Tag Archives: halloumi

Beetroot and Red Wine Risotto with Oregano and Seared Halloumi

10 Mar

This recipe is inspired by our trip to the Holden Manz Wine Estate in Franschhoek. Holden Manz is owned by Gerard Holden and Migo Manz, an artist whose paintings and sculpture decorate the public areas. They took over the existing wine estate about a year and a half ago and have been reinventing it ever since.

There is a beautiful Manor House with luxurious suites that has an exclusive yet unpretentious atmosphere. This could be said of the whole estate. They have a refreshingly modern approach to the business which translates into every area. The spa, guest house, winery and restaurant all have a positivity that comes from the staff being well-trained and excited about what they do and where they work.

You can order a picnic with food fresh from the garden orchard and a lovely bottle of the Holden Manz rose. Wander down to the banks of the river, chose your spot under the oak trees and while away the afternoon. Try some of their award-winning wines, a food and wine pairing or the extremely popular tapas menu.

The Franschhoek Kitchen restaurant has very quickly become a name up there with the heavyweights in the culinary town of Franschhoek. And those are some big names.

The stand out dish, for me, was the Holden Manz shiraz and beetroot risotto with duck prosciutto. I didn’t eat the duck obviously but the sweet beetroot risotto with a hint of peppery spice from the shiraz really was delicious. The Washer Up said it was perfect with the salty, smoky duck. My challenge was to recreate this dish at home and find a suitable replacement for the duck. 

I immediately thought of feta because its salty, sour creaminess would be the perfect contrast to the sweet, dark and earthy beetroot. And this would still be great but halloumi has that slightly chewy, meaty texture that as well as the saltiness that gave it the edge over the feta. The oregano is because we have just bought an oregano plant so it is “new favourite thing” and it goes well with hallloumi for that extra bit of Greek flavour.

You make a beetroot puree to add to the risotto, we made a bit extra to use as a dressing on the plate. It really increases the volume on the beetroot flavour. It’s up to you.

Beetroot & Red Wine Risotto with Oregano & Seared Halloumi

Serves 3-4, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from The Franschhoek Kitchen recipe

Prep time: about 30 mins if roasting beetroot Cooking Time: 25-35 mins

  • about 160 gr baby beetroots, roasted until soft with olive oil salt & pepper (or you can buy precooked vacuum packed beetroot) but don’t used the pickled stuff in jars.
  • 250 gr arborio rice (we used brown short-grain rice it takes longer to cook and more stock)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano or thyme (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk young celery, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 250 ml (or more if using brown rice) red wine (Shiraz/Syrah if possible) something peppery and spicy
  • 250-500 ml veg stock
  • a handful of finely grated manchego (or parmesan) cheese
  • 250 gr pack halloumi cheese, in 1/2 cm slices
  • rocket or watercress to serve
  • some finely diced cooked beetroot for garnish (optional)

Blend the cooked beets with a stick blender to a smooth puree. Reserving some to finely chop for garnish if you like. Taste and season with salt and pepper (if you haven’t already).

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Put the veg stock in a small pan over a low-medium heat and keep hot, not boiling.

Fry the onions and celery in the hot oil until starting to soften (4-5 minutes) then add the garlic and oregano, cook for another minute then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice then add three-quarters of the beetroot puree, stirring again.

Add the wine, in three parts stirring all the time until each lot is absorbed into the rice. Then add the hot stock a ladle full at a time, stirring untill each ladle full is absorbed before adding the next.

Keep adding the stock until the rice is cooked (you may need to add more stock/wine to the small saucepan depending on the rice). Season with salt and black pepper.

Remove from the heat stir through the grated cheese, cover and leave to stand while you cook the halloumi.

Heat a frying/saute pan over a medium-high heat but DON’T add any oil. Dry the slices of halloumi on kitchen paper then put into the hot pan. Cook for a minute or so on each side until browned and slightly crispy.

