Last week I was invited to a fabulous blogger event with Parma Ham and Irish Chef and TV presenter Clodagh McKenna. It took place at Food at 52, a cookery school in East London, which was all decked out in Christmas decor!
We started the evening with Prosecco and delicious Parma Ham canapés (of course) and a short presentation about Parma Ham. Did you know that the only ingredients in Parma Ham is Italian pork, salt, air and time? So no nasty additives or colourants! It’s also high in protein and contains many vitamins such as B1 and B12.
It’s a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, which means that it can only be made in the hills around Parma. Parma is in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which is very close to Bologna where my husband is from.
It also has to meet certain requirements, set out by the Consortium, before it can be awarded the Ducal Crown which gives it Parma Ham status. So when you’re buying Parma Ham, make sure it has the Parma Crown, otherwise it’s not authentic.
Time to cook with Clodagh!
After the nibbles and short presentation we all went downstairs to the cookery school when the lovely Clodagh McKenna was waiting for us. Clodagh had chosen three Italian dishes for us, two of which we were going to cook along with her.
We were split into groups of three and I had Mike and Daniela in my team. First on the menu was a winter endive salad with warm, spiced poached pears, Parma Ham, walnuts and blue cheese. We started by poaching the pears, which took much quicker than I thought they would! Whilst they were poaching away, we started building the salad in a big serving dish.
The salad was pretty quick and easy to make and the spices give the pears a lovely Christmassy vibe – it’s a great starter for Christmas Day! And it looks so pretty too. Your guests would be impressed.
Next we moved on to cooking the main course, which was wild mushroom, chestnut and Parma Ham pappardelle. Clodagh lived in Italy for three years so a lot of her food is Italian inspired and influenced.
We started by crisping up the Parma Ham, which smelled DELICIOUS. It’s a healthy alternative to bacon, FYI! Whilst that was crisping up, we got to work on chopping up the mushrooms – which luckily is one of my favourite vegetables as there were a lot!
It was definitely a team effort to chop the shallots, mushrooms and chestnuts, crush the garlic, fry the Parma Ham, then fry the mushrooms add the white wine, cream and the thyme. And the end result was a pretty yummy plate of delicious, comforting pasta! And the crispy Parma Ham gave it added flavour and texture.
Due to time, we tucked into the pasta first, followed by the salad. Accompanied with wine, of course!
After we finished our meal, Clodagh demonstrated how to make her Tiramisu. Honestly, it took her less than 10 minutes – I was very impressed! We then got to enjoy the Tiramisu made earlier by Clodagh and the Food at 52 team. I’m not usually a big fan of Tiramisu but this was one was very yum!
I had the absolute BEST time cooking with Coldagh and Parma Ham! At one point we were all singing along to the Italian songs playing in the background. And what a fabulous cookery school Food at 52 is. It’s a really lovely space and the team was fantastic. We were also given a goodie bag when we left, which included Clodagh’s new recipe book ‘In minutes’, as well as some lovely candles and Parma Ham goodies. What a brilliant, memorable evening – thank you Parma Ham!