Lamb Kebobs, along with a burst of California orange and avocado salad, bring a taste of sunshine to your winter table. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

At this writing, we are experiencing a snowstorm here in Maine, but I am blessed to still be topped off with the burst of sunshine I received after a weeklong visit to California. While there, I rose early every morning to feast on oranges and avocados on the balcony of my oceanside abode before setting out for a daily walk on Pacific Beach.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Nearly every lunch consisted of Mexican food of some sort: flautas, tacos and chimichangas. The evenings held many fine dining experiences: The French Gourmet, where I stuffed myself with potatoes au gratin and pastries; World Famous on the boulevard; The Prado at Balboa Park; and a trip to downtown San Diego for happy hour small plates. My favorite eatery, however, was a little hole in the wall right in PB called The Bare Back Grill. It was a convivial, casual pub with zippy music, perfect gin and tonics, and a gold-star server who knew what he was doing.

I liked this lamb kebob meal, served on a wooden plank, so much that I ordered it two evenings in a row and vowed to create it at home. For those who have the outdoor grill at the ready year-round, this recipe is perfect, but you can also use your broiler or indoor grilling apparatus to cook the kebobs.

Serve the tender, charred lamb with thick slices of English cucumber, toasted pitas cut into wedges, and a dash of extra sea salt, cracked pepper and red pepper flakes in a little pile-up on the plate.

My new daily breakfast habit, which I plan to continue, inspired me to share this salad recipe with you as a side to the lamb. For a lovely lunch, add grilled chicken.

My hope is you will enjoy these sunny flavors from Cali and this menu warms your spirit as we trudge on bravely through the remainder of another Maine winter.

Lamb Kebobs

1 ½ pounds lamb shoulder or leg, fat removed and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 red onions, sliced into wedges

Marinate lamb in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper for at least 2 hours, and up to 8 hours. (The longer the lamb marinates, the more tender it will be.)

Place lamb, tomatoes and onion on metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternating meat with vegetables.

Grill on medium-high heat, turning occasionally until lamb is tender, about 5-10 minutes, depending on size of lamb pieces. Yield: 4 servings

Roasted Garlic Hummus

2 heads garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
2 tablespoons tahini
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a thin slice off the top of each garlic clove with a serrated knife to expose the flesh. Lay root side down on foil in a small baking dish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over the cut end of the garlic. Crimp foil to cover. Roast until garlic is soft and fragrant, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool.

Squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins. Place in a food processor and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini and salt. Puree until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Yield: 1 1/3 cups

Chimichurri Sauce

2 cups fresh curly parsley
1/4 cup fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 of a small red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
3/4 cup olive oil

Place red onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and salt in a food processor. Pulse, stopping and scraping down sides occasionally until finely minced. Add parsley, oregano and red pepper flakes then pour in olive oil. Pulse several times until herbs are finely minced yet still have some texture.

Top hummus with a swirl of sauce or serve on the side. Yield: 8 servings

Orange-Avocado Salad

3 large navel oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 avocados, sliced
1 head red leaf lettuce, torn
1/8 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Arrange lettuce on serving plates. Top with orange, avocado, and red onion slices. In a small bowl, mix orange juice, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Drizzle over salad. Garnish with almonds. Yield: 4 servings

Comments are not available on this story.