Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Discover The Origin

I was recently contacted by a company running a campaign called Discover the Origin and asked if I would be interested in helping to spread the word about what they are trying to achieve. This is the basic concept in short.

The campaign was created by the EU to make consumers more knowledgeable about what they are buying and where it comes from. They want to support local artisans who use traditional methods that have been handed down from generation to generation to create delicious food. These are people who care passionately about what they do, and it means natural products containing no artificial additives or preservatives, simply good honest food and wines that have not been tampered with. In short, buying Protected Designation Of Origin stamped food supports honest trade, craft, tradition and means you get to eat and drink better!

I obviously was instantly drawn to this. Of course I would be interested was my response so I looked at the links I was sent to the website http://www.discovertheorigin.co.uk/ and had a good look round. Its quite a simple concept and extremely worthwhile in my opinion. Here is an extract from the website home page in their words to help you to understand.

"In the UK, we have never been better informed – or more inquisitive – about good food and wine, and their provenance.
Discover the Origin is a campaign promoted by the European Union, Italy, France and Portugal and achieved by the office representative of five key European products: Burgundy winesPort and Douro Valley WinesParma Ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese. The aim of all of them is to enhance knowledge of the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) among consumers, distributors and food professionals and to educate on the benefits of the provenance indicator schemes, the relevant checks, controls and traceability systems that are put in place to ensure ongoing quality, and to differentiate theproducts and raise their profiles.
All five of these products carry a guarantee of their provenance and quality: the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for Parma Ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, AOC for Burgundy wines and DOC for Port and Douro Valley wines.  If you see these labels on any food or drinks, you can rest assured that you will be rewarded with excellent quality."

As a mother and the person who does all the cooking in our house I feel it is important to be aware of where our food comes from, how it is produced and its quality. So many campaigns over the years have been heavily supported in making sure that things are produced fairly without cruelty but the concept of Protected Designation of Origin is a whole new one to me and to be honest makes complete sense.

So as part of the campaign and to raise awareness the Discover the Origin team are running events up and down the country over the next 3 years and looking for support. I for one love my food and am always interested in supporting new schemes to improve the products we buy and feed our families and the PDO seems to ensure just this.

The website incorporates numerous recipes using such products and there is also a cookbook which has been produced. The campaign is supported by celebrity chef Lesley Waters and Wine expert Nathan Nolan amongst others.

Sound good??? Mouth watering?? What about this then?

 Mother’s Day Polenta Cakes

Italy is the land of great food, art and of course the Madonna. From religious iconography through to the family home, the role of the ‘mama’  is revered in Italian culture. So why not look to the Tuscan hills this Spring and ditch the traditional Mother’s day treat of Simnel cake in favour of some savoury Polenta ones, perfect wrapped up in a basket delivered straight to her door or served up as part of a home cooked light lunch.
Taking inspiration from the picturesque northern town of Parma, TV chef Lesley Waters has created her Polenta recipe using two key local ingredients: Parma ham and Parmigiano- Reggiano Cheese.
Lesley is part of a four year food campaign called ‘Discover the Origin’ designed to support regional farming and ensure product authenticity. Using genuine ingredients will make a real difference to the taste of your food and Parma has been an active agricultural region since Roman times, the ancient craft of curing ham and maturing cheese has changed little in hundreds of  years. In fact these little savoury cakes are ideal for a traditional celebration

Here's the  recipe, why not try these if you're making a special mothers day meal this year.

The Recipe

Parma ham and Parmigiano- Reggiano Cheese Polenta cakes with Basil Salsa
Delicious served as a light lunch or supper dish or try them on their own drizzled
with olive oil or as a tasty accompaniment to roast chicken in place of the traditional

175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g instant polenta
75g Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
200ml milk
4tbsp olive oil + extra for greasing
2 medium eggs
90g Parma ham, finely chopped
85g sunblush tomatoes, drained, finely chopped
300ml crème fraiche

for the Basil Salsa
250g baby plum tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large bunch basil, torn
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 190C, Gas 5. Lightly grease 9 deep muffin wells.
2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the polenta
and 55g of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season well with freshly ground black
3. In a measuring jug mix together the milk, eggs, Parma ham and sunblush
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dried taking care not to over mix.
5. Spoon the mixture evenly between the prepared muffin wells. Place in the
oven and bake for 15 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, in a small bowl
combine the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano with the crème fraiche and set
to one side. Toss all the basil salsa ingredients together and season with black
6. Allow the Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese polenta cakes to cool
in the tin for 2 minutes.
7. Carefully, with a flat bladed knife remove from muffin wells.
8. Cut each cake whilst still warm in half on the diagonal. Fill each with a little
of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cream.
9. Serve rustic style on a wooden board with the basil salsa. If desired, serve with
extra Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings.

You can also follow Discover the Origin on Twitter or like their page on Facebook.

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