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Halloumi...Finally!

Yes, finally!  For some reason that is beyond my grasp, I have been unable to find Halloumi at any markets in my area. It's not that I hadn't ever tried Halloumi...as a cheese aficionado {ahem} I have ordered it at restaurants...Greek ones...hello Saganaki (flaming, oozing deliciousness)...YUM...I just haven't found it in the "raw" to bring home to experiment with.  I mean, how long can a girl be expected to drool over samples, recipes, pictures and descriptions of tempting, fried, chewy cheese before losing her marbles?  I reached my breaking point. I would just have to go and make some myself. TAKE THAT ELUSIVE CHEESE.  Ha!  With a little determination and a lot of support from my fellow Forgers...it wasn't so hard.  Honest.   

What exactly is Halloumi you ask?  You asked.  It's a white, sort of dry, sort of chewy, sort of salty cheese with a very high melting point.  Hence, great for frying, grilling and setting a-flame.  When you fry it and subsequently eat it...it squeaks between your teeth.  Something I find quite pleasant.  Traditionally it's made using sheep's &/or goat's milk...but it can be made using cow's milk (which I did)...the flavor will be a bit milder, though.  If it lasts long enough...it's usually stored in a salt-water brine or the whey from making the cheese.  I think this helps to keep some semblance of moisture in the cheese and keeps it salty.

I used this (slightly adapted)** recipe from Making Artisan Cheese by Tim Smith:

Halloumi
I halved the recipe because I didn't have a big enough pot!
2 gallons whole milk
1/4 tsp mesophilic direct-set culture
1/8 tsp calcium chloride- diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
1/2 tsp liquid rennet (or 1/4 tab dry rennet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
1/2 cup cheese salt not sure what cheese salt is...used kosher salt
Brine solution*
1 tsp dried mint, re hydrated in 1/2 cup boiling water  I omitted as I couldn't find any mint yet!

Heat the milk in a double boiler to 86F (31C), then add the starter culture and blend for two minutes. I used a slow-cooker.

Maintaining the target temperature of 86F, add the rennet & calcium chloride, stir for one minute, and let rest for forty minutes, or until a clean break. To test for a clean break, use a curd knife to make one cut through the curds.

Cut curds into 1/2" (about 1cm) cubes, trying to keep them as uniform as possible.
Slowly heat curds to 104F (40C); this should take forty-five minutes. Continually stir the curds to keep them from matting. Once the curds reach target temperature, maintain the curds at that temperature for an additional twenty minutes while continuing to stir.

Drain the whey off curds into a cheese cloth-lined colander that is set in a catch bowl. Reserve the whey.

Blend mint into the drained curds with a spoon if using. Pour the curds into a 2-pound (900g) cheese cloth-lined mould. Fold a corner of the cheese cloth over the curds, and press at thirty pounds for one hour. Remove the cheese from the mould, and unwrap the cheese cloth. Turn over the cheese, and re wrap it with the cheese cloth. Press at forty pounds for one hour. The cheese should be firm with a spongy consistency. I used circular dumbbell weights wrapped in foil.  Perfect!

Heat the reserved whey in a pan to 190F (88C). Take the cheese out of the mold, and cut it into 2" (5cm) thick strips. Put the strips into the heated whey, maintaining the target temperature for one hour.

The cheese should have a thick consistency. Drain it into the cheese cloth-lined colander, and let it rest at room temperature for twenty minutes.  Store in brine solution or the whey used for cooking with salt added to that.

Coat the cheese with 1/2 cup (145g) of cheese salt ?, and let it rest for two hours at room temperature.

Yield - 2 pounds (900g)

Notes:
Leave milk out of fridge for a couple of hours before starting the cheese-making.

Brine Solution
A brine is a supersaturated solution of salt and water, in which cheeses are literally bathed. (Brine solution consists of 2 pounds (905g) of salt stirred into and dissolved in 1 gallon (4.5 l) of water, heated to 190F (88C).  Brining occurs directly after a cheese is removed from the press. The cheese is literally dunked into this salty bath. Once in a the brine, the cheese begins to absorb salt, and the proteins begin to harden and form the rind.

**by Natashya & myself as we made it as we noticed some things were left out of the actually recipe as we went along.  But it worked!

Mine ended up a little lop-sided, but that's because of my crude colander "mold".  I didn't have a large enough cheese mold, so I used a colander...but that darn handle tilts it on the side of the bowl, so my weights pressed it unevenly.  No harm, though...tasted the same ;)

As I mentioned...I fried up this Halloumi like it was going out of style!  Tell me you wouldn't love to try this tasty mess.  No, don't tell me.  It would make me sad.  For you. 

Halloumi w/ Chilli
from Nigella Bites
2 Tbs. chopped, seeded fresh red chilli I used green jalapeños, as it's all I had and I like to call it chile.  As opposed to chilli.  Just sayin'.
2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil I refuse to call it EVOO
18 oz. Halloumi, sliced medium-thin I had already sliced it as per my Halloumi recipe, so...  and I didn't measure. Such a rebel.
juice of 1/4 lemon

Mix the chopped chile & olive oil in a bowl or cup and leave the flavors to deepen while you cook the cheese. 
Using a nonstick frying pan I used my well-seasoned cast-iron comal without any oil, fry up about 2 minutes a side or until golden brown in parts.
When all the slices are cooked, transfer them to a couple of small plates.  Give the oil a stir and spoon it over the cheese, then give a spritz of lemon.  That's all there is to it.  That's all there needs to be.



If you made Halloumi this month...or must do it now that you've seen just how easy it really is...join us over at Forging Fromage with your link by May 14...we'd love to forge with you!

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