I have many fond childhood memories of summer holidays spent in Italy visiting my Aunt and Uncle. Many hours would be spent searching for the tortoises in my uncle’s vegetable patch between the most delicious al fresco lunches and suppers. I think it was during these visits that I first encountered the delights of Italian cured meats and of course Gorgonzola. Every day platters cheese, freshly sliced salami, Parma ham and Coppa would be piled on a long trestle table along with bowls filled with slices of melon, tomato salads, bread and other delicious bits and bobs and we would eat to our heart’s content.
This salad recipe is a nod to those summer days in Italy. For those of you that are less familiar with Coppa it is a type of salami made using the part of the loin of pork that is taken near the neck which is cured and marinated in red wine a garlic. It is traditionally served raw, cut into thin slices though it can also be used as bacon in recipes. You can find Coppa in most Italian delicatessens, however, if you aren’t able to find it then I would substitute with Serrano Ham.
This recipe is a lovely balance of flavours and textures which for me evokes the tastes of summer and is definitely one to try. The recipe makes enough for 1 person, so multiply the ingredients as required. Enjoy!
One of my great friends is visiting from Jordan at the moment and it is such a treat to be able to catch up with her over brunch! Whilst Jordan has delicious food, two things that are relatively hard to get out there are blue cheese and ham. So with that in mind that I thought it would be nice to whip up a quick brunch containing both of these things.
This recipe is really very quick and easy and can be easily adapted according to your own tastes. There is no need to pre-cook any of the ingredients, so it is really a case of putting the filling on the croissant dough and folding them up into a little parcel before putting them into the oven to bake.
Now, if you really want to go the whole hog you can make your own croissant pastry, but in my view life is too short so I tend to stick with pre-made dough. One word of advice in relation to making this recipe is make sure that you seal the edges of the pastry as best as you can by pinching the dough together as this will help prevent the cheese oozing out of the croissant whilst it cooks! Enjoy!
After all the rich food that I have been ‘blogging’ about lately I felt it was about time to do something a little healthier… This recipe is a great starter that looks good and takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare. The chicory/endive gives the salad slightly sharp taste and a nice crunchy texture, whilst the warmed and slightly caramelised pear counters that sharpness adding sweet undertones. There is not much else that can be said about this dish other than give it a go…
Warm Salad with Pear and Parma Ham (Serves 4)
2 pears (sliced lengthways roughly 3mm in thickness)
8 slices of Parma ham
3 spears of chicory/endive (finely sliced)
knob of butter
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tsp brown sugar
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pepper (to season)
1. Place the butter and oil in a frying pan and heat.
2. Once the butter has melted add sugar and stir until it dissolves.
3. Add the pears to the frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning them over after about a minute.
4. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further minute stirring gently being careful not to break up the pears.
5. Then plate up – place chicory at bottom of each plate, add the pears, drape over two slices of Parma ham and drizzle over the juices from the pan.
We got the call on Sunday, it was from one of our neighbours (JP) saying that they needed help eating their figs. We gleefully got in the car and headed over. Not knowing how many figs there would be we took only one small plastic basket. On arrival JP welcomed us, but upon catching sight of our basket shook his head, turned round and headed in the direction of his garage, muttering as he went “tu apporté un seule panier?” (you brought only one basket?). Unsure what to do we headed in the direction of the fig tree, JP quickly caught us up carrying two wooden crates and it became clear why – the tree was absolutely laden with fruit. Some of the figs were so ripe they disintegrated in your hand as you pulled them from the tree, which meant of course you had to eat them – a burden that of course I took on. Within 10 minutes we had filled not only our (wholly inadequate) basket but the two wooden crates as well.
The only slight snag with figs, when they are “that” ripe, is that you have to use them incredibly quickly. Unfortunately we didn’t have any sugar in the house on Sunday and the earliest we could buy some was on Monday afternoon, which meant we lost a fair few. However, those that we were able to save/use have been incorporated in: a tart, a jam, a chutney, dried figs and several light meals. The chutney was made with a “throw it in and see what happens approach” – the reason being was that I had some quinces and apples that needed using up and I wasn’t sure what spices would work well. The end result was surprisingly good and we now have 7 jars stored away though I doubt I will ever be able to replicate the taste again as I didn’t measure anything.
What I found worked best with the figs was creating a simple starter with some cured ham (no cooking involved). Here is the end result:
Figs with Cured Ham
Ingredients: (per serving)
2 figs (quartered)
1 slice of cured ham
small piece of red onion (finely sliced)
1 tsp runny honey
Olive oil (for drizzling)
balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze (for drizzling)
Place the pieces of fig on the plate, scatter over the onion and drape over the cured ham.
Drizzle over the honey, a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.