Chatting Food met up with TV chef Clodagh McKenna for a hands-on recipe testing - and tasting - session.
When you think of Prosciutto di Parma you might think of delicate slices draped over chilled melon, wound around barbecued asparagus or paired with burrata in light summer dishes; we went to a cookalong with chef, author and television presenter Clodagh McKenna to try some recipes more suited to a drizzly winter evening.
Winter Endive Salad with Warm Spiced Poached Pears, Parma Ham, Walnuts & Blue Cheese; poaching the pears makes a real difference to this lovely winter salad, which would make a fabulous festive starter. The walnuts and endive add bitterness and crunch while the blue cheese and Parma ham add an umami punch to the softened pears. It looks beautiful too.
I wish my kitchen worked like the Food at 52 Cookery School. Fabulous fresh ingredients like these trays of wild mushrooms and soft, silky Parma ham for the pasta dish arrived magically on the table just as they were needed; dirty dishes and leftover ingredients disappeared the same way, leaving us to get on with the cooking. It's also a very cool event space with a quirky vibe; part English country house and part Mexican fiesta. Check it out, you'll see what I mean.
Wild Mushroom, Chestnut & Parma Ham Pappardelle: crispy fried Parma ham added great texture to this dish, which was quick to prepare, with the mixture of different mushrooms taking it up a level. Crisping the Parma ham like this takes moments and gives a tasty but delicate crunch - make sure you have bought the real deal Prosciutto di Parma (look for the crown logo) as this will be high quality and sliced suitably thinly. It would also work well in a Carbonara - a great way of using up spare egg yolks if you are making a meringue or pavlova this Christmas.
For all of you wanting to know if Clodagh McKenna really is as friendly and lovely as she seems on TV - sorry to disappoint, she absolutely is. In between casual chats - and insider budget beauty tips passed on by a make-up artist - she divided us into small groups and guided us through the two savoury recipes before we sat down to eat the resulting dishes together. It was a relaxed and informal evening, so well organised and enjoyed by all. Oh, and she'd made us tiramisu for puds!
Clodagh also kindly signed her latest cookbook, In Minutes, perfect for those who need to get something tasty on the table in a rush (so pretty much everyone, then!). Having tried her recipes here, I'm looking forward to mastering a couple more.
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Deputy Editor, Chatting Food London: Amanda David
Freelance food writer, copywriter and blogger Amanda David is dedicated to sharing news about London’s restaurants, bars, events and general wonderfulness. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.
She has also just launched a new website, A Cook's Bookshelf, reviewing cookbooks old and new, with side-by-side photographs of recipe illustrations next to her home-cooked version.
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