...and then she had some peas. That's Barrett's joke, actually. I was tempted to participate in the first edition of the French bloggers' event Blog Appétit! but I was nervous on several levels. Firstly, I wasn't sure exactly how it would work. Were the two ingredients meant to be used in the same dish or as accompaniments? Secondly, there was my natural laziness combined with a fear of exposing my faulty written French. And lastly there was a fear that my cooking wouldn't be sophisticated enough for a French audience. But the first edition was a great success and I so enjoyed reading the recipes and the review of their professional chef (a really nice idea, by the way) that I resolved to try my hand at the second edition.
Luckily for me my good friend Pascale from C'est moi qui l'ai fait fait chose an exceptionally good pair of ingredients: lamb and peas. Both have great possibilities and call to mind spring in all its glory. They are wonderful together. What's more, I immediately thought of an element to link the two items: mint.
I love lamb, but my dear Critic is less enamoured. For one thing he ate a lot of so-called lamb in his youth that was tough and stringy. Actually, so did I and we are both convinced our mothers were in the habit of serving mutton and calling it lamb. But I have moved on and realized that good lamb, properly prepared, is tender and delicious (whereas he is eternally surprised when I produce a leg of lamb that is neither tough nor stringy nor fatty).
And so I had a constraint on my entry for Blog Appétit! in that I wanted to prepare a simple lunch. And so I created the tastiest sandwich I have ever made. The great thing about events like Blog Appétit! and Is My Blog Burning? is that they serve as platforms for flights of creativity that would never have otherwise taken place. It's great reading about all the fantastic ideas my fellow writers have come up with but it's even more satisfying knowing it's pushed me to find something new and interesting.
Lamb Sandwiches with Mint Pea Purée (2 sandwiches)
2 slices of boneless lamb (my cuts were from the leg)
4 thick slices of good bread
100g peas (about a cup)
1/4 cup fresh mint
about ten cherry tomatoes
1 Tbs cumin seeds
1 Tbs crushed black peppercorns
1 crushed garlic clove
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Cook the peas in a little water with the mint. While they are cooking, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add the pepper and the cumin seeds. When they are hot and starting to pop, add the lamb and quickly cook, about two minutes on each side. Remove them from the pan and add the tomatoes and the vinegar. While the tomatoes are cooking, use an immersion blender to purée the peas and the mint. Depending on how much water you used to cook them, you may want to add a little water to make a thick paste. Toast the bread. Slice the lamb in thin strips. By now the tomatoes will hopefully have split and become soft and the bread will be toasted and you can construct your sandwich. Spread a thick layer of pea purée on two of the slices of bread. Top the purée with lamb. Salt and pepper and then add the tomatoes. Finish with the remaining slices of bread and serve with napkins. The juices of the tomatoes and lamb will soak into the bread but some of it will also probably run down your wrists. It's worth it, though. The sweetness of the peas compliments the spicy lamb and the tart/sweet tomatoes add a finishing touch. I had the second sandwich for lunch today, but the hot version - though messier - was much tastier!