Friday, 20 June 2008
Okay, okay, maybe a few of you (Jeanne, Kalyn, Val…) have.
Not too long ago, one of my sisters was in town for business meetings and stayed an extra night so we could dine together. When she arrived at our house, it was just in time to go to the weekly market that has just begun taking place in a park a couple of blocks away. I wanted to pick up cheese for dessert at the terrific cheese stall run by the Monforte Dairy Company Ltd.
The Monforte Dairy makes the most wonderful cheese. One of the things I really like about the stall is that they encourage people to taste the cheese. As a result of our tastings, my sister and I bought a beautiful sheep’s milk cheese with rosemary on the outside and a goat’s milk cheese that had been washed with wine as it aged.
Also on the stall table (not for pre-tasting) was a wedge of halloumi. I squealed with delight and said we’d always wanted to try halloumi. My brilliant sister picked up a wedge and said, “Perfect! I’ll get this as a present for you.”
I really should have taken a photo of the cheese before we fried it. It was beautiful, with a thin grey line (ash??) running through the center of the cheese. As lovely as it was uncooked, how much more beautiful it is when it is glistening and golden!
(click on image for larger view and more photos)
edit 23 June 2008: I just came back from the weekly farmers’ market. It turns out that the thin line running through the center of the Halloumi is a small amount of chopped mint. And, yes; of course, I bought more Halloumi….
Halloumi retains its shape after being fried. It is relatively high in fat and requires zero oil in the pan. Cut it into rectangles and fry on both sides at medium heat in a cast iron pan til the cheese is golden.
It’s delicious hot out of the frying pan on its own or garnished with fresh herbs. Any leftovers (if by a miracle, there are any leftovers) are equally good cold the next day.
Yes, indeed, halloumi is fabulous! Thank you, thank you, thank you, C!!
More About Halloumi
For the recent issue of SAVEUR magazine (no.111), William Ways Weaver wrote a wonderful article about Cyprus, entitled “Bold Flavors, Ancient Roots”. Here is what he wrote about halloumi:
Salty halloúmi cheese, produced in Cyprus for centuries, is traditionally made from goats’ and sheep’s milk; a poaching in its own whey once the cheese curds have set gives halloúmi a distinctive springy texture that stands up well to grilling and frying.
Read even more about Halloumi:
Here are but a few of the times that we have been reminded about halloumi. (Remind me to pay better attention next time!):
- Cook Sister!: Char-grilled asparagus, courgette and haloumi salad – I’m in love!
- Kalyn’s Kitchen: Leftover Tofu, Halloumi, and Tomato Salad Recipe; Grilled Halloumi Salad Recipe with Chicken, Mini-Peppers, and Lemon
- More Than Burnt Toast: Fried Halloumi Cheese with Lemon & Caper Vinaigrette
- Vicious Ange: Sizzled Haloumi with sundried tomatoes & home made pesto
- 101 Cookbooks: What to do with Halloumi Cheese
- Globe and Mail: Monforte halloumi cheese: It squeaks but won’t melt in the heat (Aha! there is a suggestion to garnish the grilled cheese with chopped mint leaves. WHAT a good idea!)
Shortly before my sister gave us our wedge of halloumi, I had dinner in a restaurant in Greektown. As an appetizer, we got flaming Saganaki (the cheese must have been halloumi!) – the cheese came sizzling on a hot grill. Just before the dish was put down, the waitress poured on ouzo(??) and flambéed the cheese. And yes, she did cry out, “Opa!” as the cheese was flaming. We ate the cheese with a pita that had been cut into triangles. It was sublimely delicious.
But truthfully, the fried halloumi we had without any flambéing was just as delicious. The cheese takes on a wonderful buttery flavour. Mmmmm, I love halloumi!! Is it Monday yet? I hope the Montforte Dairy people bring plenty of halloumi to their stall.
Next time we get halloumi, I think we neeeed to grill it on the barbecue. Maybe with some Ontario asparagus that is at its peak right now.
Sweet Marjoram (Majorana hortensis OR Origanum majorana)
I adore the perfumed flavour of sweet marjoram (aka marjoram, knotted marjoram) – sort of like a cross between oregano and lavender. Marjoram is especially good with cheese. (I always try to add it to the ricotta stuffing for our manicotti.)
Sweet marjoram looks very similar to oregano and is, in fact, a cousin. Some people say that marjoram and oregano are interchangable. Apparently, oregano (Origanum vulgare) is sometimes called “wild marjoram”. And while oregano is wonderful, I maintain that the two are markedly different. But marjoram’s flavour is sweeter and milder than oregano’s and lends itself to being eaten fresh off the stock. (The only times that I consider eating fresh oregano leaves off the stock is if the oregano has been growing indoors.)
Marjoram (in the mint family) is a perennial herb in the Mediterranean. But here in Toronto, it is not winter hardy and has to be treated as an annual. It grows prolifically in pretty much any soil and even though it prefers full sun, will grow in partial shade as well.
Please read more about marjoram and oregano:
- Previous WHB posts featuring oregano:
* Red Snapper and Greek Potatoes (WHB#130: oregano)
* stuffed mushrooms (WHB#109: oregano)
* wikipedia – oregano
* wikipedia – marjoram
- Plants For a Future (PFAF):
* PFAF – Origanum vulgare
* PFAF – Origanum majorana
- Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages (GKSP):
* GKSP – oregano
* GKSP – marjoram
- Cook’s Thesaurus (CT):
* CT – oregano
* CT – marjoram
WHB is on the road again and this week’s host is Joanna (Joanna’s Food). The deadline for entering WHB#138 is Sunday 22 June 2008 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following: