Roast Leg of Lamb: A Greek Easter Dish

I've never made roast leg of lamb before. My friend Erma offered to come over and make it, so I figured why not, we'll try something new.

No one in my family is a huge fan of lamb. Gran Fran, my mom, pretty much despises the smell and taste of it. We have said in the past that it tastes like static and that we'd rather not eat it. When my friend Erma asked if I'd like to learn to cook a leg of lamb, I immediately said yes. Even though I wasn't thrilled about eating it (which I committed to as we were going to all of the trouble to make it), I was excited to learn how to make something new. With the amount of cooking that I do, it's rare occasion when I find a dish I've never made.

The leg of lamb was very simple to make. Erma went to a great butcher shop and got us a really nice leg of lamb. The recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients, but in large quantities. The flavors of the garlic, lemon and oregano really permeates the meat to give it a really fresh flavor against the very strong meatiness of the lamb.

 When it was fully roasted, I gave it a taste. I have to say, it's the first lamb I've ever eaten where I took a second bite by choice. It's still not my favorite, but I could see myself making this for a crowd sometime.

Click here to see how to cut a leg of lamb

Greek-Style Roast Leg of Lamb


  • 1 large leg of lamb
  • 6 loves garlic
  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup oregano
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • 5 tablespoons fresh ground pepper


Prepare the Lamb: The day before you plan to serve it:

  1. Cut slits through the fat of the lamb, each one big enough for  a clove of garlic.
  2. Stuff garlic cloves into the slits, pushing garlic well into the meat.
  3. Pour lemon juice over the lamb, rubbing it all over both sides of the meat.
  4. Coat with oregano and salt and pepper, again making sure to cover as much of the surface area of the meat on all sides with the spices.
  5. Cover and refrigerate over night.

note: if you don't have a whole night to marinade the meat, 2 to 10 hours in the fridge will work.

Cook the Lamb:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for at least 25 minutes.
  2. Cook for 30 minutes, making sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven.
  3. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F and continue roasting for about an hour.
  4. Remove the meat from the oven when a meat thermometer reads 135 degrees.
  5. Let rest for ten minutes and then carve (see above for a link to a carving video)


Let the Christmas Cookies Begin: Lemon-Iced Cookies

It's raining hard here, which means it's really almost Christmas in San Francisco. Isabella and I did some Christmas window shopping this weekend. Ingredients for Christmas cookies are showing up in our kitchen; Christmas tree is being purchased tomorrow.

Above is a picture of Noel's version of Gran Fran's lemon-iced cookies. Delish! Noel's an excellent baker, so I left the documentation to her. My cookies never quite look as good as hers, though they do taste delightful.

I wanted to share a recipe, but also these gems of Christmas-pictures past of the Claro kids. These were on Facebook already, so I figured my siblings can't complain about me posting them here....

 The little one in the grey dress is me. Kind of looking like a crazy monkey. I think there is at least one picture of each of my sisters wearing this dress. I know there are shots of me in the dress with the cherries Noel is wearing, and the blue dress Danielle has on. I never had the pleasure of wearing the funky heart-printed one Nicole has on, nor Chris' very awesome plaid pants.

How about those late '70's collars? I see tinsel on that Christmas tree. No idea Gran Fran used to allow that, must note for future Christmas

Gran Fran wrote a wonderful post that evokes memories of grandmas getting ready for Christmas in their community. The recipe for her lemon-iced cookies was included in the post. They're a wonderful addition to your traditional Christmas cookie repertoire.

And, finally, a picture of my daughter and her two local cousins enjoying some sparkling cider (no, it's not beer) at Thanksgiving dinner. These are who I bake for these days. Not too shabby, huh?

So let's start this Christmas season off right and get some baking done!

(All pictures are cookies made with standard all-purpose white flour. You can replace white flour with Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour Mix)

Angeletti –Lemon-Iced Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour Mix)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  •  2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Colored sprinkles (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift togther flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugaruntil fluffy
  4.  Add eggs one at a time; mix well after each addition.
  5. Mix in vanilla.
  6. With mixer on, gradually add flour mixture; beat until dough comes together.
  7. Gently roll bits of dough into  1 to 1-1/2 inch ballsand placeon lightly buttered or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. To cool cookies, transfer them to wire cooling rack set over a sheet of waxed paper.
  9.  In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar, lemon rind, and lemon juice to form a smooth glossy icing.
  10. When cookies are cool, dip tops in icing and return to wire rack.
  11. Shower with colored sprinkles if desired. Let cookies remain on wire cooling rack until icing is firm.

