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Host 2019 in Milan

I have just returned from my latest business trip to Milan, a wonderful northern Italian city that is bursting with amazing food and drink. I was working with the California Prune board helping to promote their products to the food service industry. I was asked to create several recipes that I could replicate live on stage for the audience to taste using California Prunes in the various different ways it can be used, ie chopped, puree, concerntrate, whole and powder. During my 1 hour demo slot I also worked with Elizabetha a lovely Italian lady who works with the California Prune board to promote the products in Italy. We together ran a food pairing session explaining what other ingredients can work with California Prunes to help ignite some food for thought on creating new dishes.

Back to the cooking, now I do not suffer from a lack of confidence, lets put it that way ! I decided to cook a risotto for my audience in Milan. Now some people might think this approach what some what risky as Milan is the home of risotto. I felt this was the perfect opportunity to create a dish that was both familiar and innovative. I made a parmesan cheese risotto with pickled California Prunes, roasted pine nuts and crisp Parma ham. I new this would raise a few eye brows, however parmesan cheese, parma ham and olive oil were part of my food pairing session so it was the perfect opportunity to bring the pairing into context and back up my statements. I pickled the chopped California Prunes in red wine vinegar to help cut through the richness of the rice dish, the toasted nuts gave texture, the ham created a crisp umami flavour and the olive oil gave a silky finish the the dish.

Now if I'm honest this recipe was bold and risky to present to Italians let a lone Milanese Italians, but I was thrilled with the response as the loved the recipe and more importantly understood what I was trying to achieve. Below is the recipe for you to replicate I also made a delicious chocolate and California Prune parfait finished with caramelised pistachios.

Listen to my top tips for making this risotto

Parmesan Cheese Risotto with California Prunes and Crisp Parma Ham

Serves 4

Prep time 10 minuets

Cooking time 30 minut