Have a festive first Saturday in May even though the Derby has been rescheduled.
Louisville and Kentucky have rich culinary traditions steeped in Bourbon, which is the inspiration for the online video series, Bourbon & Biscuits. On the show, hosts Stacey and Jessica share their favorite local food and Bourbon cocktail recipes. Here are our picks from the series for a Derby Party at home.
The mixture of four simple ingredients (Bourbon, mint, sugar and water) has been a first-Saturday-in-May tradition since 1938. More than 120,000 mint juleps are served every year during the weekend of the Run for the Roses.
1 ounce mint simple syrup
2 ounces Bourbon
Pack a julep cup – preferably silver or pewter – full of crushed ice. Strain in the mint simple syrup (not getting any of the mint leaf) and add the Bourbon. Grab a bunch of the fresh mint and “spank it” between your hands to release the essential oils. Garnish your julep with the mint.
Mint-infused Simple Syrup
1 ½ cups packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Bring water to a boil and add sugar – stir to dissolve. Toss in your fresh mint and stir. Allow to cool and infuse the mint flavors before you add to your cocktail.
Pimento Cheese is a fixture on Louisville menus and every good Kentucky cook has their own version with slightly varied ingredients. The spread is most often served as a sandwich or on crackers, celery or chips, but for a Derby party display we like to serve alternating pimento cheese and Benedictine finger sandwiches on crustless white bread cut into triangles.
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 10-ounce tub of whipped cream cheese
1 4-ounce jar pimentos, chopped
1-4 tablespoons Frank’s Hot Sauce (personal to taste)
Mix together cheeses and hot sauce to taste. Gently fold in pimentos.
Miss Jennie Benedict invented her savory spread in a one-room kitchen in the family backyard around the turn of the 20th century and now it's a Louisville tradition.
8 ounces of cream cheese softened
3 tablespoons cucumber juice
1 tablespoon onion juice
1 teaspoon salt
A few grains of cayenne pepper
2 drops green food coloring (optional)
To get the cucumber juice, peel and grate a cucumber. Then wrap with a clean dish towel and squeeze juice into a dish. Discard pulp. Do the same for the onion. Mix all ingredients with a fork until well blended. Add a couple drops of green food coloring to make it extra festive. This can be served as a dip or as the aforementioned finger sandwiches.
The bite-size sugary treat was created by Ruth Booe of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Co., in 1936, in Frankfort, the state capital. The story goes that the bourbon-filled chocolate balls were born as a result of a comment by the Kentucky governor, who remarked that there was no better taste than a bite of chocolate followed by a sip of bourbon.
1 stick butter
1 1-pound box powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans + whole pecans for decorating
4 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
One day ahead: Cream the butter and sugar. Add the chopped pecans, mixing well with a spatula. Add the bourbon and quickly shape into small balls. Refrigerate overnight.
Next day: Melt both the chocolates in a double boiler until the chocolate has a smooth consistency. Dip the chilled bourbon balls into the chocolate. Decorate each bourbon ball with one whole pecan on top. Place the candy on waxed paper in the refrigerator to harden.
View complete episodes of Bourbon & Biscuits and get more Kentucky cuisine and cocktail recipes at CulinaryLouisville.com.