What I’ve Been Reading + Lamb Stuffed Eggplant from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

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I’ve acquired a number of wonderful books in the past few months.

I’ve mentioned a few here and there in the context of recipes that I’ve featured…now I’m going to tell you about a bunch more en masse (since I’m just too swamped these days to post about recipes from each one).

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately, in no particular order, along with a recipe for Lamb Stuffed Eggplant from Jerusalem: A Cookbook.

Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard by Nigel Slater (I was sent a review copy from Ten Speed Press). Just like Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch (which I adore and have mentioned a few times here), Ripe is a work of art. The essays and photos make me want to curl up with this book for days on end, and the recipes are so SO lovely. We devoured the Cherry Clafoutis on page 184 this past summer.

Marmalade: Sweet and Savory Spreads for a Sophisticated Taste by Elizabeth Field. I picked this one up at my local Barnes and Noble because the photos (by Helene) are unbelievably pretty and the recipes looked tasty, too. I made the summer marmalade on page 102 with the last of my garden tomatoes a few weeks ago: it’s really fabulous. I am looking forward to making many more of the recipes with various citrus fruits this winter.

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle by Diane Sanfilippo. I bought this one on a whim because I’d heard great things about it; I wholeheartedly agree that it’s a very good book. I don’t plan to go “full on Paleo” (though my diet is honestly pretty close already), but I think Diane did an excellent job with the format and the delivery of the health information in here; also, the recipes and the accompanying photos look great.

Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors by Hedy Goldsmith with Abigail Johnson Dodge (I was sent a review copy from Clarkson Potter). Gorgeous books like this are why I’ll never completely go “paleo” (I limit my sugar intake, but I still do bake occasionally). There are recipes for lots of fun “childhood treats” as well as some seriously unique sweets in here: I made and loved the Sour Cream Coffee Cake (page 183) and the Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies on page 61. A bonus here is Ben Fink’s stunning photography.

Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week by Melissa D’Arabian (I was sent a review copy from Clarkson Potter). I routed for Melissa all throughout her stint on The Next Food Network Star, but I’ve never had the opportunity to watch her show (which has the same name as this book). This cookbook is beautiful (it’s also photographed by Ben Fink) and I found a lot of the recipes very appealing. I made the Herb Roasted Chicken with Potatoes on page 144 and the Cod in Garlic Ginger Broth (I substituted wild salmon) on page 123 and both were delicious. The book is filled with some very useful budget-friendly shopping and cooking tips: the only thing that bothered me was that there’s no mention anywhere of the health/environmental consequences of choosing inexpensive animal foods (I’d personally rather spend more for local/organic/wild choices).

Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes (I was sent a review copy from William Morrow). I met and enjoyed getting to know author Catherine McCord last spring in New York. She’s seriously gorgeous, but also so very approachable and sweet…I adore how her personality shines through in this volume of kid-friendly family meals (I also love the photos of her family throughout). I made the Four Bean Slow Cooker Chili (page 96) and the Avocado Shake on page 260, and I am looking forward to trying many more of the recipes.

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss. I bought this book after hearing rave reviews from a number of blogger friends. I’ve only read the beginning so far, but I am already head over heels in love with Luisa’s writing. I can’t wait to sit down and devour the whole book (and make some of the recipes!) but I am going to make myself wait to do that until after I get my own book manuscript handed in (my deadline’s in just over 6 weeks!).

Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well) (I was sent a review copy from Knopf). I heard author Peter Kaminsky speak at a cookbook conference last winter and when he mentioned his new book, I knew it would be right up my alley. I received this book a few months ago and have been reading it really slowly. As in: it’s on my nightstand and I read a few pages each night before I go to sleep. The book is all about how Peter- a food writer and big time food lover- has maintained a 40 pound weight loss by eating sensible portions of flavor-packed real foods. I enjoy his writing a lot and find myself shaking my head over and over that he really “gets it”: “it” being that eating healthy does not at all mean deprivation.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook. When I saw this book in my local independent bookstore, I secretly wished that Ten Speed Press would send me a review copy (and they did!). Authors Yotam Ottalengi and Sami Tamimi come from different cultural backgrounds in Jerusalem and met as adults in London; I can’t get enough of their descriptions of life growing up in their home city (that I desperately want to visit some day). I really just can’t say enough good things about this cookbook: the photos are incredibly compelling and I really truly want to make every single recipe.

The first recipe that I did make was the Eggplant Stuffed with Lamb and Pine Nuts on page 166, for which I purchased beautiful organic heirloom eggplants and ground pastured lamb at a local farm. I halved the recipe and enjoyed it for several meals (including breakfast). I served the eggplant with another recipe from the book: the Zhoug on page 301. Zhoug was brand new to me: it’s a fresh and spicy condiment made from chiles, cilantro, parsley, garlic, plus a number of dried herbs. I used fresh herbs and garlic from my garden to make it, and spooned generous amounts on top of the lamb stuffed eggplants. I’ve also been slathering it onto sandwiches…it’s so good.

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Eggplant Stuffed with Lamb and Walnuts

Roasted eggplant stuffed with ground lamb that has been mixed with walnuts and onions and flavored with warm Middle Eastern flavors.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time2 hours 5 minutes
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Diet: Diabetic, Gluten Free
Servings: 4
Calories: 884kcal


  • 1 roasting pan large
  • 1 skillet large


  • 4 eggplants medium, halved lengthwise
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 onions medium-sized, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 7 tbsp. walnuts chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley fresh, and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 3 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
  • Place the eggplant halves, skin side down, in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  • While the eggplants are cooking, make the stuffing by heating the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, and ground cinnamon, and add half of this spice mix to the skillet along with the onions. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, walnuts, parsley, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked.
  • Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add water, lemon juice, tamarind, the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, the cinnamon sticks, and ½ teaspoon salt; mix well.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF (195ºC). Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the eggplant roasting pan. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each eggplant. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, return to the oven, and roast for 1 ½ hours, by which point the eggplants should be completely soft and the sauce thick; twice during the roasting remove the foil and baste the eggplants with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dried out. Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.


Recipe adapted from the cookbook, Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.


Calories: 884kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 68g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 30g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 1745mg | Fiber: 23g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 3240IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 208mg | Iron: 7mg

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