I once claimed I could live off nothing but cheese for a whole week, and I still stand by that. I’ve loved cheese ever since I was young, it was part of my well rounded diet of cheese, pasta and bananas. Well done Mum! (I’m kidding!!) I will always find it hard to resist a good lookin’ cheese board, and it’s a way me and my dad have been bonding ever since I was young. Whether it’s sharing an extravagant cheeseboard, wandering a foody market or searching for the perfect quince jelly to go with cheeses – I thank my dad for my love of cheese.
I love finding new ways to incorporate cheese into my cooking. As it’s not something I can eat often it’s a treat I usually save for the weekend. From cod topped with feta, yoghurt and parsley, to warm ricotta spiked with lemon and served with poached fruits – cheese is just so much more versatile than people think. The moment I saw this in Nigel Slater’s ‘Eat’ (if you don’t have it in your life you seriously need to get it now) I knew this was something I needed in my life, in my belly and as soon as possible.
This dish is simple but has the wow factor. Perfect for pulling out at a party or just when you want a lazy Sunday to be that little bit more luxurious. It all starts with a good bread, go for something you wouldn’t usually pick. I went for red wine and fig sourdough as I just couldn’t resist the sound of it. I mean come on, wine in bread? Hella yes on a Sunday morning.
This dish is all about good ingredients. Fresh goat’s cheese, artisan bread, ripe figs and salty italian parma ham. These flavours are a match made in heaven! If you’ve ever had figs stuffed with goat’s cheese and wrapped in parma ham then you know what I’m talking’ about.
We slather our bread with a thin base of honey, contrasted with our salty parma ham that will crisp up and go wonderfully with the soft oven roasted figs. I love a dish where all I need to do is place a few wonderful ingredients on top of each other, yet it looks so spectacular.
Once our figs have had a chance to soften and the centre’s become unctuous and gooey, we top them with our goat’s cheese and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. These will add little pockets of savoury bursts to contrast with the salty cheese and parma ham.
Serves 2 generously, inspired by the ever amazing Nigel Slater’s ‘Eat‘
1 loaf of sourdough
4 slices of parma ham
4-5 figs, sliced into coin sizes pieces
3 tablespoons runny honey
1 small log of soft goats cheese, sliced into 6 thick pieces (or if preferred use well seasoned ricotta or burrata)
1 sprig of rosemary
Grind of black pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 190C (350F). Put on ‘The Köln Concert, Part 1’ by Keith Jarrett, mandatory for a cold and rainy Sunday.
2. Slice the loaf in two and place on a baking sheet. Pour over enough honey to cover each slice, roughly one tablespoon. Place two slices of parma ham on top of each piece and cover with the sliced figs. Drizzle over the remaining honey and place in the oven for 15-20 mins.
3. After 15-20 mins take out the bread and split the cheese between the two slices. Pick small sprigs of the rosemary over the top and give a generous grind of black pepper.
4. Place back in the over for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted over the bread. Take out and enjoy hot!