On the food note, I have a wee confession to make:
I used to think I was a Rachel Ray girl.
Some time ago, I purchased a bundle of her cookbooks, as they were selling at our hospital's book sale-- mega cheap, I might add.
And I have to admit, some of her recipes were spot-on, and made me very happy-- excited, even-- to be in the kitchen again. So I bought up a few more of her cookbooks, only to discover that a large portion of her recipes were odd, complicated, or sounded just plain narsty. And some truly WERE narsty (sorry, Rach).
Now, she truly is a genuine fireball of energy, and super spunky -- traits I can sometimes find endearing and wish I could emulate without large quantities of caffeine. But I really think in my heart of hearts I only love her super cool kitchen, with it's groovy avocado green tiles and retro fixtures and kitchenware.
However, if I had to pick one of her recipes that I couldn't live without, it would be:
Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 (1-inch-thick) center-cut pork loin chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (from a couple of sprigs), chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (eyeball it)
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup chicken stock or broth
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for the chops. Add 2 tablespoons of the EVOO (twice around the pan). Season the chops with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet. Cook the chops for 5 minutes on each side.
Transfer the chops to a platter and cover with foil. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO and the onions, thyme, rosemary, and garlic, then sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and chicken stock. Cook until the liquids have reduced by half.
Once the balsamic glaze has reduced by half, turn off the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter. Stir and shake the pan until the butter melts. Add the chops to the pan and coat them in the balsamic glaze.