New Year's Day allows a complete break from traditional holiday foods, reawakening appetites that may have been satiated with turkey, cranberry sauce, fruit cake and the rest. The only link to custom in the brunch we suggest for the first day of 1988 is eggnog. Even that is not traditional, however, for it takes the form of an egg-based Mexican liqueur called rompope. Devised long ago by nuns in Mexico, rompope is popular the year around in that country and is now being exported to the United States.
In this Mexican-themed brunch, the liqueur is blended with orange juice and gin for a sprightly welcome drink. The recipe was developed by Jose Ruiseco, president of the United States Bartenders Assn. and owner of the Royal Peso, a Mexican restaurant in Canoga Park.
Along with the drink, arriving guests are served crunchy small slices of toast made from bolillos. These are the Mexican equivalent of French rolls and are available in Mexican bakeries and some markets. The rolls are sliced diagonally and spread with butter blended with green chiles and cilantro.
The main dish combines tomatillo salsa with pork tenderloin, an easy cut to work with for a party because it contains no bones. The pork is cut into thin slices, browned and simmered with the sauce. Fresh tomatillos are plentiful in Los Angeles markets, but canned may be substituted. Allow one 13-ounce can for 3/4 to 1 pound of fresh tomatillos.
Accompaniments include sauteed mushrooms with an unusual seasoning-- epazote. This strongly flavored herb grows readily in Southern California and can be found in some markets that specialize in Mexican ingredients. If it can't be located, substitute parsley or cilantro.
Tomato-colored rice also goes with the meat, and a fruit platter adds a bright touch. The brunch concludes with coffee and a luscious mango tart that is decorated with seeds from the last of the fall crop of pomegranates.
Mexican Holiday Brunch
Bolillo Toast With Green Chile Butter
Pork Tenderloin in Tomatillo Salsa
Sauteed Mushrooms With Epazote
Fresh Fruit Platter
4 ounces orange juice
2 ounces rompope liqueur
1 ounce gin
Orange slice and cherry for garnish
Combine orange juice, rompope and gin in cocktail shaker and shake with ice until combined. Pour over cracked ice in tall glass or large wine glass. Garnish with orange slice and cherry. Makes 1 serving.
BOLILLO TOAST WITH GREEN CHILE BUTTER
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup finely chopped mild green chile or green pepper
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
3 large bolillos
Grated Parmesan cheese
Blend butter with chile and cilantro. Cut bread diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spread with chile butter. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and broil until lightly browned. Makes about 20 slices.
PORK TENDERLOIN IN TOMATILLO SALSA
2 pork tenderloins, about 2 pounds
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons oil
Cut tenderloins into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Flatten slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with garlic. Heat half the butter and oil in large skillet. Add half the pork slices and brown quickly. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining butter, oil and pork. Remove pork and clean skillet. Return pork to pan, add Tomatillo Salsa and simmer over low heat 10 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
12 large tomatillos, about 3/4 pound
2 fresh California chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 small jalapeno chile, seeded, optional
1 small onion, sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Peel off papery husks of tomatillos. Cut in halves and cut out stem ends. Combine tomatillos, chiles, onion, cilantro and garlic in food processor and process until finely chopped. Heat oil in medium saucepan. Add sauce, chicken broth and salt and simmer 10 minutes. Makes 2 1/4 cups.
SAUTEED MUSHROOMS WITH EPAZOTE
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Dash white pepper
3 tablespoons epazote leaves or Italian parsley or cilantro
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Heat butter in large skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and epazote. Cook until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender. Stir in lemon juice. Makes 8 servings.
2 cups rice
1/4 cup oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, peeled and finely chopped
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Wash rice and drain thoroughly. Heat oil in Dutch oven. Add rice and saute until rice starts to turn color. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened. Push to one side, add tomato and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir tomato into rice. Add broth and salt. Cover, bring to a boil and boil until broth is absorbed. Reduce heat to very low and steam rice 30 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Butter Pastry Crust
1/3 cup sugar