Summer grill time certainly shouldn’t be limited to meats and burgers, bring on the tomatoes and sturdy halloumi or bread cheese for my Grilled Caprese Skewers.
“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
“We are all feeding from each other, all the time, every day.”
~ Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
I’m not usually one to pepper my blog with inspirational quotes from famous/infamous people. And you absolutely won’t see me write, “According to Webster’s dictionary…” when I’m stumped on how to introduce a post, when the creative juices simply aren’t flowing. It’s just kind of the cheater way out in my opinion, but hey, I’m not judging. And besides, doesn’t everyone use Wikipedia now?
But for the reasons I have today, I thought these quotes fell into the appropriate category because they indeed describe the lack of originality, or at least the increasing commonality, of how recipes come about and how they’re shared.
I mean, how many different ways, really, are there to cook a burger or make a classic chicken divan casserole? And what about pound cake? Prime example of how ingredients can’t be copyrighted. It’s all in how you describe the process that makes it your own.
It’s one reason why this summer I’ve been posting more basic recipes, favorite recipes, because it’s summer and I for one am craving a little simplicity. Let’s blame it on the heat.
This week I had two recipes I was planning on posting. The first was for Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas. Okay, not an exactly revolutionary recipe I admit, but the recipe I was planning on sharing has its own spin, its own chutzpah to differ it from the rank and file. And it’s certainly shareable. But similarily as happened back when I posted my Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese and discovered a very close variation by a much, much more popular blogger, I was trolling my morning blogs and found this recipe for Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas, and this one for Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops, both at the top of my RSS feed, and it just didn’t feel right to post the same recipes again, right after these hit the waves of the www. It’s not a throw down afterall.
While I may not always be original, I do reserve a fraction of an ounce of pride not to be called an outright copycat. Or so I’d hoped before I decided upon my alternative recipe to post.
My other selection for this week’s post is my recipe for Grilled Caprese Skewers, one I’ve had in the ‘ready to be posted’ folder for a few weeks. While I was in Madison, WI judging the Grilled Cheese Academy’s 2013 Recipe Showdown contest, I visited a local cheese shop and saw this wedge of Carr Valley Bread Cheese. Firm in texture like a Greek haloumi cheese, inspiration struck and I knew immediately what I was going to make with it. Or grill with it. So I trotted it home with me and made these toasty grilled skewers that paired extremely well with Roasted Cherry Sangria for an evening in with the girls.
So when I linked over to the summer issue of Grate, Pair, Share—the online magazine created by Wisconsin Cheese—to check in on a few details for a giveaway I’m doing (yes, you do need to check back here on Friday) I just had to laugh when I saw nearly the identical recipe in its pages, created by the very talented Chung-Ah from Damn Delicious. After spying the beautiful photo, I couldn’t bear to look at the ingredients or the directions, so as not to compare our two variations. But you should definitely give it a gander and let me know what you think because it is pretty funny how close they are. And I sure hope she thinks so too.
Great minds…twice in one day.
I decided to go ahead and forge forward and post this Grilled Caprese Skewers recipe anyway, because we all put our own original spin on things we make and there’s plenty of room and reason for the many variations you’ll find in recipe creation land.
Like I’ve told my design students for the past 4 years, rarely do you come across an entirely original idea, more often it’s just a new way to package it.
And as evidenced by today’s post, originality doesn’t always strike twice.
A few things about this recipe:
Bread cheese and halloumi cheese are both firm in texture—a little bit squeeky to the bite—and have very high melting points, making it perfect for putting on the grill. I don’t recommend trying this with a regular mozzarella or you’ll end up with a cheese caprese milkshake melting away into the coals.
The cheeses are made with rennet so if you’re a strict vegetarian, be sure to check if your selection uses vegetarian rennet or traditional.
Don’t skip the garlic in the olive oil. It’s a keeper.
While there weren’t any leftovers to be had, this would be an amazing topper to pasta noodles or arugula (see links below.)
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced into thin pieces
- 8 ounces good quality french bread, about 5 1-inch slices
- 12 ounces bread cheese (Juustoleipa) or halloumi cheese cut into 1-inch cubes
- 24 cherry tomatoes
- 24 basil leaves
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- If using wooden skewers, place in a bowl or shallow plate filled with 1 inch of water and soak for 20 minutes. If using metal skewers, set aside.
- Bring balsamic vinegar to medium heat in a small saucepan and cook for 20 minutes or until reduced by half. The vinegar is just right when it coats the back of a spoon. Cover with a lid and keep warm.
- In another small saucepan, add the extra virgin olive oil and the garlic cloves and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the oil becomes fragranced with garlic. Remove from heat and brush both sides of the bread slices with the garlic infused oil. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.
- Thread the skewers starting with a cube of bread, then cheese, then tomato and a basil leaf and repeat another time, ending with a cube of bread. Repeat with the rest of the skewers.
- Give each skewer another generous dab of the olive oil and then a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bring grill to high heat. Place skewers on grill rack and cook for 4 minutes or so, turning skewers every 30 seconds to 1 minute as the tomatoes begin to blister and the bread starts to toast and all sides are cooked evenly.
- Drizzle with reduced balsamic and serve. *If balsamic reduction begins to thicken, heat again over medium heat and stir until thinned.
And since I’m hoping you’re intrigued at the idea of what else this non-melty cheese is delish in, here are a few more grilled cheese goodies to consider adding to your recipe vault.
Martyna starts off thsi round up of squeeky goodness with a homemade version of this grillable cheese in Wholesome Cook’s Homemade Halloumi Cheese in Under an Hour.
Maria’s salad was one of the first I ever Pinned, and with good reason, thanks to Scandi Foodie’s Grilled Peaches and Halloumi Salad.
With just 5 base ingredients—including one of my favorite grilled veggies, eggplant—Sylvia brings her catering tricks back home for a rustic version of Feasting at Home’s Grilled Halloumi Salad with Mint.
Michelle felt the same way I did about adding some pasta to grilled cheese to round out a perfectly tasty summer dinner in Daily Waffle’s Halloumi and Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad.
Brian adapts a recipe from a Maria’s cookbook for a Greek grilled cheese inspired, ancient grain base dish of Leek Salad with Grilled Halloumi from A Thought for Food.
Kalyn proves once again South Beach doesn’t mean flavorless with Kalyn’s Kitchen’s Grilled Halloumi Cheese Skewers with Mushrooms and Sweet Onions.
The basics of a great caprese, stacked into an out of the ordinary dish. That’s when Peter made my day in Souvlaki for the Soul’s Heirloom Tomato and Halloumi Stacks.
Spicy chili dressing tops a salad perfect for make-ahead lunches in Simply Delicious’s Whole Wheat CousCous Salad with Halloumi and Roasted Sweet Potato.
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