Friday, April 28, 2006

Nigella, again: fried halloumi with chilli drizzle

Halloumi cheese is something I had never tried until a year ago or so. This white cheese originates in Cyprus, is made from a mixture of goat's and cow's milk, and is seasoned with chopped mint during preparation (you can see a picture here). It has a very unique, slightly squidgy texture, and is one of few cheeses that keeps its shape during heating process, making it ideal for grilling and frying.

Firstly - and mistakenly - I tried it as a sliced cheese on my bread, but found it too squeeky and rubbery, with no proper taste. I then tried it as saganaki, and liked it a bit more. My current favourite way with halloumi is to simply dry-fry it on a frying pan. Heating halloumi slices turns them deliciously soft inside with just a bit of squidge going on. They are wonderful on slices of baguette, for instance. If I want something spicier, I make this simple cheese dish - again by Nigella, this time from the December 2003 issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated. Very slightly modified, as I didn't have any fresh chilli in the house.

Pan-fried Halloumi with Chilli
(Praetud halloumi-viilud)
Serves 4 as a nibble, or 2 as a light meal

250 grams halloumi cheese, sliced not too thinly
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
half a lemon

Mix chilli flakes with oil.
Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat (no oil!). Fry halloumi slices for 2 minutes on each side, until the cheese has golden brown speckles all over them.
To serve, put cheese onto small plates, drizzle with chilli oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve with some salad and bread.


Alanna Kellogg said...

I had the same experience using it in cheese -- NOW I know what to do the next time! Hmmm. Maybe this weekend.

amyjames said...

Mmm. I love halloumi!

It's the main food item that makes me covet one of those ridged cast iron grill pans.

Your photo is making me salivate in an embarrassing manner . . . and it looks so summery.

Kalyn Denny said...

I first read about this type of cheese on a British food blog, and I haven't ever seen it here. It sounds like something I would really like.

shaz said...

looks yum! thanks for sharing

Thredahlia said...

Huvitav nimi ja kirjeldus sel juustul. On see midagi laplaste leibjuustu ehk küpsetatud juustu sarnast, mis ka krudiseb hamba all, vahel praetakse, soomalsed söövad murakamoosiga ja laplased ise panevad isegi kohvitassi?

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille!

I have always wanted to make this. I love Nigella's recipe.

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Sounds good, will give it a try. By the way bit short notice but there is a Food Festival in North Berwick tommorrow which might interest you? (About 30 minutes train ride from Edinburgh, trains go at half past every hour I think). North Berwick also has some nice beaches and Tantallon Castle and Seacliff beach are both worth a visit if you have a car (Both about 3 miles from North Berwick) Anyway here is the Food festival info:

The North Berwick Food Festival will take place in a giant marquee on Sunday 30th April (May holiday weekend) on Anchor Green (opp the Seabird Centre) from 12 noon to 5pm.

Following its successful debut at the Seabird Centre last autumn, this will be the first of a series of Food Festivals this year. It is being organised by Slow Food UK, headed up by John Tiller, who lives in North Berwick. The Slow Food Association was originally set up in Italy as an antidote to fast food and is all about rediscovering the pleasures of natural produce. Scotland has a rich natural larder and East Lothian is home to an emerging source of specialist producers and suppliers, many still relatively unknown. The festival will bring together some of the best of these for the festival with some 20 individual stands featuring food and drink to try, taste and buy on the day.

The companies taking part range from Ballencrieff Bacons and hams to Belhaven Smokery's trout and salmon, Geoge Hood's local honey to Trusty Crust's home made organic breads, specialist cheeses from Cheasy Peasy to Seafood and specialists food and drink from The Fisherman's ktichen, Brodie's of Musselburgh's hand made chocolates to Luca's delicious icecream, wines, spirits and liqueurs from Locketts and fragrant coffees and teas from Howdah to whisky tasting from Glenkinchie. A veritable feast. There will also be activities to keep the children happy, including a quiz and face painting. Entry will be 50p which includes entry to the free prize draw with lots of delicious food and drink to be won.

Valentina said...

I am a very big fan of halloumi myself. I first had it in the UK in a Greek restaurant in Bayswater. They used to make this wonderful sandwich on pitta bread and lettuce, fresh tomates and onion using toasted halloumi. So delicious. As there are a few good greek delis on Moscow Rd, still in Bayswater, I got a bit addicted to them. Nowadays I use my local supermarket as I have moved outside London but the halloumi is still good. In Brazil we have a similar cheese - in texture and taste, widely used in the northeast - Queijo de Coalho.Am I waffling too much?!?

Pille said...

Ak - beware - the squeeky-squidgy halloumi cheese can be very addictive. I think I eat it on a weekly basis now!

Amyjames - a ridged grill pan would be nice indeed, but there are so many other 'I-absolutely-need-to-have' items on my list, that a grill pan has to wait. Non-stick pan does the trick just fine, thou...

Kalyn - have you checked the Greek/Gypriot shops in your neighbourhood? They may stock halloumi..

Shaz - you're welcome!

Thredahlia - sarnasus leibjuustuga on täiesti olemas, kuigi halloumit magustoitudes ei kasutata. Nüüd tuli mul leibjuustu isu peale;( Pean paluma järgmisel nädalal saabuval külalisel tuua:)

Ivonne - I am yet to try Nigella's recipe that 1) doesn't work or 2) I don't like. She's truly a Domestic Goddess:)

Mark - thanks for popping by. It would have been nice to come along, but a friend of mine arrived from Estonia today and I had to pick her up and show her around a bit. Another time. Hope the event was a success!

Valentina - you're definitely not waffling too much:) It's interesting to learn that there is a similar cheese in Brazil. Any suppliers in the UK that you know of? The pita-halloumi sandwich you describe sounds also wonderful.

Alanna Kellogg said...

very addictive? make that VERY addictive ... I cooked up a few slices when my Dad was here on Monday and we both devoured them! I just love that salty-ish melty-ness. Yum! (And 2 slices to go ...)

Pille said...

AK - thank you for the feedback! I actually had some for dinner again last night, right after reading your comment:)

Jane said...

That looks delicious! I just bought a cookbook on cheese yesterday. One recipe that I'll be trying and posting over at my food blog is one for roasted red peppers with halloumi, toasted pine nuts and spinach.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I will just (as a native) correct you in that proper halloumi is a mixture of lamb and goat's milk, not cow milk. My advice would be to grill halloumi cheese and quickly eat while still hot!

Vega Honours Class Durban said...

Sounds delicious :) thanks for the great idea!! my moms about to go try it out.