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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Mix and match your guests’ favorite meats, treats, and cheeses and never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home. Click to skip to the recipe
There are lots of reasons to entertain family and friends these days, as long as your family and friends have maintained their social distance while trying to live their lives amid craziness! We’re all living in our reduced social circles these days, but that still leaves us room to gather safely. And gather, we do!
One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set out individual bites onto a lovely charcuterie board. Now, by its very definition, a charcuterie board is made up of prepared, cured meats (usually pork) and varieties of cheeses. The very word charcuterie comes from the French words chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked).
But meat and cheese can be boring, so I veer towards combining charcuterie with an antipasti platter. Olives and pickled veggies are so yum. But then I have a couple of crudité tray ideas and well, before you no it, I create a board full of appetizers that is unlike any other. Just like I like it!
My recent board was created for my fellow book club pals. It was packed full of individual appys that by themselves would be perfect for a first-course nibble, but when combined could serve a crowd for a cocktail party or game day (stay-at-home) tailgate party.
The appys assembled on my board included roasted shrimp on a stick, chunks of Parmesan cheese, whole roasted garlic, salami and cream cheese “flowers”, margarita sausage on baguettes with lime mustard, gouda and sun-dried tomato “pimento” cheese with candied bacon, hummus and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes and the fan-favorite, seared tuna nachos with roasted garlic cream.
Whew! Sounds like a lot and it was…..but it was also FUN to prepare and wonderful to watch as they were devoured in no time.
Whether you prepare your own fan-favorite appys or arrange store-bought (and there are tons of them) items on your board, the secret is to be surprising. Mix and match your favorites and be creative with your choices. After all, you never want to be bored with your board!!
Seared Tuna Nachos with Roasted Garlic Cream
These nachos are a big hit. You can easily make them in advance, and they look divine on your appy board.
1 (8-ounce) tuna steak:
½ cup rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
For roasted garlic cream:
Cloves from 2 whole heads roasted garlic, about ¼ cup, mashed
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Large, sturdy tortilla chips
2 cups tender green leave, washed, dried and thinly julienned (I used frisee, baby kale and butter lettuce leaves)
Serves: A Crowd
Time: 60-Minute Cuisine
Place the tuna steaks into a shallow dish. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and ginger. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Pour the rest over the tuna steak. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in the fridge.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the tuna from the marinade. Shake off the excess. Sear the tuna in the skillet turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for very rare. Remove the tuna to the freezer and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the roasted garlic cloves, sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine into a smooth thick cream. Season with salt and pepper. The cream should be thin enough to drizzle. Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.
Place the tortilla chips on a platter. Toss the greens with the reserved marinade. Place several shreds of lettuce over the tortilla chips.
Remove the tuna from the freezer. Use a very sharp knife to cut very thin slices (across the grain) of seared tuna. Place 1 to 2 slices (depending on how thin you can cut) onto each chip. Drizzle with garlic cream.
This is breaking news! Did you know the pumpkin puree you got at the grocery store is NOT pumpkin? Apparently, it is a combination of all types of squash. WHO KNEW? I feel betrayed, lied-to, conspired against! Well, not really. The canned stuff is still pretty good, and has been a staple for all my pumpkin treats for as long as I can remember.
Now, you can make your own puree, from your very own pumpkins, but this seems just a little bit too over-the top for me.
So…. BRING IT ON, SQUASH… I can take it! Let’s open a can of puree and dive right in, shall we? I CANNOT WAIT, as home baked bread is a real holiday treat for me! I remember my early days in the catering business. Our signature corporate holiday baskets included at least one mini-loaf of pumpkin quick bread.
We baked hundreds of these each season. But I also love yeast bread, especially when it is laced with a bit of sweetness. I’ve told you the story of Sammy’s favorite “Sammy Bread”, a loaf of sour dough bread, sweetened with cinnamon-sugar and frosted with a sugary glaze. We look forward to placing a loaf in our basket every week from the Farmer’s Market.
I recreated it at home, with a can of fake pumpkin puree, wink wink. It’s SO YUMMY, toasted and slathered with butter, or battered and fried ala French toast. Use leftovers to create a toasted crouton for your bowl of ice cream, or as the lead ingredient in custardy pumpkin bread pudding.
But first, make this bread – it’s a recipe born of two cravings: pumpkin bread and cinnamon bread, married together in the sweetest fall recipe you could possibly imagine.
With Hazelnuts and Chocolate
Yield 1 loaf, about 12 slices
2 ½ hours before you can eat the bread!
¼ cup maple syrup, room temperature
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 ¼ cups bread flour
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
Pour the maple syrup into a measuring cup. Sprinkle with yeast. Add I cup warm water. Allow the yeast to bloom (foam) about 10 to 15 minutes.
Whisk together the flours, nuts, chocolate, spices and salt in a large bowl.
