Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spring Zing

I was craving something fresh tasting and easy for dinner this week and nothing says fresh to me like lime. Limes are lovely at the moment and are so packed full of delicious flavour so I decided to put together a dish with the new season's limes as a centerpiece. My local Greek deli had some pretty gorgeous looking Haloumi cheese in stock on the day, so I thought I would include that too. I am a total salt junkie and I find the briny tang of Haloumi cheese delightful. If you are unfamiliar with Haloumi, it is a mild, salty cheese from Cyprus, traditionally made with a mixture of goat and cow's milk. (I have also seen Haloumi made with just cow's milk in Australia) It frequently contains a touch of mint which just adds to the great flavour. Because Haloumi has a high melting point, it is ideal for grilling or pan frying.

This dish is really fast to throw together and is ridiculously easy to make. The key to the dish though is to cook the skewers almost completely before basting it with the marinade. The maple syrup in the basting sauce will caramelise really quickly due to the sugar content in it, so if you baste too soon you are going to end up with horrible burnt skewers that will probably still be raw in the middle. Not good.

Feel free to play around with the marinade - you could add chilli or ginger, or even five spice or ground coriander for a more Asian vibe. My version below is a simple one because I was starving and didn't want to mess around too much! These would make a lovely finger food or just something tasty for the BBQ. Prawns or fish would also taste great. And if you are vegetarian, just omit the chicken and use chunks of Haloumi and zucchini instead. Delicious.

Chicken and Haloumi Skewers with caramelised lime

You will need (For 6 Skewers) 6 wooden skewers soaked in water for 30mins, 2 boneless chicken thighs cut into chunks, 1 piece haloumi cheese about 5x10cm long, 2 limes, 3 cloves garlic chopped finely, 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus 1 teaspoon extra), 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika, generous pinch cayenne pepper or chilli, generous pinch salt.

Method: Combine a third of the garlic with the teaspoon of olive oil and combine with the chopped chicken. Season well and allow to marinate for about 10mins.

Juice one of the limes and mix together with the remaining olive oil, maple syrup, paprika, garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper. Whisk together well and set aside. This will be your basting sauce.

Slice the remaining lime into 6 wedges. Cut the Haloumi into cubes around the same size as the chicken. Gently thread the chicken and haloumi onto the skewers, alternating ingredients and ending with a wedge of lime.

Cook the skewers on a hot BBQ, grill or frypan until almost cooked through. Be careful when you turn them so that you do not break up the Haloumi. When the chicken is almost cooked through, baste the skewers with the lime and maple basting sauce, turning often. The maple will begin to caramelise and turn brown at this stage. Watch that the heat is not too over the top - the sugar in the maple syrup will burn easily so keep an eye on it.

Let the skewers rest for 5 minutes before serving. See, wasn't that easy??? Now sit and have yourself a nice gin and tonic. Just to use up any lime of course :)


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