The last three and a half weeks have been like a whirl wind. I take that back, it has been like a storm. A nonstop flutter of packing, cleaning, moving…Not to mention the unpacking, organizing, and more cleaning. I could have sworn that the last time we moved we donated and sold about half of our belonging that we didn’t really use. If that is the case then how do we still have so much??? And why are we packing it up again? I have questioned everything, and made several trips to the Good Will. Somehow I own more kitchen related things than anything else? As we were unpacking I took note that box after box was labeled in some kitchen related way: pantry, baking dishes, platters, baking pans, china, kitchen utensils, jarring, glasses, pots, kitchen gadgets, and I didn’t even touch upon the numerous boxes of cookbooks. What I didn’t tell you was that the kitchen is the smallest room in this apartment. Oh what a challenge of deciding what to put where. Thank goodness there is a nicely sized dining room right off the kitchen that I have already spilled off into.
As Brian and I were unpacking (and I knew where my pots and pans were) I told him it was time I made a nice meal in our new home. For some time now I have known about using vanilla in a savory ways but never tried it. After unpacking one of my pantry boxes and noticing I had a quite a bit of vanilla beans I wanted to try it out. I walked down to the market and picked up some pork chops from the butcher that were and inch and a half thick, along with some ripe peaches and fennel. When I was back home I worked the vanilla bean seeds into a paste with some cinnamon, sea salt, and pepper and rubbed it all over the pork chops. I kept the peaches simple with the fennel and made them into a bright and lovely salad along the side. Together they were a lovely combination. The mild sweetness of the pork was perfumed with the vanilla bean rub. The sweet and tart peaches tossed with fennel and some parsley was really colorful on the pallet and cut through the richness of the pork really well. It was a perfect meal for the late summer and early fall we are experiencing. It was also a perfect meal for our new apartment and made it feel and smell more like a home. I see many great meals like this one in our future! Now back to the unpacking and organizing.
Vanilla Bean Rubbed Pork Chops (feed 4)
2 tbsp of sea salt
1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp of ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, spit and seeds scraped out
4 pork chops
3 tbsp of butter
First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl mix your sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and vanilla seeds real well. The vanilla bean seeds are sticky and somewhat pasty, so be sure to work it all together well and not have your vanilla seeds clump up.
Next, take your pork chops and pat them dry. Take your vanilla bean sea salt mixture and liberally sprinkle the chops on both sides, gently rub the mixture into your chops. Place a nonstick pan over medium heat and melt about 2 tablespoons of your butter in it. Gently place one or two of your pork chops (whatever fits into your pan) into the melted butter and let it simmer away. Once the down side of your chop is seared in the butter and nicely golden you can turn it and repeat on the other side. You are not looking to cook the pork chops all the way through, just sear its sides. Repeat until all your chops are done adding the remaining butter if needed.
Then, when your chops are seared you can place them on a sheet pan. When all chops are on the sheet pan you can place them in the oven for about twenty minutes. You are looking for them to cook through to a nice medium doneness.
Finally; when our pork chops are done to your liking, remove from the oven and let fest about ten minutes before serving. Serve while still warm and with the salad that follows.
Peach and Fennel Salad (serves 4)
2 – 3 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced into 8th or 10th
1 small – medium bulb of fennel; trimmed and thinly sliced, white parts only
½ cup of parsley, lightly chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup of olive oil
Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
First; in a deep platter or one with a nice rim to it layer your fennel, peaches, and parsley.
Next, over the top of it all drizzle your olive oil and lemon juice. Over the top of that sprinkle your sea salt, black pepper, and lemon zest.
Finally, give your salad a gentle toss and taste to see if you need to adjust your seasoning. Keep salad chilled until ready to serve. I like to prep this salad no more than an hour before eating.