Courgette and Halloumi Cheese Fritters

A tasty and simple meal that tastes of summer. This will make about eight rissoles – enough for four people.

3-4 medium courgettes
1 onion
1 pack halloumi cheese
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped dill (optional)
Olive oil for frying

Grate the courgettes, place in a clean tea towel or muslin and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Transfer to a large bowl. Grate the onion and cheese and add these to the courgettes. Add all the other ingredients except the oil. Mix well adding more flour if the mixture is a little on the wet side.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Grab a golf ball sized blob of the mixture and flatten it in your hands. Fry in the hot oil until brown on each side – about 5 minutes per side.

Serve with new potatoes, a watercress salad and a generous helping of natural yogurt with chives.

 

Halloumi Aubergine Rolls

This is my take on pigs in blankets for the festive season, but just as good all year round.

To make 12 rolls

3 large aubergines
Olive oil
Harissa paste
1 pack of halloumi cheese

Top and tail the aubergines then slice lengthwise, first removing two opposite sides, then slice the remaining aubergine into four long slices lengthwise.

Brush generously with olive and then either griddle until browned and soft or pop them into the oven for around 20 minutes at 200C

You should now have 12 golden brown aubergine sheets

Spread a little harissa paste on each – about a teaspoon but you can vary the amount depending on how hot you like them.

Cut the block of halloumi into 12 equal sized sticks.

Take an aubergine slice and place with the thinner end towards you. Place a halloumi stick across the thin end then roll up towards the thicker end. Try to keep it fairly tight. Place each roll onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

When they are all done put them into the oven at 180C for around 15 minutes until the halloumi has softened.

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Spinach Pie (Greek Style)

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I’m not quite ready to surrender to the fact my holiday for this year is over. Having spent a week in Kefalonia (or Cephalonia, or is it Keffalinia) I am continuing with the Greek themed food. Kefalonia is a beautiful island: Stunning scenery, crystal clear water, hot sunshine and some great food. Somewhat surprisingly none of the bakers sold flat, pitta style bread and none of the restaurants had hummus on the menu. They did however have spinach pie and cheese pie (made from “yellow cheese” they told me).

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This made a pie big enough to feed 6-8 people
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions – finely sliced into quarter rings
about 650g spinach (raw weight)
4 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 egg
1 block (200g) halloumi cheese – grated
8-10 sheets filo pastry
lots of butter
a sprinkling of sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a large pan then add the onion and fry gently for 15 minutes stirring occasionally until starting to brown. While this is cooking, wash the spinach then place in a large pan, lid on and heat until wilted. Drain in a sieve then squeeze as much liquid as you can from the spinach. Chop well.

Add the garlic to the onions and fry for a further 5 minutes before adding the spinach. Turn the heat up and stir fry the onion, garlic and spinach until quite dry. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once cool add the egg, za’atar and grated halloumi. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.

Take a large round dish then melt the butter and brush it over the base and sides of the dish. Take 4-5 sheets of filo pastry and brush with more melted butter, then layer over the base and up the sides of the dish. Spoon in the spinach filling, fold in the overhanging filo, then butter the remaining filo sheets and cover the base. Turn the whole thing out onto a baking sheet, dusted with semolina or polenta.

Heat the oven to 200C. Before placeing the pie in the oven, cut into 8 slices. If you don’t do this now, slicing it will be tricky once the pastry has crisped. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and crispy, allow to cool a little before serving.

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Borlotti Beans with Spring Greens and Grilled Cheese

The weather may be summer like but the end of my borlotti beans on the allotment tells me it’s definitely autumn and time to start clearing and preparing the plot for the colder, shorter days. Borlottis are the only beans I grow now. In fact they are one of the very few successes this year. The young beans can be eaten pod and all like a runner bean, but without the occasional dodgy stringy one that ruins the entire meal. Later in the year as the pods turn a beautiful dark red the beans can be prised from their pods and used in soups, stews and even burgers.

This dish is made in three parts but none of them take long. The quantities should feed four with a bit of nice bread on the side.

Start with the beans.

approx 300g fresh borlotti beans (or a drained 400g tin if you can’t get fresh)
3-4 ripe tomatoes – chopped
1x400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 medium onion – chopped
olive oil – about 4 tablespoons
handful of parsley – coursely chopped
salt and pepper

Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan or frying pan, but use one that has a lid. Fry the garlic and onion gently until softened then add the beans and tomatoes. Cover a simmer gently for about 40 minutes. Add the parsley, salt and pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the remainder of the oil and leave to one side with the lid on.

