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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


• 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)


• 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


Warning these sandwiches are highly addictive.

Halloumi cheese coated in seasoned flour and fried

Halloumi in pita with hummus, salad and cherry tomatoes

Moving Day Macaroni And Cheese...

Today was moving day for my parents. My husband and I woke up early to help pack boxes and move things into my mum and dad’s new home.

I know that moving can be a very stressful time but somehow we managed to get everything done with a minimum of fuss.

One of the big tasks was clearing out the old kitchen. That meant using up as much food as we could in the fridge. Fortunately there wasn’t much left, just some vegetables that needed to be eaten.

A great way to use up vegetables (and to hide them from kids who otherwise may not eat them) is to make macaroni and cheese. This is a super recipe I got from mum which I have adapted to use up stray veggies.

Unlike macaroni and cheese that uses a traditional white sauce, this recipe has a tomato base which makes it really quick and very simple.

The following recipe is for 4-5 people.

Luna Raye’s Moving Day Macaroni And Cheese.


2 tins of chopped organic tomatoes

2 cups of macaroni (uncooked)

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 red onion, chopped finely

2 medium carrots chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup broccoli chopped into bite sized pieces

6 green beans cut into thirds

2 1/2 – 3 cups grated cheese (I use mature cheddar). Keep 1/2 – 1 cup for the topping.

1 cup bread crumbs or crushed crackers, corn flakes or crisps for a crunchy topping

9 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters


Empty the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes into a large casserole dish.

Add the dried herbs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, chopped onion and mix well.

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking prepare the vegetables. You can use pretty much anything. In the past I have also used celery, courgette (zucchini), pumpkin and red or yellow peppers. (I find green peppers can go slightly bitter when cooked).

Just make sure whatever veggies you decide to use are chopped finely as they will not be pre cooked. A little bit of texture is nice but you don’t want them too crunchy.

When all the veggies are chopped set the cherry tomatoes to one side.

Add the remaining vegetables along with the cheese to the tomato mixture in the casserole dish.

Once macaroni is cooked drain it and add to the casserole dish.

Stir everything around again to really mix it all up.

Cover with 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese and 1 cup of breadcrumbs or whatever you want to use for your crunchy topping.

Finally, scatter the quartered cherry tomatoes on top.

Cook at 180 degrees for approximately 40 minutes or until bubbling.

Cover the casserole dish with aluminium foil for about 25 -30 minutes of the cooking time so the top doesn’t brown too quickly.


Of course you don’t have to put any extra vegetables in this dish at all. It works just as well with the tinned tomatoes, macaroni and cheese (plus herbs, mustard and Worcestershire sauce). But it IS a great way to use up those stray veggies lurking in your fridge. It also gave us a much needed boost of energy to pack a few more boxes!

Home Cooked Favourites: Calgary Pot Roast....

After more than a week of travelling through Sydney and Brisbane, we have reached our final destination of Mackay, Australia.

My family has always moved around a lot. We lived in Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. I eventually moved to the UK and my parents have been living in various parts of the South Pacific for the past 12 years.

We are still very close despite the many miles that separate us. Although we may not get the opportunity to see one another as often as we’d like when we do get together we always have a great time.

Preparing good food and enjoying fine wines (plus a martini or two) is something we ALL enjoy! We like to try new recipes but more than anything we like to cook some old family favourites that remind us of past times and places we have lived.

To celebrate ‘coming home’ to Australia my mum made one of my all time favourite meals; Calgary Pot Roast. It is a big tasty plate of home cooked comfort and a wonderful meal to share with friends and family.

It was a typical Sunday night meal we would have when we lived in Quebec. Usually served with green beans and mashed potatoes and a hearty red wine. Afterwards we would watch All Creatures Great And Small and I would dream of going to live in England and my dad would reminisce about the country where he was born.

For me this meal was not just about wonderful flavours. It was about being with my family, remembering good times and creating happy new memories too!

Luna Raye’s Mum’s Recipe For Calgary Pot Roast.


