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Oh, the sun shone bright...
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  • Oh, the sun shone bright...

    Post #1 - May 5th, 2008, 8:17 pm
    Post #1 - May 5th, 2008, 8:17 pm Post #1 - May 5th, 2008, 8:17 pm
    After discovering that nr706 and I had not only Kentucky roots in common, but also the Louisville Courier-Journal (his mother was a food writer there, and my husband’s grandmother had passed down her collection of vintage Courier-Journal cookbooks to me) Naturally, this could only mean one thing: a Derby Day party with authentic “Kentuckiana” specialties! The Louisville Courier-Journal has long been known as a repository for Kentucky’s culinary history. Under the guidance of food editor Mary Cissy Peterson Gregg, historical home recipes as well as those made famous by hotels were collected during her tenure at the Courier-Journal (where her colleague, nr706’s mother also worked.) Ms. Gregg’s collections of recipes are prized by many native Louisvillians, including my husband’s grandmother – whose collection of well-worn Courier-Journal books dates from at least 1953 (shortly after nr706’s mother’s time there) Most of the remainder of the menu is the centerpiece of one cookbook, entitled "Oh, Do-Dah Day." (although the recipes online are “easy” adaptations of the ones in the original article, which follow.)

    As Nr706 graciously volunteered to bring a Kentucky ham, I researched: Derby recipes, are so codified that the 1988 Courier-Journal lamented "It must be Derby time again and you're wondering why we're printing them again." Many of the dishes are made famous by Louisville-area hotels, needing a hook for the out-of-towners who flock to the Derby each year, and who, as LAZ pointed out, have the capability to promote them.

    Louisville culture is food-based: the articles contain an odd collection of culinary traditions as disparate as Burgoo and Lobster Thermidor: in one of the books, I was surprised to find a recipe for Argentine Carbonada Criollo. A Derby celebration seemed to be the perfect way to gather up all these culinary odds and ends and enjoy them together. While everyone knows that a traditional Derby celebration includes Mint Juleps, also required are Benedictine Dip and Asparagus vinaigrette. Beaten Biscuits (though I can’t imagine taking on this time-consuming task along with such a huge meal) are also a must. Commonly, Bibb Lettuce salad, Kentucky Ham, lamb, or beef tenderloin are also served.

    (Photos courtesy of nr706)
    Image

    The Menu:

    Tea Sandwiches
    Benedictine Dip and crudités
    Lengua a la vinagreta (– hey, it’s southern – and there was a recipe for spiced tongue in one of the cookbooks!)
    Kentucky Ham
    Leg of Spring Lamb with Caper Sauce
    Cauliflower with Watercress Dressing
    Asparagus vinaigrette
    Sweet Potato Angel Biscuits
    Beaumont Inn Corn Pudding
    Kentucky Bibb Lettuce Salad
    Mini Hot Brown Sandwiches
    Mint Juleps
    We-aren’t-allowed-to-call-it-Derby-Pie (the Melrose Hotel patented the recipe and copyrighted the name, currently owned by Kearn’s Kitchen…which doesn’t stop anybody from serving Racetrack Pie, Thoroughbred Pie et al.)
    Buttermilk Pound Cake and Vanilla ice cream with Kentucky Sauce

    Along with civilians, number of LTHers graciously agreed to attend, bringing with them other Kentucky specialties from Bibb Lettuce (courtesy of LAZ, who found that Bibb lettuce, a traditional Derby side, was developed in Kentucky) Kentucky moonshine, wine, roses, and wonderful company – thus seeing to it that the lovely swine was celebrated by these pearls of humanity. :)

    Image

    The repast begins with Benedictine Dip – which may either be served as a dip for crudite or as a tea sandwich spread. The recipe is simple:

    1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
    1 8 oz brick of cream cheese
    “grating of onion” (I microplaned about 2 tsp of onion into the mixture)
    Milk
    Green food coloring

    Put cucumber in the blender or food processor and chop fine (alternatively, grate it on the fine side of a box grater) Drain thoroughly and squeeze dry. Add cream cheese, onion, a few drops of food coloring, and cucumber to blender or food processor and process until thoroughly blended. Add milk to desired consistency (thin for dip, thick for sandwich spread) Chill and serve.

