When you’ve starred in food and travel TV shows, run a restaurant, and are writing a cookbook, family and friends tend to have high expectations for the holidays — even when you’re away from home and you’ve had to toss your tahini into your suitcase. “I’ll bring certain spices, and my knife and mandoline, so I can still put my spin on dishes,” admits Middle Eastern–style chef Eden Grinshpan. But otherwise, she’ll pull off an out-of-town shindig with little fuss or fanfare. “I keep the food simple and seasonal, and I’m all about family-style serving,” she says. With a 2-year-old daughter, Ayv, she’s got a built-in kitchen assistant. Her strategic food-prep schedule: “I’ll get the cake out of the way, and then make the rice and roast the vegetables; you can just reheat them before dinner. Then you put the meat in to braise, and leave it for three hours, minimum.” A few personal touches can spruce up the setting, but Grinshpan doesn’t obsess over plating. “I just want there to be this rustic, bountiful feeling. The food comes off the stove, and we all dig in and get messy.”
Cater to your crowd
When you’re entertaining all ages, it helps to have a few problem solvers on hand. Turning the top of a dresser into a self-serve drink station frees you up to mingle more, and an art area steps from the table keeps the kids busy while parents linger. Take along a high chair if it’s not provided, suggests Grinshpan, and to set a cozy vibe, start the meal with bread warmed in the oven.
Get a little artsy
Grinshpan (with Elena Besser, and Nicholson) puts a fresh spin on a colorful cabbage salad by adding plenty of chopped parsley and dill. “Anytime I make a salad, I do almost equal parts lettuce and fresh herbs,” she says. “I don’t think of herbs as just a garnish because they add so much brightness and flavor.”
Let Kids Put Their Stamp On The Table
Have little ones collect rocks on the grounds and then put polka dots on them using a black ink pad and the eraser side of a standard pencil; you can stack the rocks together on the table as a centerpiece display.
Think Low And Slow
Braising is Grinshpan’s go-to method for lamb. Cooked on a low setting for hours, the meat “gets super juicy and falls off the bone.”
Add a few flourishes
A mantel makes a beautiful focal point for the party, especially when you’ve got a fire going. For a festive feel, top it with a grouping of objects all in one color, like glowy black candlesticks. See an empty vase or urn in the cabinet? Fill it with greens or branches foraged from the yard to liven up an empty corner.
“When you’re cooking in an Airbnb, it’s a different environment, and it’s often got so much character and history. It takes you on a cool, beautiful journey.”
— Eden Grinshpan
Here are nine dishes designed to please a crowd. Each recipe feeds 6 to 8.
Caramelized Onion, Rice, and Noodle Pilaf
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup vermicelli noodles
2 cups basmati rice
½ tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
½ tsp. pepper
Melt the butter and oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and let caramelize for 5 to 10 minutes. Add in the vermicelli noodles and continue to toast for a few minutes, until the noodles turn slightly golden (watch to ensure they do not burn). Add the rice, salt, pepper, and 3 cups water into the pot and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to simmer and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until all water is evaporated. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and keep covered until ready to serve.
Crispy Veg with Pistachio Dukkah and Labaneh
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey
6 shallots, sliced in half, keeping the skin on
1 head garlic, halved, top sliced off
2 delicata squash, halved and sliced into 1⁄2-inch rings
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
1⁄2 tsp. pepper, or to taste
1 cup Labaneh or full-fat Greek yogurt
Pistachio Dukkah (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 450°. Prepare a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and honey. Toss all the vegetables in the olive-oil mixture and season very well with salt and pepper. Place vegetable mixture on prepared pan, making sure not to overcrowd. (You don’t want to steam the vegetables; you want them to roast.) Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, or until golden and lightly charred in some places. Remove from the oven. Schmear Labaneh onto the serving platter, top with hot roasted vegetables, and sprinkle with Pistachio Dukkah.
1 cup pistachios
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1⁄2 tsp. coriander seeds
1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
1⁄4 tsp. cardamom powder
3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°. Place pistachios on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes, checking frequently to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and let cool. Repeat with the sesame seeds, placing them on a sheet tray andmroasting for 1 tom2 minutes. In amsmall saucepan,toast the coriander and cumin seeds on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they become fragrant. To a small blender, add the toasted cumin and coriander seeds, then add the pistachios and chop up. Don’t blend too much: You want large chunks of nuts, not a fine powder. Place in a bowl and mix in the toasted sesame seeds, cardamom powder, and kosher salt.
