An evening with Pama Ham

A while back I had a lovely invite to cook with Parma Ham at Cactus Studios. It seemed that the trains did their best to stop me in my tracks (!), with cancelled trains and delays. After what felt like a very long and tedious train jouney I arrived 45 minutes late but luckily it was ok. The space is lovely and so foodie!


Photo courtesy of John Holdship



Looking the other way you could see the training kitchens, all set up for us and ready to go18Nov_CactusKitchen2


It didn’t matter that I was a little late, with a glass of prosecco in hand I joined the demonstration as quietly as I could. Chef Bridget and Chef Millie were busy making canapés that were then served. It was a lovely mix of classic Italian flavours.

Each work station had pre prepared canapé ingrediets and we got stuck in making our own.

I couldn’t resist trying a mini scone Parma Ham canapé, they were so good I did have another one!




We all got started and there was so much to choose from I couldn’t make up my mind straight away. I did a few and then realised that some had done a whole plateful!


The base was of course Parma Ham, photo courtesy of John Holdship.



We had a range of ingredients to compliment the Parma Ham, melon, cherry tomatoes, cress, walnuts, parmesan, lemon, mozzarella and a lovely canelloni bean dip. All I had to do was to get stuck in and then I ate the canapes whilst Beatrice demonstrated making a risotto.


I did a few different canapés but my favourites were these two. This is Parma ham wrapped around mozzarella on a base of melon with cherry tomato, cress, a quarter walnut and grated walnut.


I based the second canapé on walnut bread with Parma ham, canelloni bead dip, walnut, cherry tomato and a slice of melon.



I love finger food and these canapés were great little bites. We sipped more prosecco and ate canapés whilst watching the lovely chef Bridget cook a butternut squash and pesto risotto. She started with making a classic pesto before starting the risotto. As she was stirring she explained the debate between cooking the risotto for eighteen minutes or twenty minutes.

The risotto was flavoured with mashed butternut squash and served with roasted butternut squash on top with pesto and Parma ham shards. Once plated up we teamed up and started cooking.


I love the vibrant colours of pesto and it tasted lovely.




The risotto was cooking away.




After twelve minutes we tasted the rice and in the end I think we cooked the rice for 19 minutes, how is that for taking the middle road.


The butternut squash gave the risotto a lovely colour and it looked great with the vibrant green pesto and the parma ham chards really gave it the wow factor.




The risotto was light and the flavours wonderful together. I almost never cook risotto and the last one I did was with tapioca, also with butternut squash but very different to this one.


We sat down around a rustic table and everyone tucked in and we talked about food. The last dish was a surprise, it was a dessert with Parma ham. The Parma ham was sugar glazed with the lightest of touches and absolutely delicious, especially with the cherries and the cherry reduction.




Before we left I was told that this is the place where the studio for a food program called Saturday Kitchen is. If I can’t watch the program on the Saturday I always record it so it was very exciting to see the studio. It was empty but I couldn’t resist having my picture taken as a proof that I was actually there! Sadly chef James Martin wasn’t there, maybe next time!




It was a lovely evening and we had some wonderful dishes with Parma ham and I could feel the inspiration on the way home to cook. Thank you for the invite, I had a great and delicious evening!

All images, including the main image (with myself and Chef Beatrice), where mentioned are taken by John Holdship. have a look at his site, there are some wonderful photos, I know I felt inspired to push my food photography after visiting his website.







9 Responses to “An evening with Pama Ham”
  1. Loretta says:

    Wow Petra, what a treat that must have been! How wonderful to learn from professionals, and with that glass of prosecco, life must have been good :). Those canapes look just fabulous, as does the risotto.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Loretta
      It was a lush evening, just lovely and I was lucky to have been invited! Everything is better with a little prosecco isn’t it? And of course a lot of Parma ham! 🙂

  2. It all looks wonderful 🙂

  3. Keith Trawick says:

    I love Parma Ham!!!!!! Well done!!!

  4. Linda says:

    So cool Petra!! Every dish looks incredible 🙂 🙂

    • petra08 says:

      hi Linda
      Thank you for stopping by! I had such a good time and the Parma ham was delicious in every dish, even in the dessert! 🙂

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