Place the pumpkin into a bowl. Whisk in the bloomed yeast. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to bring the dough together. Sprinkle your work surface with a generous amount of flour. Pour (the sticky) dough onto the flour and knead the dough until it comes together, and no flour shows through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place the dough into a bowl coated with vegetable oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and move to a warm place to rise for 1 hour. I use the warming drawer on the proof setting for this.
After an hour, remove the dough from its cozy hide-out and use a spatula to fold the dough onto itself while your turn the bowl, about 8 to 10 turns. Cover again with plastic and move the bowl back to the warm place to rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat an 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch with vegetable oil spray. Use a spatula to transfer the (still pretty sticky) dough to the loaf pan. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 31 to 40 minutes.
What’s worse than a bunch of gals getting together to kibbitz? It’s a bunch of gals getting together to draft their fantasy football team. It’s a trash talkin’, elbow diggin’, name callin’ scene right out of the movie Sweet Magnolias. I mean it’s “bless her heart” on steroids.
Oh, the catcalls from the table when I drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round (especially when ESPN claimed he was at best a top second round choice)! Oh, the high fives that went around the table when I picked up Robert Woods in the 6th round when he should have been snatched in the 4th. And, the simultaneous, gentle nods of understanding when our dear friend picked up Baker Mayfield in an early round. We all understand her husband’s devotion to OU…. Bless her heart – now that’s love!
The only way to bring our fragile (fantasy football) bonds back from the edge of friendship destruction was to create a spread that satisfies both the winners and the losers. And, that I did.
Ladies and gentleman: the draft party!
My draft party fare included my favorite pimento cheese with seasoned crackers. I added sun-dried tomatoes instead of pimentos and brushed the crackers with seasonings stirred into melted butter before I toast them in the oven. It’s a TD!
I included blistered shishito peppers that I cooked in a cast iron skillet with olive oil, garlic and pepper. I made little skewers of baby tomatoes, mozzarella and globe basil leaves from the farmers market. These were drizzled with just a bit of aged balsamic vinegar. I roasted shrimp with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper and served them at room temperature with a spiced remoulade sauce.
But the dish that tamed the angry fantasy football beast and totally scored in overtime, was my sausage and refried bean nachos. I mean these are truly a punched up bit of nacho cheesiness. I serve these on every game day, regardless of the success of my quarterback.
Just a little note of confession here. I am in two fantasy leagues, one with the girls and one with the family. Having scored a loser C- in my draft evaluation with the gals, I promptly drafted Baker in round two of the family league. Let’s just see how it goes… and bless my heart!
Sausage and Refried Bean Nachos
serves a crowd
30 minute cuisine
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium red onion, peeled and finely diced
1 poblano pepper, deveined and finely diced
1 pound Italian sausage
1 (15-ounce) can refried beans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper.
1 package tortilla chips (such as Scoops®)
1 (15-ounce) jar medium salsa
¼ cup pickled jalapeno slices, drained and chopped
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Hot pepper sauce
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the sausage to the pan. Use a potato masher to break up the sausage into very little pieces. Cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat.
Lay the chips onto a microwaveable plate or platter. You will have enough ingredients to make at least two plates full of chips. Spoon the sausage and cheese filling into the chips. Spoon some of the salsa over the chips. Drizzle the jalapeno pieces over the salsa. Cover with shredded cheese. Place the plate into the microwave oven and cook on high power until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Remove (the hot!) platter from the oven. Top with dollops of sour cream and chopped cilantro. Offer hot pepper sauce on the side.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock rock concert. More of a generational milestone than a show, the event was marked by the hundreds of thousands of people that attended and the peace and love demonstrated during a time of national unrest. Sounds a bit familiar, yes?
To recreate that feeling now, we got all groovy and welcomed Chef James, who embraced everything 1969 by recreating dishes that brought back the taste of the day.
We started with a co-ed (my “old-man” was in tow) cocktail party that featured passed hors d’oeuvres right out of the glossy mags of the day. Stuffed celery, bacon wrapped shrimp, pigs in a blanket and pineapple and ham topped pizza. Here’s a few snack images to start your California dreamin’….
The highlight was the chips and dip placed on each of the tables. I just couldn’t get enough of those homemade crispy chips with globs and globs of oniony dip! Pretty groovy, man……..
Continental breakfast included home baked “Pop Tarts” and granola bars, avocado toasts and peanut butter and banana toasts with a drizzle of maple syrup. I was ready for the dawning of the age of Aquarius….♬ and the golf that followed.
Lunch included plated cheese balls coated in nuts with Saltine crackers and buffets filled with fresh green salads, quiches, ambrosia salad and tomato aspic. The meals just kept taking me higher and higher!