    Image

    Tea sandwiches:
    Lavender Egg Salad:
    (The traditional bread for many tea sandwiches is Pepperidge Farm thin-sliced white bread)
    Four hard-boiled eggs, chopped or grated fine
    2 tbsp mayonnaise
    2 tbsp plain yogurt
    ½ tsp curry powder
    1 tbsp whole dried lavender
    1 tsp lemon juice
    Blend thoroughly and chill.

    Pineapple Cream Cheese
    1 cup finely chopped pineapple, drained, juice reserved
    1 brick of cream cheese
    Boston Brown Bread, thinly sliced
    Blend pineapple and cream cheese in food processor or blender to a thick paste. Thin as desired with reserved juice.

    Butter and Radish
    Radishes
    Butter
    Pumpernickel Bread
    Slice radishes paper-thin on a mandolin. Spread butter thickly on bread, top with radishes; serve open-faced.

    Leg of Spring Lamb with Caper Sauce
    (The lamb is fairly simply roasted, having been dressed in advance with garlic, butter, salt, paprika and cayenne)
    ½ bottle capers, drained
    ½ cup heavy cream
    1 can beef bouillon
    2 tbsp drippings from lamb
    1 tbsp cornstarch

    Combine last 3 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil: reduce heat, add cream and capers. Sauce will be thin.

    Watercress Dressing
    1 cup watercress, large stems removed
    ½ cup parsley
    2 green onions, chopped
    1 egg yolk
    1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
    ½ tsp Dijon mustard
    ½ tsp salt
    Pinch of sugar
    Pinch of cayenne
    ½ cup mayo
    ½ cup sour cream

    Put all ingredients except mayo and sour cream in a blender and process until smooth. Beat in mayo and sour cream. Serve over steamed cauliflower.

    Asparagus Vinaigrette
    Cooked Asparagus
    ½ cup butter (or salad oil)
    1/3 cup lemon juice (or vinegar)
    1 tsp salt
    ¼ tsp paprika
    Fresh ground pepper
    1 tbsp minced pimiento
    1 tbsp minced pickle
    1 tbsp minced green pepper
    Grating of raw onion
    1 tbsp minced parsley

    In a small saucepan, melt butter and add lemon juice, salt, paprika and pepper. Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients and pour over hot asparagus.
    Image

    I’ve had many a Mint Julep on Derby Day, and have found that they usually taste like mouthwash. These worked out very well, with the caveat that they needed a bit of water (on a hot day, the ice alone would have been sufficient) Mint Juleps are traditionally served in a silver cup, to transfer the cold from condensation to the cup bearer.

    Mint Juleps en masse (adapted from Cissy Gregg’s recipe)

    Make a simple syrup: boil 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water without stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Cool. Pour over a jar filled with fresh mint sprigs (don’t muddle or crush them) Allow to steep in refrigerator overnight. A few hours prior to serving, strain out the mint and put the syrup in the freezer for a few hours along with a bottle of bourbon (it should be very, very cold but not frozen) Fill a chilled cup with crushed ice, pour in about two tablespoons of syrup and two ounces of bourbon. Top with a fresh mint sprig (and a bit of water or soda if necessary) and serve.

    At this point, I was getting a bit tired of cooking and things I’d planned, like extra buttermilk biscuits and a full-on real mini Hot Browns for the kids went by the wayside.

    The Courier-Journal Hot Brown is not a recipe for the faint of heart: first, a béchamel is made and set aside. Then, 2 cups of béchamel (the recipe makes 4 cups, so I have 2 sitting in my freezer for no reason) then go into an eggy Mornay sauce with Parmesan cheese and whipped cream (though I believe Swiss is more traditional) Then an open-faced turkey club sandwich is created with bread, turkey, tomato and bacon; it’s topped with the Mornay and more cheese and the whole thing is broiled.

