Tag Archives: appetizers

Horse Bites: Country Ham

This is one of the many treats you’ll always find at the buffet at Churchill Downs during Dawn at the Dawns. It’s a particular favorite of my husband’s.

Now Country Ham is one of those things that you love or hate. I love it in small doses, so a Horse Bite is perfect for me. A big slab on a plate would make me uncomfortable. I did actually cook one. Once. Michael was in hog heaven (pardon the pun).

Little PSA here. If your doctor has EVER said the words Congestive Heart Failure to you, or has said anything about your heart muscle being weak. . . PASS on the Country Ham or you’ll be explaining it to a grumpy ER nurse right before she inserts a catheter in someplace you don’t want it. #justsayin.

Now I think the perfect way to serve Country Ham is atop a slice of nice, crusty baguette. Ideally, I’d serve this warm with half a small baked or boiled red-skinned potato (or a purple fingerling if you’re lucky!) and half of a tender broiled asparagus stalk on top. Yes, this one takes a toothpick as well. You don’t want asparagus being ground into the carpet. And the salt from the ham will season both the potato and the asparagus, so just give them pepper, lemon, or garlic as you prefer. Actually, it’s just as good cold, so don’t stress about it.

Recipes for Benedictine, Thurby Pie, and Hot Brown Horse Bites are only a click away! Next up: Kids’ Derby Parties!

Horse Bites: Thurby Pie

There is one must-have dessert you’ll find at every single Derby event: Derby Pie. The “official” Derby Pie (the name is actually copyrighted and they take it very seriously) is made in Louisville by Kern’s Bakery and shipped world-wide. It tastes nice. But my aunt’s recipe is easily twice as yummy! I’ve often been told I look just like her. If my hair starts to go gray should I just do a Marilyn Monroe platinum?? It looked great on Beverly!
I’m going to call it Thurby Pie since last year the Thursday of Derby Week became the official day for locals to go to Churchill Downs. It used to be Oaks Day (Friday), but the celebs gradually realized Oaks Day was just as much fun as Derby. So now they come in a day early, and locals end up on blankets in the infield standing in line for port-a-potties. #ICK!
So locals make a day of it on Thursday, starting with Dawn at the Downs (and I do mean dawn) eating a fabulous buffet breakfast and watching the Oaks and Derby horses work out. It’s fantastic! Spend some time at the Derby Museum until it’s time for the first race and you’re all set! Many local restaurants sell box lunches to take to the track, including Panera (my personal fave).

Thurby Pie Bites:

Use this recipe but bake the pie in a brownie pan or a mini-muffin pan. I used a brownie pan because I was afraid mini-muffins would be too dry, but I may try that next time – it would be much easier!

Either way, bake the pie and let it cool. If you want to prep things early it can cool overnight. If you’re using mini-muffin pans leave out the crust and place a Nilla Wafer flat-side-down in the bottom of each muffin pan and pour batter on top. It will probably take a little less time to cook, so check it frequently.

If you’ve selected the brownie pan method this is when you cut out circles. I just happened to have a cookie cutter the right size. Don’t stress if you don’t. Just place a Nilla Wafer on top and cut around it with a knife. Make sure your circles touch so you get as many Pie Bites as you can out of each batch. Twenty-four is my estimated count for one batch.
My aunt’s recipe is moist enough that leftover pieces can be combined to make more circles. Or you can just eat them. Someone has to taste-test them!
Top them with whipped cream with a bit of Bourbon added. Plain whipped cream is fine too if there are youngsters attending. Or if it’s warm and you’re partying outside leave the whipped cream off completely. If it melts it doesn’t look as appealing. These can be completed and stored in the fridge the day before. Two days before without the whipped cream. What’s not to love?!

If you missed the first Horse Bite (Benedictine) click here!

Horse Bites: Benedictine

What’s not a tapas, not an appetizer, but sort of a finger-food served in Kentucky (or anywhere anyone celebrates Derby) on the days leading up to the First Saturday in May? It’s a Horse Bite!

This isn’t so much a recipe as a technique. You’ll need cucumber, pre-cooked bacon, radishes or alfalfa sprouts, and Benedictine cream cheese spread. If you live outside Kentucky you may not be able to find Benedictine. It was named after Jenny Benedict, and here’s a basic recipe. It’s to die for! My mother-in-law made hers from scratch, and her tip was to take your time and make sure all the liquid was gone from the cukes.

First, wash the cucumber and peel off half the skin in alternating stripes. You can cut this step in half by buying an English cucumber (the plastic-wrapped thin-skinned ones). Cut the cuke into about inch-and-a-half slices. Hollow out the seedy middle portion with a small scoop or a tomato/strawberry corer.

Next is bacon. Always the life of the party! I’m lazy, so I buy pre-cooked bacon and microwave it for thirty seconds, then pat dry. If you’re doing a huge number cooking raw bacon in the oven on a broiler pan may be your best bet. Just don’t get it too crispy. It needs to curve to fit a half-strip inside each cucumber chunk.

Fill the hollow with Benedictine. I used a small decorating tool from Pampered Chef, but you can do it any old way – you’re gonna put stuff on top anyway!

The Bacon Benedictine sandwiches I used to make had alfalfa sprouts. Those are hard to come by those days since they easily harbor e-coli. You can get the same little bite of flavor and crispness from thin-sliced radishes, though! And I do like the extra pop of color.

I’m going to be adding more Derby bites over the next week or so. I can hear military aircraft flying over the house as I write this. It’s Thunder Over Louisville this evening, so there are 800,000 people downtown watching the planes and waiting for the fireworks. The Blue Angels give me chills every. single. time.

My best/worst Thunder experience was being on a friend’s parents’ houseboat for Thunder. Aaron (my 26yo) was maybe four or so at the time. It was incredibly beautiful, and we were closer than any boats were ever allowed to go thereafter. Exiting speedboats caused such a number of wakes that our boat’s anchor lifted, and we were involved in a collision. Passing out life-vests and everything. It all worked out OK for the folks on our boat, but I think a speedboat did have two casualties that year. The land and water controls get stricter every year, and the crowds for every Derby event keep climbing. It’s a wonderful or awful time to be in Louisville. . . depending on what you’re doing!

Happy Derby Festival, Y’all!




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...