Tuesday, 27 September 2011

P is for...

P night played host to a perfect parade of personable people. We had music industry guru and karaoke enthusiast, Rebecca Ayres who came with her Aussie musician boyfriend, Graham Brown. We also welcomed pineapple-phobic performer, Tamzin Aitken, and journalist turned illustrator and co-founder of Failbetter Games, Paul Arendt. Sadly, Paul's chef-extraordinaire wife, Jane Carnall, couldn't make P night, but check out her blog for some delicious recipes, that begin, alas, with a disappointing variety of  letters. Last, but certainly not least, was hilarious comedian, writer and lover of offal, Chris Neill, who also writes a fabulous food blog called Chris Neill's Dirty Kitchen. Richard created a perfect P-themed playlist featuring The PoguesThe Pretenders, The Proclaimers, The Postal Service, The Pet Shop Boys, PavementParis MotelPulp and Prodigy as well as two of my all time favourites: PJ Harvey and The Pixies.

Planter's Punch

To get the party started, Richard made an enormous bowl of Planter's Punch, which is essentially fruit juice spiked with a generous finger of rum. It was so generous, in fact, that there was plenty of punch for us all to have a second glass.

Planter's Punch is two parts rum, two parts orange juice and one part lime juice, shaken over ice with a dash of Angostura Bitters, a little sugar syrup and a splash of Grenadine. Strain and top up with soda water, if you like, but we didn't bother. What's the point of a cocktail unless it kicks you up the bum?

To accompany the Planter's Punch, the P partiers picked on proscuitto wrapped prunes, potato cakes topped with Philadelphia and paprika, and pesto, parma ham and Pecorino palmiers.

Proscuitto wrapped prunes

These simple little snacks have a perfect balance of sweet and salty and are as simple as they sound.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)

16 pitted prunes
8 slices of Proscuitto

Wrap each prune in half a slice of Proscuitto, place them on a baking tray and pop the tray in the oven for about 10 minutes. 

Paprika potato patties topped with 

This is a great way to use up left over mashed potato. You can make them bigger to serve alongside a main course too if you wish.

Mashed potato, made with 3 medium sized potatoes (floury are best - Maris Pipers or King Edwards)
5 tbsp plain flour
1 egg
Salt and pepper
1 tsp bitter sweet paprika

Beat the egg and pour it into the mash and mix through. Sift the flour over the potato mixture with the paprika, salt and pepper and thoroughly combine. Spoon out the mixture and create small patties using your hands. Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes so the patties will hold their shape. Once you're ready to serve, heat some oil in a pan and fry the patties on each side until golden brown. Top each patty with a teaspoon of Philadelphia and a sprinkle of paprika.

Pesto, parma ham and Pecorino palmiers

Palmiers are made from puff pastry and are usually sweetened with sugar and cinnamon and served as biscuits. Palmiers are a very particular shape that you make by rolling each end of the pastry in towards the centre. I decided to make savoury palmiers with home made puff pastry, fresh pesto, Parma ham and Pecorino cheese. They were incredibly indulgent, but definitely worth it.


3-4 generous handfuls of basil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
A handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
A handful of grated Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil
A squeeze of lemon 
Salt and pepper

Some people balk at the idea of bunging everything in the magimix and bang on about how you can really taste the difference if you stick to tradition and use a pestle and mortar. Personally, I couldn't give a monkeys for tradition here as whenever I try to make pesto in a pestle and mortar, it's too much like hard work just to keep it in the mortar. In the magimix, home made pesto is quick, simple and full of freshness and nicer than anything you'd ever get out of a jar.

Pulse the garlic, pine nuts and basil in a food processor and pulse. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add most of the Parmesan. Stir through and drizzle over enough oil until you have a nice oozy sauce. Season and add some lemon and stir again. Taste for lemon, Parmesan and seasoning. Adjust as necessary and it's ready to serve.

Pesto, Parma ham and Pecorino palmiers

Puff pastry
Parma ham
Pecorino, grated

Roll the puff pastry into a rectangular and spread with pesto. Next layer over slices of Parma ham and sprinkle over Pecorino. Starting on one side, roll the pastry quite tightly towards the middle of the rectangle and stop. Roll from the other side in towards the centre, so that you've created an "ear" shape. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)

Remove the cling film and place the sausage on a board. Cut in half inch slices and lay the palmiers on a large baking sheet. Leave enough room between each palmier for expansion on cooking. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring them from the tray to a serving plate with a palate knife.

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