    I had my open-faced turkey sandwiches, my béchamel and my cheese, and made lovely little Hot Browns with that – however, the Mornay is interesting, so I include the recipe for your perusal:

    Mornay for Hot Browns
    2 cups of Béchamel
    2 egg yolks
    ½ cup grated Parmesan
    1 tbsp butter
    4 tablespoons whipped heavy cream

    Heat the Béchamel sauce and combine with egg yolks, stirring until just off a boil. Remove from heat and add cheese and butter, stirring constantly as it starts to thicken. Fold in 4 tablespoons of whipped cream. Place assembled sandwiches in an ovenproof dish and top with a “heaping portion” of the sauce. Broil “until the sauce takes on the glow of a suntan”

    I also discovered that my recipe for Derby Pielast year was not the real thing, which has flour and sugar and a bit more texture: unfortunately, this year they were a tad undercooked, which led to a graininess in texture that I don’t particularly like, but it’s still a good pie…

    Grandmother Vaughn's Can’t-Call-It-Derby Pie
     
    1 - 9 inch unbaked pie shell
    2 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup flour
    1 stick butter melted and cooled.
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    3/4 cup chocolate chips
    3/4 cups pecans (or walnuts)
     
    Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts into unbaked pie shell.  Combine eggs, sugar, flour, butter, and vanilla. Mix well and spread over chocolate chips and nuts.
    Image
     
    Bake at 350 F for 30-45 minutes.

    Another of Ms. Gregg’s recipes is called, simply, “Kentucky Sauce” a dessert sauce featuring Kentucky Bourbon.
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup white sugar
    1 cup water
    1 orange
    1 lemon
    1 cup bourbon
    1 cup pecan pieces
    1 cup strawberry preserves

    Create a simple syrup by boiling sugars and water together until it reaches soft-ball stage at about 240 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and preserves, and allow to cool. Zest and supreme the fruits, chopping the segments loosely. Add remaining ingredients to syrup (I cooked this mixture a bit to remove some of the alcohol, but it’s still not very kid-friendly) refrigerate and serve over vanilla ice cream.

    The sauce was also very good over this very plain but delicious pound cake that rounded out the evening.

    Buttermilk Pound Cake

    3 cups flour
    ½ tsp soda
    ½ tsp baking powder
    ¾ tsp salt
    1 cup butter
    2 cups sugar
    4 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp lemon zest
    1 cup buttermilk
    Sift together dry ingredients, cream butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time, and flavorings. Alternating, add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture. Bake in a tube or bundt pan at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

    Again, thanks so much for everyone who attended and helped share a little bit of history with us!
  • Post #2 - May 5th, 2008, 11:11 pm
    Post #2 - May 5th, 2008, 11:11 pm Post #2 - May 5th, 2008, 11:11 pm
    What a delightful looking spread! Thanks for sharing.
  • Post #3 - May 6th, 2008, 12:22 am
    Post #3 - May 6th, 2008, 12:22 am Post #3 - May 6th, 2008, 12:22 am
    Thanks for inviting random LTHers into your home, Mhays! It was a lovely party, with delicious food and company.

    Mhays wrote:Commonly, Bibb Lettuce salad, Kentucky Ham, lamb, or beef tenderloin are also served.... Bibb Lettuce (courtesy of LAZ, who found that Bibb lettuce, a traditional Derby side, was developed in Kentucky)

    Image

    Our hostess was providing nearly all of the traditional Derby Day menu items (the bill of fare seems even more codified than Thanksgiving), so I was pleased to remember about Bibb lettuce salad.

    "It is the traditional Derby brunch salad," according to the Courier-Journal, but apparently there is no one definitive Kentucky recipe, so long as you use the right leaves.

    Chicago markets tend not to distinguish between butterhead varieties, so although there are technical differences, you may see Bibb labeled "Boston lettuce." (If you're growing your own, the mini "Tom Thumb" variety is fun.)

    Here's my take on a spring Bibb salad (made up as I went along, without measuring, and written up by memory, so proportions are a bit approximate). The bourbon in the dressing adds another Kentucky touch, although lemon predominates. Next time, I'll try a higher ratio of booze.

