Finally feeling recovered enough from my late night on New Year's Eve to write about the great meal we shared with friends that day! Our guests brought all the beverages, so I was able to concentrate on the menu, which included spinach salad with mushrooms, mandarins, and herb vinaigrette, roasted pork tenderloin with a date-shallot sauce, rice pilaf, broccoli in hazelnut butter, coffee-brandy creme brulee, and chocolate-peppermint cheesecake.
The shallot-date sauce was amazing and would be great on any roasted meat. I made it the day before and simply reheated it just before serving. I used Bobby Flay's recipe from the Food Network, but didn't bother with what I considered to be the unnecessary stuffing with romesco. I also used only about 3 cups of stock in the sauce, and roasted the tenderloins at 375 for about 25-30 minutes (until 160 degrees).
For the pilaf, I had some butternut bisque in the freezer which I mistook for vegetable broth. I used a wild rice blend and black-eyed peas (which are a Southern New Year's tradition) cooked in the soup. My guests all enjoyed it, and one mentioned it tasted more like a risotto. The soup gave it a creamy consistency without being sticky.
Brussels spouts should be in season right now, but for some reason they were very expensive at the store. So I bought 2 pounds of broccoli instead, and substituted it with great results in this recipe with mouth-watering hazelnut-butter. It HAS to be the first time when every guest requested seconds on broccoli!
For dessert, I wanted to give my borrowed blow-torch another run before I had to return it, so I chose a similar creme brulee recipe from what I made Christmas Eve. Will preferred the slightly more subtle coffee flavor in this version, though I found both to be exceptionally smooth, rich, and creamy. And for a less-than-perfect match-up, but to squeeze one last seasonal flair from a candy cane, I made some chocolate-peppermint cheesecake bars. I'm not going to post the recipe, because I mixed it together on the fly using different proportions of cookies and flavorings that I had on hand, and because I found them a little too dry (always a risk with chocolate cheesecake). But I will share the links I used for inspiration if you want to concoct or copy your own version: