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Eden Grinshpan Brings Israel’s Flavors Home to Williamsburg

Eden Grinshpan Brings Israel’s Flavors Home to Williamsburg

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Recipe Roots: New York City
Shared by Eden Grinshpan

Meals for friends and family at chef and food TV host Eden Grinshpan’s home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn are ongoing affairs. They often start at her kitchen island where guests snack on the dishes she’s prepared in advance as she finishes others still simmering on the stove. Once ready, dishes migrate — often in the pots and pans where they were cooked — to her six-person table. “We want people to feel like they’re in their own home — and they don’t need to be too careful. If they spill everything, all over the place, I’m almost like ‘great, you’re home,’” she says.

The food on her table is always inspired by the Middle East, particularly the flavors of Israel. Growing up in Toronto with an Israeli father, who arranged regular family trips to Israel, Eden says she only knew of a fraction of the country’s broad culinary canon until she was an adult. At home, there was her dad’s chopped salad, which accompanied bagels and smoked fish at Sunday brunch and her safta, or grandmother’s, smoky baba ganoush made with charred whole eggplants. When she visited Israel, she returned to the same boureka bakeries, smoothie shops, and kebab dens looking for her annual fix of familiar flavors. “When you go to a place and you start really young, you just want to eat the things you grew up eating,” she says.  

That changed when she lived with a cousin in Israel after she finished culinary school. Time spent working in a restaurant’s pastry kitchen and eating around the country left its mark. She was introduced to dishes like sabich, a popular sandwich inspired by Iraqi Shabbat traditions and jachnun, a rolled and rich bread prepared in Israel by Jewish-Yemeni cooks. The time allowed her to “learn about different cuisines within Israeli cuisine,” Eden says.

The light and fresh menu for summer-time she shared with us celebrates several of those flavors. The watermelon and Bulgarian cheese salad recalls visits to the beach in Israel where the sweet fruit is paired with creamy Bulgarian cheese. “When you eat it together, it’s such a special experience,” Eden says. “I love to recreate that at home the best I can.”

Meanwhile, the matbucha, a dip of red peppers and tomatoes with Moroccan roots, takes a page from a restaurant Eden went to often as a child where the table was covered with as many as 25 small mezzetim, the Hebrew term for mezze plates. Matbucha was the one Eden kept returning to, its bright acidity cutting through the richness of a meal. She also shared with us a sea bass with chermoula, a sauce made with toasted spices, that’s loaded with garlic and fresh parsley and asparagus topped with herbs and preserved lemon.

While Eden finishes the recipes for her cookbook, which will come out in 2020, her dinner party hosting is on the back burner temporarily. But, we agreed, this menu is perfect for a summer Shabbat — one we hope you will bring into your home this season.

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Watermelon and Bulgarian Cheese Salad with Aleppo and Mint

Serves: 8
Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 small watermelon, around 8 cups, cut into cubes
1 cup bulgarian cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper, optional
1 cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large

Preparation
1. Place the watermelon cubes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the bulgarian cheese, Aleppo pepper (if using), and fresh mint. Toss to combine.

Photos by Penny De Los Santos

Photos by Penny De Los Santos

Chermoula Sea Bass

Serves: 8
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
For the fish:
8 fillets Mediterranean sea bass, skin removed
3 tablespoons chermoula
2 lemons

For the chermoula:
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
1 cup fresh parsley
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Place the garlic, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, paprika, Aleppo pepper, parsley and extra virgin olive oil in a blender and process until smooth.

3. Rub the sea bass fillets with chermoula. Place a 2-foot sheet of parchment paper on a work surface and fold in half lengthwise. Arrange 4 of the sea bass fillets along one edge of the seam. Fold the parchment over the fillets and fold the edges in to crimp and seal one large pouch around the fish. Repeat with a second sheet of parchment and the remaining 4 fillets. Carefully transfer the pouches to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until fish is cooked through and flakey, about 10-12 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven and carefully open the parchment pouches (be careful of the steam). Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Herbed and Preserved Lemon Asparagus

Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup fresh dill, chopped, plus more for garnish
⅔ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon preserved lemon rind, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Place the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the salt. Roast until just tender, about 10-12 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine the dill, parsley, preserved lemon, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix to combine.

4. Spoon the lemony herbs over the roasted asparagus. Finish with pepper and fresh dill sprigs to taste.

Eden's Matbucha

Serves: 8
Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 red bell peppers, seeded, cored, and diced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tomatoes on the vine, diced
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the paprika, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the red wine vinegar and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and sugar and stir to combine.

3. Simmer on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients reduce down to a thick, tangy, sweet sauce, about 45-60 minutes.

4. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Let cool and serve alongside your favorite summer spread.

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