Two Variations of Roasted Spring Lamb with Orange and Herbs


Spring has sprung all over Israel and after a rather sad period in my life, I am basking in the beauty of nature’s bounty. Over the past few weeks, Mr BT and  I have travelled to the north and south of the country visiting dairies, wineries, open markets, flower shows and renewed my spirits and zest for life. I think my father would be a bit annoyed with me for taking so long to post, but I just wasn’t ready until now.

Before Pesach, I bought two 1/4 lambs (shoulder and ribs) which I didn’t have a chance to cook during the holiday, but I found two great opportunities to roast them: the Shabbat after Pesach and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day). Over the years, I have made some very interesting lamb dishes: some of them from recipes I found and some inventions of my own. These recipes are a collaborative effort between Mr BT and me. Oranges go beautifully with lamb, because they cut the fattiness of the meat, so the first lamb shoulder was marinated in wild and farmed oranges, rosemary, garlic and mustard and the second one was marinated in za’atar, rosemary, garlic, anchovy, and mustard.

I used wild oranges for the first recipe that we collected from trees near where we live. These trees are a natural hybrid that grow wild by the side of the road leading to our village and are sourer than regular oranges, in fact too sour to eat as they are or to drink the juice.

Lamb Shoulder with Oranges, Rosemary and Garlic

Slow Roasted Lamb with Wild Oranges, Rosemary and Garlic

Serving Size: 6

1 quarter lamb (shoulder and ribs), approximately 6-7 kilos (13 - 15 lbs)

2 medium farmed oranges, quartered

3 medium wild oranges or 3 large lemons, quartered

1 head of fresh garlic (if available) or regular garlic

2 heaping tablespoons seedless Dijon mustard

2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is still slightly chunky. Do not puree.

Place the lamb in a roasting pan and marinate it for 2 hours, turning it over after one hour.

Cover the lamb with aluminum foil and put in a preheated 150C (300F) oven for approximately 6 hours or until the meat is fork-tender.

On Yom Hatzmaut, we brought the second lamb dish to our friends Cassia and Massimo’s house. Massimo is a Florentine who is also an avid cook and wine lover in true Italian and Florentine fashion. He makes delicious jams, the best limoncello I have every had, and his pasta dishes would make all Italians cry with joy. I will post more about this dinner in my next post. Mr BT and I always enjoy travelling around Israel with them looking for interesting food places to visit and just hanging out.

Slow-Roasted Lamb with Wild Oranges, Za'aatar and Anchovies

Slow-Roasted Lamb with Orange, Za'aatar and Anchovies

1 quarter lamb (shoulder and ribs), approximately 6-7 kilos (13 - 15 lbs)

1-/12 heads of fresh garlic (if available) or regular garlic

3 tablespoons of fresh za'atar or fresh oregano

1 small jar anchovy fillets in olive oil

1/2 cup olive oil

3 heaping tablespoons seedless Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 large sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only

Juice of 3 medium oranges

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is still slightly chunky. Do not puree.

Place the lamb in a roasting pan and marinate it for 4hours, turning it over after 2 hours.

Cover the lamb with aluminum foil and put in a preheated 150C (300F) oven for approximately 1-1/2 hours and then 120C for 6 hours (I cooked it overnight) or until the meat is fork-tender.

Vegetable Latkes with a Twist

I am always looking for something new and different to make for each holiday, and Hannukah is no exception. Bon Appetit magazine has some interesting recipes in its December 2008 edition and the cauliflower latke recipe sparked my interest. I made cauliflower latkes last year, but I was not completely happy with the outcome. They tasted great, but they weren’t very crunchy. The Bon Appetit recipe is a little crunchier and I really like the spicy kick from the Allepo pepper. If you can’t find any where you live, then just use cayenne pepper. The zaatar aioli was a perfect match to these latkes. I used a very nice zaatar mixture that we received as a gift from my company for Rosh Hashana. This zaatar had bigger dried zaatar leaves, sesame seeds and nigella, which gave the aioli an extra added crunch. I served the latkes with red mullet that I sauteed with garlic, lemon juice, and fresh oregano, and a steamed artichoke. I will definitely make these again next year. I think I am all fried food out. We cut down our Hannukah fried food eating considerably this year and our bodies are giving us a big hug for that.

Spicy Cauliflower Latkes with Zaatar Aioli

Yield: About 45 small latkes

Adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen

1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1/2 inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 chopped fresh oregano

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine dry unseasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 or 2 large eggs

Olive oil (not extra-virgin) for frying


Add garlic and half of cauliflower to processor; blend until smooth. Add remaining cauliflower, parsley, and dill. Pulse until cauliflower is chopped and mixture is still slightly chunky. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in breadcrumbs, baking powder, salt, Aleppo or cayenne pepper and black pepper. Beat 1 egg in small bowl; mix into batter. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add enough oil to heavy large skillet to coat bottom generously; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop 1 tablespoonful batter for each latke into skillet; flatten to 1 1/2-inch round. Cook until golden, adding oil as needed and adjusting heat if browning quickly. Transfer to rimmed baking sheets. Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 180C ( 350F). Bake latkes uncovered until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve latkes with aioli, if desired, or sprinkle with zaatar and serve.

