Food. Travel. Recipes.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Party Food! Halloumi Cheese - 2 ways

I've been wanting to write about certain party food recipes for quite a while and I thought I would stick one in before New Year's Eve. Perhaps wanting to post about all of the party snacks I've made before NYE was a little ambitious, but I get so excited cooking for friends and I enjoy writing about it too. However, the other posts will have to wait for next week! For now, I want to share with you the following recipes which are two simple recipes to make the amazingly moreish Halloumi cheese even more moreish! They are both taken from Nigella Lawson's cookery book Nigella Express. Her books are becoming a permanent fixture in my cooking and blogging, I love her creativity in recipes and the exciting ingredients she uses. The following recipes really bring to life this salty delicious cheese. It is wonderful when you simply grill it, but these recipes give it another life, completely different tastes and flavours!

Halloumi Bites (yum, yum)

This recipes turns the Halloumi super juicy and flavoursome.


80ml garlic oil (or a crushed garlic clove works well)
1 x 15ml lime juice
3 x 15ml tablespoons chopped parsley
Generous sprinkle of black pepper
3 x 250g blocks halloumi cheese (You must buy the full fat version, the low fat one is just plain shoddy in comparison!) (You will have to drain the Halloumi and chopped into cubes, or whichever shapes you like but small cubes or thin long slices are best)

Combine the oil, lime juice, pepper and parsley into a small jug.

Heat a heavy based non-stick frying pan and quickly fry the Halloumi on its own, no oil or anything.

Once fried, browned and lovely looking, turn down to simmer and pour the mixture over the Halloumi (this is slightly different to Nigella's direction but it is what I prefer). Coat well. Then decant to a bowl.

Halloumi grilled with flame roasted peppers

Grilling the cheese makes it crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the peppers give it a lovely vinegary taste as well. My favourite Halloumi recipe.


1 x 250g block Halloumi cheese. (Again, cut into small cubes or long slices)
1 x 220g jar flame roasted peppers (very easy to get hold of in supermarkets) (Sliced)
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Line a baking tin with baking parchment. Place the chopped Halloumi in the tin along with the sliced tinned peppers.

Drizzle the garlic oil over.

Cook for 15-20 minutes. The cheese should have browned by this point and will be ready to serve.

Enjoy the Halloumi and also enjoy people's reactions to how damn delicious this cheese is!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

What I've been loving this Christmas...

My blogging has been awful during this month and I had so much planned to write about! I had a list of food that I've made going as far back as a month or more to blog! It just seems that this whole month has been completely manic, not really managing to have a rest and then when I was relaxing, I didn't feel like writing a post. However, I am still planning to cover a lot of what I've cooked this week before New Years, especially party food recipes as it seems more appropriate to cover around this time. Then when New Year hits, I plan to post about some slightly healthier meals!

I thought as Christmas has just passed, I would share with anyone who is interested a few things I have been loving this month and some things that have really got me into a Christmassy festive spirit!

We have a lovely (fake) tree that I helped to decorate. I really love the decorations we have and like that they are mostly ornamental style and larger baubles. I think it makes the tree look kind of stylish! The rest of the decorations in the house I can't take credit for, that's my mum's interior style touch! She loves buying decorations and there always seems to be a place for everything, so many corners of our house are filled with festive objects!

Something else that has made me feel Christmassy are festive candles! I love candles all year round and have a few in my room however at Christmas all these new fragrances come out and make everywhere smell like it's been infused with a large dose of vanilla, cinnamon, spice and almonds.

I also have to mention my Mum's table setting for Christmas day, it was so fun, a mismatch of different Christmassy prints and colours that in my opinion, looked pretty damn stylish!

I also have been loving Christmas style cakes. Both of which are shown below and are not ones that I have made! The first is my Mum's try at Nigella's spruced up vanilla cake, and it came out unbelievably well. It does have a mould but it is still something that looks tricky and so Christmassy! The second is a gingerbread house made by one of my work colleagues. He made it for a party he had at his house and I didn't go, however he sent me a picture of this creation and I was properly bowled over by how good it was! I did persistently ask him to bring it into work as I wanted to see it in real life! He eventually he did and unfortunately it was pretty much devoured and destroyed by everyone (including me...), but even after a week, it tasted lovely and looked like a work of art!

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

My Mum's adapted Christmas cranberry rice!

