The Menu: May 3rd Kentucky Derby Party!

Pimento Toasts with Homemade Bacon Jam

Deviled Eggs

Southern “Greens” Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato,
Apples & Good Ol' Southern Country Ham With a Buttermilk Dressing

Brisket with Peach and Kentucky Bourbon Glaze

Herbed Biscuits and Cheese

Fresh Corn Pudding

Authentic Kern's Kentucky Derby Pie

Pimento Toasts with Homemade Bacon Jam

  • 1 pound sliced Applewood Smoked Bacon or your favorite smoked
    bacon cherry smoked is nice to, cut  into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced medium dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced fine 
  • 1/2 c brewed espresso 
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 cup Bliss pure maple syrup aged in bourbon barrels 
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp  fresh minced ginger
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until it starts to brown, 10-12 minutes. With a slotted spoon so the fat drains off, transfer bacon to a paper towel and let sit until later. Remove off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

Turn the heat down to medium. Add onions  and cook until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes, add garlic cook 1 minutes longer  stirring frequently. add bacon back to the skillet and add espresso, vinegar, orange concentrate,  syrup, brown sugar, ginger and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse briefly until finely chopped. you  do want some texture. Return mixture to pan and cook  over low heat to thicken, stirring occasionally. 

If the mixture gets to thick you can add 2 Tbsp of water and remove from heat and let cool slightly. Refrigerated in an airtight container, bacon jam will keep for 3-4 weeks. Its a nice addition to many things. great on a BLT!

Pimento Cheese

  • 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1- 8 oz package of cream cheese
  • 1- 4 oz. jar diced pimiento, drained
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp finely grated onion
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, diced fine
  • 8 oz. block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 8 oz. block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. This will keep in the fridge for 1 week. 

Deviled Eggs

Just let me say this, these deviled eggs are AWESOME! Easy – tasty – and almost everyone loves them. These little devils are not justrelish, mayo and yolks anymore. However, they are still easy and a great way ...

 Woodsy and full of flavor! This salad is a meal on it's own. Make it for your lunch and join us on Derby Day, May 3rd.

Woodsy and full of flavor! This salad is a meal on it's own. Make it for your lunch and join us on Derby Day, May 3rd.

Southern “Greens” Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato, Apples & Good Ol' Southern Country Ham With a Buttermilk Dressing

I wanted a twist on a old favorite and I thought this would be perfecto! Please do not

limit yourself to apples here. I am in the Midwest and that's what I see fresh right now.

By May 3rd we could have spring peaches and I may use some of those as well. Pears

would be great here to. Pomegranate seeds would add a nice pop of color on top for


serves 10 as a side


  • 10 cups of spinach, arugula, kale, mixed. Also turnip greens sliced fine would be nice ...
  • 3 cups sweet potato, cubed to about 1 inch in size
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 6 oz of a nice country ham, your choice, diced to about 1 inch in size
  • 3 tbsp mined shallot
  • 2 apples, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Line a rimmed baking dish with parchment or use a Silpat. Toss potato with a 1 tbsp of

the oil and the brown sugar, s and p to taste. Put potato on the baking pan and roast for

25 minutes until lightly browned and tender. To avoid it burning move it around a few

times while it roasting.

In a large skillet add 1 tbsp of the oil. toss the ham around until it slightly browned. 1-2

minutes and drain. add the apples and shallot to the same pan 1-2 minutes tossing

around till shallot softens slightly. Remove apple and shallot to a large bowl and cool

slightly. Add the sweet potato and ham to the bowl and season with S and P if needed.

Combine with the greens and add small amounts of dressing until just coated lightly. Do

this right before serving. Dressing recipe follows.

Southern Buttermilk Dressing

Since I am watching what I am eating, you to will have to as well, or use your own

recipe, LOL. I took the Mayo out of this to help make it more healthy. It does not loose 1

ounce of flavor however.

  • 2 scallions, white and some of the green cut thin
  • 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of a great Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp of mayo, your favorite, this recipe usually uses 1/2 cup or more
  • 1 fresh clove of garlic finely minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of buttermilk, I am using low fat, you use what you want.
  • S and P to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced chives

Combine everything less the buttermilk in a bowl. whisk in the buttermilk until dressing is

smooth. S and P to taste again if needed. This dressing will go a long way. coat the

salad lightly and serve the rest of the dressing on the side for your guests to add more if

they want.

Brisket with Peach and Kentucky Bourbon Glaze

You will not be able to stop eating this brisket! Enough said! There are so many great brisket recipes out there. This one was inspired by 610 Magnolia in Louisville of course. Kentucky Derby Party Central!  