To serve: spoon the risotto into bowls (or into a chefs ring on a plate) and top with the halloumi slices. Garnish with a smudge of the reserved beetroot puree, the rocket or watercress leaves, chopped beetroot and some baby oregano leaves.

Serve with a nice glass of the red wine you used to cook the risotto. The Holden Manz Shiraz if you’re lucky…..

For more information about the Holden Manz wine estate, visit their website here.

Have a great weekend!!

Halloumi Tikka Kebab with Turmeric and Cardamon Risotto and Tamarind Syrup

3 Apr

I know I’ve got a slight Halloumi obsession but this recipe is awesome and I don’t use that word lightly. In fact I never use that word but never has it been a more fitting description. Okay, you get it – it’s really good.

It is yet another recipe adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook and so far, by far, the best. What they have done is taken the best-selling Indian restaurant dish “Chicken Tikka” and veggied it up the way they do and taken it to another level. The Halloumi cubes are marinated for 24 hours in the yoghurt and spices which gives the cheese a much softer texture and an amazing flavour.

The “risotto” is a new experience for me as well. I have made loads of risottos before but never with Indian spices and I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about it. I don’t generally like it when classics are mucked about with in the name of  “Fusion”. Usually because it is done with such a heavy hand and lack of knowledge. Namely a risotto with four cheese and soy sauce. Can you imagine anything more hideous? I didn’t order it, by the way, and I never went back to that restaurant again. I have my principles and the marriage of soy sauce and creamy cheese is not a marriage made in heaven, not in my mind anyway.

Having said all that, this risotto is stunning. Another superlative, I know, but it is worthy of the praise. The stock used to cook the risotto is flavoured with cardamom, turmeric (originally saffron but I don’t have any), coriander seeds, star anise, cloves and peppercorns. The risotto itself is made with onions, ginger, mustard seeds and chilli oil. The risotto is finished off with fresh coriander & mint , toasted flaked almonds and freshly grated parmesan. I know, parmesan after everything that I said, but it really works, trust me, these people know what they’re doing….

The whole thing is finished off with a drizzle of a sweet & sour tamarind glaze/syrup that brings the dish together beautifully. You could substitute a spoonful of your favourite chutney if you not up for making the glaze as well. The original dish has two more components, podi spiced tomatoes (I just skewered some cherry tomatoes in between my halloumi cubes) and a smoked almond custard (I toasted some flaked almonds to sprinkle over the top).  Three elements in one dish is enough for me..!

Remember the Halloumi is marinated for 24 hours so start this the night before.

Halloumi Tikka Kebabs, Turmeric & Cardamom Risotto and Tamarind Syrup

serves 3, vegetarian, adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook

For the Halloumi marinade

  • 1 pack Halloumi cheese 250 gr
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chopped mint
  • 60 ml plain/greek yoghurt
  • 25 ml water
  • 9 small cherry tomatoes

Rinse and dry the Halloumi and cut it in half through where it’s folded so you get two “rectangles” about the same size. Cut each of these into 6 cubes/chunks so you should have 12 cubes.  Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, add all the ground spices and warm them through, stirring so as not to burn them. Put the toasted spices in a bowl with the yoghurt, garlic, mint and water and stir to combine well.  Add the Halloumi cubes to the spicy yoghurt and stir to make sure every piece is coated well. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to marinate for about 24 hours.

When ready to serve, thread 4 Halloumi cubes on to each skewer alternating with a cherry tomato. Sear the kebabs on all 4 sides until coloured in a hot dry pan. This should only take about 2 minutes.

For the Turmeric & Cardamom Stock

The original recipe makes the whole stock from scratch but I already had some of my homemade veg stock and added the spices to it.

  • 1 litre veg stock ( see above)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • a handful of coriander stalks
  • 3 cardamom pods, bashed/bruised to open slightly
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, cracked
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 clove
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric/saffron strands
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 curry leaves or bay leaves
  • water

Make this the day before if possible. Put the stock and the rest of the ingredients, except the water, in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t reduce too much, add some water if necessary. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse. When ready to use it, strain through a fine sieve, put in a sauce pan, increase to 1 litre with water and heat gently.

