Thursday, April 18, 2019

"Orexi!" by Theo A. Michaels

Feasting at the Modern Greek Table
by Theo A. Michaels

Orexi!: Feasting at the Modern Greek Table by Theo A. Michaels

Orexi! by Theo A. Michaels is currently on tour with Silver Dagger Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

In this enticing collection of more than 80 recipes inspired by the flavours of Greece and Cyprus, MasterChef UK’s Theo Michaels pays homage to his family heritage, championing traditional dishes and sharing his own modern cooking.
Presenting a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds, his fresh and delicious food is organized into chapters entitled Meze, Sea, Land, Sun, Fire and Sundowners, evoking the Greek way of life.
You too can eat like a Greek by celebrating simplicity, seasonality, abundance, healthy balance and most importantly, the joy of sociable eating.
Beautiful food sings from these pages: from juicy watermelon, glossy kalamata olives, to fragrant oregano-roasted meats and delicate fish wrapped in vine leaves. Choose a selection of mouth-watering dips and sharing plates to create a Cypriot-style meze; enjoy the freshest fish and seafood, perfectly grilled or fried and served with nothing more than a dusting of salt flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice to season; cook tender yogurt-marinated lamb on skewers over charcoal and wrap it in fluffy homemade pita to experience souvlaki at home; or whip up vibrant vegetable and pulse dishes, from cracked wheat pourgouri to slow-cooked fasolia beans. Finally, make rich Greek desserts the sweet note to end your meal; serve just enough syrup-drenched baklava with a bitter black coffee to satisfy that craving or unwind with an Ouzo Sour or Brandy Sunburn Cocktail.

Recipe Video
Watch Theo cook Skewered Goat’s Cheese, Date & Pancetta Parcels.

[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Michaels, a former contestant on MasterChef UK, debuts with an inspired collection packed with anecdotes and excellent recipes from Greece, with a focus on the food of Cyprus, where his family has roots. The fare is appropriately light and well-suited to sunny climes […] This is a transporting book that beautifully blends flavor and memory.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“Amazing, detailed, well written, delicious! Orexi! is beautifully photographed and printed on high quality paper. The layout and design is easy to use and understand and I love the Greek translations.” ~ Kathy
“This book is filled with mouthwateringly divine dishes. Everything we tried was company-worthy. I adore Greek cookbooks and this one’s my personal favorite to date. Super fresh, super flavorful, good for you, and pretty to boot. Most of the recipes are pretty easy, and if there are a few extra steps, it’s worth it. Everything was absolute perfection.” ~ Jennifer Guerrero
MasterChef UK’s Theo Michaels is clearly cooking from a place of love and understanding of his family’s culture. While adding his unique perspective and modern touches. A beautiful book to have very visible in a kitchen. Sure to be a favorite in many homes.” ~ M.C.V. Egan

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
The book’s title, Orexi!, comes from the Greek Kali Orexi!, meaning good appetite. In this cookbook, you will discover over 80 Greek and Cypriot-inspired recipes from the author’s childhood memories, his work in professional kitchens, and time spent cooking for family and friends. “The Greek diet is regarded as one of the healthiest in the world, largely due to the high content of vegetables, fruit, grains, pulses, seafood, olive oil and also fermented dairy foods like live yogurt and feta cheese.” These ingredients feature heavily in the recipes, which are divided into seven sections: Yogurt & Pita, Meze (appetizers, salads, and dips), Sea (seafood), Land (meat), Sun (salads and vegetables), Fire (barbequed dishes), and Sundowners (drinks and desserts).
The author states that “… the heritage of Greek food is not simply about the ingredients, […] but it’s also the stories that cradle a plate of food, the childhood memory of eating something all together and the conversations around a table.” To this end, at the beginning of each section, he brings us a slice of Greek life, explaining the traditions behind the dishes or childhood memories associated with particular foods. He also introduces each recipe with a brief story detailing the origins of the dish or his inspiration for creating it. The recipes don’t follow the boring, traditional format we’re used to in other cookbooks. These are more conversations with the author, in which he provides tips and tricks learned through experience, as well as humorous asides such as, “tomatoes are very self-conscious and would hate to feel overdressed” and “serve with a green salad and smug expression”.
As a bonus for readers from all parts of the world, both metric and imperial measurements and temperatures are included in the recipes, and ingredients and cooking utensils are listed under both British and US names (e.g., courgette/zucchini, aubergine/eggplant). However, there were a few terms I wasn’t familiar with (e.g., orzo pasta and petit poi which I deduced are risoni and baby peas from the photos). Recipes names are also provided in English and Greek. The book is illustrated throughout with gorgeous full-color photographs of Greek scenery. Plus, each recipe takes up a whole page with the facing page featuring a full-page color photograph of the finished dish. The recipes are followed by a comprehensive Index, including both Greek and English names and British/US ingredients. Unfortunately, there are a few typographical errors throughout the text.
I wanted to cook a moussaka on the weekend but was disappointed to find there isn’t a recipe for it in the book. I only just cooked lamb shanks last week, but I’ll try the Cypriot Lamb Shanks in Sticky Sauce (see excerpt above) next time. My husband’s birthday is coming up next week and, for our dinner party, I’m excited to try out the Skewered Goat's Cheese, Date & Pancetta Parcels (see recipe video above), Spicy Chicken Souvlaki, and slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder Kleftiko, accompanied by Grilled Aubergines & Feta, Charred Courgettes, and Greek Salad.
The author’s personality and humor radiate from the pages. This cookbook is as entertaining to read and look at as it will be to cook from. Mostly it’s about combining fresh ingredients with splashes of ouzo, glugs of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and of course, family. As the author states, “I always find that food never fails to start a conversation and bring people together.” Kali Orexi!

About the Author
Theo A. Michaels was born in London and comes from a large Greek Cypriot family. Theo lived in America for five years, has eaten his way around the world with a backpack, and now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.
After reaching the heats of the semi-finals on Masterchef UK 2014, Theo resigned from his position as a Board Member of a PLC to follow his passion for food.
Theo started by hosting his own sell-out pop up restaurant in Hertfordshire, cooking an 8-course taster menu championing modern Greek cuisine inspired by his family.
When people couldn’t get a table at Theo’s pop-up restaurant (the waiting list still remains at over 700), he worked as a private chef creating exclusive dinner parties for private clients, eventually receiving recognition in The Financial Times and Telegraph.
Theo’s private dining and popup restaurant won the regional Best Lifestyle Service award – you can find out more about his private dining service and read reviews here). Theo is now the full time Executive Chef for Elsewhere Events, creating imaginative dining experiences for Elsewhere’s venues and popup events around the world.
In Theo’s spare time, he has been a guest chef for the Sheraton Grande in Bangkok, a regular judge for the annual Quality Food Awards, and is frequently in the press and other media, including The Food Network, BBC Radio, and usually has one or two other projects up his sleeve.
Theo Michaels is known for cooking elegant village food inspired by the flavors of Cyprus and his travels, but also for creating innovative family friendly food that satisfies the reality of modern life.
Theo has appeared on BBC Breakfast News, Sky TV, The Food Network, is a regular on BBC 3CR Weekend Kitchen show, and is a regular guest chef on ITV’s This Morning. He is called upon by the national press for comment and interview on private dining, food, and drink trends and for recipe inspiration. He’s also regularly spotted cooking at food festivals. Theo’s inspiration for food varies from his roots, his travels, to cooking for his family, and his love of anything cooked over charcoal.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.


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