Monday, 10 January 2011

H is for... Harissa marinated Haloumi with herby flat bread

H was all about hearty fare and the "nibbles" with drinks were no exception. I love the aromatic heat of harissa, so knew from the get-go that H couldn't go ahead without its inclusion somewhere. Marinating cubes of Haloumi in it worked a treat and the herby flatbread was an ideal scoop. If you have a food processor, harissa is a doddle to make, especially if you buy a jar of ready roasted red peppers. Richard was given the task of making the harissa and he vaguely followed a recipe he found on the BBC Food website by Sam and Sam Clark, which included a wonderful tip on how to deseed chillies - simply remove their tops, slice them in half and use a teaspoon to scrape the seeds and pith away.

Herby flatbread

1/2 tsp dried yeast
250 ml warm water
500 g plain flour
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
A large mixed bunch of tarragon, thyme, rosemary, chives and parsley (or any herbs you like), chopped.
Sea salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Place the flour and herbs in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Gradually pour in the oil and the yeast-water and stir slowly with your hand, bringing the flour into the middle until it all comes together to form a dough. Knead until the dough is elastic and smooth, shape into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl. Cover the top with clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour or two in a warm, dry place (the airing cupboard, if you have one, is perfect). Divide the dough into 8 and roll each piece to a thickness of 1/2 cm or less. Sprinkle with salt and lay them on a hot griddle for 2-3 minutes each side.

Harissa marinated Haloumi

8 oz/ 200 g fresh red chillies
3 heaped tsp caraway seeds, ground
3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp black cumin seeds, ground
4 cloves of garlic
4 oz/ 100 g piquillo peppers or roasted and peeled red bell pepper
2 tsp tomato puree
2 tsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika
Sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 packet of Haloumi, cubed or sliced

Deseed the chillies (see tip above) and blend in a food processor with a generous pinch of salt, half of each of the spices (except for the paprika) and the garlic, until smooth. Add the peppers, the rest of the spices (except for the paprika), the tomato puree and vinegar and blend again until very smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the olive oil. Sprinkle the paprika on top and stir in. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Cover the cubes of Haloumi in the harissa paste and leave to marinate for at least half an hour. Then simply fry off the cheese, with any extra paste, in a dry non stick frying pan until it begins to melt and slightly brown. Serve alongside the herby flatbread.

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