The strangest thing about being here is the tiny sense of relief you get when an essay is completed, a tutorial out of the way, a sense of relief almost immediately overtaken by the burden of all the other work you have to do, and the realisation that even when its done, you can’t go home at the end of the day. I deal with it by going food shopping.
Sainsbury’s Westgate isn’t an oasis of calm, and doesn’t have a butchers counter. I’m not a meat snob, but it has recently come to my attention that its impossible to buy protein in single portions, and unfortunately I couldn’t get any of my neighbours as excited at the prospect of lamb as I have been all day. (In the event, I managed to freeze my spare lamb leg steak, but am quite certain that the microwave sized freezer compartment can’t take any more surplus produce.) On the plus side, the choice of apples was much improved.
After 4 hours of the relative merits of Fair Value and Historical Cost Accounting ( I’m inclined to side with the HCA contingent), I was ready to indulge in culinary bliss. The only thing I couldn’t find was balsamic vinegar. When I cook mushrooms, I nearly always use balsamic vinegar. Thus, having cooked mushrooms just two weeks ago, I assumed I had some. The realisation that I had forgotten it last time almost threw me completely off balance. These wonderfully sticky, sweet, sour onions are the result of the sugar and acid from the vinegar, so I’m most grateful to the colleague who remembered they sell sachets of malt in the dining hall. Thus, the meal described was made with the help of two sachets of Sarsons, but balsamic gives the best flavor.
First, pour hot water onto a tablespoon of raisins and leave to one side to plump up. Finely slice one medium red onion, and heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy based pan. When the oil is really very hot, add the sliced onion, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar, and fry over a high heat for a couple of minutes. Once the raisins look refreshed, drain in a sieve and add to the onions, stirring to coat. Turn the heat down and cook for another 10 minutes.
Rub one lamb leg steak with olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat another heavy bottomed pan, wait untill it is almost smoking then chuck the lamb in. Put the kettle on, and give the onions a stir.
After 3 and a half minutes, turn the lamb steaks over, and pour boiling water over 250g spinach. Leave for a minute then drain with a sieve, squishing out any excess moisture. Plate up the spinach, sit the lamb on top and drizzle the sweet onion mixture over the top.
I highly recommend taking said supper back to your room, putting on Madeleine Peyroux and wondering who ever said students lived on cornflakes.