Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Kentucky Derby Menu Ideas Party

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and it’s time to prepare your party provisions!  Share these on Saturday in a small backyard soiree or savor them television side with the hubby.

We all know and love the term, “Spring is in the air,” but imagine, too, the divine way it smells, beckoning us to our backyards with the promise of barbeque with the fixin’s….And with Kentucky Derby right around the corner, we can really pull out the Southern stops for a safe and delicious outdoor gathering.

Whether you’re setting an elegant table or wearing a Kentucky Derby hat as you graze an outdoor buffet, consider these your go-to Kentucky Derby party plans:

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…
Mint Julep Recipe Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@gustavocastilho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Gustavo de Camargo</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/mint-julep?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

The Kentucky Derby doesn’t have to be a marathon if you play host this weekend. A simple charcuterie board elevated with Southern-style taste and ingredients will come to the rescue! This board’s arranged with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and an assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. Serve with Kentucky Derby’s infamous Mint Juleps and you’ll have yourself a party:

The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930

4 sprigs fresh mint

½ tbls powdered sugar

1 glass bourbon, rye, or Canadian whisky

 

Use a long tumbler and crush mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together. Add spirits and fill glass with cracked ice. Stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 sprigs of mint.

Read On

Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

From family to family, here in the South, there is debate about how to make a traditional hand pie. But one thing is for sure: This recipe makes for a delicious peach pie!  This recipe yields a pie that looks like a puffy, jelly doughnut and is over-the-top delicious. Top with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve with vanilla ice cream for a delicious Southern treat.

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Collard Greens With Slow Roasted Pork Belly

This Southern recipe was made from my Farmer’s Market opening day bounty and pulls together a few of my favorite farmer’s market finds: Tender collard greens, paired with rich pork belly. This dish is perfect if you’ve just had a stash of your greens in your drawer that you’ve been looking to work into a dish or perhaps bought a bushel too much from your local farmer’s market trip. This dish makes for a lovely first course or a wonderful side dish.

 

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Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

My chilled soup adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries for a cool and refreshing treat.This recipe features both ways of making a gazpacho – you have the option to seed the tomatoes or you don’t. Either way, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!

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Fried Pickles and Comeback Sauce: Your How to Guide

Like pickles? You’ll love this recipe, and you’ll be delighted to discover that there are so many ways to create a delicious batter for your fried pickles. I personally like the combination of seasoned flour and buttermilk for a tangy topping. You can fry them whole or sliced, fried in vegetable or peanut oil – Whatever floats your boat! The comeback sauce featured in this recipe is definitely to die for.

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My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

I’ve always considered that my recipe for hush puppies is TOO GOOD…Try it and you be the judge. This recipe is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. If you’re looking for a recipe that you can get creative with, this is it! Pick and choose your add-ins and sauces.

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Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Hubby and I share a great deal of similarities, but this most recent experience was WAY TOO MUCH! Savor this spring soup with your significant other, in health or toothache!  Click to skip to the recipe

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

They say that if you’ve lived with someone for a very long time you start looking like each other. Hubby and I have lived together for a very….exceptionally long time and although we have many similarities, we don’t look too much like each other.

Or do we? 

We both have blue eyes.

On any given day, after various salon appointments, we both have blonde hair. 

Our tummies aren’t as flat as they once were and getting up and down out of our respective easy chairs, we both have a little hitch in our giddy-up (as my Dad would say). 

Sometimes we come out of the closet and we’re wearing the same colors.

Sometimes we miss the same golf shot.

Sometimes we order the exact same meal. Sometimes we finish each other’s sentences.

And then…there is the whole name thing……

But our recent bonding experience has carried things too far…way too far! 

Hubby made a dentist appointment recently. He reported back that he had a tooth that required repair and a bigger appointment the following week.

By the next day, I had a sore tooth and went to the same dentist.

After a quick x-ray, she emerged with uncomfortable-looking body language and promptly sent me off to an endodontist to discuss a root canal.

