Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pork chops with lavender butter

I've been doing a lot of gardening recently. Finishing the path to my front door, edging it on one side with stones, taking out a lot of old, half dead stuff, cleaning up the palette, as it were. Suddenly there's room to think about new colors, new shapes, and hopefully to group plants together that like similar amounts of water and sunlight. It's a good thing my yard is small. This kind of a thing requires a lot of planning, and I'm much more of a "shoot from the hip" kind of gal.

So I went to the nursery today, as well as the garden department of Home Depot. I had this vision of a flower called "kangaroo paws" - an odd sort of a plant, but for some reason I knew I needed it in my front yard. It comes in lots of colors, from pink to red to yellow. These days, it's red and yellow that call to me from the color wheel, so I selected three yellow ones, and then had fun selecting plants that would look good with them - purple basil, Japanese sedge grass, a small rosemary bush and some snapdragons.

One of the plants which is coming out is an old lavender bush. It suffered a blow when someone cut off a branch from the neighbor's elm, and when it fell, it landed on my lavender bush, splitting it in two. This was several years ago, and this stalwart plant managed to survive - and even thrive - for at least 3 years. But recently, half of it seems to have died. The other half is still alive, but it looks like an invalid with a grin. If this plant was in my back yard, I'd keep it and nurture it as if I were a hospice nurse. But it's right there when you walk through my gate. So I bought a young plant today to replace it.

With the old lavender coming out, I've got a lot of lavender to deal with. I certainly don't want to throw it out, and I am not going to add sewing pillows with lavender in them to my "to do" list. What to do? Again, it was a memory I had of a lovely afternoon in New Mexico, having lunch with my friend Julie and a friend of hers, Tom, which inspired me. Tom had a spectacular adobe house with a view that went on for days. One of the things he was passionate about was gardening, and my friend Julie is a master gardener. She helped him with his extensive gardens, which included a field of lavender plants. The other thing Tom loved to do was cook. He prepared an original recipe of cornish game hens with lavender butter which was the perfect thing to eat on his patio, overlooking the Sandia mountains.

While this helps with the lavender surplus, it doesn't solve it completely. If anyone has a great idea of what to do with a lot of lavender, I'd appreciate the input. Meanwhile, it was also "clean out the fridge" day, so I have added things to the lavender butter which Tom didn't. Also, I was more in the mood for pork chops than cornish game hen, so the whole thing morphed into this meal. I looked on epicurious and found a recipe for pork chops with sage butter which looked simple. I took the basic concept and ran with it. I didn't measure anything this time, however, so all measurements are more or less....

6 TBS butter
1/4 red onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp. diced garlic
1 TBS plus 2 tsp lavender leaves, cut
2 tsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 TBS olive oil
2 thick center cut pork chops

Melt 1 1/2 TBS butter in pan, add onions and lavender. Sautee until onion is toasted. Add garlic, sautee for another minute or more, till garlic is golden. Put mixture in a bowl, add the rest of the butter, parsley, salt and pepper and mix.

Put olive oil in pan, heat and add pork chops. Cook over medium heat until browned, turn over and reduce heat and cover until done. Spoon some of the butter mixture over the chops and serve.

Note: The butter can be put on a piece of plastic wrap when it is cool, rolled into a log and stored in the freezer. It's another one of those "Wow! I've got THIS to work with" kind of things that makes the freezer such a serendipitous place!

I served this dish with grilled asparagus. All I did was to mix some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little kosher salt, pour it over the fresh asparagus and put it on a heated grill. Oh, yum! Isn't summer the best?!!For more health news, visit Mission Valley Acupuncture
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Freya said...

What a brilliant idea, putting lavender with pork. I've only ever thought about using it with lamb so you've made me think a bit more about using this wonderfully fragrant herb!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm not a pork chop girl, but I have abundant lavender in my herb garden, and I love the idea of the lavender butter on asparagus!

Toni said...

Freya and Paul - And I've never put lavender with lamb - great idea!

Lydia - I love lavender butter in so many ways!

Unknown said...


My best surplus lavender suggestion is to strip it all from the wood, throw it in bowls around the house. Crunch it up when needed to release some more scent.

The sticks, make ripper kindling for the fire, slightly scented, and what you need to get the fire going on a wintery night.

I will have to venture into cooking with it soon...

Unknown said...

Lavender butter - you have inspired me with that one.

I think a lavender surplus is a good problem to have, Toni.

I like Amy's idea. And Freya and Paul's, too.

Sadly, lavender does not thrive this far north.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm sorry your lavender suffered so much, Toni!

Can you believe it I have never tried lavender?? Your dish looks so beautiful, I think the asparagus were the perfect thing to go on the side.

Beijos, querida!

Anonymous said...

Omigod, Toni, this lavender butter sounds wonderful! I could see letting a generous chunk of it melt onto just about any sautéed or grilled meat or fish. Or on steamed green beans or...

Shayne said...

This looks really good and I have a big bunch of lavender right outside my front door and my daughter LOVES asparagus so I think this will end up on my menu for next week. Thanks!


Toni said...

Mimi - I definitely would choose having a lavender surplus over most other problems, that's for sure!

Terry - I just love having this in my freezer! It definitely adds that je ne sais quois to a dish! ;-)

Patricia - I never thought of lavender as a food, either, until that afternoon in New Mexico. But I do love the look and smell of it!

Shayne - I hope your lavender lasts for many years outside your front door! Enjoy the asparagus!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I'm always intrigued (yet hesitant) by lavender recipes. I've had mixed results with lavender, but perhaps I should give it another go!

Stella said...

Lavender butter? this must taste divine!
especially with pork... I'm sure it adds a lot of flavour to it:)

Toni said...

Susan - I think the trick is to not overwhelm the dish with lavender. That would definitely interfere with other flavors. You might want to give this a try, using a judicious amount of lavender to begin with. You can always increase it in the future.

Valentina - So glad to see you've come out from behind the flower!! Yes, it's wonderful with pork. I've never put it with lamb as Freya and Paul have - worth a try.

Anonymous said...

Use it to make herbs de provance. I use it in bread, with meats, in scones - a nice combination of herbs.

Rachael Narins said...

As the person responsible for some of the death in your garden, I am happy to hear it has rebounded. (Though I still blame the weather. It was hot! I watered! I watered!)

I am making lavender pudding as soon as I find purple food dye...and I made lavendar creme brulee recently too...its worth the calories...(but your skinny...)


Shayne said...

I made my form of this and yum, yum, yum, yum ,yum. I will be posting it on my blog this week.