A super quick (microwave!) version of Haloumi cheese, flavoured with herbs and chilli and ready to eat in under an hour.
Update: On November 3rd the second photo in this post was chosen as the runner up in the Australian Eat Drink Blog 3 photography competition.
Inspired by my recent adventures with 1 ingredient curd cheese making, I had decided to make haloumi. We love the salty flavour and squeaky texture of the cheese and often find ourselves munching on pan-fried slices of this Cypriot delicacy at snack-time.
My first attempt over the weekend became a slight failure in that I used lemon juice (from 2 lemons) to help create the curd and so my cheese ended up more like a herbed curd cheese than haloumi. It was delicious, but a far cry from the salty, squeaky haloumi we’ve come to love. Not about to give up, I scoured the interwebs for homemade haloumi (aren’t we blessed these days). Buried amongst others, I found this super simple plain haloumi recipe and went on improving it by adding dried herbs and chilli to the mix.
Simple and quick: you can make it in a microwave… (if you don’t have a microwave you can use this longer method). I got really excited because I hardly ever use the microwave for anything else than re-heating tea! And you don’t need any fancy equipment apart from a couple of things you probably already have or can easily find at your local chemist and supermarket: a sheet of gauze dressing and… junket tablets. An electronic human-use thermometer is optional.
Now back to junket tablets – I didn’t even know they existed but apparently they make great cheese! They can generally be found in the most obscure spot of the powdered custard aisle of your supermarket. As mentioned, the thermometer is not entirely necessary because you’ll only be heating the milk to just below body temperature (32°-35°C // 89.5°F – 95°F) and you may just as well use your clean fingers to test the milk’s temp. Oh, and it also turns out that to make haloumi you need unhomogenised milk – the one where the cream sits at the top. Perhaps that’s why my first attempt resulted in curd cheese instead.
Ok so maybe it sounds more complex than I first made you believe… but trust me, it takes less than an hour to make and once you have the gauze, the unhomogenised milk and junket, you are set. And once you pan-fry it, it tastes like nothing else in the world – perfect match for a watermelon salad. For a haloumi recipe using rennet and the slightly longer method, click here.
- 1 litre unhomogenised (organic) cow’s milk
- 1 litre goat’s milk
- 1 junket tablet
- 1 tbsp water
- ½ tbsp dried Italian herbs
- ¼ tbsp chilli flakes, or to taste
- 1 tbsp salt
- ½ cup of the leftover whey
- ½ cup water
- 1 tbsp salt
- Place both milks into a large saucepan. Dissolve junket tablet in 1 tablespoon water.
- Heat milk over slow heat until it reaches 32°-35°C // 89.5°F – 95°F. Remove from heat immediately and add dissolved junket.
- Stir for a few seconds then set aside for 30 minutes in a warm place. The milk should set and become jelly like.
- Once the milk has set, cut it up roughly using a wooden spoon and mix to separate the whey.
- Transfer to a large microwave-safe bowl, add chilli and herbs and allow to stand for another 10 minutes.
- Place the bowl in a microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes. Stir the mixture around and heat on high for another 2 minutes.
- Test the curds with your fingers – they should be elastic and slightly firm. If still very soft, stir and heat on high for 1 more minute.
- Once heated, spread gazue over a large fine sieve set over a large bowl.
- Strain the curds and whey, reserving ½ cup of whey for the brine.
- Sprinkle salt over the curds, mix and start pressing the cheese to remove excess whey.
- Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze extra whey.
- Combine all brine ingredients and mix well.
- Press haloumi cheese into a rectangular container and place in the fridge to cool (or into the freezer for 15 minutes if you’re more rushed).
- Once cooled, transfer haloumi to a larger container and cover with brine.
- Store in the fridge and consume within a couple of days.