Zaatar Aioli

Zaatar Aioli

Yield: About 1 1/3 cups

Adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen

2 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed

4 generous tablespoons mayonnaise

1/8 cup fresh lemon juice

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 cup za'atar

Mix all of the ingredients in a medium size bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at least several hours to allow flavors to develop. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Middle Eastern Flatbread

I have to admit that I haven’t been really inspired to blog lately. I have been very busy at work, I am worried about the economy, and the horrific terrorist attack in Mumbai took the wind out of my sails for over a week.

I made this flatbread as I was watching the news that announced the shootings at the train station in Mumbai. Somehow making this bread wasn’t so important anymore.

This is a very quick and easy recipe and the dough produces a nice chewy dough. I sprinkled the bread with a zaatar mix on one, and rosemary & sesame seeds on another.

Middle Eastern Flatbread

Yield: 4 individual round flatbreads or 1 large one

Adapted recipe from Faye Levy

1/2 tablespoon dry yeast

3/4 cup hand hot water

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Sift flour into a bowl and make a well in center. Sprinkle yeast into well. Pour 1/4 cup water over yeast and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup water, oil and salt and mix with ingredients in middle of well. Stir in flour and mix well to obtain a fairly soft dough. If dough is dry, add 1 tablespoon water. Knead dough, slapping it on work surface, until it is smooth and elastic. If it is very sticky, flour it occasionally while kneading.

Lightly oil a medium bowl. Add dough; turn to coat entire surface. Cover with plastic wrap or a lightly dampened towel. Let dough rise in a warm draft-free area about 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

Preheat oven to 225C (425F). Lightly oil 2 baking sheets or place baking stone in oven.

Divide dough in 4 pieces. Roll each to an 18 cm. to 20-cm ( 7 to 8 inches) round slightly over 3 mm (1/10 of an inch) thick. Put on baking sheets . Rub a teaspoon or so of olive oil and the bread and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the topping of your choice evenly over each flatbread, leaving a 1-cm (1/3 of inch) border. Let breads rise for about 15 minutes.

Bake bread on baking sheets or baking stone for 8 minutes or until dough is golden brown and firm. Serve warm. If not serving breads immediately, cool them on racks. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or plastic bags.

Za’atar – A Biblical Plant

Za'atar mixture of sesame seeds, sumac and salt

Za’atar which is called hyssop in English is used to make tea, mixed with sesame seeds, sumac and salt and slathered with olive oil on bread, put on top of labane and in my case it is mixed with matzah meal as a coating for red mullet.

Moses Maimonides, a philosopher, rabbi and physician who lived in North Africa and Egypt, prescribed za’atar as an antiseptic, a cure for intestinal parasites, a cold remedy, loss of appetite and flatulence. Rubbing the sides of the head with za’atar oil was believed to reduce headaches. There is also a belief that this particular spice mixture makes the mind alert and the body strong.

I like za’atar so much, I am growing it in my new garden. It is also great chopped up and mixed into an omelet or a salad.

Red Mullet with Za'atar Crust

Serving Size: 2

350g (3/4lb) small or 4 medium red mullet filets

2 cups matza meal

2 to 3 tablespoons za'atar mix

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

In a plate, mix the matza meal, za'atar mix, salt and peper. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and water.

Place the fish in the egg mixture and mix until the fish is thoroughly coated and then dip in the matza meal mixture until well coated. Cook the fish in about 25mm (1 inch) of hot oil for approximately two to three minutes on each side or until flaky. Drain on a paper towel and serve immediately.

Here are some beautiful flowers on the way to our village:

These are called bottle brushes because they look like a bottle brush.

These flowers are Anemones in English and Kalanit in Hebrew, which is related to Kala, the Hebrew word for a bride, referring to the flower’s beauty. It is mentioned in the Talmudic scriptures and is referred to as Klonita.

The scientific and English name was derived from the Greek mythological word Anemoi, the wind gods. One of whom, the legendary Zephyrus was the west wind and bringer of light spring and early summer breezes. In ancient Greece, wreaths of anemones were used to decorate the altar of the Goddess Venus. Hence, the species name Coronaria.

In Arabic it is called Skaik-a-Na’amann, probably referring to a Canaanite god by that name, and mentioned also as a flower name by the Prophet Isaiah (17:10) “Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants” (In Hebrew “pleasant plants” is Nitei Naamanim).

During the Middle Ages, a wreath of anemone flowers was put on a sick person’s neck because it was believed to help cure him.

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