For the Risotto

  • 1 litre Turmeric & Cardamom stock (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp panch pooran (an Indian spice mix available from EastEnd Foods)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli oil or 1/4 tsp chilli powder added to the olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 100 gr, chopped onions (about 1/2)
  • 2oo gr brown shortgrain rice (you can use arborio which cooks quicker and will need less stock)
  • a knob of butter
  • 5o gr parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lime juice plus wedges for garnish
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • a small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 50 gr flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan

Bring the stock to the boil in a small saucepan then lower the heat to a simmer. In a large pan, over a medium heat, fry the mustard seeds and panch pooran in the oils until they start to pop then add in the onions, ginger and a big pinch of salt & black pepper. Cook gently until the onions have softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn up the heat slightly and add the rice , stirring to coat in the oil.

When rice starts to look translucent after a minute or so, turn down the heat to medium and add a ladleful of the hot stock, stirring or swirling the rice. When all the liquid has been absorbed add another ladle of stock, stir or swirl until that has been absorbed too. Keep adding ladles of stock and letting them be absorbed until the rice is tender, about 20 + minutes for the brown rice or 15 – 18 for the arborio. If you run out of stock use hot water.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter & parmesan. Taste for seasoning then cover with a lid and leave for  2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, coriander & mint and serve immediately with the halloumi skewers, lime wedges and sprinkled with toasted flaked almonds. Serve with some chutney on the side or drizzle over some delicious tamarind syrup (below).

Tamarind Syrup/Glaze

makes about 150- 200 ml, vegan, vegetarian

  • 150 gr caster sugar
  • 70 ml sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 150 gr tamarind paste

Put the sugar and vinegar in a stainless steel pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer then add the tamarind paste and cook about 4 minutes until the mixture thickens. Pour into a sterilised jar, seal and cool. When cool store in the fridge. Drizzle over Halloumi kebabs or use as a dipping sauce. If it becomes to sticky to pour just heat it up slightly.

 Enjoy!!

Battered Halloumi with Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce and Spicy Lemon Pickle

6 Mar

 This recipe came from a new book The Washer Up bought for me called Terre A Terre. Terre A Terre is a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton and the book has some amazingly creative, unusual recipes for dishes that you will have never seen anywhere else. Their aim is to challenge the image of vegetarian food and push the boundaries of conventional perceptions by creating gourmet vegetarian cuisine.

This recipe caught my eye mainly because of the Halloumi cheese. In case you didn’t know I love Halloumi. Halloumi is a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese that is special because it cooks rather than melts. Because of this you can grill it or fry it and it doesn’t lose it’s shape. I usually cook my Halloumi slices in a dry pan and then marinade them in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs & spices. You can see the full recipe here.

This recipe is a vegetarian play on the traditional English Friday night take-away dish: Battered Fish with Mushy Peas & Tartare Sauce you would get from the local fish & chip shop.  They had me at battered Halloumi, but the addition of minty mushy peas really sealed it for me. The tartare sauce recipe is mine. I don’t like capers or gherkins (cornichons) so I substituted them for pickled onions, which I love, and it worked! I also added some coriander as well as parsley. The result is better than any tartare sauce you’ve ever tried, I promise. The addition of the nori seaweed is from the book and is, I have to say, genius. Nori seaweed is what you use make sushi rolls and the flavour of the sea it gives to the sauce is so spot on, once you’ve tried it you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.

The “mashy peas” came about by happy accident. I halved the recipe for the minty pea puree from the book which was for 6 people but forgot to halve the butter. This resulted in a very buttery puree (above). To resolve this (I didn’t have any more peas to add) I decided to add some mashed potato to the puree. I had seen Jamie Oliver do something similar with broccoli and peas in mash. Any excuse to include mash really.

