Lovely halloumi wrap for lunch

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I sometimes buy my lunch at Leon, and it’s almost always a halloumi wrap since I seem to have a constant craving for the salty squeaky cheese.

But it only takes a few minutes so make your own wrap so sometimes I do that too, and I must say that my version is even nicer than Leon’s. Sorry, but it’s true!

Halloumi wrap, serves 1

1 flatbread

1 handful lettuce leaves, I used baby spinach 

Hellman’s mayonnaise

sweet chilli sauce

6 slices fried halloumi

1/2 avocado, cut into cubes

Mix equal parts mayo and sweet chilli sauce and spread onto the flatbread. Add spinach, halloumi and avocado. Roll up and enjoy a nice lunch! 

 

Fried halloumi with new potatoes, spinach and fried egg

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Maybe you’re beginning to sense a theme on the blog?! Food that’s quick to make when one’s busy, perhaps? Well that’s what my life looks like right now. If I cook at all at the moment it’s either for friends or a quick supper.

Work will hopefully slow down a little this week, but June is still horrendously packed (albeit with fun things). Last weekend I had Maria, Daniel and Otto visiting and this weekend I’m going to Sweden for a flying visit as one of my dear friends is getting married. And so it continues…

That’s why sometimes I cook food that’s ridiculously simple. One you don’t even need a recipe for. But it is still very tasty, filling and satisfying and definitely fresher than a takeaway.

How to (just in case):

Boil the new potatoes. Melt butter in a frying pan and fry the (drained) potatoes golden brown. Add spinach and let it wilt. Season. In a separate frying pan, fry an egg, remove and then fry a few slices of halloumi on high heat until golden brown. Serve. 

 

Halloumi salad with new potatoes, watercress, tomatoes and lime vinaigrette

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I can really crave certain foods, like sushi for example. Or a blue sirloin with bearnaise sauce. And most recently; fried halloumi. There is something utterly satisfying with the chewy, salty Cypriot cheese.

Last time I craved halloumi I also wanted a salad and potatoes and it resulted in this great salad based on this delicious Delia recipe for a starter with halloumi. I really loved this salad and although I was (very) happy to eat it on its own it would also work really well with say barbecued chicken skewers.

Halloumi salas with new potatoes, watercress, tomatoes and lime vinaigrette, serves 2

250 g new potatoes, cooked and cut in half

1 bag watercress

1 halloumi

a handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 red onion, sliced and marinated in lime juice

Vinaigrette:

1 lime, zest and juice

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp chopped coriander

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper

Mix the vinaigrette. Slice the halloumi and dry each piece with kitchen roll. Fry on high heat in a little oil until golden brown on both sides. 

Distribute water cress, new potatoes and cherry tomatoes on two plates. Remove the onion from the lime juice and divide between the plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette and place the fried halloumi on top.

Simple summer fair: halloumi, tzatsiki, fried courgette and pitta

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London, 32 degrees, muggy. Monday evening, having worked past 7pm and a hot tube journey home.

Then it’s bliss to come home, wash hands and face and start preparing a quick supper from whatever is available in the fridge.

Fry some courgettes with chilli, fry some halloumi until crisp and golden, whip up a batch of tzatsiki and put a pitta in the toaster. Easy peasy. And so very nice.

This is my kind of summer food. No effort – full enjoyment.

Fried courgettes with chilli, serves 1-2

1 medium, firm courgette

1 tbsp olive oil for frying

1 tsp aleppo pepper 

salt, black pepper

Wash the courgette and slice as thinly as you possibly can. Heat up the oil in a frying pan on medium-low heat. Add the courgettes to the pan and fry slowly on low heat. Be careful as not to brown, but make sure they soften. Add the chilli and fry for about 10 minutes in total. Season.

Tzatsiki, serves 2-3

300 ml thick Greek yoghurt

5-6 cm cucumber

1 large garlic clove

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt, black pepper

Grate the cucumber and squeeze the liquid out of it. Add the cucumber to a bowl and stir in the toghurt. Add pressed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Leave to develop its flavours for about 20 minutes before serving.