But the real mouth-watering fun was at the “pot” luck supper. Chef served all the foods of the day that one would bring to a communal dinner. We started with a huge pot of cheese fondue and all the dippers you can imagine. As the ladies sat for the meal, everyone broke off a piece of beau monde seasoned Swiss cheese bread (a recipe right off the pages of every 70’s era Junior League cookbook). The dinner buffet offered other memorable favorites including chicken a la king, Salisbury steak, deliciously soggy green beans, mashed potatoes with carrots and peas, and of course a liberal interpretation of the famed Hamburger Helper, pasta with tomato seasoned beef.
Dessert featured banana cream pie with a shortbread crust and grasshopper pie. And then there were the brownies!!?!! With a little help from my friends, supper was digested by dancing to songs from Janice to Richie.
It was quite an event, one that will be remembered for the food, the fun and especially the camaraderie. You don’t have to wait for an anniversary to remember the good ol’ days. Just kick back, invite your pals, encourage them to bring a dish from their childhood and break some communal bread. As Sly would sing, You Can Make It If You Try!
And that’s the why behind this Far Out recipe for homemade chips and onion dip. Instead of tearing open an envelope of onion soup mix, why not take a few minutes and give the real thing a try? Season the warm potatoes with your favorite combination of dry spices and fresh herbs to create the utmost gourmet chip treat.
Oven Baked Seasoned Potato Chips
with Caramelized Onion Dip
Yield about 2 cups dip
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 ½ cups) Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar 1 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise 2 large baking potatoes Vegetable oil spray 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon hot paprika 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the Balsamic vinegar and cook until the onions are syrupy. Place the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and chives into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until creamy.
Add the caramelized onions to the processor. Pulse to combine. Transfer your finished chip dip to a serving bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Use a mandoline to cut the potatoes into paper-thin slices. Place the slices onto 2 baking sheets. Coat both sides of the potato slices with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the chips begin to turn golden, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of each chip. Mix 1 teaspoon coarse salt with ½ teaspoon hot paprika. Sprinkle the chips with this mixture.
A mandoline is a hand-operated machine that uses an adjustable blade to slice and julienne firm vegetables and fruit; it has legs, allowing it to sit safely on your countertop. The best part of the mandoline is the carriage, preventing the vegetable slicer from touching your fingertips! The food processor’s slicing blade attachment is a good substitution for the mandoline.
I chose ricotta as the first recipe to make into a cooking video for 2 reasons: One, I needed something incredibly fast and easy and Two, I think people deserve to know that ricotta is just one of those things you’re better off making yourself.
I turned to a film student to make Jorj.com’s first official cooking video, and may ask her to follow up with ricotta ice cream w/fruit syrup and baked ravioli recipes.
My video(s) should be ready soon, but in the meantime, let me tell you how fun it was to make this basic cheese ingredient. I tried it myself at home with a friend.
We poured a half gallon of milk into a stock pot and chatted about our summers as it came to a boil. I stirred it. Then as it began to bubble, I added the buttermilk.
We stirred, then waited for 5 minutes. By then, delicious and recognizable ricotta cheese curds had formed. We took them to the sink and strained them into a colander lined with cheese cloth.
Our ricotta now “in the bag” (ha, ha!!), we held it over a cup and collected the last few drips and then transferred it to a bowl.
It was so beautiful! A perfect little blob of delicious cheese. Spoons ready, we tried it and thought that with a grate of lemon zest and chopped herbs, we could eat it right now with crudité or crackers.
But into the fridge it went, where we planned to let it set up to five hours. When it comes out, we had basil, chives and parsley waiting to fold in.
I am told the same kind of scene transpired in the Berman’s kitchen, where their prospective NYU film school student filmed a story about a whole lotta ricotta. She has sweet ingredients for a dessert-y ricotta that she will be tinkering with this week, AND a copy of my book, CANVAS & CUISINE. She and her family loved the artwork in that book, and promised to make something from its pages soon…
Anyway, I would like to officially welcome The Bermans to my culinary Adventureland and thank them for offering their home as stage set, and working with my food blog editor, Jen Russon to produce fresh homemade ricotta.
Here’s the recipe. Video out ASAP. Ciao!
Fresh Homemade Ricotta
15 minute cuisine, plus up to 5 hours to set
Yields 4 to 5 cups
1 gallon whole milk
4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon very fine sea salt
In a large stock pot, add the milk and heat to a boil. Stir continuously, so a skin doesn’t form on the milk. Add the buttermilk and salt. Stir and wait 5 minutes for cheese curds to form.
Line a colander with cheese cloth and pour the cheese into it; drain, then tie off into a bag, holding ricotta over a cup or a bowl to collect further drainage.
Place the ricotta in an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 to 5 hours. After it cools and sets, you may add any chopped fresh herbs you like, such as rosemary, chives, basil or parsley. The ricotta may also be enhanced with sweet flavors.
The possibilities are as scrumptious as they are endless!