    Derby Day Bibb lettuce salad with strawberries,
    feta, candied pecans and lemon-bourbon dressing


    Candied pecans:

    2 tablespoons butter
    5 ounces raw pecan halves
    2 tablepoons brown sugar
    Ground white pepper to taste
    1 tablespoon white sugar

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a baking pan. Add the pecans; toss till coated. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pepper; toss till coated. Bake about 10 minutes, till browned and crisp, stirring well halfway. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with white sugar, stir and let cool. Store airtight till serving time.

    Lemon-bourbon dressing:
    Juice of 5 lemons (about 1 cup)
    1/4 cup bourbon or to taste
    1/4 cup honey or to taste
    2 cups mild olive or peanut oil
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon salt or to taste
    Ground white pepper to taste

    Combine all ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake well. Refrigerate until serving time. Shake again before using. Yields 3-1/2 cups.

    Salad:
    4 heads Bibb lettuce,* washed and cored
    1 large red onion, peeled, thinly sliced and cut in 1/2-inch-long strips
    1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
    1/2 pound sheep's milk feta, chevre or other tangy soft cheese, crumbled
    Candied pecans (recipe above)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Lemon-bourbon dressing (recipe above)

    Line a platter with whole outer leaves of the lettuces. Tear the remainder into bite-sized pieces, toss with the onions and pile on top. Arrange the strawberries over the lettuce. Sprinkle with the cheese and strew with pecans. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the lemon-bourbon dressing. 20 servings.

    * Note: Bibb lettuce heads are small, about 4 inches in diameter. If you use another butterhead variety, adjust accordingly.
    Last edited by LAZ on July 5th, 2008, 1:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #4 - May 6th, 2008, 1:39 am
    Post #4 - May 6th, 2008, 1:39 am Post #4 - May 6th, 2008, 1:39 am
    It was a great time – thanks to all three of the Hays family (only spoiled by the fate of Eight Belles).

    And yes, that big black blob in the first picture was the Kentucky Country Ham I got from Scott Hams in Greenville Ky. Country Ham can be an acquired taste – by definition it will be salty, which can be unexpected to someone used to “city hams.” In this case, I may have boiled it a little too long – it wouldn’t cut into slices, it mostly just shredded, but it wasn’t mushy by any means. Also, I have to admit - I was going to use Pepsi or Coke as the boiling liquid, but when I saw they were going for $1.69 per 2L bottle, and the RC was 99¢ ... well, I can be a cheap bastard.

    To give you an idea of what it looked like, here’s what some of the leftovers looked like:
    Image

    There are three steps to making a Country Ham (well, maybe four if you consider scraping off any mold – this one didn’t have any). Soak, boil and bake. All directions are very approximate.

    Kentucky Country Ham

    Ingredients:
    One Country Ham (typically 13 – 18 lbs.)
    Water for soaking – sufficient to cover
    Liquid for boiling (frequently sweet, which contrasts with the saltiness – a cola, apple cider, demi-sec champagne, water with molasses and brown sugar, etc. – optionally, add vinegar, for a more sweet and sour effect) – sufficient to cover
    1 tsp cornstarch or other thickener

    Method:
    Soak the ham in water to cover - overnight at a minimum – with at least two or three changes of water (the water will be salty, but can be boiled down to make a kind of liquid bacon-type stock).

    After soaking, simmer the ham in the liquid of your choice, turning the ham occasionally, for 25 – 30 minutes per pound.

    Approximately halfway through the boiling process, reserve a cup or so of the boiling liquid. Pierce the fat cap and sides of the ham. At this point, the flesh should be soft enough that a knife can penetrate it, at least a bit. Ideally, replace the boiling liquid. If desired, score the fat cap on the diagonal at 3/4” intervals, then score again at a 90° angle to the first scoring.

    Take some of the reserved sweet boiling liquid and heat in a small saucepan. Mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water to make a slurry. Slowly cook until it’s at a glaze (i.e thin maple syrup) consistency.

