It’s good to relax sometimes…27

Posted on April 21, 2008 by ChristieGluten Free, Snacks & Starters

[Parma ham and Manchego parcels]

When I have friends over for lunch I like to keep it quite relaxed so that I can get time to drink some bubbly and enjoy myself. The reality though, is that mostly I can’t help myself and want to plate everything up perfectly and serve it fine-dining style.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a perfectionist, sometimes it’s a curse to have such high expectations of yourself, but mostly it’s a good thing. I think. Anyway, when I am wanting to appear relaxed I like to serve a starter that’s interactive, where guests can just help themselves at their leisure. This, cunningly, allows me to prepare more complex dishes in the kitchen while they’re busy stuffing their faces…

My favourites are Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with fish sauce and chilli dipping sauce, a platter of good smoked salmon with cream cheese and rye bread, an antipasti plate or these lovely little Parma ham and Manchego cheese parcels.

Manchego is a famous Spanish semi-firm cheese that has a creamy and slightly nutty taste. It goes really well with the saltiness of the ham and freshness of the spinach and is a nice change from the usual Parmesan cheese option. Like other canapes I’ve done before, these parcels go brilliantly with both beer or champagne so they’ll suit the whole crowd.

The recipe is below, but please now allow me to go off the subject of canapes and onto the subject of Me. I’ve been tagged by Helen from Food Stories for a Meme. What’s that? You can find the Wikipedia definition here, but basically, it’s when one blogger asks another to share information about themselves, and this time the task is to describe yourself in six words. This is the first time I’ve been tagged by someone, so thank you Helen, I’m abnormally excited about it!

Sounds easy, but I’m fairly worried about being judged on this, so here goes nothing:

Short. Perfectionist. Creative. Bubbly. Emotional. Active.

Do you agree?

Now I’m going to tag:

  • Kevin from Closet Cooking
    (I am in awe of his flavour combinations, absolutely delicious)
  • BJ from Benjamin Christie
    (Fantastic chef making the most of native Aussie ingredients)
  • Jules from Stonesoup
    (I love her photography, if she had a book I would buy it asap)

It’s only a quickie, so I hope you guys will have time to do it.

Happy cooking, Christie

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Parma ham and Manchego parcels
I haven’t given strict quantities, because it’s pretty easy to guess depending on how many guests you have and you can just put the leftovers back in the fridge to nibble on later.

Parma ham, sliced
Manchego cheese, a large wedge
Baby spinach, a few handfuls
Tomato and chilli relish, or other relish of your choice (optional)

Place all the ingredients on a large serving platter. I like to roll a few up and place on the platter as pictured above to indicate to your guests what needs to be done. (You could just tell them if you like!).

To make the ‘display’ ones, grab a slice of ham, place a few spinach leaves on it, slice a thin piece of cheese from the block and arrange on the spinach, then dollop a small spoonful of relish on top. Roll up and enjoy.

  • Thanks for joining in with the meme! It’s always good to learn things about fellow bloggers. I’m glad you were abnormally excited about it!

  • This is a great idea. I love how you added the spinach!

  • Those sound really good! Ham wrapped around cheese…mmm… I am going to have to see if my cheese monger has Manchego cheese. It sounds good. Thanks for the kind words and the tag!

  • I’ve never had parma ham, but I wish this picture had a taste button next to it :). I just cooked with pancetta earlier today and fell in looooove! I’m a big ham/bacon fan, so I have a feeling I’d love this. How does this compare to traditional smoked ham, as far as taste goes?

    • ~memi

      OMG if you love ham and bacon parma ham will become a favourite of yours!

  • I love parma ham and manchego cheese, and I can’t wait to try this for my next potluck.!

    Thank you!

  • Hi Helen,
    You’re welcome, really glad to be tagged!

    Hi Fearless Kitchen,
    I always add greenery – I’d feel guilty eating meat and cheese with no vegies :)

    Hi Kevin,
    I hope you find Manchego, it’s soooo good! Looking forward to reading your response to the Meme.

    Hi Sophie,
    Thanks, you’re funny! I wish lots of things on the internet had a taste button on them – that would be heaven. To answer your question, Parma ham is another name for Proscuitto, which is of course a famous smoked meat. It has a more complex flavour than smoked ham and I think is a bit saltier. Fingers crossed you find some to try.

    Hi Honey,
    Let me know what your guests think! Glad you like the recipe.

  • hiya, thanks so much for stopping by yesterday…you have a lovely blog and I’ve added it to my reader…shall defo see me around more often ;)

  • This looks simple and delicious. I like how you offset the salt with the sweet relish:-)

  • Hi Pixie,
    Thanks! I like your blog too. Chat soon.

    Hi Marc,
    It is! I really enjoy balancing the sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavours in a dish. I suppose I’m missing bitter here, perhaps if the Spinach was replaced with rocket, that would do the trick. Thanks for stopping by.

  • I’ll have to look for Manchego cheese. This canape sounds delicious!

  • HI Shari,
    I hope you find it, it’s really delicious – really complex and not too salty.

  • Kim

    Christie, this looks just wonderful and combination is intriguing.

  • Hi Kim,
    Thanks very much! Thanks for dropping by again!

  • haha — i think i would describe myself with many of the same words!!! this looks absolutely delicious.

  • Hi Katy,
    Glad to hear it! Thanks for stopping by – your blog is lovely.

  • what a KILLER combination! Manchego/Serrano cannot be beat! Have you tried the combo with Membrillo paste? In Spain, membrillo often joins the two to form an awesome trio. In the US you’ll mostly find membrillo referred to as Quince paste.
    I’ll have to try it with spinach – I definitely love the color it brings to the canape!

  • Hi Antonio.
    I love quince paste! Will definitely have to give that a go!

  • I was thinking the same thing as antonio – manchego w/serrano would be awesome as well. this is such an easy, easy appetizer. Gotta make some for the next get-together!

  • Great summer appetizer, great photo, simple and special at the same time, makes me want some right now! You got my vote.

  • Hi We are never full,
    It really is extremely easy – I hope you indulge your guests soon!

    Hi Partybluprints Girls,
    Thank you! You’re very kind.

    ps. Great website!

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  • geoff

    Try waitrose for the Manchego, found some at Allington, nr Maidstone!

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  • So simple but such good flavours. I am having a cocktail party next week so I might just use this one as I love Manchego and after being in Italy, cannot live without some good proscuitto now.

  • Actually there is an Italian cheese which is very similar to Manchego called La Capra Supremo, but is slightly stronger, is still sharp but has a really nice edge to it. I think maybe the two could even go with a piece of fruit such as a fresh fig, but unfortunately they aren’t in season over here at the moment.

    Well loving your site!

  • Wow, they look amazing! Probably not too good for me though!

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