Thursday, 7 July 2011

Two Ways With...


In the second of this series of posts I've chosen the Cypriot cheese that is increasingly popular in the UK. Readily available in most supermarkets and a frequent contender on menus in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants, it is often used in one of two ways.

The first is as 'saganaki', which translated from Greek means frying pan, or fried, and simple as it is, I do enjoy this style. The second which I seem to see more and more of is sliced, grilled and piled up in stacks of grilled vegetables, simply drizzled with oil. Again this is nice, however I think this is a versatile cheese that has more to it than these two dishes let on.

So my two dishes this time cook the cheese in different ways, both ways paired with almost identical ingredients used in different ways. Two different plates of food, and two very tasty dishes.

What's more these are a great couple of dishes to offer to vegetarian guests - something that I seem to have a lot of!

You may notice that both of these recipes use chilli, mainly as I am slightly addicted to spice, and if you prefer a milder flavour then decrease the amount of chilli used.

Chilli and Lime Vegetables with Grilled Halloumi

This is an incredibly simple but seriously delicious hot salad topped with lovely grilled Halloumi, perfect for a warm summer's day when you fancy something light to eat, but don't want to compromise on flavours. I served this with a dip which works as an excellent alternative to Greek tzatziki - using coriander instead of mint, which works well with the lime and chilli.

100g Halloumi
1 courgette
1/2 an Aubergine
1/2 Red Onion
1 Green Chilli
4 Cherry Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Creme Fraiche
1Tbsp Coriander
1 Clove of Garlic

First cut the courgette and aubergine into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Halve the tomatoes and chop the onion and chilli.
Pour a drizzle of olive oil into a large griddle pan over a medium heat and pop in all the vegetables.
Slice the Halloumi so it's at least 1/2cm thick.
Once the vegetables are nicely cooked, remove to a dish, cover with foil and pop under a warm grill whilst you add the halloumi to the griddle.
In the meantime place the creme fraiche in a small bowl. Crush the garlic and chop the coriander and add to the bowl and give a good stir.
Assemble the hot vegetables onto your serving plate and squeeze half a lime, or more if you require over them. Season with black pepper (don't use salt if you can help it as the cheese has a high salt content).
Once the Halloumi has been grilled for at least two minutes on each side place on top of the vegetables and you're ready to serve with your dip on the side.
For me this is like a taste of the Med.

Deep-fried Halloumi with Chunky Guacamole
100g Halloumi
1 Ripe Avocado
3 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Green Chilli
1 Clove of Garlic
1/2 Red Onion
1 Tbsp Coriander, chopped
1 Tsp Mint, chopped
1/2 Lemon or Lime Juice
1 Slice of White Bread
1 Egg, whisked
1/2 Cup of Plain Flour

Firstly make your guacamole by chopping your onion, garlic, chilli and tomatoes (try to remove seeds) and adding to a mortar.
Cut the avocado in half, remove the pip and skin and slice. Add this to the mortar with the coriander and mint and use the pestle to work into a paste, don't be too vigorous as it's good to still have some larger chunks of avocado.
Squeeze over the lime juice and give one last bash. Either pop in the fridge if you prefer this cold, otherwise just leave to one side.
For the Halloumi slice as in the above recipe.
In a food processor blitz the slice of bread and put into a shallow bowl. In another bowl pour in the flour and season. In a third bowl pour in the whisked egg.
For each piece of Halloumi first coat in the flour, next the egg and then fully coat in the breadcrumbs.
In either a deep-fat-fryer or if you don't own one, then fill a heavy-duty saucepan 1/3 of the way with vegetable oil and put on a medium heat.
Allow to heat up for four or five minutes and test it's hot enough by tearing off a small piece of bread and gently putting in with a metal slotted spoon. If this starts to sizzle then the oil is ready.
Once the oil is hot enough place each piece of breadcrumbed Halloumi into the pan with the slotted spoon. Cook for just over one minute, then use the spoon to turn over and brown on both sides.
Remove from the pan and place on a plate with kitchen roll. Then serve with the guacamole.
The cheese should be lovely, slightly melted and oozy and this works as a great starter or as a rather indulgent snack.

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