The spicy lemon pickle (they call it “Yemeni Lemony Pickle” which is such a cool name) is just the right mix of sweet, spicy and sour and is a fabulous alternate dip for the Halloumi with the creamy tartare sauce. You could always just serve this with a wedge of lemon instead if you’re not up for making the pickle as well. I made it because I had a large fruit bowl full of lemons and was making some preserved lemons as well. I will post the recipe for the preserved lemons when they are ready.

The original dish in the book also serves pickled quail’s eggs and vodka grape tomatoes with this. As fantastic as they sound it would be a lot of work if you were to make everything. I was really happy with it as it was but am intrigued about the pickled quail’s eggs!  This book makes you appreciate and understand how much work goes into each component part of each dish at this restaurant and definitely makes me want to go the next time I am in Brighton.

Each recipe has 4 or 5 different elements to it but you can pick and choose as to how many you do, like I did. It is really inspiring and aspirational.

The Halloumi is soaked in buttermilk for several hours or overnight so do this in the morning or the night before.

Battered Halloumi with Minty Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce & Yemeni Lemony Pickle Recipe

Serves 2 -3, vegetarian.  Adapted from Terre A Terre by Amanda Powley & Phillip Naylor

For the Halloumi

  • 1 pack 250 gr Halloumi cheese
  • 250 ml buttermilk or 125 ml yoghurt mixed with 125 ml milk
  • plain flour for coating
  • sunflower oil to deep fry

For the Batter

  • 75 gr plain flour
  •  35 gr self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 120 ml cold water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt & black pepper

Cut the Halloumi in to thin slices (less than 1/2 cm) then cut them into triangles (See photo above). Cut the triangles with the natural break of the Halloumi. Put the buttermilk or yoghurt/milk mixture in to a dish (I used an empty1 litre ice cream tub) and submerge the Halloumi in the liquid to soak, overnight or, for several hours in the fridge.

To make the batter whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl to make a batter the consistency of double cream. Adjust water/flour if necessary. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook the Halloumi.

Just before serving heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer to hot (180 C).  Put some plain flour in a shallow dish and remove the Halloumi & batter from the fridge. Lift the Halloumi pieces, one at a time, out of the buttermilk and let it drip off slightly. Put it in the flour and flip it to coat, then put it in the batter. Open a window unless you want your whole house to smell of deep-frying. When the oil has reached temperature, lift the Halloumi out of the batter and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Fry two triangles at a time. It should puff up and start to turn golden straight away. If not your oil is not hot enough. Turn the halloumi with a slotted spoon to cook on both sides. This should only take a minute or two to be crisp & golden on both sides. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

For the Mashy Peas

  • 200 gr frozen peas
  • a big handful of mint, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • a big handful of parsley, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • 50 gr unsalted butter
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered and put in a pan of cold salted water
  • salt & black pepper

Bring the pan of salted water with the peeled quartered potatoes to the boil, turn down slightly and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender all the way through.

Meanwhile, in a small pan of boiling, salted water, cook the peas with the herb stalks until tender (about 3 minutes).  Drain the cooked peas and throw away the stalks. Blend the peas with the butter and chopped herbs, season with salt & pepper and taste.

Drain the potatoes and mash them well in the pan. Heat up the pea puree and add this to the mashed potatoes, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add more salt & pepper & taste again. Just heat through in a pan when ready to serve.

For the Tartare Sauce

  • 1 nori seaweed sheet
  • a handful of coriander & parsley, chopped
  • about 4 heaped tbsp good mayonnaise
  •  1 or 2 pickled onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice about 2 tbsp
  • salt & black pepper

Put the nori sheet under the grill for a few seconds on each side to crisp up. Keep an eye on it, it burns! Crumble or chop the nori into the processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated but still a bit chunky. Season with a little salt (the seaweed is salty) and pepper stir in and taste. You may want to add more lemon juice or pickled onion. It’s up to your taste buds. Store in the fridge.

