And so I have returned to the land of bikes and wind and sea and pastry.
This weekend was spent getting back into the swing of things and back onto the Danish clock on Bornholm, the island where my husband’s family has a seaside cottage. It’s a pretty idyllic place where days are spent in a blur of eating, reading, napping, and perhaps a walk if we’re feeling ambitious. Naturally this kind of dreaminess leads me to the “kitchen” (the beach) where I have a spectacular view of the ocean, salty sea air in my lungs, and a roaring fire to cook over. While my man is usually preparing something of the pork persuasion for himself, I get to play with the grill veggie-style. Or in this case, fruit-and-cheese style.
I first discovered halloumi last autumn while I was in London. It seemed to be absolutely everywhere – from the uber-fancy restaurants, to the cheap and cheerful take-out shops. What was this mysterious halloumi and why was it donning every menu like some ubiquitous, common fare that I had never seen before? Well, you can imagine my delight when I found out that halloumi was a cheese made out of…wait for it…sheep and goat milk! Hooray for life!
Hailing from the island of Cyprus, halloumi cheese is un-ripened, semi-hard, and brined and kind of like feta, but with different qualities. Firstly, halloumi has a distinct layered texture and a very salty flavour. Its most notable feature however, is its very high melting point, making this cheese uniquely grill-able. You can also fry halloumi into crispy, golden cubes for an interesting addition to salads and warm vegetable dishes. Soooo scrumptious.
Traveling south to Egypt we find the origins of dukkah – a nut, herb, and spice blend that is traditionally used as a dip for bread or fresh vegetables. Although there are many different versions containing a plethora of various ingredients, I kept mine fairly simple with hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. I had actually not tried this versatile condiment until this weekend when I made a batch specifically to garnish the grilled peaches and halloumi. My instincts told me that they would be a super delish combo, and blessed be; I was right on the money. The roasted nuts and seeds add richness to the juicy grilled peaches, and the crunch was a welcomed addition to the relatively soft textures of the fruit and cheese.
Since then I have tried sprinkling dukkah on salad, grain dishes, avocados and eggs – all delicious! This is a very easy thing to whip up and have on hand to liven up just about any meal. It’s nutty, it’s toasty, it’s savory and spicy! A jar of this would make a great gift.
Grilled Halloumi and Peaches with Dukkah
Serves 4 as an appetizer
4 ripe peaches (organic if possible)
1 block halloumi cheese
to garnish: fresh mint, lemon, olive oil, honey or maple syrup
1. Wash and cut peaches into 8ths, removing the pit.
2. Slice the halloumi into 1” cubes.
3. Skewer the peaches and cubes of halloumi.
4. On a medium-hot grill, cook the skewers on one side until the peaches have charred just slightly and the cheese has browned in places, then flip the skewer and cook until the other side is done (about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the heat of your grill).
5. Remove the skewers from the grill and place on a serving platter. Drizzle the skewers with honey, a little olive oil, a handful of chopped fresh mint leaves and a good douse of dukkah. Serve immediately.
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, roast coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Place in a mortar and pestle and pound together with the peppercorns until pulverized (or grind in a coffee mill, or in a food processor).
2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, roast hazelnuts until fragrant, about 10 minutes (watch them carefully so that they don’t burn). Put hazelnuts on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub the nuts together to remove the skin. Place in a food processor.
3. In the same skillet, roast sesame seeds until fragrant and they begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Place sesame seeds in the food processor with the hazelnuts. Pulse to chop hazelnuts until a chunky-sand texture results (do not blend as you will end up with hazelnut-sesame butter! Tasty yes, but not what we’re after).
4. In a large jar or bowl, empty the contents of the food processor and add the spice mix, along with the salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store in an airtight glass container for up to one month.
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I am very excited to announce my first collaboration with a holistic therapy center here in Copenhagen. We have put together an intensive, two-week detox program designed to give you the tools and inspiration you need to make long-lasting changes in your life! I will be giving cooking classes and lectures on nutrition while guiding participants through a 14-day cleanse, including a juice fast. Participants will receive daily treatments in reflexology, full body massage, craniosacral therapy and yoga. This program is open to anyone in the world! Come join us in Copenhagen for this very special program. Learn more here.