That guy was great, but he said no can do and pushed me along to a really nice oral surgeon who scheduled me for a tooth extraction and dental implant the next week.

YIKES!

I reported back to hubby and he laughed and laughed.

He, the owner of a tooth that simply needed repair and me whose tooth was at dental death’s doorstep. I filled my prescription for Valium and prepared for the worst. 

Hubby’s appointment day came, the day before mine, and off he went.

Forty-five minutes later, he texted that he was on his way to my same oral surgeon for an emergency tooth removal.  The dentist had misjudged the decay on his tooth. Go figure. 

Bottom line is that we each lost a tooth in the exact same place in our mouths, twenty-four hours apart.

Now, even our smiles are a bit more similar. 

Which gets me to the recipe this week. Pea soup!!

Yes, in order to ease the swelling, the surgeon recommended that I buy bags of frozen peas. Which I did: Bags and bags and bags of frozen peas.

After the swelling was gone, the peas remained. Note too, that only soft, smooth things were on the Morgan menu for a week or two.

So, our frozen peas did double duty as relief and substance.

Some things don’t change though. Even as similar as we are, I couldn’t convince hubby to eat pea soup.

He hates peas… which worked out just fine for me!

Have a great week and don’t forget to schedule your dentist appointment soon!

Sweet Pea Soup

Yield: 1 Quart

Time: 30 minutes ‘til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas, thawed

2 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, about 2 cups

½ cup dry sherry

Juice from ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons

2 to 3 dill sprigs

3 to 4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup heavy cream

Sour cream for garnish

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Heat the butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and spinach.

Pour in the sherry and cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 4 minutes more. Add the lemon juice and dill sprigs.

Pour in 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to liquefy the ingredients to create a smooth, velvety soup. Return the soup to the pot. If the soup is too thick, you can add some more broth.

Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream. At this point, you can chill the soup or heat the soup to warm it up.

It’s great served warm or cold! Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of dill.

Countdown to Turkey Day!

Countdown to Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving is nearly here!  Get inspired with menu inspiration from my kitchen to yours.

 

 

 

It’s mere weeks before Thanksgiving, and we’re getting excited!

Whether you are traveling, staying put, or just looking to perk up this holiday’s menu, we have delicious dishes to inspire this season’s menu, from tasty take-alongs to tablescapes.

Let’s celebrate!

Fall Means Casserole Season: Moussaka Casserole

Fall Means Casserole Season: Moussaka Casserole

It’s casserole season, and I’m upping my game! When crimson leaves begin to Fall, my thoughts turn to cheese, and with this casserole, anything goes.

Click to skip to the recipe

 

 

 

It’s Casserole Season!

And I’m upping my game! When cooler breezes flurry and crimson leaves begin to fall from the trees my thoughts turn to….cheese.

Yup, cheese.

Why is it that cool weather gives you permission to eat melty cheesy things? It’s like a right of passage.

You turn your nose up to a melty, crisp, gooey grilled cheese sammich in June, but you’ll take that sammich and cram it with more and more cheese in October.

You’ll eat fresh broccoli bathed in only lemon juice and pepper in July, but come November that broccoli is smothered in cheese sauce and topped with butter cracker crumbs.

No shocker….This is how it should be! 

Garden fresh veggies tossed in olive oil and garlic, served over thin pasta noodles is a perfect summer supper, while December suppers by the fire require a cheese-filled pasta side dish or better yet a must-have cheese-stuffed casserole. Fall is like a cheese pass aboard the all-seasons train!

Well, fans, I have one for you.

I dug this out of my Fresh Traditions cookbook. I must admit that I hadn’t made this in quite a while.

I came across ground lamb in the butcher section of the grocery store and it hit the old casserole nerve.

Moussaka is a combination of eggplant, a rich lamb ragù, and a cheesy topping.