Harissa Roasted Eggplant, Pine Nut Gremolata, and Tahini
5 small eggplants or 2 large ones, sliced in half and cross-hatch scored
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup spicy harissa paste
Maldon sea salt
Garlicky Tahini (recipe follows)
Pine Nut Gremolata (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Generously sprinkle the eggplants with salt and let sit (and sweat) for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together olive oil, garlic, and salt. Pat the eggplants dry and schmear the harissa paste over the entire open face, rubbing it into the cracks. Pour the garlic–olive oil mixture over the eggplants, pushing it into the cracks. Place the eggplants faceup on a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until lightly golden and custardy inside. Remove from oven and drizzle with Garlicky Tahini (recipe below). Serve topped with Pine Nut Gremolata (recipe below). Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.
1 cup tahini paste
1 clove garlic, grated
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt
In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients with ½ cup cold water. Set aside until ready to use.
Pine Nut Gremolata
½ cup toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped
¾ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested (keep the lemon for plating)
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a bowl and combine. Check seasoning to taste. Set aside until ready to use.
Braised Lamb Shanks with Preserved Lemon, Dates, and Olives
6 lamb shanks
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 carrots, finely diced
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
Pinch of saffron
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups beef stock
½ cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
½ cup green olives, sliced in half
1 preserved lemon, flesh removed and skin thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350°. Season the lamb shanks very well with salt and pepper. Heat the grapeseed oil in a large pot on medium-high heat and sear each side of the lamb shanks until golden and caramelized, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Once caramelized, remove lamb shanks from the pot and set aside. Turn the heat to medium-low and add carrots, onion, celery, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper to the pot and sauté 5 minutes. Add in the saffron, coriander seeds, garlic, and cumin seeds and sauté another minute. Pour in white wine and let reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Add lamb and all the juices back in. Pour in the beef stock and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and place in oven for 1 hour. After an hour, add the dates, olives, and preserved lemon. Place back in the oven and let braise another 1½ hours. Move pot to stove, remove lid, and let braising liquid caramelize and reduce at medium heat for 20 minutes. (The lamb should be falling off the bone.) Serve hot with rice.
Coriander, Lemon, and Parmesan Fennel
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 fennel, stems removed (reserve fronds for garnish), sliced in half and then again into thirds
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, crushed
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil. Season both sides of the fennel well with salt and pepper, and sear the fennel for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until lightly caramelized. When you are on your last fennel, turn the heat down to medium low. Add in the coriander seeds and garlic and toast lightly for a few seconds. Transfer all the seared fennel to a sheet tray and cover with the lightly toasted garlic and coriander seeds. Pour 1 tablespoon of water and the lemon juice onto the fennel. Cover the sheet tray with foil and put it in the oven. Let steam for 30 to 40 minutes, until a knife slides through easily. Remove foil and sprinkle with cheese. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and browned. Remove from oven and plate the fennel, topping with fresh lemon zest and fennel fronds.
Brown Sugar Cardamom Pear Cake with Sage Whipped Cream
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup white sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
¼ cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, cardamom, baking soda, and baking powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, and mix on high until whipped, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugars and whip until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as you go. Add in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add in the sour cream and milk and mix until just combined. Add the dry ingredients in two parts and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the cake pan starting from the edges and moving toward the middle, so as not to push the caramel base out to the sides. Spread the batter as evenly as you can and place in the oven. Let bake until lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Once cooled, remove the cake from the pan by flipping it over so that all the caramel comes out and becomes the top of the cake. Slide onto a cooling rack. Serve topped with Caramel Pear Top and Sage Whipped Cream (below).
Caramel Pear Top
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 Bosc pears, halved, cored, and sliced
Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper in the base and oil the sides. Melt the butter in a small pan on medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir for 5 minutes, until the mixture darkens a bit and begins to bubble. Pour into pan. Let cool, then arrange the pears in a pattern on top of the cake.
Sage Whipped Cream
1½ cups whipping cream
15 sage leaves
1 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
Put the cream and sage in a pot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down and let simmer for 10 minutes on very low heat. Turn heat off and let cool. Strain the cream through a strainer, squeezing the cream out of the sage well. Place in a container and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Whip the cream using a beater. After 1 to 2 minutes, add in the sugar and keep whisking for about 5 to 8 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Make sure to not overwhip. Serve with the cake.
Location: Coxsackie, NY
Superhost + Home: Susanne Frenk with Jean Louis Frenk
About the author: Betsy Goldberg is the deputy editor (Home) of Airbnb Magazine. Previously she was the deputy editor of Real Simple and HGTV Magazine, editorial content director at Bed Bath & Beyond, and an editor at UsWeekly, Modern Bride, and New York Magazine. She is co-author of BusinessWeek’s Guide to the Best Business Schools. Her writing has also appeared in Glamour, Health, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Money.