Slice the halloumi and fry on high heat in some oil until golden on both sides. Serve with toasted pitta. 

A nice get together in the summer house

Our summer house has survived many dinner parties and parties through the years, but the one we had during this holiday in Sweden was probably the best one so far. The weather was good, it was a nice group of friends and the perfect amount of people, and even the food seemed to be appreciated. 🙂

And it is so nice to have a party among old friends sometimes. Friends who without even asking just start helping you. All of a sudden Carina was doing the washing up, Linus carved the meat, Maria made coffee and Claes took charge of the camera. Thanks, guys!

I also had both Malin and Emma to help me in the kitchen with the canapés (and the gossip) and they did a great job (followed orders, I mean).

We started off with two canapés, both found on a lovely Swedish foodblog: Pyttes. We had fried halloumi with grilled peppers and crustades with girolles. Both adorable and extremely tasty!

As a starter I chose a dish I have made before and love; the salmon tartar with cream cheese topping. It is a great summery dish that looks more difficult to make than it is, plus you can prepare it in advance.

For the mains we had barbecued chicken with lemon and rosemary and barbecued leg of lamb marinated in red wine, garlic and rosemary. With this we served celeriac gratin, tomatoes provencale and small carrots.

The dessert was prepared in advance as well, the best way to do it for a large gathering I think. I had made an elderflower pannacotta with passionfruit on top, and it was really nice actually, made with mothers homemade elderflower cordial.

I poured the panna cotta into disposable plastic cups, not very sexy, but nice to skip the washing up, when there is 17 of you!

Thank you to all my great friends for coming!

Halloumi canapés with grilled peppers, serves 20 if combined with another canapé.

2 packets of halloumi

5 bell peppers

1 bunch of basil

crema di balsamico

olive oil for frying

cocktail sticks/small scewers

Cut the peppers into big chunks. Rinse and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Put the tray in the oven until the peppers are soft and has got some colour, about 25 minutes, 200C, this step you can do in advance.

Slice the hallomi and fry in olive oil until golden, just before serving. Place a piece of pepper and a piece of halloumi on a cocktail stick with a basil leaf in between. Place on platter and repeat until it is all used up. Drizzle crema di balsamico on the platter. Serve with napkins.

Crustades with girolles, serves 12-18 together with another canapé

2 packs (48 pieces) of crustades (you find them in Waitrose)

500 g girolles

butter for frying

150-200 g garlic and herb cream cheese

50 ml sourcream or creme fraiche

1 tsp honey

1 tsp dijon mustard

salt, white pepper

chives to decorate

Clean the mushrooms and chop them. Fry in butter on high heat. Remove from pan to a bowl and add the cream cheese, sour cream, mustard and honey. Season to taste. Fill the crustades with the mixture just before serving (otherwise the crustades go soggy). Cut the chives and sprinkle on top. Serve and enjoy!

Barbecued whole chicken with rosemary and lemon, 8-10 people at a buffet

2 medium chickens

50 g softened butter

rosmary

1 lemon

4 garlic cloves

Rinse the birds. Mix the butter with lemon peel and rosemary leaves. Season the birds and cut pockets in the skin above the breasts. Fill the pockets with butter and smear the rest of the butter around the birds. Cut the lemon in half and place each half the the bird’s cavarties. Place the chickens in a cooking bag each. Place 2 garlic cloves in each bag. Cut a small whole on the top of the bag (as a chimney) and place the chickens in the oven on 200C for about 45 minutes or until almost done. Remove from the bags and place on the barbecue and cook until done (clear juices at the joints).

Barbecued leg of lamb with red wine, rosemary and garlic, serves 12

2 legs of lamb

1 bottle red wine

1 bunch rosmary

garlic

Season the meat on all sides and place in a cooking bag each. Add rosemary sprigs and garlic to the bags and pour half the bottle in each bag. Let the meat marinate for 24 hours, make sure to turn the bag a few times so it marinated evenly. Cut a small whole on the top of the bags (as a chimney) and place the bags in the oven (200C) for about an hour. A meat thermometer is a great tool here, but unfortunately our old one in the summer house didn’t work. Take the meat out of the bags and barbecue at the end to get the crisp and sooty outside. Let the meat rest before carving.

