expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

flashes of inspiration

Grilled Lemon Halloumi

A book review. Flash Food – Laura Santtini

There's a sort of terrible tyranny to the daily chore of making meals for a family. Breakfast, dinner, tea over and over again, day in, day out. Even for those of us who love to cook, it's inevitable that now and again you fall into a rut of using the same ingredients and recreating the same dishes. That's why I held my hand up as a volunteer to 'taste drive' Laura Santtini’s new book 'Flash Cooking' from Quadrille Publishing. I was looking for a bit of inspiration - and I found lots of it here.

This would not be my usual type of book - I like laboring over a stove, things cooking away for hours in the slow oven of the Aga, and the soft bubble of a stock on the back burner. But even I took loads of inspiration from this award-winning writer and I have a list of recipes that I still want to try All of the flavours are categorised geographically and there's lots of room and indeed encouragement to mix things up a little.

The photography in the book is lovely. I was immediately taken with a 'Cauliflower Steak with Harrisa and Feta' which is stand out photograph in the book and it tasted as fantastic as it looked. My fellow IFBA blogger Yvonne, at HeyPesto! did this recipe full justice over at her blog you can read about it there. I will be digging out that recipe when the next vegetarian comes to call and probably way before that as my own 'vegetarian at heart' husband has fallen in love with it. I tried 3 other dishes - a nice variation on your usual chicken wrapped in bacon was the 'Chicken Pockets with Red Pesto and Ricotta'.

Five-Spice Minced Pork with Tenderstem Broccoli

Two great recipes from the book really stood out for me, 'Five-Spice Minced Pork with Tenderstem Broccoli' and another vegetarian recipe,  'Grilled Lemon Halloumi'.

Grilled Lemon Halloumi
2 unwaxed lemons, very thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt flakes
1 tsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp runny honey
1 tbsp small sprigs of fresh dill
250g block of halloumi cheese cut into slices about 1.5cm thick

Preheat the grill to it's hottest. Slice one lemon thinly. Using a pestle and mortar pound the garlic, pinch of salt and the peppercorns - add olive oil, honey and lemon juice from the other lemon. Rub the cheese and lemon slices with the mixture. Place it under the grill and let it color and caramelize (I put mine in the top of the Aga hot oven) Remove and turn over to grill the other side. Serve sprinkled with the dill, remaining dressing and pan juices drizzled over.

This is a lifestyle book with great recipes - much more than a cookbook. It's a 'diet' book that is more about health than weight and manages to stay away from all that neurotic nonsense that many of that genre contains. There is not so much of a whisper of using the sort of ingredients that drive me into a rage - the low fat or sugar free substitutes for 'proper' food, and that has to be applauded.

This book ticks a lot of different boxes. As the name implies, there is nothing that is going to take ages to make, and no special skills are needed. Most recipes, except the entertaining section, feed two people, the majority of the herbs and spices are easily available and have tremendously long self lives. It is really a book of ideas and maybe a jumping off point for a more adventurous style of cooking, and a healthy way to eat as well. 

Overall, with a couple of minor quibbles, I really loved this book, it is fully deserving a place on my crowded cookbook shelves. Of course, needless to mention, if you're looking for something nice and decadent for dessert,  don't look here! 

*Thank you to Mark McGinlay, Quadrille Publishing.


  1. Anne Marie thank you for the link - I'm still new to this blogging bit and trying to figure out what to do!
    I loved the cauliflower recipe and am so glad you tried the halloumi as that's next on my list.
    I used the leftover pomegranate vinaigrette on roast chicken today - nyom!!

  2. This sounds like a very interesting book and full of the kind of food that I should be eating every day (rather than...um...cake). I'll keep an eye out for it!

  3. I had just read Yvonnes review on the book and decided I was going to find the book at a local shop near me. Now I will just borrow yours (ha ha ha )
    The minced pork is beautiful Amme. What a photo. Making me hungry for lunch and it only half ten in the morning!

  4. Halloumi is one of my favourite cheeses and love how you've partnered it lemon here. This book sounds lovely too and perfect for when you have a little less time to devote to cooking.

  5. I've yet to try halloumi, but I think I will try it this way! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I had never thought to combine halloumi and lemon, two of my top foods. This looks very tempting. I just knew you wouldn't be into that low fat low sugar yucky food trickery; glad to see I was right.

  7. @heypesto - The halloumi is a winner all right, but your cauliflower looked prettier than mine turned out and was then a bit too 'nibbled' to photo *ahem*.

    @london bakes - I can highly recommend it and there really is no cake! A bit shocking that!

    @WiseMona - That pork and broccoli dish was just so tasty and everything was really filling even with no carbs. I really like that photo as well, so thanks! Quite a collection of 'brown food' I am getting, HA!

  8. This lemon halloumi looks absolutely stunning! The lemon really seems like it would complement the halloumi so perfectly. I am definitely going to save this for when it's grilling season for me again - thanks :)

  9. Amee, I have never heard of Halloumi, had to google it to find out more about it. Now I have to hit the store and see if I can find it. Thanks for sharing your review of the book, might have to hit the bookstores to give it a look. Shari

  10. I'd love to get my hands on the book, sounds interesting and the photos just perfect

  11. @ momdecuisine I think halloumi is a lot more popular in europe than the states, but you really should try it, glad you liked the post.

    @ miss I go through a ton of lemons myself, they make everything better. No fake food in my house Madam, 'low fat low sugar yucky food' is the work of the devil (along with marzipan)

    @ our life in food - you two would love it and all the recipes in that book are carb free - it's right up your alley

  12. I love Halloumi! -I'm sure this was incredible and with the lemon...Ah, love this. ps. I still get envious of people with wire racks..and I even have a few... Human nature. :)

  13. Just found your blog and think it's great! I also reviewed Flash Cooking on mine recently, it's interesting that we both chose the five-spice pork to write about!

  14. OH MY GOODNESS... I LOVE Halloumi and Lemon, thank you sooo much for this recipe, the most wonderful combination:)


Say hi, don't be shy!