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I’ve got some catch up to do…it’s been a busy week not ending one, but two food holidays AND an appearance on our ABC-affiliate station’s Cooks Corner. I’ll post that later.

First, it’s off to the races. (And it was a race to actually have my julep in hand by the start of the Derby…I threw together these dishes based on ingredients I had on hand, including fresh blue cheese from my farmers market, grilled turkey breast and thick-sliced ham.)

Despite not having planned better, it was a superfecta of treats from drinks to dessert. This year I made Raspberry Basil and Mint Juleps, Ham and Blue Cheese-Butter Biscuits, Baby Hot Browns and Mini-Chocolate Bourbon Tortes.

While every Saturday is racing day in our home — more specifically in “mantown” aka the garage — Derby Day is when we bring it up a notch and break out seersucker, hats and official Kentucky Derby glassware. I need to have those cute silver cups for juleps next year. For now, Kentucky Oaks glasses will have to do.

raspberry basil mint julepbaby hot brownsham and blue cheese-butterbiscuitschocolate bourbon torte

Raspberry Basil and Mint Juleps

raspberry basil mint julepWhat you need:

• 3 fresh mint leaves
• 3 raspberries
• 1 tbs Basil Simple Syrup
• 2 tbs Makers Mark Bourbon
• Crushed ice
• 1 fresh mint sprig
• Powdered sugar for dusting, if desired

What you do:

• Place mint, raspberries and syrup in a chilled shaker.
• Gently press leaves against shaker with back of spoon to release flavors.
• Add bourbon.
• Pack serving cup tightly with crushed ice.
• Strain bourbon mixture over ice.
• Garnish with mint leaf.
• Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Basil Simple Syrup

What you need:

• 1/4 c sugar
• 3 tbs water
• 6 basil leaves, shredded

What you do:

• In saucepan over med heat cook sugar and water, stirring often, 5 min or until sugar dissolves.
• Stir in shredded basil.
• Remove from heat and cool 10 min.

Baby Hot Browns

baby hot brownsSlightly adapted from Southern Living

Originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, this variation of traditional Welsh rarebit was created as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers. Similar to its French cousin, Croque Monsieur, the sandwich uses a béchamel sauce but swaps the ham for turkey yet has pork presence with the addition of bacon. This “baby” version uses party-sized rye bread squares rather than a full-sized slice of bread, which works well as an appetizer.

What you need:

  • 3 tbs butter or margarine
  • 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 1/2 c shredded sharp Cheddar cheese $
  • 1 1/2 c diced, grilled turkey breast (about 1 1/2 breasts)
  • Freshly ground sea salt and pepper
  • 12 party rye bread slices
  • /2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

What you do:

  • Heat oven to broil.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  • Add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth.
  • Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
  • Add cheese, whisking until cheese melts.
  • Stir in diced turkey.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange bread slices on lightly greased baking sheet.
  • Broil 6 inches from heat for 3 to 4 min.
  • Top bread evenly with warm cheese-turkey mixture.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and half of bacon.
  • Bake at 500° for 2 min or until Parmesan is melted.
  • Top with tomato slices, and sprinkle evenly with remaining bacon.
  • Serve immediately.

Ham and Blue Cheese-Butter Biscuits

Slightly adapted from Southern Living

ham and blue cheese-butterbiscuitsWhat you need:

  • Devo Olive Oil Chipotle EVOO
  • 3 spring onion stalks, trimmed, sliced and cleaned
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbs fig jam
  • 10 biscuits (ready-to-bake refrigerated works fine)
  • 5 slices of 1/4”-thick slices of baked ham, cut in half
  • 4 oz blue cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c butter, room temperature
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

What you do:

  • Heat oven as directed by biscuit recipe.
  • Make biscuits; when done, remove from oven and set aside.
  • Heat about 1 tbs EVOO in saute pan.
  • Add spring onion and shallot.
  • Saute until softened, about 7 min.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add fig jam to small bowl and add onion mixture.
  • Mix to incorporate.
  • If needed, soften butter and blue cheese in microwave at appropriate soften setting.
  • Add to mixer bowl.
  • Using paddle attachment, mix until incorporated.
  • Slice biscuits in half.
  • Spread about 1 tbs blue cheese butter on bottom of each biscuit.
  • Layer ham and top with about 1 tsp onion mixture.
  • Repeat with remaining biscuits.
  • Return to oven to melt blue-cheese butter slightly.
  • Serve immediately.

Mini-Chocolate Bourbon Tortes

Slightly adapted from Southern Living

chocolate bourbon torteWhat you need:

  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 c dark chocolate morsels
  • 1/4 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c fat-free milk
  • 2 tbs bourbon
  • 1/4 c Dutch process cocoa
  • 2 t all-purpose flour
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Fresh whipped cream
  • 1 tbs salted caramel hot cocoa powder
  • 12 sprigs of mint for garnish

What you do:

  • Heat oven to 300°.
  • Coat bottom and sides of 12 4-oz ramekins.
  • Microwave chocolate morsels in small microwave-safe bowl at 50% power for 1 minute or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.
  • In mixer bowl beat butter and 1/2 c granulated sugar at medium speed until well blended
  • Add vanilla and egg and beat 1 min.
  • Add milk and bourbon; beat 1 minute. (Mixture will look curdled.)
  • Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.
  • Gradually add cocoa and flour, beating at low speed just until blended.
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.
  • Add remaining sugar, 1 tbs at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold one-fourth of egg white mixture into batter.
  • Gently fold in remaining egg white mixture.
  • Spoon batter into prepared ramekins
  • Bake at 300° for 25-30 min or until inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  • Remove from oven.
  • Let cool on wire rack 30 minutes.
  • Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with hot cocoa powder.
  • Garnish with mint sprig.
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