    After finishing the boil, remove the ham from the liquid, pat dry with paper towels, put into a baking pan fat side up, and coat with the glaze. Bake at 350° approximately 45 minutes, or until the glaze is well browned. (Obviously, the depth of the browning will vary depending on the original color of the boiling liquid – a cola, as used here, will be much darker than if the boiling liquid was apple cider.)

    Allow to cool. May be served slightly warm, or at room temperature. Carve thin slices, ideally starting from the center of the ham and working outwards, perpendicular to the bone.

    Country Ham from Kentucky – accept no substitutes.

    (slight apologies to Virginia and Tennessee)
  • Post #5 - May 6th, 2008, 12:48 pm
    Post #5 - May 6th, 2008, 12:48 pm Post #5 - May 6th, 2008, 12:48 pm
    BTW, I made an excellent tetrazzini sort of thing with my portion of ham leftovers; it's terrific when soaked in cream - the salt is absorbed a bit and it has a wonderful, nutty flavor.
  • Post #6 - May 6th, 2008, 1:04 pm
    Post #6 - May 6th, 2008, 1:04 pm Post #6 - May 6th, 2008, 1:04 pm
    Interestingly, the subheading of the Derby Day chapter in my cookbook reads "It's a menu like this, that calls into play Kentucky's distinctive harvest of delights, from leg of spring lamb and Bibb lettuce, to the homegrown ingredients for mint juleps, that sends Derby visitors away humming "My Old Kentucky Home."

    Good catch, LAZ - it was right in front of me, but I didn't see it until I was transposing ingredients yesterday...IIRC, strawberries are also a Kentucky thing - there's a whole chapter in the cookbook devoted to them (and of course dosing with bourbon just screams Kentucky) The salad and accompanying dressing were excellent, thanks again!
  • Post #7 - May 6th, 2008, 5:04 pm
    Post #7 - May 6th, 2008, 5:04 pm Post #7 - May 6th, 2008, 5:04 pm
    Isn't the Louisville Courier-Journal the paper that was owned by the Bingham family? If I recall correctly, it was sold some time after the heir-apparent, Worth Bingham, was killed in an auto accident. He and I were college classmates.
    Suburban gourmand
  • Post #8 - May 6th, 2008, 10:49 pm
    Post #8 - May 6th, 2008, 10:49 pm Post #8 - May 6th, 2008, 10:49 pm
    There's a history of the Courier-Journal here. I don't see any reference to Worth Bingham, although Worth was a common name in the family.

    But then, there's no mention of my Mom in the newspaper's history, either.

    For the record, referring back to the original post, Cissy Gregg was my Mom's boss initially. Then Cissy and her husband left the country for a year or so, and my Mom took over the Food Editor job. After Cissy came back, my Mom went on to seek her inevitable fortune in the big bad city of Chicago. There she met my father, and, sadly, the only fortune she got out of the deal was me and my three siblings.
  • Post #9 - May 29th, 2008, 11:44 pm
    Post #9 - May 29th, 2008, 11:44 pm Post #9 - May 29th, 2008, 11:44 pm
    nr706 wrote:And yes, that big black blob in the first picture was the Kentucky Country Ham I got from Scott Hams in Greenville Ky. Country Ham can be an acquired taste – by definition it will be salty, which can be unexpected to someone used to “city hams.” In this case, I may have boiled it a little too long – it wouldn’t cut into slices, it mostly just shredded, but it wasn’t mushy by any means.

    I recently came across a recipe for country ham from Booker Noe II. The late Noe was Jim Beam's grandson, master distiller of the brewery and originator and namesake of the wonderful small-batch bourbon, Booker's.

    After he retired from active work at the brewery, Noe spent a number of years traveling the country as a spokesman for Jim Beam, as charming a Kentucky good ol' boy as you'd ever want to meet. On one of his visits to Chicago, we got to talking about country ham and he mentioned that he cured his own. It turned out, moreover, that he was en route to a fishing trip and had packed his van with viands, including one of his hams. He had it brought in from the car and got the restaurant where we were meeting to fry up a few slices. He was chagrined at the results because he thought they cut it too thickly, but I thought it was wonderful.

