Cookbook Review: Orexi by Theo A. Michaels

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I think of Greek food, I think of the freshest ingredients prepared simply and humbly to create something greater than the sum of its parts. I think of my trip to Greece 6 years ago and the most amazing feta-stuffed cherry tomatoes, moussaka, and grilled octopus. I'm so glad I was granted an advance copy of Theo Michaels' book Orexi, because he truly captures the spirit of Greece in his new cookbook.

He is as authentically Greek as they come, as he suffuses that history and legacy into every page. From the very beginning, we learn about his childhood in Greece and the way his upbringing has influenced the way he views food and cooking. I have to add that his writing is some of the best I've read in a cookbook. I definitely appreciate when a cookbook author is as eloquent as he is inspirational in the kitchen, and the taste of writing I got in this book makes me want to read more of his cookbooks.

The recipes themselves sound delicious. He makes it clear from the start that they are a mixture of dishes he grew up eating and dishes he has picked up over the years. As a result, they are nice blend of the traditional and the modern. Some of the dishes I flagged to make immediately were Orzo, Roasted Tomato, and Feta Salad; Red Wine Marinated Pork with Coriander Seeds; Slow-Cooked Squid; and Prawns Baked in Feta and Tomato Sauce. Some of the recipes were things I remember enjoying in Greece--dishes like Filled Crispy Filo Rolls, and Courgette and Feta Fritters are a couple of examples.

Michaels is less focused on the classics and more focused on dishes that are special or have special meaning to him. There's no recipe for moussaka here, but there are lots of creative things to do with vegetables and many preparations of seafood that will challenge your skills. He even puts his spin on classics like baklava, providing a recipe for Smoked Chocolate Baklava. Most of the recipes are meant to be grilled up and shared with loved ones on a sunny summer's day. I love the way summer seems to leap off the pages here, and the bright photos and overall light color scheme of the cookbook help give off this vibe as well.

This is an excellent cookbook in every way. Excellent writing, creative inspiring recipes, beautiful photos (of every dish!), and an author with a lot of credibility. This ticks off all the boxes. If I had to give it any criticism, I would want it to be a bit longer, but I also realize that when you include a photo of every recipe, you sacrifice space in the rest of the cookbook. I would love to purchase this cookbook and add it to my shelf, and now I'm eager to read the rest of his cookbooks as well.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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