Monday, May 7, 2012

Talkin' Derby!

The first Saturday in May in the beautiful state of Kentucky - that's Kentucky Derby time! This year, my husband and I didn't host our usual family party. It felt strange. A little sad on one hand, because we love entertaining, but there was a little bit of relief mixed in there, too. Nice to take a break, enjoy the lovely May weather, mix a leisurely Mint Julep or two, and just watch a big horse race together! 

Earlier that the morning, we walked up to our neighborhood farmer's market and got some lovely, fresh, local food for supper - beef bratwurst for the grill, asparagus and strawberries and lovely first-of-the-season heirloom tomatoes. DearHubby gave me the green light to go on and make my Mom's version of  "Derby Pie" for dessert. So, a great Derby Day! Quiet, but great - one of the horses DH drew for me from the Derby pool at work WON, even! Twenty bucks for me - or maybe 10 for me and 10 for him, for being such a sweetheart. :)

So! On last Monday's radio show, I talked about my "dream Derby menu". In other words, if I had unlimited time, unlimited budget, unlimited help (and unlimited calories!), what would I serve for a Derby party? I also made it a requirement to only use recipes I already have on hand - no googling!

And here's what we'll do... in the interest of time and space, I picked the three "Really Derby" recipes from the bunch to post here - if you'd like any others, please feel free to send me an email at . I'll be more than happy to share!

And here's what I ended up with:

*Mint Juleps*
Minted Homemade Lemonade
Iced Tea

Kentucky Bourbon Spread
Derby Cheese Torte
Peppered Shrimp Cheesecake Spread 
Baked Brie with Apricot Preserves
Crackers and fresh fruit, especially strawberries
Fresh veggie tray with Ranch dip

Mom's Strawberry-Feta Cheese Salad

Main Course:
Roasted beef tenderloin on butter buns 
*Henry Bain Sauce*
Country ham sandwiches on Orange Marmalade Biscuits

Side Dishes:
Asparagus with Mimosa Topping (from USA Today)
Mom's Cheese Grits Casserole

Derby Pie ( ), OR
*my Mom's recipe for A Pecan Pie with Chocolate and Bourbon, Named for A Famous Horse Race*
Pet's Bourbon Balls
Lemon Charlotte Russe with fresh raspberries

And... The Recipes:

Mint Juleps
 (Recipe from The Courier-Journal newspaper, with my comments added.)
Crushed Ice
2 Jiggers Bourbon
1 Jigger Minted Simple Syrup (Recipe Follows)
Fresh Mint Sprig

Fill a julep cup or glass full of crushed ice.  Pour bourbon and syrup over the ice. Stir. Stick a fresh sprig of mint in the top of the cup and serve. 
Makes one very potent serving.
(The tradition is to serve with a straw, cutting the straw short so that the drinker’s nose is close to the mint sprig – adds to the Total Experience!)

To make more juleps: Combine 1 pint bourbon and ½ pint minted simple. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or until needed. Fill the julep cups with crushed ice. Pour in the bourbon-mint mixture, add mint and straw. Serve immediately. Makes about 5 juleps.

Simple Syrup
1 cup cold water
2 cups sugar
6 mint sprigs (Or much more, to taste – I loosely pack as much as I can into the pan.)

Boil the sugar and water for 5 minutes. (* Start the timer when you turn on the heat.  Around 5 minutes, test with a candy thermometer – at 210 degrees, it should be perfect!)  Cool . Add the mint leaves. Let syrup “brew” overnight or for 12 hours. Stir the syrup a couple of times and strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove mint.
Makes ½ pint.
Recipe can be doubled.

If using your own mint, pick it on a dry morning , after the dew has dried but before the sun is full on it.  Rinse lightly and pat dry.  To store unused fresh mint, place stems in a jar of water (like a flower bouquet) and cover the tops with a perforated plastic “veggie” bag.  Place in refrigerator.  If keeping for a long time, remove the lower leaves before placing stems in water.

Mint Syrup is also great in iced tea, or for making lemonade!

Henry Bain Sauce
Developed by Henry Bain, a waiter at Louisville's Pendennis Club, this sauce is Absolutely Necessary when serving sliced beef tenderloin on Camelot buns (or other little buttery buns).  It’s also great on hamburgers, chicken, or anywhere else you’d use steak sauce. 
Note: The Pickled Walnuts are optional and very expensive, but can usually be found at Burger’s market on Grinstead Drive in Louisville, Kentucky. Nice folks there, too.  ;)

½ bottle Tabasco sauce (that's the small bottle - use the whole thing if you like it hot)
1 bottle Major Gray’s Chutney (17 oz)
1 bottle pickled walnuts, drained
1 bottle Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire (10 oz)
2 bottles chili sauce (12 oz each)
2 bottles ketchup (14 oz each; 2 ½ cups total)
2 bottles A-1 Steak Sauce (10 oz each)

Combine Tabasco, chutney, and whole walnuts in a blender, until smooth.  Wash bottles, and use to re-bottle the sauce if desired.  Makes enough to last the average family for about a decade.  (It keeps very well in the refrigerator, but the idea is to give lots away!)  

A Pecan Pie with Chocolate and Bourbon, Named for A Famous Horse Race.

From Mother
There is a pie called "Derby Pie", that is made by one specific business with one specific recipe... and the name is copyrighted to the hilt. So, I'd either purchase their pie - which is excellent - or I'd make my Mom's version, which is a little different. ;)
¼ cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 beaten eggs
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. vanilla
¾ cup light corn syrup
2 Tbl. bourbon
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans
Unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter, gradually adding sugar.  Stir in remaining ingredients. Turn into pie shell; cover edges of crust with strips of foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes; reheat to serve. 
Pie can stay out of the fridge, well-covered, for a day or two, but I like to refrigerate it once it's been cut. It's great warmed up in the microwave with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some real whipped cream.

So, here you have the start of a real Kentucky Derby "Do"! And please do feel free to e-mail me for other recipes. I love sharing!

Next up... Roses! And a non-food recipe or two, to pamper the outside of yourself. 

:D - J.