[Photograph: Quentin Bacon]

Chef Einat Admony claims she is the only chef she knows who cooks at home. At least, the only one who cooks as elaborately as she does. Several times a week, after leaving her post as chef at her restaurant, she makes dinner for anywhere from two to thirty people in her home. It's as much about the food as it is bringing people together. Food, to her, is love, and "What good is love if you partake of it alone?"

Thus, Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes To Feed The People You Love. It's her first book, sharing its name with her restaurant and the Yiddish word for "perfect housewife." And it's exactly what it says on the tin. This is a book with a beating heart, steeped in personal and cultural history and pounding with flavors from the Middle East. Chef Admony, herself being of mixed Iranian and Yemenite heritage, and having grown up in Tel Aviv, blends all those flavors into an edible personal narrative to introduce recipes she uses to love the people she feeds.

There are savory recipes for grilled fish, fried cauliflower, couscous, oxtail soup, as well as a chapter dedicated to basic syrups and aiolis titled, quite simply, "Can't Live Without." That casual passion is always there, infusing all of Balaboosta's recipes with an infectious vivacity.

All of that said, we are here for dessert. There are traditional dishes, like Baklava and Malabi, a milky custard chef Admony dresses with orange marmalade sauce. And there are playful variations on classics, like the Cream-Bo, a Mallomar-type chocolate covered cream cookie, known as a Krembo in Israel. Lastly, there are Turkish Coffee Brownies, a solid version of a liquid pick-me-up. We suggest making many of each, opening your home to guests and becoming your own Balaboosta.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Artisan Books, we are giving away five (5) copies of Balaboosta to give away this week. All you have to do is share your favorite Mediterranean sweet in the comments below.


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