Tomatoes provencale, serves 2-4

2 large tomatoes

3-4 tbsp grated parmesan

5 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 garlic clove

chopped parsley

olive oil

Cut the tomatoes in half (nicest if you cut vertically). Place with the cut side up and brush with oliv oil. Bake in 200 C for 15 minutes. Mix parmesan, breadcrumbs, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Add enough olive oil for the mixture to soak it up. Season the tomatoes and place a spoonful of the mixture on each halve. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

Elderflower pannacotta, serves 6

700 ml cream (I mixed  single and double)

4 tbsp concentrated elderflower cordial (preferrably homemade)

40 g caster sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

3 gelatine leaves

Decoration: 2 passion fruits + 2 tsp icing sugar

It is best to make this dessert the day before serving so it has time to set properly. Cover the gelatine leaves with cold water in a bowl. Mix sugar, cream and vanilla in a non-stick saucepan. Bring to the boil and remove from heat. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves and add them to the cream mixture. Stir so they dissolve evenly. Add the elderflower cordial and leave the mixture for 30 minutes to cool down. Pour into plastic cups or small bowls. Leave to cool completely before putting them into the fridge. Leave them overnight to set.

On the same day, scoop out the passionfruit and mix with the icing sugar. Divide the mixture between the pannacottas and spread it out over the top. Serve and realise with the first spoonful that you have gone to heaven.

Bacon-wrapped pork patties with za’atar

As you might recall, we went to Syria on holiday before all hell broke loose over there, in March. And I still found myself so grateful for the experience. Especially the food experience, of course. Like za’atar, and especially the great blend we managed to get our hands on thanks to the food tour that showed us this spice wholesaler in Damascus. They had three different blends of za’atar, they were all really nice and we had trouble choosing. But then they pulled out another blend; a mixture of the three blends according to an old secret recipe and the result was amazing.

I deeply treasure that bag or Syrian gold, and I don’t want to waste it, but I don’t want it to sit in my cupboard either, so once in a while I get the bag out and cook with it.

This is a very simple weekday recipe made so much more interesting with the za’atar, and the sesame thyme blend works really well on pork. It was utterly delicous! I served it with potato wedges and some halloumi that joined the potatoes for 5-10 mins in the oven and some asparagus. Simple and lovely.

Baconlindade fläskfärsbiffar med za’atar, 3 portioner

500 g pork mince

1 egg

100 ml breadcrumbs

1 tbsp za’atar

a pinch of salt

white pepper

1 packet streaky bacon

Mix all the ingredients apart from the meat in a bowl. Let it swell for a few minutes. Add the mince and mix thoroughly with a wooden fork. Shape to patties and wrap in bacon. Fry until golden on both sides in a frying pan, then transfer to the oven until cooked through. Serve with potato wedges, halloumi and asparagus, and maybe a nice cold sauce. 

Four course dinner

Our friends Malin and Martin have been staying with us Wednesday to Sunday last week, and we did the most of eating and drinking during that time. 🙂

On Friday we met up with them after work and walked to our favourite Terroirs for a glass or two. OK, two. We take most our visiting friends here for drinks as it is such a nice a place. We were a little hungry so we nibbled on bread and nice green olives before we headed home to eat dinner.

While I was cooking we had some Pimm’s and snacks and after half an hour or so we were ready to eat properly.

We had Delia’s smashing halloumi with lime vinaigrette as a starter, followed by lamb neck fillet with French potato salad and asparagus.

For dessert we had vanilla pannacotta with strawberries and raspberries and a pinch of icing sugar, followed by a cheese board, sourdough bread, crackers and port.

Yep, we were very sleepy and full after all this. The next day the gluttany continued with a big brunch and Henley Regatta, which I will post tomorrow.