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Fried Halloumi With Honey and Walnuts

As we get deeper into the process of writing the next edition of the cookbook, we find it difficult to think about anything else. We wake up in the morning and start talking about marination techniques and fall asleep with visions of chocolate chip cookies dancing in our heads. It's a little strange.

We're also adjusting to having more food around than we can possibly eat. We're developing a network of people who are willing to take food off our hands and are honing our Tetris skills on our refrigerator. Forget the freezer. The freezer is a war zone.

A consequence of all the recipe testing and developing is that we've effectively stopped eating out. When there's so much food around, eating out just seems like a waste. I would be lying if I said I didn't miss it at all. While I'm usually quite content to prepare my own meals, having someone else do the cooking (and cleaning up afterwards) is pretty nice.

Restaurants are also idea factories. I often eat things at restaurants that inform my cooking at home, whether it's an ingredient I didn't know existed (or had been afraid to use) or a dish that just hits all the right notes. A good meal at a restaurant can inspire dozens of ideas, and when you're working on a cookbook the size of Joy, you need all the ideas you can muster.

Several months ago we had a dish at a local restaurant that we can't stop thinking about. It was probably the simplest dish we ordered that night, but it was perfect in its simplicity. One of the most important aspects of cooking is knowing when to stop, and the majority of my favorite foods are all about restraint. The dish in question consisted of perfectly fried halloumi cheese, honey, and walnuts. It was whoa good. It was eat-in-total-silence good.

And lucky for me (and you), it's really easy to make at home. Halloumi is a cheese that wants to be fried. It doesn't melt and gets beautifully bronzed and crispy on the outside. It's nice and salty, so the drizzle of honey compliments it perfectly, and the walnuts add crunch and a toasty flavor. Serving this with chilled rosé is not optional.

Other cheesy things you might enjoy: Building the Perfect Cheese Plate, Roasted Tomato, Herb, and Goat Cheese Quiche, Fromage Fort

Fried Halloumi With Honey and Walnuts
Serves 6 as an appetizer

Heat in a heavy skillet over medium heat:
     1 tablespoon neutral oil such as safflower
Add and brown well on all sides, about 2 minutes per side:
     8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 4 rectangular slabs
Remove to a serving platter or bowl and top with:
    1 tablespoon honey
    1/4 cup toasted walnuts
    Chopped fresh mint


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