Ciao'd with a can of Yerba Mate.


Do you remember the children's rhyme about weather? It goes something like this: "January snowy, February flowy, March blowy, April showr'y, May flowr'y," etc.  How prescient, even for a poem written in the 19th century when "global warming" wasn't part of the conversation.  

Easter and Passover are snowy, flowy and blowy this year, yet they bring a message of hope and celebration for the fresh start that is spring. Proof positive that there is a tender shoot even in the coldest ground, March shepherds in daffodils, robins, and spring lamb.

Across the globe, lamb is the most popular Easter symbol. Back in the day, the lamb was considered a lucky omen, especially at Easter time. I won't go into the religious symbolism other than to say the lamb is a symbol of peace. For centuries, the pope's Easter dinner has featured a whole roast lamb. And so, here we are with a recipe for lamb. 

Roasting a whole lamb is a bit cumbersome, even if you can find one. My recipe showcases tender, juicy loin lamb chops. They're quick to grill (or broil) and present beautifully on the plate. A flurry of herbs and a healthy spritz of lemon complement the earthy richness of the lamb. Serve the chops with other spring yums such as tender asparagus followed by sweet strawberries.

Some say January is the month for resolving to do something new. I say it's spring. Why else would a season be synonymous with leaping, launching, and jumping off? Happy landing! 

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Tender lamb chops are quick to cook yet elegant enough for a dinner party. Feel free to substitute other herbs such as thyme or mint for the rosemary and oregano.

Serves 4

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
8 bone-in lamb loin chops, each about 6 oz. and 1-inch thick
Kosher salt and black pepper

In a shallow bowl or baking dish, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and herbs. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper and add to the dish, turning to coat with the marinade. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Remove the lamb chops from the marinade (discard the marinade). Grill over high heat or broil for 5 minutes. Turn the chops and grill another 5 minutes for medium-rare, or until done to your liking.

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Ciao'd after stringing lights on the tree without arguing (much) with husband.
Christmas miracle. 

This could be the easiest elegant dinner party dish ever. The sweet-tart pomegranate sauce sparks the lamb with bright flavor - and gorgeous color, too. It's just the thing to serve for a holiday get-together with friends. Purchase the pomegranate juice (POM is a nice brand) or go for it and juice those lovely orbs yourself.

Lamb Chops
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 bone-in lamb loin chops, each 2-inches thick

1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pomegranate seeds, for serving (optional)

Season both sides of the lamb chops with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Press the rosemary mixture firmly into both sides of each chop. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until very hot, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lamb chops and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of the chops. Transfer the chops to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest while you prepare the sauce.

While the lamb chops rest, discard any fat from the skillet, and then add the pomegranate juice. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. Thoroughly mix the cornstarch with the water until completely dissolved. Combine the cornstarch and water and stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. and stir into the pomegranate mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar; then swirl in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle the sauce over the lamb chops and garnish with pomegranate seeds, if using.