I have neglected blogging for a couple of weeks now and this was when I wanted to go Christmas mad! I have so many recipes and meals that I have made the past few weeks but really haven't had the energy to post and today of all days, when I'm tired and full of cold, I've decided to post. It's only a week until Christmas and I'm so excited (I was excited mid September...) and the best part about Christmas for me (apart from being with family, friends etc...) is food! There's nothing better than eating your body weight in chocolate, turkey, roast potatoes, delicious puddings and bread sauce!

I've decided to start with this recipe as it is such an amazing Christmassy recipe. The cranberries give it a lovely sweetness whilst the parsley and onions make it taste like stuffing! It's a great accompaniment to some leftover turkey on Boxing Day. This recipe is my Mum's adaptation of a Nigella Lawson stuffing recipe in the cookery book Feast. It originally contained dried sour cherries but my Mum put cranberries in the recipe instead and it turned into a wonderful Christmassy side dish!

Serves 4


60g butter
2 onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
200g basmati rice (or enough for how many you are cooking for)
80g dried cranberries
500ml water
4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a wide saucepan. Add the finely sliced garlic and onions to the melted butter and fry gently until the onions brown.

Add the rice and dried cranberries and stir well so the rice is coated in the buttery mixture.

Add the water and a sprinkling of salt and bring to the boil. Pop the lid on and cook at a very low heat for 15 minutes.

The rice will be cooked when the water has all been more or less absorbed. Then add the parsley and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Ta-da! Enjoy this Christmassy cranberry rice with some nice roast chicken or turkey!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tuscan sea salt bread with rosemary and extra virgin olive oil (Gino D'Acampo)

So, this is the last non Christmassy post I'll do, the rest of December I plan to dedicate my posts to the magical holiday season! So everything will be Christmassy, party centred, chocolatey and altogether festive! For now however , I hope you enjoy this Tuscan style sea salt bread with rosemary recipe!

I did make this flat bread style recipe quite a while ago but I made it as an accompaniment to my previous post of homemade pesto with sun dried tomato and parma ham wrapped chicken. However, I wanted to do it as a separate post as I don't like to bombard people with too much in one post! (Cue this post now being super long!)

This recipe really surprised me. I've only ever tried making my own bread once, which was a relatively easy Nigel Slater recipe. I've never tried flat style bread or any other bread recipes (apart from banana bread ... if that counts!) This is taken from Gino D'Acampo's Fantastico cookery book, a book that I've been using a ridiculous amount and one which I have shared a LOT on here. I absolutely adore his style of cooking, it's fresh, simple and not too difficult despite some recipes perhaps looking like they are harder than they actually are.

The only downside to this recipe is it is quite time consuming (I did knead the bread for a whole 10 minutes, which is slightly insane but I wanted to put the time and effort in so it turned out well as I'm usually so quick and slapdash!), there's lots of waiting, kneading and different stages so I would only recommend trying this if you have a couple of hours spare (yes a couple of hours!) but it was worth it as it was delicious!

Serves 4-6 people as an accompaniment to a main course.


450g strong plain white flour
1 teaspoon fast-action dried yeast
130ml extra virgin Olive oil, plus extra for greasing
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, stripped from stalks (and I know I can be lazy and revert to dried herbs sometimes, but you really must use fresh rosemary here!)
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Firstly, mix together the flour and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in 300ml of warm water with 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Mix well to make a soft dough.

Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface. Now here is the first mega time consuming part but also the part that'll make your bread amazing! Knead for 10 minutes! If you're like me and can't seem to stand still for 10 minutes, call someone and get them on speakerphone or play some music really loudly and sing along. So it's less like you're actually standing there kneading bread! You will really notice the different after the 10 minutes, the bread becomes so much smoother and easier to handle.

Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour until it has doubled in size.

Once it has grown, turn onto a floured surface and knead the dough for a couple of minutes, then roll into a large rectangle, around 2cm thick. I did it so it would cover a large rectangular baking tray.

Transfer the dough onto an oiled baking tray. (I just poured a bit of olive oil over the tray and moved it about so the oil covered the surface) Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise (AGAIN!) for about 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Remove the cling film and prick the risen dough with a fork so it has a nice look about it and has some breathing holes! Brush the dough with half of the remaining oil, sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until it looks gorgeous, golden and brown. Remove from the baking tray and transfer to a wire rack. As it cools, brush with the remaining oil to soften the crust.

Serve with a yummy Italian style dinner for friends!