Spicy Halloumi Fries

This is a really quick recipe for Cajun spiced halloumi fries.  Crunchy on the outside, but soft and slightly melting on the inside, they are rather moreish and should probably come with a warning.

Halloumi Fries

I don’t have a deep fat fryer, these are shallow fried in batches and then finished off in the oven so they are all ready at the same time.

Halloumi Fries3

I bought some halloumi with chilli in as we like things hot and I served the fries with a spicy salsa too, but plain halloumi, served with yoghurt is a milder alternative.

Ingredients:
2 packs of halloumi cheese – I used halloumi with chilli
3tbs plain/all-purpose flour
1-2tbs Cajun seasoning
2-3tbs sunflower oil for frying
Handful of coriander
1-2 chillies, thinly sliced
Salsa for serving

Halloumi Fries2

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F and line a baking sheet with foil.

Mix the flour and Cajun seasoning together in a dish.

Slice the halloumi lengthways then again down the middle to cut them into fries and turn in the seasoned flour. Tap off any excess coating back into the dish.

Heat the oil and fry the cheese for 2-3 minutes, turning until each side is crisp and golden.  Place on the lined baking sheet and continue until all the fries are ready.

Bake for 5-7 minutes in the hot oven while you chop the coriander and slice the chillies.  They are ready when they are sizzling, piping hot and crisp.  Place onto paper towels to absorb any excess oil before sprinkling over the chopped herbs and chilli.

Halloumi Fries1

Serve immediately with spicy salsa for dipping and enjoy with drinks

Prawn and Avocado Vol-au-vents

Return of the Prawn vol au vent

prawn plate

The family Christmas party.  My earliest memories are of family Christmas parties – one on Christmas Eve and one on New Year’s day.  This consisted of my parents, maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles taking it in turns to hold the party.  The New Year’s day party sadly got discontinued (something to do with people feeling delicate and not in the mood), but the Christmas Eve one still goes on to this day.

My beloved grandmother who left us several years ago now, was famous, or rather infamous, for her 70s style prawn vol au vents.  Frozen cases filled with defrosted prawns and smothered with a lethal dose of Thousand Island dressing that came out of a bottle. Every year she made them and every year they were left on the buffet table. I used to feel sad for those sad rejects of Christmas.

Long after my grandparents stopped holding the annual parties, I used to wonder why no one ever ate them. She didn’t eat them herself as she suffered from Coeliac disease and couldn’t tolerate gluten.  I decided it was high time to reinvent the prawn vol au vent and make one that people would eat.  What’s not to like – crisp puff pastry, juicy prawns and maybe a bit less of the bottled thousand-island dressing.

When I thought about what to put in the pastry case, my thoughts turned to fresh prawn salads I have enjoyed and I don’t mind a nice 70s prawn cocktail either.  I was thinking dill, lemon and avocado.  These are more summery ingredients, but could still hold their own on a Christmas buffet table I think.

I’ve made my own cases here with store bought puff pastry, but you could easily do this with ready made cases, found in the depths of the freezers in the supermarket.  Another option is to make a larger one would be perfect served as an appetiser or lunch dish served with salad leaves.

Other optional extras could be to add skinned and de-seeded tomatoes, cut into tiny dice, but for my small bite sized ones here, I have kept it simple with prawns and avocados.

prawn closeup

Ingredients:
2 packs of ready rolled, all butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen, but kept fully chilled
450g/15oz cold water prawns/shrimp
2 ripe avocados
Juice of half a lemon
1 egg yolk and a little milk to make an egg wash
6 king prawns with tails left on to adorn the top (optional)

Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 tbs prepared horseradish
Juice and zest of the other half of the lemon
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of hot sauce (Optional)
Small bunch of dill, reserving some for garnish
Paprika (Optional)

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F

Place one sheet of the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and egg wash the top.

Place the other one directly over the top and cut out your pastry cases, they can be round, square, heart shaped, whatever you like.  Then with a slightly smaller cutter, press into the top layer of the pastry, taking care not to cut into the base layer.

Brush the cases with egg wash

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown and leave on a cooling rack to completely cool.

Whisk the dressing ingredients, except for the paprika together in a small bowl.

Scoop the flesh from the avocados and cut into dice, toss with the lemon juice in a bowl. Then add the prawns.

Spoon on enough dressing to moisten, but not swamp the prawns and gently turn to coat.  Fill the cases with the mixture and garnish with sprinkle of paprika and a little dill.  If you are making the larger version and really want to go all out, then top with a king prawn as well and be proud to bring back the prawn vol au vent!

Prawn closeup2

Goats Cheese, Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

I saw these mini peppers at the market and thought they are just asking to be stuffed with something delicious!

I love goats cheese and knew I had some spinach in the freezer, so decided to make a creamy goats cheese and spinach filling and add in some smoked bacon too. The end result was super delicious and just the thing to eat with drinks as it was SO hot over the weekend.

Stuffed peppers

Ingredients:
1 punnet (around 300g) of mini mixed peppers
1 100g pack of French Chevre, or any other goats cheese
100g of full fat cream cheese
100g of frozen spinach, thawed and all the water squeezed out
200g of smoked streaky bacon
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Pre heat the oven to 200°C/400°F

Place the bacon on a foil lined backing tray and cook in the oven until cooked through and crisp, leave to cool before snipping into small pieces.

While the bacon is cooking, slice the peppers lengthways, remove any seeds and membranes and place in a oven proof dish.

Mix together the cheeses and spinach with a few grinds of black pepper. Stir in the bacon. I don’t add any extra salt as the cheese and bacon both contain salt.

Using a spoon, fill the pepper halves with the cheese mixture and bake for around 20 minutes until the tops are just staring to catch.

These are delicious served at room temperature with drinks on a hot day, but equally as enjoyable, served warm with red wine on a cold day.

Pepper closeup