Take 2-3 heads of spring greens. Slice finely and drop into boiling water for 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain, season and add a splash of chili infused oil – or olive oil if you aren’t into heat. Cover and set to one side.

Take 1 250g pack of halloumi, cut into four slices and place under the grill, turning once. When and brown, remove from the heat and now plate up the dish.

Start by dividing the greens between the four plates, making a small crater in the middle of each pile. Fill the crater with the beans then place a slice of halloumi on top. Finish with a drizzle of oilive oil or chili oil.

Halloumi and Crunchy Salad Kebab

A tasty alternative to a doner kebab and guaranteed not to contain horsemeat. This will make 5 or 6 decent sized kebabs

Start by making the salad
½ head red cabbage
1 large carrot – peeled
6 radishes
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of ½ lime
a few splashes of sesame oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
salt and black pepper to taste

I have developed a habit of slicing the end off my finger when I try to finely slice vegetables. So now I use a food processor which is safest and laziest. Using the fine grater, pass the radishes and carrot through. Then using the fine slicer, slice the red cabbage. If you haven’t got a food processor just grate the radish and carrot and finely slice the red cabbage. Place the chopped up ingredients into a large bowl and add all the dressing ingredients. Miz well and leave to one side.

The Halloumi
Now take 1 pack Halloumi and slice finely – about 2mm thick. You should get 12 or so slices. Cook the Halloumi slices on a griddle, in a frying pan or under the grill until some colour has developed.

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The Assembly
Take 4-6 medium or large Khobez. If you can’t fine Khobez you cuold use pittas. Warm just enough to split them first.

Lay 2-3 slices of the griddled Halloumi in a row, top with the salad. You now add other ingredients if you wish – chili, chili sauce, gherkins, pickled turnips, etc. Roll the Khobez then place back on the griddle until heated through and starting to crisp up a little.

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Another Variation on a Turkish Pie Idea

As any parent will know, feeding children is no easy feat and when your children turn to teenagers and beyond it doesn’t get any easier. I have to cater for a vegetarian, a meat eater who doesn’t like meat and a meat eater who likes to eat nothing but meat.

I still recall the days before the discovery of halloumi cheese: life is easier today. Halloumi is perhaps one of the best discoveries since Walter Raleigh (or was it Francis Drake as some claim?) introduced the potato to these shores.

The quantities here will make three large pies and half a pie is ample for anyone especially if you serve it with some roasted new potatoes and a green salad.

1 small butternut squash – peeled, deseeded and diced
250g – 350g spinach
200g – 250g halloumi – diced to the same size as the squash
1 teaspoon za’atar (use regular thyme if you can’t get za’atar)
a little salt – not much need as the cheese is quite salty
3 Middle Eastern village breads – Lavash. If you can’t find lavash you could always stuff some pitta breads with the filling and toast in a sandwich/panini grill
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 220C, drizzle some oil over the diced squash and roast for abour 25 minutes until tender and a little browned. Put to one side to cool.

Cook the spinach either in the microwave or by steaming, drain, chop roughly and add to the squash. Add the diced halloumi and the za’atar or thyme and mix well.

Take each Lavash, divide the mixture between the three, spreading it out into the middle of each bread.

Then wrap the ends up into a parcel

Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry each pie on both sides until browned, crispy on the outside and hot enough so the halloumi softens and binds the filling together.

Lentil and Ebly Salad

A wander along Westbourne Grove the other lunchtime and I ended up outside Daylesford Organic leaving with a tub of mixed salads for lunch. One of which I thought was lentil and rice but turned out to be lentil and whole grains. So here is my version using Ebly. There is quite a lot of washing up as each part of the disj needs to be cooked separately but it was worth it.

I served this with a green salad, tsatsiki and a few slices of grilled halloumi cheese.

2-3 handfuls of green lentils
1 cup Ebly
1 onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
olive oil
1 dried chilli – crushed
lemon juice
salt and black pepper

Place the lentils in a pan of water, bring to the boil then simmer for approximately 20 minutes until tender. Drain and leave to cool.
Place the Ebly in a pan with two cups of water, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Leave to cool.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry gently until softened. Yep you guessed it. Leave to cool.
Put the lentils, Ebly, onions, garlic in a large bowl. Add the chili and a large pinch of salt. Lots of black pepper. Then season to taste with lemon juice and olive oil.