Menu #2 - Artichoke Dip & Pita Chips, Blood Orange Sodas, Country White Loaf Bread with Herb Butter, Dried Apricot, Goat Cheese & Pistachio Salad, Roasted Thyme Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Pork Loin with Apples & Pears, and Lemon Curd Parfaits with Candied Tangelos
Three Weeks Before
- Find a co-host and kitchen helper. (Highly recommended for this menu. You'll want some help about an hour and a half before the the guests arrive and you'll need that person's assistance in the kitchen until dinner is served, about 25 minutes after the guests arrive. Make sure they feel comfortable with their responsibilities ahead of time.)
- Arrange for a sitter if desired/needed.
- Send out invitations. Be sure to mention if you desire dressy attire.
One Week-2 Days Before
- Deep clean the house.
- Follow up with any guests who have not given an RSVP.
- Choose an outfit and have it ready to go.
- Review recipes and make grocery list.
- Shop for any non-food party necessities such as unscented candles for the dinner table, matches, cloth napkins, wood for the fireplace, or fresh soap for the guest bathroom.
- If you're going with a playlist other than one you can find on Eats and Beats (which is just silly, really, because the "La Vie en Rose" one is just perfect for this menu!) make your preparations.
- Clear room in the freezer for purchased ice, or make the ice if you're planning not to buy it.
- Charge your camera battery, if needed.
Day Before (This is a BIG DAY, so get an early start.)
- Go grocery shopping for ice and all food items except for the country white bread, and the pound cakes.
- Clean the house. Since you've already done deep cleaning, this should be a bit less time-consuming.
- Stock the guest bathroom. Include fresh towels, plenty of toilet paper, tissues, a scented candle, new or refilled soap, (and it wouldn't hurt to tuck away a plunger so your guest doesn't have to request it should they find themselves in need.)
- Make sure all dishes are clean and put away so your dish washer is ready for tomorrow's prep-work!
- Set the dinner table with place-settings and any decorations.
- Designate a beverage station for your guests to enjoy with their appetizers.
- Clear room in the refrigerator for the Lemon Curd Parfaits to be stored.
- Make the blood orange syrup. Seal in a container and set aside.
- Make the herb butter. Cover and set aside.
- Prepare the artichoke dip up until before it's ready to bake. Cover and refrigerate.
- Make lemon curd and any desired extra whipped cream as instructed. Cover and refrigerate as instructed.
- Make Mighty Mint Vinaigrette and store it in the refrigerator in its serving dish.
- Make the pepper rub for the pork.
- Go to your local bakery for the country white bread and pound cakes.
- Review the remainder of the timeline, and go over the pork loin and fruit recipes again if you feel like you need to.
5 Hours Before
- Candy the tangelos.
- Assemble the Lemon Curd Parfaits, cover, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
3 Hours Before
- Get yourself ready.
2 Hours Before
- Prepare your mise en place. Get out all ingredients for the Roasted Thyme Sweet Potatoes as well as for the Roasted Pork Loin with Apples and Pears, except for the actual pork loin, and all the ingredients for the salad, except for the dressing. Get out all measuring tools, other prep tools, cooking equipment, and serving dishes. (I like to have a working surface or two and a separate surface for holding the ingredients.) Wash, dry thoroughly, and store the spinach in the refrigerator again until later. Slice the dried apricots as instructed, cover, and set aside. Prepare the thyme and sweet potatoes. (No need to apply olive oil yet, though.) Slice the country white bread and cover tightly to keep from drying out.
1 Hour and a Half Before
- Prepare the salad, but do not add any dressing. (Allow the guests to add dressing to their individual salads at the table during dinner.) Cover and set aside until ready to serve.
- Set out pita chips, still covered until just before guests arrive.
1 Hour and 10 minutes Before (Things will start moving faster now. Having someone help you from here on out is HIGHLY recommended. You may want to ask that person to be in charge of the pears and apple side dish as well as the final steps for preparing the pork loin so that you can properly greet your guests.)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Prepare the pork loin as instructed.
55 Minutes Before
- Place pork loin in the oven.
- Prepare molasses glaze.
40 Minutes Before
- Turn down the oven temperature to 400 degrees and place the prepared artichoke dip in the oven on the other rack.
25 Minutes Before
- Slice a blood orange to garnish the glasses, punch bowl, or pitcher.
- Assemble the pitcher or bunch bowl of blood orange soda, and stock the beverage station with this, water, any other drinks you've prepared, and the ice. (But wait to add the ice to the punch bowl or pitcher until just before the guests arrive! You don't want diluted beverages!)
- Chop the garlic and assemble the sweet potatoes.
15 Minutes Before
- Brush pork with prepared glaze. And place back in the oven.
- When ready, remove the artichoke dip from the oven and set out next to the pita chips for guests to enjoy as they arrive.
- Raise the oven temp to 450 degrees and place the sweet potatoes in the oven.
5 Minutes Before
- Brush pork again with molasses glaze and place back in the oven.
- Add ice to the blood orange soda punch bowl or pitcher, if desired.
- Turn on the music! (I recommend the "La Vie en Rose" collection of tunes that you can stream right from the Eats and Beats "Music Playlists" page!)
- Light any candles
15 Minutes After the Guests Have Arrived
- Check the temperature of the pork, and, if ready, remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
- In the meantime, prepare and cook the apples and pears.
- Check on the sweet potatoes
20-25 Minutes After the Guests Have Arrived
- Remove sweet potatoes from the oven if you haven't already done so and place in a serving dish.
- Place everything on the table and announce that dinner is served!
- Assess whether or not your guests need a bit of time to digest before dessert.
- When ready, serve dessert.