The Mediterranean diet has long been famed for the proven lifetime benefits of eating simply prepared, seasonal foods. There are pockets of people in the Mediterranean countries (and further afield) who are living longer than most; these communities are most often found in rural villages where they grow their own produce and keep livestock.
Chef Theo Michaels explores this concept of “eating like a villager” and this new collection of recipes was born from conversations he has had with his family about life in Cyprus 60 years ago when growing produce and keeping a few animals was the norm.
He celebrates a way of eating based on these principles through his delicious yet simple food. It’s a modern, mindful, and relaxed way to eat well with no need to adhere to a prescribed diet—no strict regimes, just sensible portion sizes, no processed foods, and a few treats—simple, frugal and honest. In practice, it means cooking with what is in season, enjoying a good intake of vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes; eating fish and seafood in moderation and reducing meat consumption.
Enjoy his sunshine-filled recipes for Strapatsada (Greek scrambled eggs laced with feta, tomatoes, and fresh herbs); Tossed Pasta with Pangritata; Pickled Black Radish Ceviche; Grilled Sardines with Horseradish Gremolata; Oven-roasted Ratatouille with Caramelized Cheese, and so much more.
Flourless Almond & Orange Cake
Oh for oranges and almonds… sigh. This cake is my wife’s favourite, despite being flourless it remains moist and the puréed whole oranges give it a sharp vibrancy that is hard to beat. I’ve dressed this up by decorating it, but if I’m honest, most of the time in our house it barely makes it out of the baking pan before we’re cutting away slices each time we walk past.
400 g/4 cups ground almonds
1½ teaspoons baking powder
400 g/2 cups caster/superfine or granulated sugar
finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of ½ a lemon
12 UK small/US medium eggs
For the glaze and decoration
6 tablespoons apricot conserve
1 tablespoon brandy (preferably Greek)
250 ml/1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon caster/superfine sugar
grated zest of ½ an orange and ½ a lemon
½–1 orange, peeled and separated into segments
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped pistachio kernels icing/confectioners’ sugar, to dust (optional)
a 22-cm/8½-inch diameter springform cake pan, lightly greased with butter
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the oranges whole and boil them for 2 hours, topping up the water as necessary to keep them fully submerged.
Once soft, gently lift the oranges out of the water and let cool for 10 minutes before putting in a blender. Pulse until they are a pulp and then pass this through a fine sieve/strainer set over a bowl, pushing it through with the back of a spoon. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
Combine the ground almonds, baking powder and caster/ granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sieved/strained orange pulp, add a small squeeze of lemon juice and mix to combine. Whisk the eggs and pass through a coarse sieve/strainer directly into the bowl and beat until fully incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove and let cool in the pan.
To make the glaze, put the apricot conserve in a small bowl with the brandy, add 1 tablespoon cold water and stir to combine. Brush this glaze over the cooled cake to give it a little shine.
Put the yogurt and caster/superfine sugar in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Decorate the cake by spooning the sweetened yogurt over the cake, arrange the orange segments on top and finish with the pistachios and a sprinkle of orange and lemon zest. Adding a dusting of icing/confectioners’ sugar is optional.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Ryland, Peters & Small.