    The photographed newspaper article linked above is a bit hard to read but the interesting part of the recipe is that instead of being boiled on the stove, the ham is simmered in the oven at a fairly low temperature. That might help to prevent the overcooking that you experienced, nr706.

    Noe told me about once trying to bake a ham in Booker's bourbon, but the stuff is 127 proof and blew the door off the oven!

      Booker Noe's country ham

      Scrub the ham. Soak in water.

      Place in a large roasting pan filled with water and place in the oven at 220 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about 14 hours.

      Let cool overnight in the pan juices.

      Remove skin and bones.

      Make a thick paste of brown sugar and water and coat the ham.

      Bake at 220 degrees until the sugar caramelizes, about 1 1/2 hours.

      Let cool. Slice paper thin.


    I haven't made this, but I might have to try it soon. I've got a Kentucky ham that's been hanging in the basement for way too long. It's hard as rock and either going to be fabulous or inedible by this time. Any country ham aficionados out there with tips?
  • Post #10 - May 30th, 2008, 12:00 am
    Post #10 - May 30th, 2008, 12:00 am Post #10 - May 30th, 2008, 12:00 am
    I think, in many ways, the slicing makes all the difference. The problem I had with the ham wasn't in the cooking (it was gently simmered in an old electric roaster - I should have been more careful in my language, rather than describing it as "boiled"), it was with the fact that I used an antique carving knife, which looked good, but ended up shredding the meat, rather than slicing it. It was a little bit like cutting a London Broil with the grain, rather than across it. If I were to do it again (and I will, one of these days) I'd use a serrated knife, or maybe even better, an electric knife, to cut through the grain. Now that I think of it, the one I made previously was sliced with an electric knife. I wish I'd remembered that for Derby Day.
  • Post #11 - May 30th, 2008, 9:13 am
    Post #11 - May 30th, 2008, 9:13 am Post #11 - May 30th, 2008, 9:13 am
    "Any country ham aficionados out there with tips?"

    My father's family has raised hogs, slaughtered, and hung hams on their farm near Cape Girardeau for well over a hundred years, so I think it's in my blood (although I grew up elsewhere, I visited often enough to fall in love with love the hams.) We get one every Christmas.

    I always get my KY or MO country hams pre-cooked, since it is such a hassle. Cooking isn't, but finding a pot big enough to submerge the ham COMPLETELY is likely to be. A few years ago I got my Christmas ham (accidentally) uncooked and I wound up having to rent a big-enough pot.

    For uncooked, you soak it for one or more days, changing the water frequently, and then submerge COMPLETELY and simmer, timing based on weight. Let cool, take off skin and trim off all but about 1/4" of the fat. Score the fat in a diamond pattern, put a clove in each diamond, and top with a glaze of your choice. I like brown sugar and orange juice.

    Bake to reheat and set the glaze, and then slice perpindicular to the aitch bone, which is the long bone in the upper portion of the ham. See the diagram in:

    http://www.atasteofkentucky.com/shop/ab ... tryham.php

    Also, look at these sites for general instructions:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/uncpress/feature ... pter7.html
    http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/ ... ng-ham.asp

    Not being a knife-master, I always use an electric knife. Country ham is not tender. In fact, Lambert's Restaurant in Sikeston, MO, describes their MO country ham plate as guaranteed to be "tough as a drill sergeant's boot."

    Slices for serving should be thin as possible. For frying, about 1/4" thick, and don't forget the red-eye gravy for the grits. 8) I use the butt and shank ends for grinding in the food processor for the best ham salad you will ever eat! The bones go into a pot of lentil soup.

    Enjoy

    Mike
    Suburban gourmand
  • Post #12 - July 5th, 2008, 2:05 am
    Post #12 - July 5th, 2008, 2:05 am Post #12 - July 5th, 2008, 2:05 am
    LAZ wrote:Here's my take on a spring Bibb salad (made up as I went along, without measuring, and written up by memory, so proportions are a bit approximate). The bourbon in the dressing adds another Kentucky touch, although lemon predominates. Next time, I'll try a higher ratio of booze.

