Maria Loi’s Greek Honey Cheesecake (Melopita)

Recipe Corner: Maria Loi’s Greek Honey Cheesecake (Melopita)

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Chef Maria Loi is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, author, television personality and philanthropist working to change the world – one healthy bite at a time. Loi’s mischievous grin, sparkling eyes, and culinary prowess have made her a food superstar; she is a popular television chef in Greece and the author of more than 36 cookbooks, and over 150 magazine editions. She owns an exquisite gourmet restaurant in idyllic Nafpaktos, and has a line of Maria Loi dinnerware and kitchen appliances. She is also the founding partner in a fashion company. She is the founder of Loi Food Products, a specialty brand built on traditional ingredients from Greece; her pastas, beans, botanical herbs, refrigerated dips, honey and olive oil are sold on QVC, at Whole Foods Markets, and in other stores.

“Born in the village of Thermo in southeastern Greece, Loi learned from her grandparents and parents how to cook using golden oil pressed from the plump olives that had ripened under the hot sun, black honey gathered from ancient unspoiled woods, and the oregano that grew wild in the mountains and was caressed by the sun. She raised both vegetables and chickens from a young age and became so passionate about the foods of her country that she is the Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy, having been awarded that honor by the Chef’s Club of Greece. It started, she says, when her grandfather fed her two tablespoons of olive oil — Greek olive oil of course — not that stuff from Italy or Spain every morning and a teaspoon of black honey every night — the honey she and her grandfather had harvested together.”

Maria Loi

“He told us the olive oil would flush out the toxins from our body and the honey would kill the germs from our day,” she says. “It’s become such a mantra that patrons seeing her at Loi Estiatorio confide they’re taking their daily dose of olive oil just like she recommends. Her staff has lost weight following her Greek dieta or diet (think Mediterranean but the Greeks really invented it, she says), and she is healthy as a horse.”

“Of course you should always talk to your doctor,” she says with a broad smile, most likely because she believes that any doctor would back up her claims. “Even the FDA has adopted now that we have to do two tablespoons of olive oil every day.”

“According to WebMD, the FDA has approved a new qualified health claim for olive oil-based on studies showing that consuming about two tablespoons of olive oil a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. This, of course, is not news to Loi who has learned from the land and her ancestors about the wonders of eating.”

“Not only does she cook and consume olive oil, but she also puts some on her hair at night and shampoos in the morning. Named one of the top Women Makers by Whole Foods Market and one of the best female owned and operated brands/suppliers with whom Whole Foods Market works, Loi was selected as one of the Top Women in Food Service & Hospitality, and is called the ‘Julia Child of Greece.’”

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Now Loi, chef/owner of two restaurants – the award-winning Loi Estiatorio in Manhattan and  Kouzina Loi in the port town of Nafpaktos in Western Greece, takes us further into the culinary treasures of Greek cooking in her 13-part National Public Television series “The Life of Loi: Mediterranean Secrets,” which premiered last December on PBS.

“Melopita translates as ‘honey pie,’ but this dish is my healthy version of a ricotta-style cheesecake,” writes Loi in the introduction to this recipe from The Greek Diet Cookbook. “Light and fresh with a hint of lemon, this cake has the perfect tang from the yogurt. Drizzle with some honey to keep it classic.”

Serves 16.

Ingredients:

Olive oil, for the pan

1 pound anthotyro (ricotta cheese)

1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup Greek honey, plus more for garnish

Grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

Ground cinnamon, for garnish

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with olive oil, line it with a round of parchment paper, and lightly oil the paper.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, yogurt, eggs, 1/2 cup honey, lemon zest, flour, and sugar. Beat thoroughly, either with an electric mixer or a whisk. Pour the batter into the pan and gently rap it against a hard surface to release any air bubbles.

Bake the melopita for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling sets. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool. Refrigerate the cake for 2 or 3 hours. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and release the sides. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Carefully remove the bottom of the cake pan and the parchment paper. Serve the cake sprinkled with some cinnamon and drizzled with a little honey.

Based on a similar article that appeared in the Herald Palladium.

For this recipe and more, go to:

https://janeammeson.com/2023/03/01/maria-loi-secrets-of-the-mediterranean/

Also featured at:

https://www.thelifeofloi.com/recipes/greek-honey-cheesecake

The Life of Loi: Mediterranean Secrets is presented by your local public television station. Distributed nationally by American Public Television.

For episodes, go to: https://www.pbs.org/show/life-loi-mediterranean-secrets/

For more recipes, see:  https://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/

Loi is involved in Greek and American causes that care for children in need. She is a founder of Elpida (the Greek word meaning “hope”), a foundation to support children with cancer. She oversees a fund that grants university scholarships to underprivileged students. Loi also works closely with The Center for Discovery and their Department of Nourishment Arts as a DaVinci Master Chef. In June of 2015, Loi received the prestigious Women’s Award from the Women Together Foundation at the United Nations, honoring her for the philanthropic accomplishments over the years, focusing on her time since moving to the United States. During her diverse career, Loi spent many years representing clients Texaco, Nokia and ITT Sheraton among others. This rewarding yet fast-paced life, long hours and travel separated her from her roots and the Greek traditions of family, food, balance and nature. From that experience, Loi developed a lifestyle program for all that would nurture a healthy body and soul, influenced by the Greek ancients.

To view recipes featured in the series and more, visit Chef Loi’s social media platforms @ChefMariaLoi (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter).

More than just a weight-loss plan, The Greek Diet is a path back to health and a way of eating that is not only sustainable but completely satisfying and enjoyable. Once you learn how good it tastes (and how good you’ll feel) eating Greek, you’ll never want or need another diet again. So go ahead and indulge; your body and your taste buds will thank you. When Loi chooses ingredients and creates recipes, she considers the ancient grains and flavors that continue to flourish millennia later. This is an area of expertise in her book Ancient Dining on ancient Greek dining that was the only official cookbook of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The ingredients, as respected as the great Greek minds of Plato, Socrates and Hippocrates, are the pillars of a healthy, tasty Mediterranean diet: olive oil, Greek yogurt, grains, beans and freshly picked greens. Loi’s food is about truth in flavor. Hers is a philosophy derived from the warm, scented Greek air and the sounds of loved ones around the table.

To purchase The Greek Diet by Chef Maria Loi, go to: https://theloilife.com/products/the-greek-diet-cookbook

To purchase Ancient Dining by Chef Maria Loi, go to:  https://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Dining-Maria-Loi/dp/9606603296

Connect at:

https://www.thelifeofloi.com/

https://www.loiestiatorio.com/

https://www.facebook.com/chefmarialoi

https://www.instagram.com/chefmarialoi/

https://twitter.com/chefmarialoi

© ML Kosmos LLC 2022

 

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