For the Yemeni Chilli Paste (for the lemon pickle)

makes 1 small jar

  • 4 red chillis, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • a big handful of fresh coriander, leaves & stalks
  • salt
  • olive oil

Blend all the ingredients together, drizzling in olive oil until a paste consistency is reached. Pour into a clean jar and cover the top with olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for at least a month.

For the Lemon Pickle (makes 1 jar)

  • 4 lemons, segmented
  • 100 ml fresh lemon juice
  • peel from 3 preserved lemons (I didn’t have any but I have made some now)!
  • 150 gr caster sugar
  • 3 or 4 tsp yemen paste, recipe above, or more if you dare
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Segment the lemons by cutting off the peel & white pith, from top to bottom all the way around (See photo above). Then cut out the lemon segments in between each membrane. Put the lemon segments from 3 of the lemons into a blender and reserve the segments of the fourth for later. Add the lemon juice, peel from preserved lemons if using, to the blender and liquidize until smooth. Put this in a small pan with the sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly for two minutes then stir in your Yemeni chilli paste. Put in the fridge to cool. When cool stir in the reserved lemon segments and chopped mint. This is now ready to serve. Store in the fridge. This would be a great sauce or baste for grilled fish or chicken as well.

 To serve, warm your plates and put your lemon pickle (or lemon wedge if you are going for the easier option) and tartare sauce in their dishes on the plate ready. Heat the frying oil. Heat the mashy peas over a low heat with a little veg stock to loosen if necessary. Keep an eye on it while you fry off the Halloumi. Drain the halloumi on kitchen paper and pile them on the plates with a big spoon (or quinelle) of the mashy peas.

This may sound like a lot of work  but it’s so worth it. Soaking the Halloumi really brings out the flavour and softens the texture. The mashy peas are to die for and the lemony pickle is perfect if you can be bothered. The Washer Up said the Halloumi was better than battered fish! I will definitely be trying some more recipes from this book in the future and would recommend it to any creative, confident cooks out there who are looking for something different, delicious, challenging and inspiring. I’m going to have a go at the pickled quail’s eggs next time, I promise!!

Halloumi Cheese and Garlic Stuffed Dough Ball Ring

6 Feb

This is the gorgeous stuffed/pull apart bread I served with my Persian Lentil & Herb Soup. I was very pleased (understatement) with how it turned out because I do not have the best of luck with yeast. Every time I have used it in the past I have a disaster. It never does the double in size thing (in a warm place) and won’t rise in the oven either. My attempts at Panettone were tasty but looked more like a tea cake than a light and airy Panettone. This may have been because the electric went off half way through cooking it both times!

I had sworn off making anything with yeast until I came across this recipe for Halloumi Pull Apart Bread. The idea of pulling apart soft bread rolls to reveal an oozing cheesy garlic centre was too much for me. I was powerless to resist. Think Pizza Express dough balls, Pizza Hut stuffed crust and the best cheesey garlic bread then mix them all together and this is what you get. A Halloumi & Garlic Stuffed Dough Ball Ring…………. !

Halloumi & Garlic Stuffed Dough Ball Ring

Makes 11/12 rolls. Vegetarian. Adapted from a Choosy Beggars recipe

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (1 sachet)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 165 ml warm water (not hot)
  • 265 gr strong bread flour (or plain flour)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp fine salt  
  • olive oil to dip the tops in
  • 15o gr Halloumi, grated (you can use another cheese if you can’t find Halloumi)
  • 150 gr mozzarella, grated (good for stringy melting)!
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 -8 ice cubes

In a small bowl combine the yeast, sugar and olive oil. Pour the warm water over, stir to combine then leave it for 10 minutes. Sieve the flour and salt together into a large bowl. When the yeast mixture has gone foamy pour it into the flour and stir together using a wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough. Sprinkle over some more flour if it is very sticky. Flour your hands and ease  the dough out onto a work surface. Pat it into a ball and knead for 10 minutes, flouring if necessary,  until it becomes smooth & elastic (You can test if it’s ready by sticking your finger in flour then sticking it in the ball of dough. The hole should spring back up and disappear).

