Spiced halloumi tacos

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Tacos and all things Mexican seem to be having a bit of a moment but they are often meat laden parcels of goodness however sometimes a lighter take on a recipe is much needed so this is where the halloumi taco recipe comes in. Halloumi is one of my favourite cheeses so I’ll use any opportunity to use it in my cooking, Not only is it versatile but is takes on flavour well, so marinade it ahead of time for maximum effect. I served the tacos with a cooling fresh salsa and a warm red pepper and chilli sauce which you can make more of and then use later in the week or freeze for another time. I used smoked chipotle morita chillies but feel free to experiment with different varieties of Mexican chillies to see what you prefer. If using dried chillies then remember to soak them in water in advance before using.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the sauce
3 red peppers
Chipotle chilli
1 small red onion
3 garlic cloves
Seasoning

For the salsa
2 small avocados
1 small red onion
Handful of baby plum or plum tomatoes
Lime
Fresh coriander
Seasoning

For the rest
2 blocks of halloumi
1/2 tbsp each of ground cumin, coriander and smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
Soft tacos

1. Start by preheating the oven to 220c/ 200 fan. Lightly brush the red peppers with a little oil and place on a baking tray or rack. Cook until lightly charred and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Carefully peel the skin and roughly chop the flesh. In a small pan, add a little glug of oil and fry the onion and garlic. Place the peppers and onion mixture into a food processor along with the chilli and whizz into a sauce. Season to taste and set aside.

2. Next you can sort out the halloumi. Simply cut each block into thick finger shapes so they hold together when fried. Combine the ground cumin, coriander and paprika with the oil and toss well to coat the halloumi.

3. For the fresh salsa, simply chop the avocado, onion and tomatoes. Combine and season well. Add a squeeze of lime juice to taste and the fresh coriander. Set aside.

4. Take a non- stick frying pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium heat. When hot, add the halloumi fingers and turn during cooking so each side is golden. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Then it is all a matter of assembly! Warm the tacos and arrange them on a serving platter along with the halloumi, salsa and roasted pepper sauce so everyone can help themselves. Serve with some freshly sliced jalapeno chilli and lettuce leaves if you like with a little soured cream on the side.

Halloumi tacos- a lighter take on a Mexican classic!

 

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Kale, spinach and cheese filo pie

If you think of a filo pie, it is likely that you think of those belonging to Greek cuisine. Well this is my take on the traditional spanakopita! Spanakopita usually includes spinach and feta but I have given it a twist to include kale and halloumi as well to make it even more scrumptious. I have used readymade filo pastry to make this even quicker and easier to make and to serve four people a pie tin which is 22cm in diameter is perfect. The pie also keeps well in the fridge for a day or two and the leftovers are great for a simple lunch.

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Ingredients- serves 4
1 pack of ready made filo pastry
Glug of vegetable oil
4 spring onions- chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
200g kale- washed and roughly chopped
200g spinach- washed
1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh dill)
100g feta
100g halloumi- grated
1 egg- beaten
Pepper
60g unsalted butter

1. Start by preheating the oven to 200c/ 180 fan or according to the instructions on the pastry packet as it can differ from brand to brand. Make the pie filling by wilting the spinach- you can do this by pouring a kettle of hot water over it into a colander before then squeezing out the excess water; set aside. Take a large frying pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and spring onions and cook for a minute before adding the kale; cook until the kale is wilted and keep it moving so the garlic and onion does not catch. For the last minute or two of cooking, add in the drained spinach and dill. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2. When the filling is cool enough, crumble through the feta and grated halloumi. Beat one egg and stir through the spinach mixture and season with pepper. You should not need to use extra salt as the feta and halloumi will provide this seasoning for you.

3. Now to assemble the pie! Gently melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and dig out a pastry brush from the depths of your kitchen drawer! Brush a light coating of melted butter in the empty pie tin before adding a sheet of filo. Filo is delicate so be careful when lining the tin. Brush the filo with more butter before adding the next sheet. Line the tin so each sheet of filo is put in at a different angle. Repeat so you have about 5 layers of filo on the base of the tin before adding the cooled pie filling. Make sure it is evenly distributed and press lightly with a back of a spoon to flatten.

4. Gather the edges of the filo sheets and fold in the centre of the pie tin. Brush with more butter. I then took a couple of extra sheets and ripped and scrunches them up and popped them on top of the pie before, you guessed it, brushing with more butter. To stop the filo from curling lightly sprinkle it with water before baking in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and hot. Serve with a simple side salad, sautéed potatoes or a liberal helping of cooling tzatsiki.

Kale, spinach and cheese filo pie- my take on spanakopita which is fit for a king!

 

Summertime courgette, feta and mint tart

Courgette is now in season so make the most of it with this courgette, feta and mint tart recipe. To make this as flavourful yet light as possible I also used a little added halloumi alongside the feta but you could always use extra feta if you prefer.

This will make two 12 inch tarts or one larger one so get your apron on and get cooking! To make this as simple as possible I used readymade shortcrust pastry to save time but feel free to make your own if you fancy.

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Ingredients
Pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
4 large eggs
100g feta
30g halloumi
1 large courgette or 2 medium
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200c/ 180 fan; do check the instructions on the pack of pastry you have bought in case the temperatures are slightly different but this is a rough guide. Line your tart tin (or tins if making two smaller ones) and blind bake for 10 minutes. You can do this by placing a layer of baking parchment on top of the pastry and adding baking beans, dried beans such as kidney beans or rice to hold it down. You really do need to blind bake otherwise the base of the tart will be soggy and unappetising. After the ten minutes, I then removed the lining and baked for a further 5 minutes to make sure that the base cooks well.

2. Whilst that is in the oven, crack the eggs into a bowl and lightly beat; emphasis on lightly! Add in the cheese, mint and seasoning. Now comes the star of the show: the courgette. I finely sliced two thirds of the courgette and added this to the egg mixture. I then sliced the remaining courgette so this could be layered across the top of the tart when it’s assembled but you could add it all through the egg if you prefer. You could also sprinkle an extra bit of feta or halloumi over.

3. Fill each tart tin with the egg mixture and cook for around 15 minutes until the egg has set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving- nobody wants to burn their mouths on scalding egg! Serve with a salad and dig in!

Courgette, feta and mint tart- a celebration of summertime!