The best part is that you can prepare this in advance when you have time (and the inclination strikes) and bake it when the need arises.

I’ll be adding a few of my favorite cheesy casseroles over the next few weeks. Why not…Fall just got here!!

Moussaka Casserole

Think lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta, lamb in place of beef, and you have the essence of this Greek-inspired dish. Feel free to add your favorite veggies to the sauce. With this casserole, anything goes.

Ingredients

For eggplant:

3 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick lengths

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried cumin

For lamb ragù:

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced into ½-inch squares (about 1 cup)

2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

2 pounds lean ground lamb

1 cup red wine

1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cinnamon stick

For béchamel topping:

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup)

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Makes: 6 to 8

Time: 45-minute cuisine plus baking for 15 minutes.

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the eggplants with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place into a colander for 30 minutes to exude excess moisture. Stir together ½ cup olive oil, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Brush both sides of the eggplant with the seasoned olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and roast until the slices are tender and golden, about 30 minutes. The slices can overlap. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.  Cook the onion and carrots until soft and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the lamb to the pan.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  

Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cinnamon stick.  Simmer the ragù for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

Heat the butter in a deep pot over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook until golden and bubbling, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Pour in the milk.  Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.  Season with ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Assemble the casserole by placing a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Top with half of lamb ragù.  Add another layer of eggplant and another layer of lamb.  Finish with a layer of eggplant.  Top the casserole with béchamel sauce.  Bake until the casserole is bubbly, and the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow the casserole to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

One Pretty Picnic

One Pretty Picnic

As spring slowly begins to surround our stay-at home lives, we find ourselves searching for something different to do. A little change of pace. A supper to look forward to.

I have a plan based on my new favorite corner pub, the end of my driveway! Driveway drinks is my new normal during cocktail hour… but that’s another (socially distancing story).

For now, I’m thinking about setting up the ultimate picnic, and have the perfect recipes in mind.

What makes this supper special is that you can prepare it in advance (like even the day before). It tastes better served at room temperature than it does right out of the fridge. And, you can leisurely enjoy the meal. There’s no rush. If you are a grazer like me, eating this supper will take up some valuable time during these very long days.

For my supper, I’ll include three dishes

The first is a caprese salad. This dish is simply arranged by layering slices of tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil. Drizzle the dish with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. But, here’s the secret. Make this salad several hours before serving and DO NOT REFRIGERATE it. The salt and olive oil will bring out the flavor of the tomatoes.

The second dish is a riff on Niçoise salad, but in place of tuna, I substitute salmon that has been simply roasted with a rub of brown sugar, chili powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I include olives, hard boiled eggs, simply sautéed green beans, roasted baby potatoes and a white balsamic vinaigrette.

The third dish is one of my very favorites! Based on the Italian dish, Vitello Tonnato, cold poached veal with a tuna and caper sauce, I substitute chicken for the veal. The chicken is poached in wine and broth.

The liquid is flavored with onion, lemon and celery, but you can add whatever you like. Parsley, fennel and radishes are excellent additions. The trick is that the chicken is moist and retains that moisture by covering it with the very flavorful sauce. Again, although you refrigerate the dish to marry the flavors, the chicken is best eaten at room temperature.

So, set up your picnic table, lay out your platters, pour a glass of something FUN and leisurely enjoy the first picnic supper of the season.

Let’s look forward to many more to come….. together!

