Category Archives: Starters

Quick Recipe – Asparagus baked in Parma Ham

This is another recipe that we used over the Jubilee weekend when we went back to Somerset to visit the family. It is so simple and quick to cook up, either as a starter or to go with a main meal.

As my Mum has always said and to which I agree:

‘I love English asparagus and wait every year for it to appear at a local fruit farm or even supermarkets. It is a short season but I will not buy asparagus from foreign sources, somehow in the autumn and winter it just doesn’t seem right. One day when my vegetable garden is enlarged I shall grow it myself.’

Asparagus is really versatile and can be cooked in various ways, just steamed, with butter (plain or garlic), or hollandaise sauce. Grilled on the barbecue or baked in the oven. The woody ends, which are snapped off before cooking, can be added to stocks for an additional flavour.

This recipe was first made when my Mum had a bunch of asparagus and some Parma Ham and wanted to stretch both to make a starter go further. The Parma ham can be cut into strips and rolled around each spear before baking, but it is fiddly and this is the simplest and quickest method as the Parma Ham always breaks up during cooking. We have made this loads over the years, so thought I would share it with everyone.

The flavour of the Asparagus is simply delicious after roasting with the Parma Ham!

Ingredients:
1 Bundle of fresh Asparagus – (English)
8 Slices of Parma Ham or Prosciutto
Olive or rapeseed oil
Parmesan shavings
Freshly ground black pepper
1 non-stick baking tray

Oven 200C; 400F; Fan 180C Gas Mark 5/6

1. Wash the asparagus then take hold of the woody end and snap it.

2. Lay four slices of Parma Ham onto the baking tray and place the asparagus on top, brush the spears lightly with a little of the oil.

3. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste

4. Lay the other slices of Parma Ham on top.

5. Put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, checking to make sure the ham is not burnt and the asparagus is soft (al dente is preferred)

6. Remove from the oven and put on a warm dish and using a potato peeler shave Parmesan cheese over the top if required.

7. Serve with crusty bread and/or a rocket and tomato salad, dressed with a balsamic and oil dressing.

NB – this can be part of an antipasto or a starter.

Enjoy!

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Savoury Palmiers

I am not exactly sure where recipe came from but it is a very good one – so much so that my younger brother told various people, when they asked where they came from, that it was “probably M&S!” Not sure whether that is a compliment or not. 🙂

They taste fantastic and are fun to make. They are perfect for a Dinner Party or family gathering and whenever we go home and my Mum has made them, they don’t last long!

Makes 20/30

Ingredients:
1 Packet Ready-rolled Puff Pastry
1 packet Boursin Cream Cheese with herbs
1 or 2 Packets of sliced Parma Ham or the equivalent
4tblsps Grated Parmesan Cheese
Fresh sprigs parsley and chives or thyme, chopped finely
1 Large free-range egg, beaten for glazing
Flour for dusting

Oven 200ºC (400ºF); 180ºC Fan Oven; Gas Mark 6

1. Take that pastry out of the packet and lay on a floured board.

2. Cut to size 18cm X 35cm.

3. Take the Boursin that has softened from being out of the fridge, put in a basin and mix together until smooth.

4. Spread this carefully over the pastry, being careful not to cut through it.

5. Arrange the slices of Parma Ham over the top and scatter with the herbs and Parmesan cheese.

6. Taking one of the long sides roll up tightly to the middle and then repeat on the other long side so that the two rolls meet together in the middle and touch one another. If they won’t stick brush a little of the beaten egg down the long join. Do NOT worry if they are not quite exactly the same size.

7. Place on a baking tray, cover with cling-film and chill for at least 20 minutes.

8. Trim of both the ends to make it look neat, brush with the beaten egg and then cut crossways into 1cm thick slices.

9. Put the slices on a lightly oiled non-stick baking tray, or use non-stick baking paper, and cook for approx 12/15 minutes when they should be golden brown.

10. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm – they will disappear in seconds!

NB These freeze well so can be made in advance, and defrosted before eating, when they will need to be reheated in the oven (see temperature above) for 5/10minutes. If this is the case cook them until lightly browned before freezing as they will turn golden when they are reheated.

Enjoy!

Scallops and Chorizo

As Nigella mentions at the start of this recipe, scallops have long been paired with other foods like bacon and chilli. It has even been paired with black pudding in a James Martin recipe. Nigella chose to use Chorizo as it is a combination of the bacon and chilli, being able to use the paprika-hot oil for cooking the scallops in. Nigella goes on to say… “It’s quicker than the speed of light to make and quite as dazzling”.

