Eating Out Loud, Eden Grinsphan’s freshly released cookbook debut, feels like a direct extension of her personality. It radiates an infectious energy, not only for Grinshpan’s obvious love of food and cooking, but for the throw-together-ease of the recipes, and the fact these bold, Middle Eastern flavours are what she actually cooks at home. Inspired by years spent exploring the multi-faceted Israeli culinary scene, Grinsphan’s cookbook takes you on a vibrant trip and shows you why you’ll crave these unfussy, punchy recipes, too. From her pantry staples of Aleppo pepper, pomegranate molasses and nigella seed to favourite dips and sauces you’ll want to schmear on everything, this cookbook is the perfect guide.
Grinsphan not only gives readers insight into her food philosophy—vegetable-forward, lots of textures, lively spices and a rainbow of colours—but also into how food has always played a central role in her life, both when she was young, and now, as she raises her own daughter to be an adventurous and curious eater. But it’s more than just recipes. Eating Out Loud is a food lifestyle, filled with fresh ingredients for wickedly good, healthy meals and sweet treats you’ll want to make. A lot. We recently spoke with the Top Chef Canada host about her food inspiration, her obsession with tahini and her “amazing” culinary icon.
Your book is inspired by your heritage and spending time in Israel. What is it you love most about Israeli cuisine?
I’m half Israeli. I’ve been there every summer of my life, I’ve lived there, and I love it so much I married an Israeli man! Walking down any street, there’s so many smells, colours and so much brightness. From the more traditional Israeli flavours to their more contemporary cuisine—all that is my biggest inspiration. It’s food I can eat every day, vegetable-driven, and incredibly satisfying. It’s just very energizing food.
I love your obsession with tahini. What is your favourite way to use it right now?
I put it on everything, and can eat it with everything! Aside from keeping a garlicky tahini in my fridge at all times, I really enjoy eating it on the sweet side. Tahini and honey are such a beautiful combination; I make these salted halvah chocolate chip cookies in the book. Halvah is made out of tahini paste and when you bake it into the cookie it bubbles, a bit like marshmallow. Trust me, it’s incredibly good.
Your cookbook makes me want to travel again. Where is your next dream food destination?
I love travelling and miss it so much. It’s really something that feeds my soul and feeds me creatively. It’s obviously devastating that we’re all dealing with these hard times, on so many levels. But, when travel does pick up again, Japan is at the top of my list. I just want to eat all the food and drink all the sake.
What one recipe in this cookbook could you make over and over?
All these dishes are on steady rotation at my house. But I would have to say the chraime, which is braised halibut poached in a cherry tomato and bell pepper sauce with tahini. The fish cooks gently in the beautiful sauce and it’s such a great dish, even for people who are not huge fans of fish. The sauce is so good you could put a shoe in there and it will still taste delicious!
Can you describe an average dinner in your household, growing up?
My mom had her dishes she did really well, like lemon and olive chicken, really beautiful vegetable soups, chicken soups, roasted chicken—lots of chicken. It was really important for my parents to sit down and eat a meal with my two sisters and me every night and we were really fortunate to do that because my dad was able to come home at six o’clock. I really do believe that’s where some of our best memories came from.
Do you have a culinary icon?
Yotam Ottolenghi is a huge inspiration for me. I absolutely love his books, I love his style, I love the way he plays with textures and colour and how he has so many different influences from different cultures in his food. I just think he has his own way of cooking, and it’s amazing.
Is it challenging introducing bold flavours to your three-year old daughter?
One of the first things Ayv ever ate was tahini. It was the perfect ingredient to give her, because it was a paste and it was full of protein, so, it was really easy for me to sneak it into her purées. I’ve been feeding her like this her whole life. And I think because she cooks a lot with me in the kitchen and she’s side by side helping me, it really inspires her to try new foods and new flavours. It’s about giving her that freedom to explore and about developing and creating this unique palate.
What’s your favourite style of family meal?
I like variety and picking and playing with different flavours on my plate. I’ll probably do two to three dishes for a meal, like a salad and shakshuka with bread, pita or challah, or something like roasted cauliflower with tahini on the side and a salad, or my really beautiful lentil salad with beets and almonds and my gem salad with toasted cumin vinaigrette. I just always make sure I have a heartier dish, I have a lighter dish, and then I have some sort of starch or protein.