Figs and ham

figs and ham rose

figs and ham rose

Roselline di prosciutto crudo su fichi. Melon and raw ham is just about ubiquitous in Italian restaurants outside of Italy, and it’s pretty common here too.  When they are in season it is very common in Bari to pair ham with figs. In my opinion it is an even better match than melon. There are two ways to present them.“Little roses” looks very nice and is very easy to do. Cut the figs into four lengthways, but don’t cut all the way through. Take a slice of raw ham and twist it around two fingers to form a nest. Open the nest up and place it in the centre of the fig. The other way is to cut the figs completely into four and wrap each piece in ham. The second way doesn’t look so nice, but is easier to eat. I also use other types of cured meats or salumi , for example I especially like using Mortadella.

A note about prosciutto.

The English language is one of the great borrowers. We have taken words from almost every other language on Earth. They don’t always retain exactly the same meaning as in the original language. One example of this is prosciutto. In Italian it means “ham”. This can be leg of pork, cooked ham or raw ham. In English it has come to mean specifically raw ham, or prosciutto crudo in Italian. So when you see a sign for prosciutto ham you are in fact seeing a sign for ham ham. Another example of this is the panino roll. Shall I go into my local salumeria and ask for some ham ham to put into my roll roll? Oh well, I’m off to do a bit of footing now…

figs and ham wrapped

figs and ham wrapped

Ricotta and mozzarella pizza

Pizza mozzarella e ricotta. From Puglia. This was cooked for me last week by the mother of a student. Hers of course was better, but mine wasn’t bad either :-) It is called a pizza here, but it is actually a type of pie or calzone. Serves 6

Update: Mrs C Looked at the recipe and said it is slightly different than the one she uses. She adds 100 g of salami or 100g of mixed mortadella and ham cut into small cubes. She uses nutmeg instead of pepper and gives the dough 1 hour to rise. Finally, she doesn’t drizzle olive oil on the top. Many thanks.

Ricotta pizza ingredients

Ricotta pizza ingredients

Pastry for stuffed pizzas

  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 1/2 cube of fresh yeast (or 1 packet of dried)
  • 50 cc olive oil
  • 200 ml milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the tepid milk
  2. Mix together the flour, olive oil, salt and enough of the milk to form a smooth dough.
  3. Knead for about 10 minutes.
  4. The dough doesn’t require much rising. Just leave it to rest for half an hour.
  • 500 g ricotta
  • 200 g mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make the filling by beating the ricotta until it is smooth then mix in the mozzarella, eggs and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Roll out half the dough so that it is a little bigger than the pizza tin. Oil the tin and put the base of the pizza into it. Push the dough down with your fingers to exclude as much air as possible.
  3. Spread the filling inside the tin. Roll out the rest of the dough until it is a little bigger than the tin. Cover the pie with the base. Pinch together and then fold over and crimp the edges.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface and make some air holes with a fork.
  5. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for 40 minutes.
Ricotta pizza finished dish

Ricotta pizza finished dish

Authentic tortellini bolognese

Bologna crestFresh filled pasta takes a bit of time to prepare, but it’s really not that difficult, especially if you have a pasta machine. Ravioli are probably the least fiddly to make, but tortellini look more impressive ;-) . Once you’ve made the first couple it gets easier. This recipe comes from Accademia Italiana della cucina. It was registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce on the 7th of December 1974. An authentic tortellino bolognese must have the following filling. Makes about 800g or 100 tortellini.

Tortellini ingredients

Tortellini ingredients

Serves 6

  • 100g loin of pork
  • 100g mortadella sausage (It MUST come from Bologna of course :-) )
  • 100g parma ham (actually, they don’t specify that it has to come from Parma.It seems any raw ham will do)
  • 150g parmesan (parmigiano reggiano)
  • 1 egg
  • A few grates of nutmeg

You will also need one quantity of pasta dough.

  • Make the filling by frying the pork loin gently in a little butter. Chop roughly and whiz together with the other ingredients  in a food processor until you get a smooth paste.
Tortellini filling

Tortellini filling

    1. Roll out the pasta as thin as you can.
    2. Use a pastry cutter or a glass to stamp out 7cm diameter discs or cut into 7cm squares.
    3. Place a small amount of filling on the centre of each disc (about 5g)
Tortellini with filling

Tortellini with filling

    1. Moisten one edge and fold in half to make half moons. Be careful to avoid air pockets.
    2. Using your finger and thumbs bring the edges (at the widest part) towards each other so that the dampened corners stick together.
Finished tortellino

Finished tortellino

    1. Allow to dry for about an hour before cooking.
Tortellini ready to cook

Tortellini ready to cook

    1. Tortellini are traditionally served poached in meat broth. On this occasion I served then dressed in a little butter and topped with parmesan.
Tortellini finished dish

Tortellini finished dish

Here’s a video from Youtube that shows the whole process.

Stuffed chicken legs with Parma ham.

This dish looks quite tricky to prepare but is actually very easy. It’s been a favourite of mine for a while now. It turns an ordinary chicken leg into quite a show off dish. Serves 4

Stuffed Chicken Leg ingredients

Stuffed Chicken Leg ingredients

  • 4 whole chicken legs — leg and thigh
  • 4 slices parma ham
  • 50 grams bread crumbs — freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon parsley — chopped
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg — grated
  • 75 grams mortadella — chopped
  • 1 clove garlic — chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • pepper
  • Bone the legs. This is a bit fiddly but not too difficult. You should get one roughly rectangular shaped fillet from each leg.
Boned fillet

Boned fillet

  • Mix together the eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, mortadella and nutmeg to make the stuffing. Season with pepper. Don’t add salt because both the mortadella and the parma ham are quite salty.
  • Place 1/4 of the mix along the centre of each leg fillet.
Fillet with stuffing

Fillet with stuffing

  • Roll up to form a sausage shape and then wrap with a slice of Parma ham. If the slices are quite small then you might have to use two. It is easiest if you place the ham flat on a chopping board, place the chicken on top and then roll up.
stuffed chicken leg ready to cook

stuffed chicken leg ready to cook

  • Place on an oiled baking tray and roast for 20 minutes at 200°C 400°F or gas mark 6
  • Allow to rest for a few minute and then slice into thick rounds.
Stuffed chicken leg finished dish

Stuffed chicken leg finished dish

Note. The is my version of a recipe by Antonio Carluccio. The original used back bacon instead of Parma ham. If you use bacon you will probably have to tie the fillets with kitchen string. You will also need to brown them in olive oil before roasting