Derby Day is next weekend and without a doubt one of my favorite reasons to throw a party. My parents grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and I have so many wonderful memories of our visits. When I "came of age" my parents let me start attending the Derby and I was hooked. So much glamour and the hats!!! Some stunning, some funny and others down right obscene. You see it all (and more than you wish if you happen among the infield).
The Derby kicks off with the Kentucky Derby Festival - a two week party leading up to the world's most famous two minutes in sports. There are concerts, fashion shows, balloon races, parades, beauty pageants and my favorite was always the Great Steamboat Race when the Belle of Louisville would race the Delta Queen. Another highlight I remember was how excited I would get every year when my grandfather would send me my pegasus pin.
The Kentucky Derby is always the first Saturday in May. It is one of the last races of the day and is for 3 year old male horses. It marks the first race in the Triple Crown, followed by The Preakness and then The Belmont Stakes. You may recall American Pharoah won the Triple Crown last year.
SO - back to entertaining. The day starts with ham biscuits, cheese grits and strawberries. Kentucky Burgoo usually is simmering on the stove somewhere though I have not made that since my father passed away. My grandmother's Kentucky Derby Pie is nibbled on throughout the day as are Benedictine Sandwiches. And of course, you can't go to the Derby without their signature cocktail, the Mint Julep. My father always said a Mint Julep was a perfectly good way to ruin a glass of bourbon but made them for his guests anyway.
So today, I wanted to leave you with our Benedictine recipe and our Mint Julep recipe.
Go Baby Go!
Clark Family Benedictine
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 ounces softened cream cheese
Dash of salt
Pinch of pepper
2 teaspoons chopped dill
One sliced up cucumber
Chill spread for at least 30 minutes. Spread the mixture on bread of choice and line with sliced cucumber.
Clark Family Mint Julep
1 jigger bourbon (preferably Kentucky)
1 ½ teaspoon simple syrup*
Fresh mint leaves
Muddle mint leaves in the bottom of a glass. Add simple syrup, bourbon and fill glass with crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint.
Clark Boy’s thoughts on Mint Juleps: “One’s too many, two’s too much and three ain’t nearly enough!”
*simple syrup is one cup sugar dissolved into 2 cups water and simmered until syrup forms.