Saturday, May 1, 2010

kentucky derby dinner party

I guess I should really celebrate Preakness rather than Kentucky Derby, but the food, drinks and traditions that stem from the derby are just better honestly. Black-eyed Susans are just lame, and Preakness in general just make me think of drunken frat boys with trash cans full of beer. (They used to have some rule about coolers or something... I forget the specifics) Kentucky Derby on the other hand has bourbon, hot browns and derby pie... not to mention crazy hats and ponies. Pretty much an ideal combo for me. We started the night with homemade pimento cheese and rhubarb hibiscus spritzers- mine are not alcoholic but could easily be made so with some vodka or rum. I must thank Martha for introducing me to pimento cheese made with a cream cheese base rather than the more traditional southern mayo- it makes all the difference. I do add way more hot sauce than she calls for though. The spritzers are just rhubarb sugar and water cooked down into a simple syrup and soda water garnished with a pickled hibiscus flower. (I found these at Trader Joes- a dried flower would be fine too- or some mint) Next Hot Brown's and and strawberry goat cheese salad-- goat cheese was crusted with almonds and panko and fried. And last, but not least Derby Pie. I referenced a bunch of recipes, but stuck most closely to this one. Used my own pie crust recipe however and tinkered a bit with quantities. This pie is good- really good. I was fending off party guests all week long who kept trying to get dibs on leftovers. You taste the bourbon way more than I would have guessed- this one is not for the kiddos. The cream is non-dairy coconut cream that I always use in place of whipped cream. The drinks were of course mint juleps- and everyone has their own way of making a julep. Mine use a mint infused simple syrup instead of the more traditional mint infused bourbon just because it's easier. (And you don't feel compelled to drink all of said mint infused bourbon) I like sparkling water versus still as well. I do always insist on shaved ice for a julep- I think it's mandatory. And easy to do with normal sized ice cubes and a food processor. Viola, grown up snow cones.

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