1.5 Kgs (3 1/2 lbs) of boneless beef
5 ml (1 tsp) dry mustard
2 ml (1tsp) salt
125 ml (1/2 cup) onions finely chopped
1 can (213 ml or 7 1/2 oz) tomato sauce
25 ml (2 Tbsp) white wine vinegar
2 ml (1/2 tsp) thyme (we used fresh)
1 ml (1/4 tsp) black pepper
2 cloves garlic minced


Preheat oven to 160 (325).
Place beef in casserole dish.
Rub mustard and salt into surface of the meat.
Top with the chopped onions and minced garlic.
In separate bowl combine the tomato sauce, vinegar, thyme and pepper.
Once mixed pour over the beef and cover tightly.
Bake for approximately 3 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans.

You will have plenty of sauce left over in the casserole dish which can be put in a gravy boat and poured over the mash.

Another tip is to add about a 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms and a glass of red wine about 2 hours into the cooking time. It just gives the dish an even deeper and richer flavour.


Spicy Cashew and Cucumber Salad: The Perfect Picni...

The weather here in the UK has been absolutely amazing. It’s been hot and sunny now for weeks and I dare say we are getting used to seeing the sun. It makes a nice change from the usual grey drizzle of an English summer.

So to celebrate the end of a tough work week and get out in nature, my husband and I are going into the Kent countryside tomorrow to find the perfect place for a picnic. The big question is what type of food to bring. Sandwiches are always good. A selection of nibbles maybe? Quiche, potato salad and some hummus and vegetable sticks would also go down a treat.

Thinking about it we decided we wanted to try something completely different. Looking at the many recipes I have bookmarked to try, I found the perfect picnic recipe from last week’s Saturday Morning Kitchen. The guest chef was Bill Granger who made a wonderful looking meal of Spicy Chicken Thighs With Cucumber and Cashew Salad.

The recipe is actually in two parts. The first step is to create a marinade for some boneless chicken thighs. Once prepared, the chicken thighs are left to marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Only 1/2 of the marinade is used for this. The rest of the marinade is used as a base to create a salad dressing for a cucumber and cashew nut salad with vermicelli rice noodles. This salad is served cold while the chicken thighs are served fresh off the grill.

We actually don’t want to make the dish with the chicken thighs for tomorrow’s picnic. We only want to make the salad! It seems like it will be light and refreshing with just the right amount of heat. I may play around with the recipe tonight so it’s ready to go when we leave first thing in the morning. I may add some shredded carrot to it as well, just to give it a bit more crunch and colour.

We are approaching tomorrow with an open mind so we aren’t really sure where we will end up. The one thing we do know is that we will have some delicious food to eat when we get to wherever we are going!

I hope you are all making the most of this glorious picnic weather. Please drop me a line and tell me about your perfect picnic foods.

Flemish Beef Stew: Recreating The Magic Of Bruges....

Sitting here on a blustery Monday morning, with a mountain of work piled high by my computer, I can’t help but think back to the wonderful time my friend Jessica and I had in Bruges.

We wandered the ancient streets taking in the sites and sampled many fantastic Belgian beers along the way. Some of our favourites included Straffe Hendrik and Brugse Zot from The Half Moon or ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery.

Our first night we went to a wonderful little restaurant, ‘De Vlaamsche Pot’ , where we sat out in the courtyard. We wanted to try something different and the Flemish stew caught our eye. It was simply delicious. A rich hearty beef stew served with apple sauce and a generous (almost TOO generous) portion of frites. After all our exploring we were famished and it really hit the spot.

I am going to try to make it and have found this site which gives a very good and easy to follow recipe. Trying new dishes and sampling local cuisine is something I really enjoy, and when I get home I always like to see if I can recreate some of the magical dishes I had while on holiday. Having a Belgian beer or two will certainly help me get into the right frame of mind when making this stew!

Flemish Beef Stew with Frites

Flemish Beef Stew with Frites

Brugse Zot at the Half Moon Brewery

Bruges Canal

The Joy of Local Produce: Apple and Rhubarb Crumbl...

Since my husband or I don’t know how to drive, much of the Kent countryside has remained a mystery to us. There simply are some places we can’t get to via bus or train. As for cycling, I wouldn’t feel comfortable on the small winding country roads.

