Hazelnut Heaven!

One of my summer goals is to share more recipes via WriteCreateClick, hence the “Create” aspect.  I also hope to share some photo tips and maybe even do a summer “photo a day” feature, hence the “Click”.  Bear with me & please chastise me if I fail.  I find that motivational.

I love to cook because the act of taking a list of ingredients & successfully turn it into something yummy & perhaps even visually appealing is almost like a high to me.  And much cheaper & safer than drugs.  I think, originally, the anti-drug slogan was to be “JUST SAY NO! DON AN APRON!”  Maybe not.  Summer brings out the chef in me more than any other season.  I think this is because I don’t have interruptions in my day like carpool, baseball practice, games, etc.  The Buttrys love to chill & not be tied to a schedule.  It also stays lighter longer so it seems like Chuck gets home early even when he really doesn’t and we can either cook out or cook in the kitchen.  We really enjoy cooking together, but last night, he had had an especially good work day & been promoted so I thought I would surprise him with a home-cooked meal.  He loves pork chops so that’s where I started. I had recently purchased some La Tourangelle Hazelnut Oil & that was the jumping off point into new territory.  I ate hazelnuts by the pound as a child & had been thinking it would be nice to reintroduce them into our cooking & snacking habits. The La Tourangelle website has some great recipes for all of their products & you can search the recipes by product for ease.

Chuck loves salad, so I started with this.

It’s super-simple.  I started with an Organic Baby Spring Mix from Kroger.  Then I chopped up fresh strawberries, eating a few along the way.  Then I made this dressing, which is really just heavenly:

Whole Grain Mustard & Roasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp whole grain mustard

1/2 small shallot, minced

1 Tbsp sherry cooking wine

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

6 (yes, six) Tbsp Roasted Hazelnut Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

(I was lucky enough to find my Hazelnut Oil at TJMaxx. Also available at Fresh Market)

Mix the mustard, minced shallot & vinegars well.  Whisk in the oil and adjust the seasoning.

You could add some finely chopped fresh hazelnuts to the salad if you like a little crunch.

Yield:  4 servings

For our entree, we had this:

Hazelnut Crusted Pork Chops 
1 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped (I put in a ziploc, covered with dishtowel & whacked them repeatedly with a meat tenderizer…)
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp thyme, chopped
Zest of one orange
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp Roasted Hazelnut Oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
4 pork loin chops (2 if they’re large)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  (I put corn on cob in to boil at this time, for our side.)
Mix all the ingredients together (besides the pork chops) in a bowl and pour out onto a dinner plate.  Press the pork chops into the crust making sure they are coated. (I coated both sides.)  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit with a meat thermometer.  (I did this and after 30 minutes, it read exactly 140 degrees).  Super EASY!
Yield:  2-4 servings depending on size of pork chops.
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