Lightly oil a large bowl and turn your dough around in the bowl to cover it in a sheen of oil. Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place (like next to a radiator) for about an hour. By this time it should have doubled in size (fingers crossed).  Mix the cheeses, parsley and minced garlic in a small bowl with a fork to make sure the garlic is evenly distributed. Roll the dough out of the bowl onto your work surface and gently knead a few times to get rid of any air pockets. 

Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Press it out with your hands to an uneven circle of about 3.5 inches in diameter. Place a generous heaped tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the circle then gather up the sides of your circle and pinch them together at the top like a little drawstring purse.

Put the gathered purse seamside down in the palm of your hand and, with your other hand, gently turn, press and smooth the ball until it becomes smooth and the seam has closed/disappeared.

Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl and dip the top of the dough ball in the olive oil, then put it (seam side down) in a lightly oiled 24 cm (9 inch) cake tin. Repeat with the rest of the dough until the ring is finished. Keep some of the filling back to sprinkle over the bread later.

 The dough balls should be close together or lightly touching, not squashed together. You should get 11 or 12 out of the dough. Cover with clean tea towel and leave to rise again (in a warm place) for an hour.

While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 210 C (425 F). Put one rack/baking sheet in the bottom third of your oven and put the other rack /sheet right at the top. Put a rimmed baking sheet on the top rack. When the dough has risen (see above, hooray!!) slide the bread ring onto the lower rack and throw the ice cubes onto the top baking sheet and close the door. This creates steam, helps the bread to rise and makes a nice crust apparently. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until it is lightly golden but not fully cooked and sprinkle over some of the cheesey garlic & herb mix.

 Put it back in the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes until it is puffy and golden brown.

 Leave to cool slightly (if you can wait) and pull apart chunks of the cheesey bread to serve with your favourite soup. Or just eat it on its own as an indulgent weekend treat with friends in front of the TV…… Is it the Superbowl this weekend?!!!

My Big Fat Greek Salad with Grilled Halloumi

11 Jan

If you’ve never tried Halloumi cheese before, buy some. I promise you its delicious. It’s a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese and I would go as far as to say it is my favourite cheese. Even saying that makes me feel bad about Feta. I love Feta too it’s just that Halloumi is more difficult to get over here. So, when I do see some, I buy 3 blocks because I know they will sell out quickly and not get any back in for weeks. I think it’s a case of “absence makes the heart grow fonder“. Does that apply to cheese too? I think Feta suffers from being slightly more (dare I say it) common. Now I feel really awful.

The best thing about Halloumi is it doesn’t melt, it cooks. This means you can grill it on a dry pan or griddle and serve it as you would chicken like the Grilled Halloumi Sandwich  that I have posted before. The texture is actually quite meaty when it’s cooked and its salty flavour stands up really well to loads of fresh herbs & lemon juice. This salad is the perfect backdrop from which your Halloumi can shine. In the interest of fairness and equality Foil Baked Feta would be a great alternative if you can’t get hold of any Halloumi…..

Greek Salad with Grilled Halloumi

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 1 pack halloumi 240gr sliced into 1/2cm slices
  • 1 big tomato chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber diced
  • 1/2 shallot finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • a handful of black olives (I left them out because I don’t like them)
  • a handful of rocket
  • 1 little gem lettuce heart, cut into quarters, lengthways
  • sea salt
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of chopped coriander or parsley. Stalks as well.
  • a handful of chopped mint
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red chilli (deseeded & chopped) optional
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • coriander/parsley leaves for garnish

Put the little gem wedges on the plate, drizzle with a little olive oil, lemon juice & a little sea salt. Put the tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, olives, oregano & half the fresh herbs in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil &  a good squeeze of lemon juice, season with salt & pepper and set aside. In a shallow dish large enough to hold the Halloumi slices mix together about 4 tbsp olive oil the juice of half the lemon, cumin, sumac, chilli, black pepper and the rest of the fresh herbs.