When Jessica was here she rented a car and we were able to do some exploring! One of the highlights was discovering farmer’s markets and the many farm shops selling local produce. One such farm shop was in a lovely little town called Hadlow in Tonbridge. The shelves were full of home made pickles and jams. There was loads of fresh produce as well and some beautiful rhubarb caught our eye.

We bought a few goodies and made our way home! Unfortunately, our plans for an apple and rhubarb crumble didn’t materialize while Jess was still here. I ended up making it the day after she flew back home. I have to say it was delicious (sorry Jess!)

So here it is:

Luna Raye’s Scrumptious Farm Shop Apple and Rhubarb Crumble.


3 large cooking apples peeled, cored and chopped into chunks.

3 medium sized rhubarb stalks, cut into chunks.

½ cup of sultanas.

2 Tablespoons ground All Spice.

50 grams unsalted butter.

3 Tablespoons brown sugar.

Splash of water.

For the Crumble Topping

150 grams of flour.

50 grams cold unsalted butter.

50 grams granulated sugar.

2 Tablespoons crushed pecans or walnuts.


Place unsalted butter in a saucepan and add the chopped apples.

Mix in the brown sugar and all spice and coat the apples.

Add a splash of water if you need more moisture.

After 5 minutes or when the apples start to soften, add the rhubarb and sultanas and mix all together.

When everything is nice and soft add to a large oven proof dish.

Directions for the Crumble Topping

Add the flour and granulated sugar into a bowl.

Cut the cold unsalted butter into chunks and gradually add to the flour and sugar mixture.

Use your hands to mix the butter in. You should end up with a mixture that is similar to bread crumbs.

Add the pecans to the crumble topping before spreading over the apple and rhubarb mixture.

Place in the oven preheated to 180 and cook for 30 – 45 minutes.

Serve with a drizzle of cream or a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

Scrumptious Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Scrumptious Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Oven Baked Basa Fillets With A Zesty Marinade....

Basa is a type of catfish native to the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam. It is becoming much more popular here in the UK and is available in most supermarkets. It’s a white fish with a firm, meaty texture and is sometimes used as a substitute for cod. What I love about basa is that it’s a very versatile fish and really easy to cook. Check out this great website for more inspiring basa recipes.

Another bonus I have discovered with basa – no bones! Or at least none that I have found and you know with fish – even the carefully filleted ones – there are always bound to be bones lurking somewhere. I do love fish but the bones really stress me out. A childhood incident where a fish bone became stuck in my throat resulted in me having to eat slice after slice of ‘wonderbread’ to help remove it. Wonderbread was never quite the same after that.

Ok no more trips down memory lane – let’s get on with the recipe!

Luna’s Recipe for Basa Fillets With A Zesty Marinade


Juice of 1/2 lemon.

1 clove of garlic, minced.

1 Tablespoon of freshly grated ginger.

1 Tablespoon of runny honey.

3 Tablespoons of light soy sauce.


Put the basa fillets in a shallow dish and cover with the marinade.

Leave to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. I turned the fillets over twice during the marinating process just to make sure everything was covered.

Preheat oven to 180C

When the fillets have marinated long enough place them on tin foil, spooning any remaining marinade on top.
Fold the tin foil around them like a parcel and place them on a baking sheet.

The directions on the pack said to cook the fillets for 20 minutes – I actually cooked them for a lot longer – 45 minutes!

Note to self: Before you start cooking make sure husband is actually on his way home and not stopping off at the pub for a quick pint after work!

Fortunately the extra time in the oven did not impair the flavour at all. In fact the fish was incredibly moist and very VERY tasty! I think the lemon juice probably helped.

I served the fillets with my favourite Egg Fried Rice courtesy of Ken Hom and some lightly steamed broccoli.

This was a filling dinner but it felt very light. It’s perfect for a warm Spring evening with a glass (or two) of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Oven Baked Basa Fillets in a Zesty Marinade.

Sorry about the quality of the photograph – I must get a new camera and stop taking photos on my phone!