Fourth of July: Vegetarian Grilled Fajitas

Simply put, you need to make these grilled vegetable fajitas for Fourth of July. Because they are made up of many different grilled veggies, your guests can pick and choose what they want to include on their fajita. Which will leave you with plenty of time to enjoy the festivities.

I grilled everything on my stovetop in a grill pan. If you have a BBQ grill, that'll make things even easier, especially clean up. You can char the peppers, instead of slicing them up and grilling them, to make them more like a roasted pepper. And to make this completely vegan, use Vegannaise instead of mayonnaise. Of course you can go the meat route just by adding some grilled steak or chicken to the topping options. You will not be disappointed.

Happy Fourth of July!

Vegetarian Grilled Fajitas

as featured on The Fruit Guys website.

INGREDIENTS 2 bell peppers (any color), de-seeded and sliced in strips 1 onion cut into strips 1–2 zucchini (or other summer squash) cut in lengthwise slices 1/4-inch thick 3/4 cup olive oil 1/4 teaspoon dried cumin 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder 1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, Vegenaise, or sour cream Flour tortillas


  • Heat up 1/4 cup of the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, preferably a grill pan.
  • Place sliced bell pepper and onion in the pan and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  •  Stir in squash slices and cook another 5 minutes or until squash begins to soften and just turn brown.
  • Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Mix together mayo/sour cream, cumin, paprika, and chili powder.
  • Spoon veggie mixture onto well-heated tortillas, roll up, and top with a dollop of the dressing.

Serves 2. Prep time, 5 minutes; cook time, 20 minutes.

Cook’s note: Try adding sliced grilled mushrooms and/or eggplant, and topping with guacamole or fresh avocado slices. Heat tortillas in grill pan, or wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F.

Repost for Father's Day: Shrimp Salad and a Love Song

reposted for Father's Day, 2012.

My dad, Joe, made a really good shrimp salad when I visited NY last week. He knows just how much mayonnaise to add and includes celery, too. I'll share the recipe in a minute, but want to tell you another thing or two about Joe that makes him extra spectacular.

  1. He teaches English (used to be HS level, now tutors at the College level).
  2. He has a great sense of humor and has taken to emailing New Yorker cartoon clippings he has saved over the years to all of us.
  3. He is a fantastic writer with several children's books under his belt, as well as novelizations of 80's movies that made me proud in Jr. High.
  4. He has a love for musicals, especially ones with great lyrics like "Guys and Dolls".
  5. He writes lyrics.

Wait, what? I didn't know he was a lyricist until this summer when Ms. Iz and I visited for two weeks. Joe's friend Bobby wrote a piece of music and asked Joe to come up with some lyrics to go with it. Secretly, I guess, Joe had been waiting for someone to supply him with some music so he could try his hand at lyrics. I do recall him taking music theory classes when I was a kid, but thought that had to do more with learning how to write music.

Well, let me tell you something. I had the joy (with some heartbreak thrown in) today to hear a version of the song he wrote with the music Bobby crafted. The song was fantastic. The heartbreak comes with the news that Bobby got a late diagnosis with cancer and died within two weeks. The song was recorded by his daughter for his memorial service and shared with my family.

The lyrics are beautiful, and take on a new meaning with Bobby's passing. I know that Joe was pleased to have been able to collaborate on this project and I'm proud of the result.

We didn’t know the road ahead.

How could we know,

So long ago?

Because we didn’t know, we said

It will go on


Yet time has many tricks to play,

And  time, we know,

Has played them all.

But still, when I look back today,

I see us then


            If we knew

            All we know now,

            Then could we two

            Even know how

            To promise each other

            True happiness?

We thought we’d found the magic key.

We didn’t know.

How could we know?

We thought that we would always be

Like fine Bordeaux.

We did not know.

Make this shrimp salad and think of Joe's friend Bobby while you do so.

Shrimp Salad a la Joe

  • 1.5 pounds of medium shrimp (20-25 to a pound)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 scallions
  • ¼ cup whole pepper corns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾-1 cup mayonnaise
  • salt, pepper, cayenne
  • In a non-reactive pot, add pepper corns and bay leaf to about three quarts of water and bring  to a boil.
  • Cook the shrimp for 4-5 minutes, until they’re the color of shrimp cocktail.
  • Drain the hot water.  Run cold water over the shrimp, or let them sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Dice the shrimp and put the pieces into a serving bowl.
  • Chop the scallions and celery and add to the bowl.
  • Add two tablespoons of mayonnaise and stir. Add more mayonnaise until you’re pleased with the mixture.
  • Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour, or as much as 24 hours.
  • Serve with crackers or bite-size pieces of toasted bread.
  • Serves 4-6 people.