A Special Blog Post for Valentine's Day
By Tom Midford
One-Pan Roast Rack of Lamb and Green-Olive Potatoes Recipe
1 rack of lamb (6 bones is ideal)
1 onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 anchovy, crushed using a pestle and mortar (optional)
small handful of rosemary springs, roughly chopped
500g Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes, finely sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
10 pitted green olives, chopped
100ml chicken or lamb stock
STEP 1 Heat the oven to 210C/190C fan/gas 7. Generously season the lamb all over and heat the butter in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Brown the lamb all over for 10-15 mins, especially the fat side. Remove and set aside on a plate.
STEP 2 Put the pan back on the heat and fry the onion for 5-7 mins until softened, then add the garlic, anchovy (if using) and rosemary, and fry for 2 mins more. Carefully arrange the potatoes in the pan with the olives, season, then turn them over so they’re fully coated in the mixture, then spread out in an even layer. Pour over the stock, then put in the oven for 30 mins until the potatoes start to crisp at the edges.
STEP 3 Sit the lamb on top of the potatoes, fat-side up, and drizzle over any of the juices from the plate. Put the pan back in the oven for 20 mins for lamb that’s rare, 25 mins for lamb that’s pink but cooked through, and 30 mins for well done. When the lamb is done to your liking, lift onto a carving board and leave to rest for 10 mins. During this time, put the potatoes back in the oven to make them extra crisp. Cut the lamb into chops and serve with the potatoes, the cavolo nero and parsley & caper dressing (see 'goes well with', below).
A History of Valentine’s Day
Origins and Namesake
For a holiday about love and romance, Valentine’s Day has an unclear and at times rather unpleasant history. No one is entirely sure about the origins, but it is believed that it may have started with a disturbing ancient Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia, which is best not described in great detail (at least, not in this blog). Lupercalia took place in mid-February and was outlawed in the 5th Century A.D. Valentine’s Day is believed to have two men as its namesakes, both having been executed on February 14th by Emperor Claudius, albeit in different years. These two men may have been combined into the St. Valentine that Valentine’s Day is named after. One of the men is said to have officiated weddings for Roman soldiers to save them from being sent off to fight in wars. The other is said to have written the first valentine letter to a young woman while in jail, signing it with ‘from your Valentine’, giving us this popular Valentine’s Day phrase.
Love Gets Thrown In
Valentine’s Day gained its romantic themes from poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s work ‘The Parliament of Fowls’ in the 14th Century according to Jack B. Oruch, a late English professor at the University of Kansas. Back then, 2/14 was considered the first day of spring, as birds started mating that day.
The Birth of the Modern Valentine’s Day
Much of Valentine’s Day as we know it emerged in the 19th Century, when men in Victorian England used flowers to woo women, the heart-shaped chocolate box was invented, and Conversation Hearts were developed by the New England Confectionery Company. Esther Howland popularized the Valentine’s Day Card by making it affordable through mass production. By the 1910s, the card icon Hallmark had been established.
Where Did Cupid Come From?
Cupid’s origins also lie with Ancient Rome, as he was the son of Venus, goddess of love and beauty. He caused people to fall in love by shooting arrows at them.
Desmazery, B. (2022, November 8). One-pan roast rack of lamb & green-olive potatoes recipe | BBC Good Food. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/one-pan-roast-rack-of-lamb-green-olive-potatoes
Murtaugh, T., & Lowin, R. (2023, February 3). The True History of Valentine’s Day Might Surprise You—Here’s What to Know. Country Living. https://www.countryliving.com/life/a46353/history-of-valentines-day/