As we are heading off to sunnier climes shortly, it got me thinking about cheeses from Europe unlike our own. One of those is most definitely Halloumi.

sow it, grow it, eat it! by Annette Gibbons


Annette Gibbons OBE is renowned as a champion of real Cumbrian food. She hosts Cumbria’s Fine Dining Club and also enjoys her organic vegetable garden.

My garden is like a jungle! Not so much hot and steamy but thick and lush!

With continuous downpours, dripping leaves and luxuriant growth both the veggie garden and the main garden have thrived this year. I just wish for a calm day with no offshore wind. We’re quite well- protected with trees behind walls, so I have to put up with only occasional battered beans.

The Fruit Fort (not a cage as it wouldn’t stand the wind!) is also intent on thriving but I’m sharing the goodies with snails! I go in, arms and legs covered, with a bowl in each hand, one for the raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants and one for the snails. Our chickens are the recipients and reward me with their eggs. I’ve made a few pots of fruit compote for the freezer, hoping to share summer sunshine with family at Christmas.

I’ve cut down the broad beans, leaving a couple of inches above the soil so that the nitrogen fixing root nodules help to enrich the next crop. These beans are one of my favourites and I’m experimenting with more recipes to use them. I love their soup, patties, dips and of course, just quickly steamed or boiled with butter and plenty of parsley.

Cucumber and gherkins continue in the greenhouse and I’ve made the first batch of sweet pickled cues, resisting temptation to open them before they’ve matured. The lovely people at Wild and Fruitful produce their own Bread and Butter Pickle, which is so delicious if you’re not inclined to make your own.

This year’s range of tomatoes are showing great promise which gives me hope that I’ve cracked the recipe for the compost at last. The trusses are bending under the weight of fruit and I’ve used old nylon socks which are soft and strong to hold them up. My favourite tomato for flavour is still Sungold, but Black Cherry is coming a close second.

Both the green courgette and Nice Rond have been slow in starting but are now giving me lots to cook. My favourite recently was a sauce with a feta, fresh basil and lemon.

We have a new cheesemaker in town! The Mawbray Cheese Company are producing a range of cheeses, their Salta went into this recipe beautifully. Shill’s are stocking some of their products made from the Armstrongs’ wonderful Ayrshire milk.

Aren’t we lucky, so much produce to choose from, mountains of vegetables and herbs to complement our diet and yes, I think the wind has dropped and the sun is out. I’m off to weed.

Do you enjoy eating out but can’t decide where to go and what to choose?

Annette’s popular Dining Club visits Cumbrian eateries where the evening is planned for you. If you’ve just moved to the area and would like to meet new people who also enjoy good food and wine this is a perfect night out. Long standing locals are welcome too! Ring 01900 881356 to request a newsletter by post or email to have one sent directly to you.

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Halloumi is a Cypriot, semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goats and sheep's milk and sometimes cow’s milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. How would a layperson describe this cheese – rubbery, plasticky, squeaky, unique?

Well, Halloumi is all of those but it’s when it’s cooked, it becomes a taste sensation. The frying of Halloumi is the most wondrous thing.

Rule 1: Always use a really hot pan Rule 2. Use a very small amount of olive or vegetable oil Rule 3: Try not to move it around the pan too much

Rule 4: Cook it until golden on the outside and soft in the inside

A popular dish is Halloumi salad but it is much more versatile than this. Cut thickly, it can take the place of a beef pattie in a burger bun with some piri piri sauce and coleslaw on the side. It can replace the sausage and bacon in a full English breakfast. You can even make Halloumi chips and serve with a selection of dips.

Here is a light supper dish, easy to make at home after work:

Peppers with Halloumi, Chilli and Pine Nuts – Serves 6 as a starter, or 3 as a Main Course

Ingredients: • 2 red peppers, halved • 1 yellow pepper, halved

• olive oil • 250g block Halloumi, sliced into 6

For the dressing • 1 lemon, juiced • 1 garlic clove, crushed • 1 red chill, finely chopped • 2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted • 1/2 small bunch parsley, chopped


• Step 1 - Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Put the peppers on a baking tray in a single layer. Season then drizzle with a little oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes until softened

• Step 2 - Put a piece of Halloumi inside each pepper and grill until the cheese is golden. Whisk the dressing ingredients together with another 3 tbsp. olive oil. Serve the peppers with the dressing drizzled over, along with a nice side salad and crusty bread. Delicious!

One more fact about Halloumi that surprised me - Demand in the United Kingdom had surpassed every other European country, except Cyprus, by 2013!

Go get your Halloumi for the summer!

Jules Natlacen

I know the weather is a bit changeable at the moment, but if you fancy a picnic or even a ride out in the car for a change of scenery, then you might like to bake your own mini pies!

Alfresco Pork, Apricot & Pistachio Pies

You will need: 500g pack puff pastry 200g pork mince 50g dried apricot, roughly chopped 25g pistachio, roughly chopped ¼ teaspoon fennel seed Good pinch of ground mace or nutmeg Small bunch parsley, chopped 1 egg Plain flour for dusting

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4 - Moderate, with your rack in the middle.

You will need a 6 cup muffin tin for your pies. Cut strips of baking parchment and line each hole, so you can lift the pies easily when cooked.

Unwrap the puff pastry and cut off a quarter and put to one side. Dust a flat surface with your plain flour. With the rest of the pastry roll out until roughtly the thickness of a 20p coin. With a 8cm circle cutter, cut out six pastry circles. Line each of the muffin cups leaving a little pastry overhang.

Put the pork mince in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, other than the egg and seasoning. Now to get your hands in on the action! Mix well until all the ingredients are combined. Scoop out a handful and pack firmly into each cup until level.

With the remaining quarter of puff pastry, roll out to the same thickness. Cut out 5mm strips using a clean ruler and a sharp knife. Use these strips to make a nice lattice pattern on the top of each pie. cut off the excess at the edge of the pork mince.

Beat the one egg in a bowl. Brush the overhanging pastry and the ends of the lattice with the egg. Now carefully fold over the overhang to stick the pastry base with the lattice work.

At this stage you can wrap with clingfilm and store in the fridge for up to two days.

Brush all of the pies with the beaten egg and bake for 45 minutes until a lovely golden colour.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remember to take the HP sauce on the picnic, or you could splash out with some Westmorland chutney!

Have a lovely time! 17 AUGUST 2017 ISSUE 417 PAGE 50

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