I can’t believe that tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby. This time last year party prep was in full swing for our Kentucky Derby Party! I hope you didn’t miss our Kentucky Derby Party Prep and Party Decorations and Sweet Shark’s Minty Julep recipe. Nyquist, the favorite, won the race and I won $60! I wanted to show you the rest of our decorations, some beautiful hats and one of my favorite traditional dishes I serve as part of my pre~race menu ~ Southern Pimento Cheese. I’m also linking to a couple of other Derby recipes. Welcome to the party.
Earlier I shared our pre~race menu and our dinner menu
Once again, my sweet brother~in~law made an awesome tote board.
Red roses are the must~have flower for a Kentucky Derby party and I had them everywhere.
And, of course, my Derby horse had to have his blanket of roses.
The ladies showed off their hats. We don’t get as wild with our hats here as those attending the actual Derby, but everyone got in the spirit of the occasion. Here are a few of my favorites.
This hat attended last year’s Derby with its owner.
How cleaver is this hat with the horses added, compliments of a grandchild’s handiwork.
And even a few men got into the hat action. Sweet Shark’s business partner had been to the Derby in 2015 and wore this hat.
Our friend J—— was declared the spiffiest dresser of the day.
As everyone arrived, sipped on a mint julep, greeted one another, and started placing bets, we offered a few nibbles before race time.We started the festivities with mint juleps. (I shared Sweet Shark’s recipe in an earlier post.))
At any Kentucky Derby party, food and drink is as important as watching the race. We always hope for beautiful outdoor weather. Last year, the weather could not have been more perfect (which in Texas means it was not hot super hot. By the time the race is over, and everyone has collected their winnings or cried in their hats, the temperature has dropped and the patio is in the shade. I put out our dinner on the kitchen island. As everyone fills their plates, grabs a glass of wine or another mint julep, they find a place to sit, either in the dining room, breakfast room or outside on the patio. and everyone had a great time.
Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite recipes from our party and I’m starting with the Southern Pimento Cheese which is always a big hit. The recipe that I’ve used for years comes from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis. Today Scott spends his time writing and contributing to major food publications, but when I met him in 2003 he was a restaurant chef in Atlanta and the protege of Edna Lewis, the mother of modern Southern cooking. Edna has passed away, but Scott is still cooking up a storm.
Homemade Mayonnaise for Southern Pimento Cheese
The secret to this pimento cheese is the homemade mayonnaise. I love Hellman’s (I’m west of the Mississippi. If you’re east of the Mississippi, I think it’s Duke’s.), but nothing is as good as homemade. (Sorry about the photo ~ I forgot to take the picture before folks jumped in.
The keys to good mayonnaise (If you’ve never made homemade mayonnaise, give it a try; it’s mostly eggs and oil.):
- Your eggs should be at room temperature.
- Add your oil VERY slowly. Don’t get impatient.
- Add your oil down the side of the bowl, not smack in the middle of the egg mixture.
- Adding the hot water at the end of the process gives the mayo its silky smooth texture.
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 egg yolks
- 1½ cups vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Place the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and mustard in a bowl (Set it over a towel or in a saucepan so it stays put.) and whisk until the salt and mustard are dissolved.
- add the egg yolks and beat until smooth.
- Place the oil in a liquid measuring cup with a pour spout. Add the oil drop by drop at first, and then in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until all of the oil has been incorporated and you have a very thick emulsion.
- Stir in the hot water until smooth.
- Refrigerate up to one week.
Southern Pimento Cheese
The key to this pimento cheese:
- Use the homemade mayonnaise.
- Use roasted red bell pepper, not the stuff you buy in the little jars.) If you have never roasted a bell pepper, see How to Roast Bell Peppers.
- If possible, use a chunk of cheddar cheese and grate it yourself. You can use the pre-grated, but the block cheese has more flavor.
- 2½ cups grated extra~sharp cheddar cheese (10 ounces)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicier)
- kosher salt to taste
- several grinds of black pepper
- ¾ cup homemade mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped roasted red bell pepper
- Stir together all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until they are well mixed and creamy.
- Taste carefully for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Cover and store as needed, refrigerated, until ready to use.
I wish I could share Sweet Shark’s Smoked Salmon; it’s the best ever, but even I don’t know exactly what he does, and he’s not tellin’. Believe me, friends have asked over the years. He just smiles and says, “I’d have to kill ya if I told you.”
Well, friends, that’s one of the best recipes of the party. I also want you to have the recipe for the Jalapeño Cornbread and the Jalapeño Cornbread Salad. And of course, you have to have something sweet, so here is the link to the Raspberry Chocolate Tartlet.
I hope you have a fabulous Saturday watching and celebrating the Kentucky Derby. Watching the most beautiful animals on earth do what they love to do is a thrilling experience. It you can’t watch it, record it. Think of Sweet Shark and me as you sing “My Old Kentucky Home”. On Saturday, everyone is from Kentucky.
Here’s some other places that I’ve been partying this week (April 28th ~ May 4th):