    Derby Day Bibb lettuce salad with strawberries,
    feta, candied pecans and lemon-bourbon dressing
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Image
    LAZ's Derby Day salad by gastro gnome

    Ronnie_suburban's great photos from the LTHForum 1,000-Recipe Potluck, June 22, 2008, appear here, including this shot of my Derby Day salad, as prepared by gastro gnome. GG also commented on making the salad, as did GreenFish, who made it on another occasion.

    Both note that the pecans are less candied than they expected, and I'll agree that these are not the heavily sugared nuts that you sometimes see, but only very lightly glazed, so perhaps "sugar-roasted" would be a better term than "candied."
  • Post #13 - March 12th, 2009, 12:10 pm
    Post #13 - March 12th, 2009, 12:10 pm Post #13 - March 12th, 2009, 12:10 pm
    Great Thread. I grew up in Springfield, Kentucky and worked my way through High School as a butcher at The Meat House, the premire cook house of country hams in a three county area. The best was around holidays when people would bring in there home cured 1 and 2 year old hams for us to cook and slice. Let's just say that you eat well when cooking 50 plus hams a day for the 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas!

    One thing I will add to your impressive Derby Menu is Beer Cheese. Always had it on Derby and is a big deal in Lexington were Hall's is the gold standard to speak of but some homemade beer cheese on pumpernickle bread topped with a slice of country ham and broiled untill golden is one of lifes great pleasures.

    If anyone wants I will throw out a good starting point beer cheese recipe.

    Good eating
  • Post #14 - March 14th, 2009, 7:16 am
    Post #14 - March 14th, 2009, 7:16 am Post #14 - March 14th, 2009, 7:16 am
    Thanks, Bourbon! Funny, beer cheese is a family tradition on the Kentucky side - I never thought of it as a particularly Derby Day sort of thing, but it does tend to appear at most family gatherings - so it would stand to reason that it would appear then. I remember in college (in Northern KY,) it was the most common dip at parties as well - it was one of the first things I ever saw served in a "bread bowl."

    I've never heard of your broiled beer cheese sandwich, but it sounds mighty tasty! We might give that a whirl!
  • Post #15 - March 14th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Post #15 - March 14th, 2009, 10:39 am Post #15 - March 14th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Bourbon-

    I for one would appreciate your recipe for Beer Cheese, as I have a fondness for both, and it sounds like a nice mixture. :wink:

    I have some KY ham left over from Christmas, and will try your sandwich suggestion.

    Thanks

    Mike
    Suburban gourmand
  • Post #16 - March 21st, 2009, 6:55 am
    Post #16 - March 21st, 2009, 6:55 am Post #16 - March 21st, 2009, 6:55 am
    Beer Cheese

    Sharp Cheddar Cheese
    Garlic Powder ( one of the three acceptable uses besides BBQ rub and garlic toast)
    Cayenne
    Salt
    Beer ( Your favorite but as you can imagine cheaper is better, I like a flat PBR as that was what we would drink in the butcher shop)

    The amount of each ingredient is up to you depending on application of beer cheese as there is a wide gap between using it as a dip or a spread but the real point of difference concerns method,

    There are two methods with very different results. First is the hand method, simply grate the cheese in a medium size grate and combine with dry ingredients. Slowly add beer and mix/mash with the back of a fork to desired consistancy. This method is better for applications such as the open face country ham sandwich. Also good to note is that this method is best made 2-3 days early and adjusted by adding more beer as you go but it should still be very firm.

    The other is food processor. Same ingredients just different amount of wet. Put all dry ingredients into processor and slowly stream in beer until smooth but not runny. This is better suited for a dip.

    One other thing about the first post was the picture of the country ham. It is a beautiful ham but from a technical side they didn't set you up well to present and care the beast. The top shank area and the bottom near the H bone both need to be cut before cooking to help with removing the bones before serving. This will result in a ham you can de bone very easily after cooking and leave you with more sliceable product. A+ for effort but your butcher should have taken care of this for you. Let me know if you get another and I will make sure they trim it right for you.

