Have you guys discovered halloumi yet? For the uninitiated, halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk – or sometimes cow.
It’s often used in Middle Eastern cooking. You’ll often find halloumi grilled or fried because it’s higher-than-normal melting point prevents it from turning into a gooey mess when subjected to heat. Frying it, as in this recipe, lends it a delicious nutty flavour and brings out the brininess of the cheese.
I’m pleased to say that halloumi is becoming more widely available by the day. They now carry it in the cheese section of most Loblaws. If you’re not quite ready to experiment with this ingredient in your own kitchen, I would highly recommend you sample the divine fried halloumi perennially on offer at Fairouz.
I found this recipe for Egg, Halloumi and Avocado Salad from Canadian Living and was inspired to modify it for a brunch application by adding Hollandaise, switching to poached eggs and grounding it with some tasty carbs.
If you’ve never attempted to make eggs benedict at home, and always thought it reserved for brunch outings, don’t be afraid! Poaching eggs and whipping up a batch of Hollandaise is easier than you might think.
For the Hollandaise, all you need is some forearm fortitude for vigorous whisking and a watchful eye. Make sure your stainless steel (or heatproof) bowl isn’t touching the simmering water beneath and keep a close eye on it to ensure your eggs don’t scramble.
For the poached eggs, add a couple teaspoons of white vinegar to your water and swirl it up to create a vortex. Both of these steps will help your egg whites cling to the yolk and avoid wispiness that will leave your eggs looking like Casper the friendly ghost. There are a lot of different methods for making poached eggs out there but I’ve found that this approach, cooking for precisely 3 1/2 minutes on a gentle simmer, yields the perfect soft poach every time.
The subtle sweetness and acidity of the dressing for the greens is a a perfect counterpoint to the buttery richness of the Hollandaise. If you have extra greens after assembling your Benedicts, don’t be shy to heap some on the side of your plate.
If you’re hungover, and you’re just not up for it, check out one of my recommendations for the best brunch in Ottawa.
- 4 slices halloumi cheese
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 8 eggs
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp liquid honey
- half clove garlic pressed
- 4 cups baby kale
- 1 avocado peeled pitted and thinly sliced
- 8 slices bread or English muffins toasted and buttered
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted (1 stick)
- Pinch cayenne
- Pinch salt
Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.
Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil. Gently break 1 of the eggs into a shallow bowl/ramekin. Stir boiling water with a wooden spoon to create a vortex and gently slip 1 egg into the water. Repeat with remaining eggs. By stirring the water, the egg white will wrap around the yolk to keep your poached eggs nice and tight. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3 1/2 minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, onto a plate lined with paper towel, allowing the egg to drain .
Meanwhile, in nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook halloumi cheese, turning once, until light golden, about 5 minutes. Cut each slice in half lengthwise; keep warm.
While eggs/cheese is cooking, in large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey, garlic and remaining salt and pepper. Add kale; toss to coat.
Assemble by placing toasted bread/English muffin halves on a plate, top with kale, avocado, halloumi, eggs and finish with hollandaise.
Recipe adapted from: The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. "Egg, Halloumi and Avocado Salad." Canadian Living. March 2014.