Lamb Shawarma Recipe

Happy Earth Day to you all, and Easter to those who celebrate! Did you do or cook anything special this weekend, an egg hunt or leg of lamb, perhaps? I spent Sunday outdoors gardening with my neighbor (it was really rather lovely, how haven’t we done that before?) then inside making a feast for two (with leftovers lasting three days, two meals per day).

I realize on these weekends alone, L working and friends off to visit family in surrounding suburbs, that I really love being by myself… I crave it even. I think that makes me a partial introvert, by definition.

All this to say, I had the very best weekend and I’m feeling rather content on this fine Earth Day. That, and this lamb dish it the tops, I mean it!
I can’t even say what was going through my head when I said yes to a three pound boneless lamb shoulder at the market the other day. I had in mind that fateful dish at Zahav that literally falls apart as you slice through. This wasn’t quite that but it was beautiful and impressive on its own.

My trusty Jerusalem Cookbook has proved to the number one resource in my arsenal for the time being. The herb and spice mixtures make anything delicious, I’ll tell you that much. As with any marinade, the longer you let the meat rest, the better. For me that meant about 6 hours.


Lamb Shawarma Recipe (Adapted from Jerusalem Cookbook )
Serves 6


1 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves1/4 tsp ground cardomom
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch allspice
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 Tbsp. sumac
2 tsp kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2/3 c. cilantro (stems and leaves), chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. olive oil

3lbs boneless lamb shoulder, tied (with kitchen twine)

2 T. pomegranate molasses

1/2 c. cooked garbanzo beans (optional)

Prepare lamb: Using a paring knife, cut small slits into the fat to allow marinade to soak in.

Marinade: Combine all ingredients (other than lamb and molasses) in a large bowl and combine well. Place lamb in bowl and cover the lamb completely, distributing the marinade as evenly as you can. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 hours-overnight (I did 6 hours).

Cook: Preheat oven to 325F. Put the lamb, fatty side up, in a large roasting pan or dutch oven and coat with leftover glaze. Drizzle with molasses. Roast for about 3 hours or until meat is very tender. After about 30 minutes of roasting, carefully add water to the pan to keep spices from burning as well as garbanzo beans. Every 20 minutes or so, use a ladle and baste lamb with liquid (Note: Add more water if it reduces to below 1/4 inch). After about 1 1/2 hours cover halfway with lid or cover completely with tin foil for the remainder of cooking. When done, remove and place on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serve: Serve with pilaf and a fresh salad of lettuce tomatoes and herbs and feta cheese or wrap it all up in fresh pita bread


On Your Birthday, Mom

you are a very special woman do you know that?

I remember walking down the hallway at school and people commenting on how happy you always are…even when times were not easy, when they were, in fact, very very hard, you treated everyone with kindness and love. i still wonder to this day how you did and continue to do that.

you have an endless supply of energy that puts 20somethings like me to shame. Instead of slowing down, you’ve acquired new hobbies and checks off destinations on your “must travel” list. You say I inspire you and there is no better compliment in the world.

you are an amazing mother, grandmother, friend, teacher… and the most remarkable woman! All of us lucky enough to know and love you admire the hell out of you.

Celebrate today and every day because you, mama, are truly something to celebrate.

happy birthday!!



Life Lately (in Philly)

We had fun this weekend, I’ll tell you what! The temperatures soared and we kicked our to-do list and spent all day each day outside soaking up the Spring sun and walking…lots of walking! Up to Fishtown and down to the stadium (for a Phillies win, that’s what!) for a grand total of 14 miles. Needless to say, I fell into bed on Sunday and didn’t go to the gym before work on Monday.

On our journey to Fishtown we found the most wonderful place…would you like to hear? Keep walking up Frankford Ave, past all the rowdiness, and you’ll notice floating bulb lights right in front of the largest collection of pizza memorabilia in the world. Pizza Brain. Bring your own wine or beer, order your pizza and take a seat out back in what all us city-dwellers wish we had as a back yard. The pizza (Vegan options are offered, too) is wonderful and we devoured the pie…only to walk next door for ice-cream.

Connected to Pizza Brain is Little Baby’s Ice Cream which is my new favorite destination. After much debate I ordered one scoop of Speculoos Ice-cream on a cone and boy, did we enjoy that. The same as it’s neighbor, they also offer Vegan/Dairy-Free options.

2313 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA



I’m Jealous of My Nephew and Here’s Why…


Last weekend my mom drove down to L’s parents house to have a little visit with us. Oh, and she brought this precious 14 month old with her. Gosh, I love that little guy. I mean how can you not?! It took him a minute to get settled in, but slowly his skepticism of us changed and we ended up in the tree-house and had a grand ‘ol time.

I realized I was mildly jealous of my nephew when I watched him smile and laugh. He smiled and laughed at the simplest things and behind that grin there wasn’t worry or stress, not anymore, not even a little bit. As adults, what would we give for this, to be simply and purely happy with not a distraction or care in the world? Does that ever happen? Perhaps some, but how can we allow it to happen more? Can we have more of this with less of everything else?

So that’s why I’m jealous of my nephew…that and his blue eyes because those are amazing.


Jerusalem Cookbook’s Lamb and Beef Meatballs

I’m really feeling Spring this year, you should know. I’m daydreaming of the warm sun and the first tastes of fruits and vegetables we’ve been deprived of for the past 5+ months. 5 months! There’s a little bit of hop in my step come April and a reminder to savor these moments because those who know me know…I do not do the hot weather months of the East.

But there I go, skipping right ahead of the beauty of the now. The beauty in the form of these meatballs. Make them tonight, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Yes you need a lot of spices, yes you need a lot of herbs, but they’re so worth it and easy and worthy of your next dinner guests.

That cookbook, Jerusalem, is my bible in every way. For this recipe I modified the cooking instructions just a tad to accommodate our tiny kitchen and the fact that it and the smoke resulting from frying of any sort do not mix.

Jerusalem Cookbook’s Lamb and Beef Meatballs

Serves 4

You will need:
For the meatballs
10 oz. ground beef
5 oz ground lamb
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 c. breadcrumbs
3 tbsp each-flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill, chopped (save about half to serve atop the finished product)
2 large garlic cloves, crushed

Pinch of each of the following:
black pepper
ground cloves
ground nutmeg
ground cardamom

1 tsp ground cumin
1 egg, beaten

For the sauce:
2T olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
8 spring onions, cut into small pieces
1 package of frozen lima beans
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups chicken stock
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F. Put all the ingredients (remember, only half the herbs) for the meatballs in a large bowl. Add  salt and pepper, mix with your hands and form into balls about the size of ping-pong balls. Coat a large saute pan (you will use this on the stove top later) with olive oil. Carefully place each meatball in the dish and bake for about 25 minutes (until medium rare).

While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the lima beans according to package instructions.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and using tongs set them on a separate plate. Place the pan on the stove-top and heat to medium, adding a bit of oil to coat the bottom if necessary.

Add the garlic and spring onion, and sauté over a medium heat for a minute or two. Add the beans, stock, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pan, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes (hint: remove the lid for the last 5 minutes if it’s a bit too broth-y). Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Top with remaining herbs and serve.