Grilled Halloumi with sweet n spicy sesame seeds

Happy new year fellow foodies

This may seem odd to some of you, but cheese, sesame and honey really go well together. Halloumi is a cheese from Cyprus and should be available at Middle Eastern stores, Farmboy, Superstore and Sobeys. This kind of cheese doesn’t melt to a liquid like mozzarella, but you can grill, fry or bake this cheese without it losing much of its shape.

Ingredients:

One package Halloumi cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions:

Mix sesame seeds with cayenne pepper and lightly toast in a dry pan over medium heat, tossing for a few minutes and set aside–careful not to burn the seeds. Slice halluomi cheese into 4 equal pieces and brush each side with olive oil. Prepare BBQ or grill pan for high heat and lay slices of cheese on grill and cook 3 minutes per side until cheese starts to melt and have nice golden char marks on each side. Remove cheese to a plate, drizzle with honey and sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds so they will stick to the honey coated cheese. You can serve this as an appetizer, dessert or even a side dish. Accompany this with toasted bread, wilted greens or sauteed cabbage. (future post)

I find this will pair well with a dry white wine, rosé or even some sweet wines should go well also.

20140107-223059.jpg

20140107-223119.jpg

Advertisements

Papoutsakia (baked stuffed eggplant little shoes)

These “little shoes” are awesome, they are named little shoes as there appearance is like classic kids shoes. Some people like to make them with no rice and lots of meat covered in béchamel and cheese, like moussaka. I like to use a little meat and rice with lots of herbs, maybe a little cheese. This can easily become vegetarian dish substituting a couple diced veggies instead of sausage meat.

Note: if you cannot find chorizo, Italian sausage will do.

Ingredients:

2 medium or large eggplant
1 cup long grain rice
2 small spicy uncooked chorizo sausages
Handful fresh dill chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
2 tomatoes diced
4 cloves garlic sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp grated asiago cheese

Remove the casings off the sausages and fry the meat in a pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes continuously stirring and breaking up the sausages along the way. Toss in the garlic and a couple glugs of olive oil. Stir in the rice, pepper and half of the salt, turn up the heat and add in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Toss in the herbs and tomatoes and turn heat to lowest setting, cover and steam rice for about 15 minutes until rice is al dente. Cut the eggplant in half length wise and chop off the stem. Using a spoon scoop out the inside of the eggplant and discard the seedy parts, just try to keep the eggplant meat that is less seedy and chop to a dice and add into pot of rice.

Pre-heat oven to 400*. In a large enough baking dish to hold the four eggplant halves, add a spoon of oil and arrange the eggplant face up and season generously with salt and pepper. When rice is ready pour out any remaining liquid and taste it to make sure seasoning is to your liking and if rice is undercooked don’t worry it will continue to cook in the oven. Fluff rice with a fork and add half the grated cheese, some olive oil and mix well. Stuff each eggplant half with the rice mixture and top with more cheese. Add in a little water in the bottom of baking dish, cover and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook an extra 5-10 minutes until cheese bubbles and crusts the top. When the stuffed eggplant is ready remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Best enjoyed with a greens salad and a glass of red wine.

Please comment and let me know how you made out the this recipe.

20131112-223449.jpg

20131112-234853.jpg

My top 10 favorite cheeses

1. Kefalograviera
A very popular cheese from Greece and could be used as a table cheese served as an appetizer with olives and wine, grated on pasta or made into saganaki.

2. Parmigiano-Reggiano
One of the most popular and known as the king of cheese from Italy. I absolutely love this cheese in every way.

3. Asiago
Another Italian cheese, but it’s also made it canada. Excellent accompanied by red wine.

4. Kasseri
From Greece and could be used in cooking, on pizza or grating on pasta.

5. Buffalo di Mozzarella
A fresh soft cheese from Italy, not aged or salted and is popular for Caprese Salad.

6. Haloumi
haloumi is usually from Cypress and will hold together on barbecue or grill.

7. Raclette
A very tasty Swiss cheese.

8. Blue cheese
Hails usually from France or Quebec in Canada and is a versatile cheese, my fave with crackers.

9. Xynomyzithra (sour Myzithra)
It has a more acidic or sour flavour. It is often added to pasta and has a great flavor. Again it hails from Greece.

10. Feta
The most popular cheese of Greece and it’s really gaining popularity around the world. It’s the cheese for Greek salad.

20131014-224257.jpg

Calzone

I love calzone as much as I like pizza, it’s a pizza that’s filled, kinda like a pizza pocket or a closed pizza. Sometimes these are called a Panzarotti which is the kind that is sometimes deep fried. Make it yourself and you will be amazed how easy and fun, besides tasty. This is something that takes a bit of time, so it’s a good Saturday or Sunday afternoon fun, get the kids involved, they love rolling out the dough.

Ingredients:
For the Dough:
3 ½ cups of All Purpose unbleached Flour
1 cup fine semolina flour
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 tbsp of active dry yeast
Extra flour for rolling out dough

Note: if using whole wheat flour, add a tiny bit more salt and a bit more water.

Put the warm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and allow for yeast to foam for about 5-7 minutes. In a large bowl sift both flours, flax and salt, make a well in the flour and pour in the olive oil, foamy water and mix with a wooden spoon, or a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix dough until it comes together. Begin kneading the dough on a liberally floured surface. If dough is too wet keep adding flour until dough becomes soft and stretchy ( knead for about 10 min.). Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a wet tea towel or plastic wrap, allow dough to rise for at least one hour in a warm place. Prepare filling ingredients while dough is proofing.

Punch down dough on a floured surface, knead dough for few more minutes. Cut dough into four equal balls or three equal balls for three large calzones, put dough balls back in oiled bowl and cover again until ready to roll out.

Roll out dough ball one at a time on lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to about 10 inch diameter like pizza put filling as a topping only on half the pizza, (see below for filling suggestions) fold over other side to make a half moon, crimp the edges well to seal calzone. Using the point of a knife make a few holes in the top of calzone so steam can escape.

Heat pizza stone or tray to 400* and place calzone in centre of oven, cook for 15-20 minutes until dough is golden brown and remove from oven when done, allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving as it will be very hot. When ready to eat a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of fresh parsley or basil is a good option.

Suggested combinations for filling:

One large tablespoon per item, maybe two tablespoons for dominant topping or your favourite ingredient, I think it’s better to overfill than to under fill as once it cooks it will puff up and may seem hallow if under filled.

Passata tomato sauce with pinch oregano, salt and olive oil
Sliced fresh mushrooms
Mozzarella cheese grated
Chopped pancetta or ham

Marinated artichokes
Pickled pepperoncini peppers
Drained capers
Pesto sauce
Goat cheese
Sundries tomatoes

Sliced tomatoes
Bocconcini cheese
Fresh basil
Roasted red peppers
Pitted Kalamata olives
Olive oil

Passata tomato sauce
Broccoli florets
Fresh spinach leaves
Minced garlic
Sliced zucchini
Feta cheese

Small can tuna drained
Chopped celery
Aged cheddar cheese
Fresh dill

You could have a party, double or triple dough recipe and put out variety of toppings and let people make there own.

20131004-233057.jpg

20131004-233137.jpg

20131004-233202.jpg

20131024-225300.jpg