Trim the pastry, using a sharp knife, and crimp the edges together. Make a couple of steam holes in the top of the pie with the knife.

Use the trimmings to cut out some pastry leaves or any other pattern to put on top of the pie, if you wish. Stick them to the pie with the beaten egg and brush more of the egg wash all over the top of the pie. Place the pie in the oven for 25–30 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, crisp and golden.

Remove the pie from the oven, and rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm with clotted cream, ice cream or custard. Any leftovers can be reheated or eaten cold with a piece of good Cheddar cheese.

You can find out more about Manna from Devon by clicking here.

 

Recipe: Spicy pork kebabs

Recipe: Spicy Pork Kebabs

I’ve recently got back from Spain and I’m missing those wonderful Spanish flavours. So today I decided to make pork kebabs inspired by the Pinchos Morunos we had for lunch on the beach at Arena bar in Mar de Cristal. A real simple dish where the beautiful flavours come from the spicy marinade.

I griddled the kebabs on my Morsø griddle pan, a wonderful way to keep meat moist while also achieving that lovely browned outside. Morsø‘s new Nordic Cookware collection can be used in the oven, on all types of cookers, including induction, on the grill and the barbecue.

Exclusive offer

Check out the whole fantastic Morsø range at morsoe.com.  And exclusively for Eating Covent Garden readers there’s a 15% discount if you order cookware on the Morsø website. Simply quote the code nac15 when you order.

Morso griddle

The stylish Morso griddle ready for cooking

Makes 12 skewers

1 kg pork fillet, diced

For the marinade

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2tsps smoked Spanish paprika

2 tsps ground cumin

2 tsps ground coriander

2 tsps ground thyme

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsps olive oil

Mix all the spices and herbs together with the lemon juice and olive oil.

Add the pork and mix well together. Marinate for at least three hours, ideally overnight.

Thread the pork pieces onto skewers. I used mini bamboo skewers.

Griddle over a high heat for about 10 minutes, turning them as they brown.

Morso griddle

The diced pork marinades in herbs and spices

Morso griddle

The pork on bamboo skewers ready for griddling

Morso griddle

The deliciously browned pork kebabs

Keeping to my Spanish-inspired theme, I served the kebabs with these little padron peppers which I simply fried up in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in my new Morsø frying pan.

Morsø frying pan

Padron peppers sizzle in the Morsø frying pan

Morsø frying pan

The non-stick, large Morsø frying pan is great to cook in

 

Find out more about Morsø by clicking here.