Even an acclaimed Greek chef such as New York’s Michael Psilakis agrees that the best Greek food has always been made at home, by hand. Pick up the secrets of both ancient and modern Greek cooking in this one-off, hands-on session, as Michael deconstructs our favourite Greek dishes with riffs on hanging yoghurt, candying fruit and slow-braising octopus along the way.
Prepare the candied orange, if you have not already done so.
Crush the Jordan almonds with the side of a knife, then chop coarsely to a chunky granola-ish consistency.
With an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, form quenelles of the thick yoghurt and put two on each plate. Scatter with the candied orange and drizzle with some of the spicy syrup. Scatter with the crushed Jordan almonds and a few slivers of mint.
Trim off the top and bottom half inch of each orange to expose the flesh. Cut into quarters lengthwise. Scrape out and reserve the flesh, leaving all of the white pith behind. Press the flesh through a strainer to get the pulp-free juice. Make the juice up to ½ cup with water, if necessary, and reserve.
Put the pieces of peel into a saucepan, cover with water, and bring up to a boil. Drain and repeat with fresh water. Drain. Cut the peel into 2½cm strips.
In the empty saucepan, combine the sugar and water and stir to dissolve over low heat. Add the orange peel, reserved orange juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise. Bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the liquid is very thick and syrupy. This will probably take about 1½ hours — don’t leave it alone for too long; you will need to adjust the heat downward gradually as the liquid reduces, to keep it at a gentle simmer and not a rolling boil.
Cool for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a sterilized jar and cool down quickly in an ice bath (this will improve the keeping time). Press a square of plastic wrap down directly into the surface of the syrup. Place another square of plastic over the rim of the jar and top with the lid or a rubber band. Replace the square of plastic that touches the preserves each time you use some and use a perfectly clean spoon each time to prevent cross-contamination from other surfaces in your kitchen.
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