The Kentucky Derby

You may not be from Kentucky but most likely know what happens in Louisville on the first Saturday of May.  Some say it’s “The most exciting two minutes in sports” but to true Kentuckians The Kentucky Derby is so much more.

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In 1872, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark. traveled to England, visiting the Derby, a famous race that had been running annually since 1780.  After returning home to Kentucky, he organized the Louisville Jockey Club for the purpose of raising money to build a racing facility.  That track would become Churchill Downs, named for John and Henry Churchill, who provided the land for the track.

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The Derby is thick with southern tradition from the famous Mint Julep to hats of all shapes & sizes.  Kentuckians love to throw a good party & the Derby is no exception.  Horse farms throughout the bluegrass state throw elegant soiree’s in honor of well dressed thoroughbreds & their riders.

In honor of My Old Kentucky Home, I share with you some Kentucky inspired Derby treats…enjoy!

xoxo

Robin

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Woodford Reserve Classic Mint Julep

2 oz. Woodford Reserve®
1 oz. water
1 t. sugar
4 sprigs fresh mint

Muddle three sprigs of mint, sugar, and water in the bottom of a julep cup or highball glass. Fill glass with crushed ice. Add Woodford Reserve and stir. Dust fourth mint sprig with powdered sugar for garnish.

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Flowers by Jessica Jones

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The hat is the center of Derby outfits for most women

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The Kentucky Hot Brown & Kentucky Burgoo

The Legendary Hot Brown

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
  • 4 slices of Texas toast (crusts trimmed)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Paprika
  • Parsley

In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino-Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 oz. turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Pour half of the sauce over the dish, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.

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Country Ham & Biscuits & Benedictine Finger Sandwiches

Benedictine Spread

by Chef Mark Williams for Brown-Forman Corporation

This spread can be used as a dip or a sandwich & canapé ingredient. It was made popular at Louisville’s Benedict’s restaurant earlier in this century.

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Pinch of cayenne or tabasco dash
  • Green food coloring (optional)
  1. Pare, grate, and drain cucumber.
  2. Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor.
  3. Serve as is or as a sandwich or canapé spread.
  4. Thin with sour cream to make a dip for vegetables.

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Kentucky Derby Pie

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Famous Ruth Hunt Bourbon Balls & Kentucky Pull Candy

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Food & Libations!

“To share food is to share your heart.”

I believe there is nothing more true than that statement.  Some of my most fond memories are ones with family when I was young.  The food was cooked and served with love & usually consisted of something with a whole lot of butter or fried, which is how us “southerners” learn to eat at an early age.

For Drew & Anne’s engagement party we’ve decided to serve cocktails & light hors d’oeuvre’s for an early Saturday evening cocktail hour.  We wanted to make sure our guests were able to enjoy Keeneland’s last race day for spring meet.  Located in the heart of Lexington’s horse farms, Keeneland plays an important role in both Thoroughbred racing and breeding and hosts meets during April & October.

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Keeneland Horse Track Lexington, Kentucky

For casual gatherings, try using small flowers or herbs in ice cubes to create beautiful additions to drinks.  If you’re planning on serving a “signature” drink, coordinate your flowers with drink colors or use herbs to add some flare.

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One of my favorite appetizers, is a cheese & meat platter.  Investigate local cheese & wine stores for unique meats & cheeses.  Follow these simple thoughts to have your guests coming back for more.

  1. Different types of cheeses. Everyone loves their cheese for a specific reason, so think about it this way: something classic, something spicy, something aged, and something goat.  Place labels in each of the cheeses so it wont leave your guests guessing.
  2. Crunchies. Use a combination of pita chips, French bread, and crackers. My future daughter-in-law is gluten-free, so I would add mini rice cakes & gluten free crisps!
  3.  Don’t forget the spreads. I really encourage you to use jams & preserves; they are absolutely yummy on crackers with cheese & meats.  My favorite is apricot preserves…give it a try.
  4. Extra, extra. Always incorporate mixed and specialty nuts, fruits, and olives.
  5. Meat. Jazz up your platter with a fine selection of meats such as salami, pepperoni and prosciutto. Be sure to try something different.

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Use shot glasses for fresh vegetables and creamy herb dressing.  You can purchase small shot glasses at local grocery stores & places like Target, & Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Make sure they are big enough to fit a good sized portion in each.  Place on platters using different heights; I am a big believer of PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION!

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We are true Kentuckians so we will use bourbon barrels to create food tables & bar tops located throughout the garden.  I love the texture they add to our soft theme.

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& DON’T forget the sweets!  My husband is one of those people who looks at the desert menu before the rest of the menu so we will, without question, share a yummy treat with our guests. How precious are these cupcakes?  A wonderful DIY!  Pick up some miniature cupcakes at your local bakery, lightly spritz flowers with water, sprinkle with sugar & place on top of cupcakes…BAM!  A beautiful addition to ANY party!

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Sweet Love,

Robin