Redefining the Cheeseboard With Halloumi
By: Blanche Shaheen / Arab America Contributing Writer
As many people this time of year are trading cold nights out for cozy get-togethers at home, one increasingly popular staple on many coffee tables is the cheeseboard. Some people obsess for hours selecting the right fruits, nuts, preserves, crackers, charcuterie, and of course cheeses to make their cheeseboard stand out for their guests. For some cheese-aholics however, the cheese is the real star while all the other accompaniments are merely the supporting actors. One preparation that can catapult cheese to another level of flavor and texture is Sesame Crusted Halloumi.
Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, and brined cheese made with goat or sheep’s milk (or a mixture of the two). The texture is somewhat spongy, and the flavor profile is like a marriage between mozzarella and feta. Halloumi is popular as a grilling cheese because it maintains its shape under heat. Eaten plain, this cheese can be rather salty and rubbery. However, once this cheese hits the pan the magic begins, getting crispy on the outside, with an almost marshmallow-like texture on the inside.
Halloumi has been ubiquitous in the Arab world and Greece for many years, although it originated in Cyprus. The cheese is served fried and then added to salads, kabobs, and now, you can add it to your cheeseboard for dramatic effect. With this preparation of Sesame Crusted Halloumi, the salty cheese is coated with a nutty sesame batter, then drizzled with rich honey for that perfect combination of sweet and savory.
As cold foods are not as appealing during winter, this melted cheese offers a warm and comforting pre-dinner bite. This appetizer is surprisingly easy to make, but be sure to serve it immediately, so guests can get the full effect of this cheese warm off the skillet.
To see the video technique on how to make this appetizer, click on the link below:
SESAME CRUSTED HALLOUMI
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 package halloumi cheese (about 6 ounces)
- ¼ cup sesame
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- salt to taste
- 1 egg, whisked
- Avocado oil
Cut the cheese into ½ inch thick slices. Add the onion powder, paprika, and salt to the flour in a bowl. Dip the cheese into the flour, then egg, then into the sesame seeds. For a shortcut, you can add the sesame seeds to the flour, in which you would dip the cheese into the egg, then the sesame and flour together. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet, and add the halloumi cheese and fry until golden brown. Drizzle with honey and serve immediately.
Blanche Shaheen is the author of the cookbook called “Feast In the Middle East, a Journey of Family and Cuisine” which you can order here: https://secure.mybookorders.com/mbo_index.php?isbn=9781545675113 She is also a journalist, and host of the popular cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in the Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/
Check out Arab America’s blog here!