Heat a non stick frying pan or griddle to hot. (Don’t add any oil). Put the Halloumi slices in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. When the halloumi is browned put the slices into the dish with the marinade and cover it in the marinade. (You may need to add more oil/lemon juice). When all of the Halloumi is in the marinade add the rocket to the tomato salad and toss together with you hands. Pile this on top of the little gem wedges then arrange your Halloumi slices on top and around the salad. Pour over the remaining marinade and serve garnished with the coriander/parsley leaves.

You could also serve some toasted pita wedges on the side to soak up the delicious marinade juices. This is a dish you could serve to hardened meat eaters and they wouldn’t notice it was vegetarian. It’s so good, please try it!

The Art of the Tart-ine!

24 Nov

It’s a posh word for an open sandwich but it makes all the difference in the world to your lunch break if you can take that sandwich to another level by making it look and taste really beautiful.

The thing is, it is really easy, all you have to do is look in your fridge, come up with a theme and fire up your grill. At the moment, here in Spain, we have a mountain of  ripe tomatoes and avocados both in the height of season, flavourful and well priced.

That’s where my inspiration came from for this Tartine Tricolore. My favourite Italian salad as a toasted sandwich…

 It all starts with the bread, buy some nice bread. Italian would be good to follow the theme. A nice Ciabatta or even Focaccia.

Tartine Tricolore

Serves 2 Vegetarian

  • 1 small ciabatta about 18 – 20 cm
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut in half, scooped out and sliced
  • 1 ball mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 large tomato(or 2 small plum tomatoes) sliced
  • mayonnaise
  • basil pesto
  • fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • rocket
  • salt & black pepper

Slice the ciabatta in half lengthways so you have flat sides to pile your filling on. Preheat the grill to high and line a baking sheet with foil. Spread each side with some mayonnaise then spread a small amount of pesto on top of the mayo. Place your avocado slices on each half, then the tomato slices, season with a little salt then top with the mozzarella slices. Drizzle with olive oil then add some freshly cracked black pepper and put the open sandwiches on the baking sheet under the grill for about 2 or 3 minutes until the cheese is melting nicely. To serve scatter some fresh basil leaves & rocket over the top and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. This is the kind of sandwich you need a knife and fork for either that or a very large napkin!!

This next idea started when our friends Terry & Joan kindly brought us some Lancashire Crumbly cheese over from England. The Washer Up is a Lancashire lad and he has cravings for it occasionally. It is a creamy, mild but sharp, crumbly cheese that is really delicious served with something sweet & fruity. This got me thinking about a proper old English lunch called The Ploughman’s. A 60’s/70’s thing served in pubs which consisted of a big wedge of cheese (normally Cheddar), pickled onions, Branston pickle and some sort of scary salad.

I decided to take the Cheese & Pickle thing and bring it up to date by serving the Lancashire Crumbly topped with two types of chutney and watercress…

 Start with the bread again, it should really be something English and crusty, like a Bloomer or something similar. We can’t get that sort of thing here so I used a baguette (sacrilege, I know)! You can use whichever chutney you have around but this combination of Mango & Fig was heaven…

Posh Cheese & 2 Pickle Tartines

Serves 2 Vegetarian

Preheat the grill to high and line a baking tray with foil. Get your four slices of bread or baguette sliced lengthways drizzle with a little olive oil, layer over some generous slices of the cheese and top with a couple of spoonfuls of chutney. I like the contrast of using 2 different types, it stops you getting bored half way through. Stick it under the grill for few minutes until the cheese melts then scatter over some watercress…

The Washer Up says this should be enjoyed with a nice hand pulled pint of warm bitter….mmm. I’d go for a nice chilled glass of Albarino myself.