 

Poached Chicken

In a Rich Tuna Sauce

serves 6 to 8

For chicken:

2 large (or 4 medium) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 cups dry white wine

2 cups chicken broth

1 small white onion, peeled and cut into quarters

1 small lemon, sliced

2 to 3 stalks celery

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For tuna sauce:

1 (7-ounce) can tuna packed in oil

4 to 5 anchovies

2 tablespoons capers, drained

Zest of 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon

Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 cup mayonnaise

Place the chicken breasts into a pot. Pour in the wine and chicken broth. Add the onion, sliced lemon and celery. Add the salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a simmer (some steady bubbles but not a mad bubbling volcano). Cook the chicken in the poaching liquid until it is just cooked through, about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breast. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. About 165° is perfect. Remove the pot from the heat and keep the chicken in the poaching liquid,

Place the tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon zest and lemon juice into the bowl of a processor. Pulse to combine. Transfer the tuna mixture to a bowl. Fold in the mayonnaise. Remove one breast from the poaching liquid and place onto your cutting board. Cut the breast (across the grain) into ½-inch medallions. Fan these out onto your serving platter. Continue with the remaining chicken. Smooth the tuna sauce over the chicken. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (or up to several hours) so that the sauce seeps into the chicken.

To serve, remove the platter from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Garnish with slices of lemon, capers and fresh parsley.

Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Made Right!

Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Made Right!

Several years ago, I attended a St. Patty’s Day party at a friend’s house. It was one of those annual parties that grew in guests every year, and by the time I got invited, there was quite a crowd!

The hostess served traditional corn beef and cabbage, which, if you’ve ever been served this dish, you know tends to be on the bland side of the taste spectrum.  Thin slices of corned beef are served with braised cabbage, boiled potatoes, and a couple of dollops of mustard. Not too terribly exciting.

But what I remember most about my friend’s preparation of the dish was the smell. In order to accommodate her growing number of guests, my ingenious friend opted to cook both the cabbage and the corned beef in her slow cooker. Well, her slow cooker and every slow cooker she could borrow!

You see, if you snuck a peek into her garage, you would find several (and by several, I mean dozens) of slow cookers with their electrical cords inserted into multiple plug strips and placed onto tables, ledges and even the floor!

Now you may know this about cabbage…

It can be a tad odiferous when it’s cooking. If you take into consideration my friend was slooooow cooking her corned beef WITH her cabbage in multiple machines….. well, you can guess what the neighborhood smelled like as you drove up to her house.

It was memorable; so memorable in fact, I created another whole dish for St. Patty’s Day that minimizes the aroma of cooking cabbage, and maximizes the flavors of the season.

For my dish, I slow cook cured (already brined) brisket with root vegetables. I puree the flavorful veggies, and then, in a separate pan, I sauté the cabbage with bacon and onion. A creamy mustard-horseradish sauce tops off the dish. Yes, it’s pretty darn tasty and yes, your neighbors will thank you for choosing a not-to-too aromatic Irish holiday meal.

P.S. If you’ve never experienced the Blarney Stone, I encourage you to read all about my hilarious visit there in Canvas and Cuisine (page 62)!

 Slow Cooker Corned Beef

with Root Veggie Puree and Sautéed Cabbage

Makes 6 to 8 servings

For the Corned Beef and Veggies

1 (4 pound) raw corned beef brisket

2 (12-ounce) bottles dark beer

2 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 medium rutabagas, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

4 small white onions, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Place the corned beef into the slow cooker. Cover with beer. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and mustard seeds. Cook on high for 7 to 8 hours. During the last 2 hours of cooking, add the veggies to the slow cooker. Cook until the veggies are fork-tender.

Transfer the cabbage to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables from the slow cooker to the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse to puree. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

For the Cabbage

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ pound bacon, about 4 to 5 slices, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

1 medium head Savoy cabbage, cut into 2-inch slices

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Cook the bacon in the pan until browned and crisp, abut 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and place onto paper toweling to drain. Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage to the pan and cook until just soft, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top of the cabbage. Keep warm.

For the Sauce

2 tablespoons horseradish

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Whisk together the horseradish, sour cream and mustard. You can add a spoonful or two of the corn beef cooking liquid to thin and add flavor to the sauce.

Cut the corn beef, across the grain, into thin slices. Place a generous spoonful of puree onto a plate. Top with a spoonful of sautéed cabbage. Lay slices of corned beef on top. Dollop with a tablespoon of sauce.