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Friday, 20 June 2008

More Halloumi please… (WHB#138: marjoram)

Filed under: crossblogging,food & drink,side,starter,WHB — ejm @ 13:51 EST

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchensummary: fried halloumi garnished with fresh marjoram and basil; rave about Monforte Dairy at the weekly farmers’ market; information about marjoram and oregano

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB)#138
Sweet Marjoram (Majorana hortensis)

halloumi Why didn’t anyone tell me about Halloumi before?!

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

To fry 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!):

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. :-D

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB#138)
Sweet Marjoram (Majorana hortensis OR Origanum majorana)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchenMarjoram (Majorana hortensis) 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:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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:

 

This past week we got an absolutely stellar “camembert” from the Monforte Dairy stall – the cheese was just starting to puddle and oozed like rich Hollandaise over the plate as we cut it, forcing us to use our bread to wipe it up to make sure we got every delicious bit.

 

 

  1. Comment by Kalyn — 20 June 2008 @ 15:34 EST

    Isn’t it the most delicious thing ever! I am really loving it. And I have marjoram in my garden too!

    BTW, the Halloumi I have says 8 gr. fat in 1 oz., which isn’t as much as I expected.

  2. Comment by katie — 22 June 2008 @ 06:33 EST

    I, also, have never tried halloumi… And probably won’t as long as I live in France. The French cheese shops are not big on ‘imports’.
    Maybe next time I’m in the US. Warm, melting cheese has got to be good!
    As to the marjoram – I just gave mine a ‘haircut’ yesterday. It was about 2 feet high…. Now, it can grow back for another lovely crop before I let the bees have the blossoms!

  3. Comment by ejm — 22 June 2008 @ 09:24 EST

    I wonder if you might be able to get haloumi in France anyway, Katie. I believe it is a cheese that is served often in Morocco and Algeria – aren’t there a lot of North African immigrants in France? (Or have they mostly settled in the south?) At any rate, if there is a Moroccan restaurant in your area, you could ask them where they get their halloumi (internet search says it’s also called “hellim cheese”) – that is if they don’t make it in the restaurant…. But it’s not as if there isn’t a lot of sheep’s and goats’ milk floating around in France just waiting to be made into halloumi! :-) :-)

    Aha, that’s interesting about the fat content, Kalyn. Let’s see now… 28gm in an ounce; 8gm of fat in 28gm is… (getting out my calculator) 28% fat. That’s not much higher than the mozzarella we buy… I’ll try to remember to ask about the fat content of the halloumi at the cheese stall tomorrow.

    This is interesting (from “gourmetretailer.com – 2005 Personnel Trainer: Brie Cheese”) :

    This is a misconception about the fat in soft-ripened cheeses. The fat percentage listed on a cheese is based on the amount of solids, not the entire weight, a big difference because the softer and fresher a cheese is, the higher the water content, and therefore, the lower the fat content. Brie with up to 50-percent water content is actually lower in fat and calories per ounce than Cheddar or other hard cheeses.

    And further wandering around on the internet reveals (www.weightlossresources.co.uk/calories-in-food/cheese.htm):

    Halloumi Cheese: 19.7% fat
    Brie Soft Cheese: 24% fat
    Canadian Cheddar Cheese: 34.3 fat

    Of course, these percentages are a little suspect. After all, it all depends on who has made the cheese and if they used whole milk or cream or double cream. Still, it’s a guideline.

  4. Comment by Bellini Valli — 22 June 2008 @ 19:35 EST

    Hey Elizabeth. I am so glad you finally had a chance to try halloumi. I also love it barbequed on the grill. If you have a chance also check out my blog sister Ivy at Kopiaste (you will find her on my sidebar) she made her own Halloumi…which I haven’t gotten around to making yet.She is from Cyprus :D

  5. Comment by Joanna — 23 June 2008 @ 04:24 EST

    I’ve only tried halloumi once, and I didn’t much like it, but I’m going to try it again, with some of the oregano from my garden

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Joanna

    Thank YOU for hosting WHB, Joanna! -Elizabeth

  6. Comment by Jude — 29 June 2008 @ 15:52 EST

    halloumi really is good stuff. Such an informative post full of information :)

  7. Comment by Kevin — 21 July 2008 @ 20:58 EST

    That fried halloumi looks so good!

  8. Comment by Jeanne — 4 August 2008 @ 12:56 EST

    I was just going to draw myself up to my full height and remind you haughtily that I HAVE told you abotu haloumi… but then you took the wind out of my sails ;-) Isn’t it fantastic? It’s ma favourite lazy starter when we have guests – fried haloumi on rocket with red onion chutney :)

    With rocket and red onion chutney…. mmm, what a great idea! Although, I have to say that just plain with fresh marjoram is also pretty spectacular and it’s even easier. (I do love the idea of the red onion chutney though.) -Elizabeth

  9. Comment by Piedro Molinero — 30 October 2008 @ 03:57 EST

    I think there is no better cheese than Halloumi. I like it fried and put into a pita bread together with tomatoes, onions and salad or whatever vegetables you like. It is just yummy and makes a fast but delicious lunch.

 

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