COOKBOOK REVIEW: Cook at full-volume

“Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors All Day, Every Day” by Eden Grinshpan with Rachel Holtzman (Potter, $32.50)

The family dinners Eden Grinshpan remembers from her Toronto childhood alternated between her mom’s simple, wholesome specialties and the international treats her dad sometimes picked up on his way home.

But dinnertime was about more than the food, she writes in the introduction to her new book, “Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors All Day, Every Day” (Potter, $32.50). The kitchen table was where she and her two sisters were free to express themselves – singing, laughing, and pushing one another “to be as loud, obnoxious, and over-the-top as possible.”

That vivacious spirit and openness to unfamiliar tastes led her to enroll in London’s Le Cordon Bleu, eat her way around the globe, and land a career as a host and judge for several TV cooking and travel shows, including “Eden Eats” on the Cooking Channel and “Top Chef Canada.”

It was the last stop on that “whirlwind ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ tour,” in Israel, that shaped her cooking style more than any other. Being half-Israeli, she’d been there many times before. But experiencing her roots through the lens of a passionate chef gave her a new appreciation for such standbys as sesame-rich tahini, briny sheep’s-milk feta, and fresh-baked pita stuffed with fried eggplant, spicy pickled mango.

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Those flavors dominate the meals she shares today in Brooklyn with her husband and toddler daughter, and leap from the bright, seductive pages of “Eating Out Loud.” She hooked me with roasted cauliflower doused in Date-Parsley Gremolata, a dazzling sauce that I now want to slather over everything. Braised Halibut with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Garlicky Tahini (I cheated with frozen cod fillets), alongside Brown Butter Couscous, was gorgeous-looking, sensational-tasting, and astoundingly easy to assemble. I’ve bookmarked Sumac-Strawberry Mini Pavlovas with Vanilla Whipped Cream for a future splurge.

Relying on unfussy techniques and a handful of well-chosen staples, the author shows us how to crank up the flavor – and the fun factor – of any meal. “The Fleetwood Mac Spotify station is just as important an ingredient as the salt and pepper,” she adds, “but that’s another story.”

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

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