Peggy Knickerbocker suggests succulent, aromatic spice- and seed-encrusted pork tenderloins, accompanied by an hors d'oeuvre of tender little bay shrimp on endive leaves (replenished now and then from a tray in the fridge), flavorful roasted vegetables, an escarole salad that stays crunchy for hours ― and a luscious, earthy Barham Mendelsohn Pinot Noir from Au Bon Climat. On a side table, she sets out a couple of surprising desserts: sliced oranges sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and fizzed up with sparkling wine, and a moist, almost black gingerbread made with Guinness stout.
Peggy based this menu's recipes on ones in her fun and graceful book Simple Soirées (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2005; $35). All of them may be made several hours ahead if not the day before, and all taste fine at room temperature ― which means that you don't have to scurry around at the last minute reheating anything. You can just put out the food, sit back, and enjoy your company.