Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grilled Halloumi with Quinoa & Beetroot Salad (& my struggle with blogging)

Before I jump to the recipe for this delicious salad there is something I need to address with regards to my blogging...

It's hard to believe it but I started blogging 5 years ago. My reason for starting this blog was simple....I loved to cook and this was the easiest way for me to share my often-requested recipes with family and friends. To this day I still love cooking, I am a total food-oholic! I get excited about shopping for food, finding new ingredients, getting reacquainted with recipes and ingredients from my past and exploring new cuisines throughout the world from the comfort of my own kitchen.You are far more likely to find me reading a cookbook or food magazine than any other book and with a library of 1000 cookbooks (and growing) I'm never short of something to read! Of course the books and magazines just feed my enthusiasm for cooking by offering endless new ideas and inspiration and so it was only a matter of time before I started reviewing cookbooks and really putting them to the test to see if they were worth a place on my overloaded, sagging shelves! I love reviewing cookbooks and so I do plan to do a lot more of that on this blog but without doubt my favourite thing to do still is come up with my own ideas and recipes and share them with you. 

Unfortunately however, what I don't particularly like doing is taking photographs of my recipes. Don't get me wrong, it can be enjoyable but the reality is that I just don't have the time. I admire professional photographers and have so much respect for them and how they capture images perfectly, whether it be of a beautiful Tuscan landscape, an honest, sobering photograph of a war-torn country or a simple bowl of freshly picked vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes. No matter what it is, images strike a cord with almost everybody..... Which is why I get so frustrated with taking photographs! Of course I don't expect them to look even remotely professional but the inner perfectionist in me (I blame it on being a Leo!) is never satisfied with what I do produce! There is the image in my head of how I want it to look (think Donna Hay clean, crisp, sharp pictures!) and then there is the actual photograph (immediately scrap the image of any Donna Hay photograph!!). I'll be honest, my photographs have improved a lot since I started 5 years ago, (thanks primarily to a wonderful Christmas present that Scott got me) but they will never be what I want them to be because quite simply I just don't have the time. Making the recipe and testing it several times is one thing (and something I am happy to do) but planning out props, lighting, working out when I'm going to be able to squeeze it in without too many interruptions or before it gets dark and then editing, is just too time consuming for me and personally not enjoyable. It's because of this that I simply haven't been blogging lately. I want to share new recipes with you that I have made, I just don't always have time to take accompanying pictures or if I do they look so bad I just send them to the recycling bin (or more accurately my computers crashes and I lose then anyway!). When I started blogging it was to share recipes not photographs. In fact when I first started back in 2009 the whole food photography aspect didn't even cross my mind! I do realise however, that when it comes to food we all need photographs - trust me, I am the biggest believer in that. I'm immediately put off a cookbook if it isn't laden with glossy, high quality, drool-inducing photographs, but I have realised that those types of photographs quite simply aren't going to appear on this blog - not any time soon anyway! If I ever get around to fulfilling my dream of putting my favourite recipes together into a book then I will happily pay someone to take those pictures, but for the time being in order to get back to my enjoyment of sharing my recipes with you you are going to have to put up with mediocre, quick pics that I manage to capture before we sit down to eat, or when I have an extra 5 minutes to spare after I finish icing the last cupcake. But more so I have to accept that and be ok with it (which is probably... definitely.... a much bigger challenge than how you probably feel!) Blogging about food is a hobby for me and one that I absolutely love..... Photography unfortunately isn't...... for now anyway!

So with that out in the open, FINALLY here is a new recipe from me! It's the perfect light Summer Salad that I just want to eat over and over and it is so simple to make. 

Serves 2-3 generously (easily doubled)

250g block of halloumi cheese*, cut into 6 slices
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus an extra drizzle
2 tbsp lemon juice & zest of ½
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ - ½ tsp red chilli flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

500ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup quinoa
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 cooked beetroots, finely cubed (vacuum packed is fine just don’t use pickled beetroot)
½ yellow pepper, finely chopped (optional)
Small handful of fresh basil leaves, torn plus extra for garnish

Put the halloumi cheese in a dish large enough to hold it in a single layer and cover with cold water. (This is an optional step however it does remove some of the saltiness from the cheese which I prefer.)

While the cheese is soaking, in a small bowl mix together 3 tbsp olive oil, the juice and zest of the lemon, oregano, chilli and black pepper. Stir it all together, taste to check it’s to your liking then set aside.

To make the quinoa, bring the stock to a boil in a medium sized pan then add the quinoa. Stir and then turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 15-17 minutes until the stock has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. While the quinoa is cooking prepare the rest of the salad by putting the chopped onion, beetroot, and pepper into a good sized bowl (one that will be big enough for you to add the quinoa to and stir easily). Once the quinoa has cooled, (you can serve it warm or room temperature) add to the chopped vegetables and gently stir everything together. Add the extra drizzle of olive oil and the fresh basil leaves reserving some for a garnish.

When you are ready to cook the halloumi, heat a griddle pan, frying pan or a BBQ until hot. Remove the cheese from the water and pat dry with some kitchen paper. If using a griddle or BBQ spritz it with a little olive oil then cook the halloumi for a minute or so on each side until it has softened and has char marks on it. Turn it over and do the same on the other side.

To serve put some of the quinoa salad on each plate and then top with 2 or 3 slices of the halloumi. Drizzle the halloumi generously with the dressing and add a little over the salad as well. Finish with a scattering of basil leaves then enjoy while the cheese is still warm. 

 If you don't like Halloumi you could easily substitute it with another cheese you like for example Mozzarella or Brie, it will just be harder to grill as they melt a lot easier than Halloumi.


  1. your photo's are perfectly fine... as long as there's something there to attract the reader alongwith the amazing recipe then i'm fine. There are far too many people taking very similar photo's and quite frankly who has the time of day? I use an old canon camera and a LOT of light but sometimes I don't have the patience for that!... lovely lookin salad and a great recipe x

  2. Thanks Dom! I'm curious - what do you use to get so much light?!

  3. I roasted the onion & capsicum in the over & it gave a lovely chargrilled flavour to the salad. :)


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