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Fried Halloumi Cheese in Pita with Hummus, Salad a...

Up until a few short years ago I had never even heard of halloumi cheese. For those that know me this may seem strange as I absolutely LOVE cheese. Stilton, Brie, Shropshire Blue, Cornish Yarg, Caerphilly, Roquefort, Mozzarella, Caboc, Gruyere, Double Gloucester, Coeur de Chevre – the list goes on and on and on.

So how I had missed out on halloumi cheese for so long I will never know. Fortunately a good friend invited me over for lunch and she served a mixed leaf and cherry tomato salad with pieces of grilled halloumi on top. It was delicious and I quickly came to the realization that I had been missing out on something quite wonderful!

Halloumi is a semi soft cheese made with a mixture of sheep and goats milk. There are some manufacturers who are bringing cows milk into the process as it is cheaper to produce and it creates a milder flavour. This is not true halloumi however and many argue that you can really only get authentic halloumi in Cyprus. As of the 1990’s the USA has registered halloumi as a protected Cypriot product but it still has not achieved this status within the EU. The question of whether cow’s milk should be allowed in the process is at the heart of this debate.

While it is traditionally associated with Cypriot cuisine it’s also very popular in Greece as well as the Middle East. Halloumi has a strong salty flavour and a firm texture. It comes packaged in brine with mint which acts as an anti-bacterial ingredient – giving it a long shelf life. Although it can be eaten ‘raw’ (directly out of the packet) it is much tastier when grilled or fried.

If you have never tried halloumi cheese then I highly recommend putting it on your list of ingredients to try!

Luna Raye’s Fried Halloumi in Pita with Hummus, Salad and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

• 250 g of Halloumi cheese sliced

• Handful of fresh salad leaves

• Handful of cherry tomatoes quartered

• 1-2 Tablespoons of fresh mint leaves chopped (optional but really tasty)

• 2-3 Tbsp of flour seasoned with freshly ground black pepper

• 1-2 Tbsp olive oil

• 2-3 Tbsp of hummus

• Pita Bread (this recipe can make 4 sandwiches easily)

Directions

• Heat oil in a frying pan

• Coat the halloumi slices in the flour and place them in the heated oil

• Let the slices cook on one side for approx 2-3 minutes. Don’t have the heat too high

• When the slices are a golden brown colour on one side flip them over

• Toast pita breads (I like to allow mine to cool a little before cutting them open because they get HOT! If I had a penny for every time I was burned by hot pita bread I would be very rich indeed!)

• When halloumi is golden on both sides remove from pan and allow excess oil to drain off by placing on paper towel

• When pita is safe to cut into – go for it! Spread hummus on the inside and place a few leaves and tomatoes at the bottom.

• Add 2-3 slices of the halloumi and top up with a bit more hummus, salad and tomatoes

Enjoy!

Warning these sandwiches are highly addictive.

Halloumi cheese coated in seasoned flour and fried

Halloumi in pita with hummus, salad and cherry tomatoes

Red Bean Veggie Burgers: Everything A Veggie Burge...

Veggie Bean Burgers

Every so often I get a craving for a really well made veggie burger. Unfortunately my experience in ordering such a thing from restaurants has usually resulted in bitter disappointment and regret at not ordering the steak. The reason being is that most of the restaurant style veggie burgers I have had have either been:

• Greasy heavily processed lumps that sit unhappily in my stomach for days.

• Dry overcooked burgers that resemble month old cow pats and taste like saw dust.

This never made sense to me. When you think of all the wonderful vegetables, fresh herbs and spices at our disposal why do so many restaurants struggle to make a decent vegetable burger! Surely it can’t be that difficult?

Luckily for me my best friend Jessica is a Kitchen Witch and Gardener Extraordinaire. I am always in awe of what she grows in her garden and what she effortlessly whips up in the kitchen. A few months ago she sent me a recipe for red bean veggie burgers which she adapted from the well known and much loved cookbook Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. I have now made her version of this recipe a few times and it just keeps on getting better and better. This is exactly what I have been searching for in a well made vegetable burger.

These are great to make on a Sunday and I am in the habit of making extra and freezing them for the week. They can be taken out in the morning for an easy dinner that night and they also make for a tasty filling lunch. All that’s needed is a bit of reheating which I tend to do in the oven. I serve them with cheese and pickles OR with hummus, red peppers and garden salad. Delicious!

I have reprinted her recipe exactly as she sent it to me. Here it is:

 

Jessica’s version of Red Bean Veggie Burgers  (we usually double/triple the recipe and freeze some)

Heat in a large skillet on medium heat:
2 teaspoons olive oil

Add and cook, stirring until softened:
1/2 cup chopped onions • 2 minced garlic cloves

Add and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes:
2 cups grated courgette (and/or carrots)
1 tsp chili powder • 1 tsp ground cumin

Soften Veggies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile mash in a large bowl:
3 cups cooked kidney beans • 2 Tbs mustard
2 Tbs catsup (ketchup) • 2 Tbs Worcestershire or soy sauce

Mash Kidney Beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the vegetable mixture to the mashed beans and mix in:
1.5 cups oats
Various garden herbs (parsley, thyme, chives, etc.)

Herbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(We used Chives, Parsley and Chervil)

Mix it all together

Blend Together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Season to taste with salt and pepper

Wet hands and shape resulting gooey goodness into
patties.

Fry the patties in oil over medium heat, or place
on cookie sheet and broil for 5-8 minutes on each side.

Frying yields a crispier patty, while broiling gives a
drier, less oily one.

You can also bake them in the oven
at 400F (200C or Gas Mark 6)

ready for the oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These burgers freeze well and can be reheated
on the stove top, in the oven, or on the grill.

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, 1996

 

My cookbook wish list

Thanks to both my sister and my friend Jessica I have been able to tick a few books off my cookbook wish list!
As I posted last week my sister gave me the new cookbook from Fresh – REFRESH which is such a wonderful book. This week I will be trying out Susur Lee’s Smoothie.

Jessica brought a huge smile to my face when just a few days before Christmas a lovely parcel arrived with 2 wonderful books nestled inside. One of them was another top priority book on my list The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking For Health. I am not sure what my first recipe will be from this book but I am sorely tempted to try the Baked Sweet Potatoes Stuffed Three Ways.

These books will keep me busy for some time as they really all packed full of lots of exciting recipes to try. I hope you will keep checking back in to see what I make and hopefully to try some of these recipes for yourself!