Category Archives: Ham

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta and Chilli

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta from Takes 5 (7556)Before I write anything else I have this to say: to all those working in bakeries and kitchens, hats off to you! You are my heroes! Now, I would be lying if I told you we didn’t bake anything in the last two weeks (I baked once in the past 14 days)! I did promise myself not to, until it cools down a bit. I kinda like this weather though (I hate the heat – there I said it, but please don’t hate *me*) because my fridge is stocked with as many fruit and veggies as it can hold. And after running errands all morning I bought a seasoned roast chicken because I just couldn’t face the stove. I have plenty of leftovers and will make some salad wraps for dinner later today. Nice and easy. But…

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7557)The reality is I cannot avoid cooking a hot meal for too long and I don’t think I can handle eating cold salads everyday for however long this heatwave is going to last. So I came across this recipe which I really really like: something new from Takes 5 by James Tanner. It’s a book I have liked ever since it was published three years ago I believe, well worth the money. I have cooked from it time and time again, and some of the recipes have become part of my off-the-cuff list of dishes. Not to mention what a lovely person James is: apart from being a great chef (we all know that), his heart is in the right place. James’ new book is finally out now, and here at C&T we are very happy about it. Until our copy arrives and we will wait eagerly by the door just in case the doorbell is not working properly and we miss it, we made this recipe with minor changes* which we had with grilled steak.

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7547)Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7548)

  • 4 leeks, washed and cut into 1cm pieces* (James uses baby leeks)
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar*
  • 3 tablespoons golden caster sugar*
  • 450ml water
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 200g ricotta
  • pinch of salt*
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil*

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7550)Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7551)

In a large pan, pour in the vinegar, sugar and water. Bring to the boil and add the chopped leeks. Bring to the boil once more, then cover the pan and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the leeks turn soft. Remove the leeks from the pan and drain (you don’t need the liquid).

Turn the grill on to high. Using the sharpest knife you have (taking care it doesn’t go on your fingers) cut the already chopped pieces of leeks in half and place them on a baking tray or tin. Top them with the dried chilli and chunks of ricotta. Grill for 5 minutes until the ricotta turns a little golden.

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7558)

I will try this with some glazed ham, when the weather’s cooler. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Adapted from Takes 5 by James Tanner, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2010.)

For lunch today…

Bacon-and-Egg-Salad-(5228)

This is what I’m planning to have for lunch today. Sometimes I am really really good! I love salad and I don’t even need a complicated dressing to make me happy. Some extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of half a lemon is fine by me. Once in a while I like to add a little bacon for some saltiness and a little treat with mushrooms and an egg to keep me going. It’s fresh and speedy – just what I need during very busy days…Yum. You need lettuce, one chopped fresh tomato, one boiled egg, a couple of mushrooms fried gently with a little bacon and pepper and a dressing of extra virgin and lemon. For one.

Enjoy!

Rob x

Christmas Meals (1): Ham

Ginger-Glazed-Ham-(5190)

This year something happened: I’ve been immersing myself in the Christmas spirit way ahead of time. This isn’t normal. Usually I say to myself that October (or even November) is really too early to start thinking about Christmas. This time round I’ve been trying out recipes and shopping for Christmas ingredients from last month (so not *too* early) and I’ve been really enjoying every minute of it. So I have ditched the idea of overcomplicating things so I’m going with manageable cooking this year. It will still be somewhat tiring, but I need not stress about the food because I will either prepare it beforehand, or it will be easy peasy stuff on the day itself. I will cook and still enjoy the festivites. Yay! I’ve also sorted out quick meals for the run-up; uncomplicated food which can be prepared days ahead and heated for lunch or supper. Weatherwise they’re saying that it’s not going to be that cold either, so we will manage a nice afternoon walk too. What more can I ever wish for?

So for an easy take on Christmas lunch, I used Nigella as my muse and tried a recipe for ham. One thing is true here: there are no frills but it will still be a lovely sight on your table and it will stretch for extra guests. The size of the joint will depend on how many people you want to feed, but I will give you what I used for 6 people as a rough guide. With this recipe you will be able to roast your potatoes* (preferably par boiled beforehand) in the same roasting pan. I also added some sliced apples about which I will tell you later. (In between helpings it is important not to let the gammon dry out. All you need to do is to immerse it again in the stock once you have carved some of it.) So without further ado, here we go.

  • 1.5 kg joint of gammon, unsmoked & boneless
  • 1 large onion, cut in half or quartered
  • 2 carrots, whole or cut in half
  • 1 stick celery, cut in half
  • 1 leek, cut in half
  • a handful of whole peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • around 2 litres of chicken stock or enough to cover the ham and vegetables

For the glaze you need:

  • either 250g ginger preserve or marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons hot English mustard
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves (you can use whole cloves here too)

For roasting together with the ham you will need:

  • Par boiled potatoes, around 16 small ones or 8 large ones cut into quarters
  • 6-8 apples, sliced not too thinly

Put the gammon in a large pan with the vegetables, peppercorns and dried herbs and pour enough stock to cover everything. Don’t be afraid to use some extra if you have some left. It won’t do any harm. Turn on the hob and leave it to boil. Turn the gas to a medium/low heat and leave it to simmer away; for how long depends on the size of the gammon. Calculate 30 minutes for every 500g. (If you have a thermometer, the temperature should read 71ºC.)

In the meantime line a roasting pan with kitchen foil, even if it is non-stick. Believe me, you”ll thank your lucky stars later, because you’ll have less cleaning! Also preheat your oven to 180ºC/370ºF/Gas mark 7.

Prepare the glaze by placing the ginger preserve or marmalade, mustard, sugar and cloves in a measuring jug and mix well. Leave it to stand and give it another mix before covering the ham.

When the ham has cooked completely in the stock, carefully lift it out of the liquid and place it in the roasting pan, together with some par boiled potatoes cut into quarters and around 6 raw apples sliced into not-so-thick slices. Everything has to fit snuggly into the pan to avoid burning.

Cover the ham with all the glaze and use any extra to cover the potatoes and apples. Bake for around 20 minutes until the ham turns golden. Carve around 150g per person and serve with the apples and potatoes, and with some festive couscous. (The recipe is coming right up!)

Happy Christmas!

Rob x