    Any way again I am so happy to find this thread and glad others love some good old Kentucky cuisine as much as myself.
  • Post #17 - March 21st, 2009, 7:55 am
    Post #17 - March 21st, 2009, 7:55 am Post #17 - March 21st, 2009, 7:55 am
    Is it my imagination is does beer cheese put others in mind of Welsh rabbit? (or rarebit to the terminally politically correct).
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #18 - March 21st, 2009, 8:26 am
    Post #18 - March 21st, 2009, 8:26 am Post #18 - March 21st, 2009, 8:26 am
    Yeah,it does.

    Which makes sense because of the large early population of Irish and Scottish settlers that came and stayed to make none other than Bourbon!
  • Post #19 - May 3rd, 2009, 8:18 pm
    Post #19 - May 3rd, 2009, 8:18 pm Post #19 - May 3rd, 2009, 8:18 pm
    It is fun to rediscover some of these old-fashioned recipes; the spoonbread is a story in and of itself: I recently got in contact with an old college buddy of mine whom I hadn't seen in twenty years, via Facebook. She has roots in Winchester, KY and it turns out is now not only a foodie herself, but a professional chef. Since I wasn't finding much in the way of starches, I shot her a message and asked what she usually made for Derby Day. She told me that her "Grams" made spoonbread topped with ramps and bacon (we hadn't talked in twenty years, so she kindly took some time to explain ramps in non-foodie-ese :D ) and offered me both the recipe, and permission to post it here. When I reacted to the ingredients list, she responded "And....my grams lived to be 94 ....spoonbread...the fountain of youth.... :D " So here it is:

    Ida "Grams" Cooke's Kentucky Spoonbread (via her granddaughter, Chef Lori Hiltenbeitel)
    3 cups whole milk
    8 tbs sweet butter ( use one tbsp to butter pan then melt rest)
    1 1/4 cups of finely ground white cornmeal
    2 eggs beaten
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp fine ground salt
    1/3 cup heavy cream

    In at least a 2 quart saucepan heat milk just before the boil, add cornmeal and whisk vigorously for about a minute to a minute and a half. It will become pretty firm. Set aside to cool. Melt butter and let cool, add salt, baking powder, eggs to the melted butter and whisk together. (it will be a bit lumpy...this is okay)

    Add heavy cream to cornmeal mixture and use whisk to incorporate and break down the cornmeal a bit then add in the egg/butter mixture whisking to incorporate. Transfer into a 9' buttered pie pan and bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes....until top is golden brown. Sometimes I brush with butter when it come out of the oven. :)


    I followed this recipe to the letter, with one exception: to make sure I had the timing right, I made the polenta-y part well ahead, which, when cooled, was a brick. To prevent lumps, after breaking it up in the cream with a fork, I added the other liquids and hit it with the immersion blender - I have no idea whether this affected the texture or not (I kind of doubt it.) The ramps and bacon I just made on the fly: I chopped and crisped some bacon, and then added the ramps I'd found at H-Mart, cut into larger sections. I sauteed until the greens were wilted, then took them off the heat and scattered them over the top of the spoonbread when it came out of the oven. Considering the ingredients, this comes out as an incredibly light dish: you'd never suppose there was so much butter and fat in it.

    Sparky's Grammy, OTOH, offered the family's version of Chess Pie, with the following quote:

    “Why, honey, it’s just pie,” as someone’s Granny used to say. Because of her Southern accent it came out “chess” pie. This was my mother and grandmother’s recipe.

    Chess Pie

    3 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    ½ cup butter, melted and cooled
    1 Tablespoon corn meal
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon vinegar
    Dash nutmeg
    8” pie unbaked pie shell


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly beat eggs and then stir in remaining ingredients "except pie shell" :D.
    Pour into pie shell. Bake 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean. Serves 6-8

    This came out a bit eggier than I remembered, but it was still quite good.

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