As I was making it for the two of us, I halved all the ingredients, with it being such a simple list of ingredients.

(Printable Recipe)

Serves 4

Ingredients:
110g Chorizo Sausage
400g Small Scallops (halve them to make 2 thinner discs if they are fat)
Juice of half a lemon
4 x 15ml tbsps chopped fresh Parsley

1 Slice the chorizo into rounds no thicker than 3mm.

2 Heat a heavy based frying pan and when hot, dry-fry the chorizo until crisped on each side – this should take no more than 2 minutes. The chorizo will give out plenty of its own oil.

3 Remove the chorizo to a bowl and fry the scallops in the chorizo oil for about 1 minute a side, until the scallops start turning a lovely orange colour.

4 Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, add the lemon juice and let it all bubble for a few seconds before arranging on a serving plate and sprinkling with parsley.

Enjoy!

Burns Night Scotch Broth

Wanting to blog about a recipe for others to try on Burns Night (on the 25th January), I asked my mum to see if she had any old family recipes that I could cook up and write about. She found me an old recipe for Scotch Broth from forty years ago, which seemed perfect to try out. Having never made it before, it was incredibly simple to do and filled the kitchen with lovely winter soupy aromas while simmering away.

This is what my mum told me about it…

Burn’s Night is celebrated by a meal, usually consisting of Haggis and other Scottish goodies like Scotch Broth. This could be a starter at a Burn’s Night Dinner or a simple supper dish to celebrate with friends at home. I believe I first ate it at Cha-Cha’s (my daughter’s god-mother) house back in the late 1960’s. Born in Glasgow she came south to work and became friends with my family and introduced us to all things Scottish. We enjoyed many a Hogmany with her and she usually served up something like Scotch Broth on Burn’s Night. I even learned Scottish Dancing with her when she bought me a pair of ‘proper’ dancing shoes. She returned to Scotland and, now retired, lives on the shores of Loch Linnhie and I think of her when I use this recipe.

A one-pot very hearty soup that can be a starter or a more substantial meal served with warm crusty bread or thick french stick.

(Printable Recipe)

Serves 4-6 people, or more if just a starter.

The soup should be made the day before it is needed.

Ingredients:
1½lbs (750g) Lamb neck chops (the meat is taken off the bone for serving)
2 tblsps Pearl Barley
2½ pints of water
3 Leeks cut into slices
1 Medium turnip cut into small cubes
1 Large carrot cut into small slices
1 Stick celery cut into small slices (optional)
1 Medium onion chopped
½ Small cabbage shredded
2ozs (40g) Dried peas (optional)
Salt & Pepper
Fresh parsley chopped to garnish

NB If using the dried peas, place in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave overnight, rinse and drain well before adding to the soup.

1 Place the meat in a deep saucepan with the cold water and bring to the boil, skim off any scum that appears on the surface.

2 Then add the barley, turnip, and if using, the peas, and simmer gently for about 1 hour.

3 Then add the rest of the vegetables and simmer for another 30/40 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.

4 Add the cabbage and stir until heated through and just tender.

5 Remove the chops from the pan and separate the flesh from the bones discarding any fat etc.

6 Return the meat to the pan and then leave the soup to get cold so that any fat can be scraped off.

7 When required reheat the broth, check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with parsley and warm crusty bread.

Enjoy!

Halloumi Bites

The idea for this delicious party starter came from a “Nigella Express” recipe. I adapted the ingredients to make a modified dressing for the Holloumi which turned out to be enjoyed by everyone who had it.

As Nigella mentions in her book, they are messy to eat and are probably best as part of a table, rather than as a tray-bound snack.

(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:
80ml Garlic Oil or 80ml Oil with a glove of small crushed clove of garlic added.
2 tbsp Lime Juice (roughly the juice of one small lime)
3 tbsp Chopped Parsley
3 250g Blocks of Halloumi Cheese, drained
Good grinding of Pepper

1 Combine the oil, (garlic if needed), lime juice, pepper and parsley in a bowl and blend together with a hand-blender.

2 Slice the drained halloumi into 5mm wide pieces and then cut each slice in half again.

3 In a heavy based frying pan, dry fry the slices of cheese in batches until golden on both sides.

4 Put the pieces of the fried halloumi onto small plates and drizzle the dressing over the pieces.

Enjoy!

Halloumi Cheese on Foodista