The next version uses Halloumi, a Cypriot Sheep’s milk cheese that is totally addictive. If you have never tried Halloumi give this a try, I promise you, you will be hooked…

Marinaded Halloumi Tartine 

serves 2 or 3 vegetarian

  • some nice bread, maybe pita or a flatbread (I used a baguette because that’s what I had)
  • 1 pack halloumi, thinly sliced about 1/2 cm
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 80ml olive oil
  • fresh mint, parsley & coriander, chopped
  • the juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 1 red chilli deseeded & finely chopped or 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sumac* (optional)

*Sumac is a crushed dried berry sold in flakes which is used a lot in Middle Eastern dishes it has a smoky, lemony flavour which is fantastic with the Halloumi.

In a shallow dish large enough to fit in all the Halloumi slices, mix together the olive oil, lime juice, chopped herbs, spices, black pepper and chilli and set aside.

Dry fry the Halloumi slices in a hot pan for about 2 minutes on each side until browned and crispy(you will probably need to do it in 2 batches). When each batch is done place in the oil & lime juice marinade and toss to coat on both sides.

Meanwhile preheat the grill to hot, drizzle your bread with olive oil, place the sliced tomatoes on the bread, season with salt, pepper & olive oil and put under the grill for a minute or so to toast the bread and warm the tomatoes.

When the bread & tomatoes are toasted, layer over the cooked, marinaded Halloumi and pour over some of the herby marinade.

This really is an amazing sandwich, the combination of the salty Halloumi with the fresh herbs, chilli & lime juice is fingerlicking good! If a little messy…. Prepare to feed your Halloumi addiction!

Roasted Sweet Potato & Halloumi Bake

17 Oct

This is a Nigella recipe that I tried out for dinner last night. I was looking for something to do with sweet potato that isn’t really sweet, a lot of recipes seem to go down that cinnamon route which I find too sickly unless it’s a dessert of course! This is definitely worth trying as a midweek dinner as it’s really easy, you just put everything in on baking dish and leave it. I have changed the original slightly by adding tomatoes make it more juicy and added a bit of dried chilli, fresh thyme & rosemary for flavour..

Roasted Sweet Potato & Halloumi Bake

Serves 2 or 3 Vegetarian

  • 1 large sweet potato washed & cut into 2 or 3cm chunks
  • 1 large potato cut into 2 or 3 cm chunks
  • 1 red onion peeled &cut into eighths
  • 2 small red peppers deseeded & cut into 2 cm squares
  • about 6 cloves of garlic unpeeled
  • 2 tomatoes cut into eighths
  • 3 or 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 125gr halloumi sliced thinly
  1. Preheat the oven to 2oo degrees.
  2. Put all the veg in a large ovenproof baking dish, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the herbs, chilli, salt & pepper. Then toss it all together with your hands so it is evenly coated.

Ready To Bake

  • Roast in the oven for about 45 mins until the veg is tender & slightly browned.
  • Turn on the grill or turn the oven up to high then put the sliced halloumi evenly over the veg.
  • Put under the grill or in the very hot oven for 5 to 10 mins until the hallomi is has melted & browned

Serve & Enjoy!

This does make quite a lot so you will probably have some leftover, I used mine to make a sweet potato tortilla for lunch the next day.

Roasted Sweet Potato Tortilla Recipe

serves 2 vegetarian

  • leftover roasted veg 
  • 4 eggs
  • milk
  • grated parmesan
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley & thyme chopped
  • shaved parmesan
  1. Just heat some oil in a large frying pan and add the roasted veg.
  2. Meanwhile crack the eggs into a measuring jug and top it up to 275 ml with milk, whisk together, add the grated parmesan, salt & pepper and whisk again.
  3. Pour this mixture over the veg and cook on medium low with a lid on for about 10 mins.
  4. When the eggs are nearly set sprinkle the chopped herbs over the top and put the lid back on for a minute.
  5. Serve topped with shaved parmesan

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