Almost five weeks later, I’ve decided to emerge again. This really is a strange job. In the week before the A-level and GCSE exams began we were running around like headless chickens, photocopying papers, running late evening revision sessions and marking like there was no tomorrow. Now the exam students have gone and I literally have nothing to do, hence I am writing a blog post during school hours.*
Oh, the joy of having three year 12 sets and a year 12 tutor group. They’re all really keen and really nice students and, in the middle of May, they all bugger off on exam study leave for the best part of a month, leaving me with a grand total of 4 lessons to teach this week. The down side of this is that the absence of 6th formers means teaching lessons is thoroughly exhausting. This is because three out of my four lessons involve battling with a bunch of hyperactive fourteen year olds many of whom, since the warm weather began, seem incapable of staying quiet for five minutes, let alone revising through an entire 50 minute lesson. However, when your job only takes up 20% of your day, finding it tiresome isn’t too much of a problem.
The change in pace did leave me rather shellshocked last Friday when I arrived home to a flat which would be empty for the entire weekend with nothing to do. It had been weeks since I’d done anything but work, eat and sleep and I literally had no idea of how to occupy myself. Could it be that I’d forgotten how to have fun?
Well, yes, actually it did seem that way, especially since the vast majority of my friends live 15 miles away on the other side of London. It reminded me of the time when I was at school in Kingston Upon Thames and at the weekends my friends, who were considerably richer than me, would be going horse riding in Banstead, leaving me sitting in my room with my computer for company**. At that age, I entertained myself with computer games, mostly the now forgotten graphic adventure genre. These were games which I convinced myself were for those of a high intellectual calibre, i.e. they involved a lot of logic based puzzles and very little violence. This is almost certainly why they died out by 1999.
So, fortunately for the food blog, the lack of games to play, and hence potential for nostalgic time wasting, meant that I was forced to occupy myself by buying myself something fun and exciting to cook.
I admit I’m rubbish at keeping up with what is in season but, given all the major supermarkets have blueberries on special offer, I assumed it MUST be the right time of year for them. In any case, it turnes out they work rather well as an accompaniment to a delicious, tender lamb rack.
Lavender and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Rack with Blueberry Sauce (serves 1)
- 1 small lamb rack (about 350g-400g)
- 1 level tablespoon ground lavender
- crumbs from 1-2 slices of bread- enough to coat the rack
- leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary, very finely chopped
- some more rosemary- perhaps another large sprig torn into little bits
- 50g blueberries
- 50ml ruby port
- sugar to sweeten the sauce- around half a tablespoon but best done to taste.
- roasted new potatoes and a green vegetable or salad to serve
- Preheat your oven to gas mark 7.
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the lavender and chopped rosemary.
- Make deep slits between each rib bone in the rack. Push a piece of torn rosemary into each slit.
- Coat the meat in the breadcrumb mixture.
- Roast the meat to required doneness, then cover with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes. As a rough guide, my 500g rack took 18 minutes to be roasted rare.
- Place the berries in a blender. Add the port and blitz until smooth.
- Strain the blueberry/port mixture into a small saucepan.
- Bring the blueberry sauce to a gentle bubble. Allow to reduce until thick and syrupy.
- Add sugar to taste. The sauce should have a slight tang to it but shouldn’t be very acidic. Adding extra port may help if your blueberries were very tangy.
- Cut the rack into cutlets and serve with the sauce on roasted baby new potatoes and steamed asparagus.
Lavender and blueberries…. now why didn’t I think of that before! It seems a natural pairing in hindsight. I liked this idea a lot, so much so that I made Goon try it after he returned from his sojourn in Newcastle. Blueberries give a slight tang to the dish while the floral overtones of the lavender complement the unique fruity flavour of the berries. A fair bit of sugar is needed to mediate the acidity of the fruit. Too much acid just tastes odd with the slight bitterness of the rosemary and lavender.
Now I should perhaps go and tidy up those posts i wrote during Easter with the intention of publishing one every few days this term. Then again, maybe it is too late to be posting about winter food, although looking at the rain outside, maybe it is wotrth reserving judgement for a couple of days.
* No, really, I WROTE the post in school hours, then had to wait four days to sort out the photos.
**I blame my excessively geeky interests on this time. Few of the friends I made after leaving school are aware of just how nerdy I can be. However, the year 9s now have a pretty good idea of how bad it gets since I spent most of an evening (post 6th form departure) writing them a very authentic Star Wars based exercise sheet on standard form. My boss and I thought it was really cool. Only one of the year 9s agreed.