Serves 10

Brisket Rub:

  • 1 tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smokey paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp thyme


  • 1- 5 pound beef brisket, not to fatty
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, smashed and rough chopped
  • 1-12 oz bottle of a good dark beer, your choice
  • 4 cup of a good organic beef broth
  • 1 cup of Kentucky Bourbon, your choice
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, low salt one preferred
  • 8 fresh sprigs of thyme
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 14 oz can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 4 stalks of fresh celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the glaze:

  • 6 fresh peaches or 2 cups frozen peaches
  • 3/4 cup of a really good peach preserve or jam
  • 1 tbsp Kentucky Bourbon
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • S and P to taste

Mix all the rub ingredients in a bowl. Rub brisket all over using all the rub. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours to overnight. Remove brisket from fridge for at least 1 hour before to come to room temp before starting. Room temp meat helps the meat to relax and not seize up over high temp searing.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pot over high heat. Add brisket fat side down and do not touch it for 5 minutes. This will help with that nice brown crust you want to achieve. Turn brisket over and cook another 5 minutes untouched. Remove brisket to a plate and turn down heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp oil and add onion, garlic and cook till onion is just brown, stir often about 5-6 minutes. Add the broth and all the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer. Return the brisket to the pot and cover it  very tight. Put the pot in the preheated oven and braise until very tender approx. 4 1/2 hours. Brisket needs to be tender but still hold its shape. Every oven is a little different so pay attention to when yours is done. Transfer brisket to a plate keeping fat side up. Strain the braising liquid into a bowl and return the liquid to the pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce until you have about 2 cups of liquid left. This will take about 15 minutes.

Score the fat of the brisket across in several places and return to the pot fat side up with the reduced liquid. You can stop here  for up to 3 days ahead. Just cover pot and when you are at room temp, put it in the fridge. If you do this, rewarm brisket before continuing the recipe.

Making the Glaze: 

 When it comes to Kentucky Bourbon, there are lots of choices

When it comes to Kentucky Bourbon, there are lots of choices

In a blender add the jam, bourbon, peaches, dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the braising liquid and puree until smooth. Season with S and P  to taste.

Turn on your broiler and spread about a 1/2 cup of the glaze on the  top of the brisket. broil the brisket in the pot until it gets browned on top. Watch this very carefully, it can burn here if your not paying attention. It will take approx. 3-4 minutes.  Remove from pot to a cutting board and slice thin. Serve with the rest of the cooking liquid on the side. Add to your favorite biscuit, or just as it is. Enjoy!

Herbed Biscuits with Cheese

  • 2C all purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 c grated Parmesan or cheese of your choice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 stick of chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 c ice water or more if needed

preheat oven to 400 degrees

Put the first 8 ingredients in a food processor bowl.  Add the butter and pulse until you see a coarse meal. Transfer mixture to a chilled bowl and add the 3/4 C ice water.  toss until a sticky dough forms. It’s suppose to be sticky. Don’t be afraid of that. You may or may not need a few more tablespoons of ice water. Gather dough in to a ball. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and flour your hands as well to keep dough from sticking to them. Using your hand press dough into a 6 inch square and cut into nine 3 inch squares. Arrange on a ungreased baking sheet with sides touching. Bake in oven until golden on top about 30 minutes give or take.  Separate and cool for about 10 minutes and serve warm. 

Fresh Corn Pudding

If you cannot find any fresh corn for this you can make this with a nice organic frozen corn as well. This is Ina Garten's recipe with a couple of very small ingredient changes.


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 5 cups fresh yellow corn kernels cut off the cob (6 to 8 ears)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 4 extra-large eggs1 cup milk1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced roasted Poblano pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar, plus extra to sprinkle on top

How to prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the inside of a large baking dish. 

Melt the butter in a large saute pan and saute the corn and onion over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. 

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and half-and-half in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the corn meal and then the ricotta. Add the Poblano pepper,sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and grated cheddar, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheddar. 

Place the dish in a larger pan and fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides of the dish with hot tap water. Also known as a water bath to keep the pudding moist. Bake the pudding for 40 to 50 minutes until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm. This is such a great side dish. Enjoy!

Authentic Kern's Kentucky Derby Pie

Here's where to get it --- better order fast!

Abigail Adams Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Being from Massachusetts and a descendant of John White, who came over on the Mayflower to avoid religious persecution in England, I am very nostalgic around Thanksgiving. I wonder what really happened in those early days of escape to a new world but what I  do know is this.    After a late fall start, the Mayflower set sail from England and landed at Plymouth Rock, in Plymouth Massachusetts just before Christmas on December 21, 1620. There is an actual holiday to celebrate and commemorate this great day called Forefathers Day, which is largely celebrated in New England but only first celebrated in 1769, a long time after the landing of the Mayflower. Such a magnanimous event needed celebrating and I am one Pilgrim ...

Posted on March 25, 2014 and filed under Desserts, Holiday, Pies.

Fall Pie Season - Bisteeya

Moroccan cuisine are flavors I love and a cuisine I have only touched upon here and there. My research turned up a few things I could be better at.  This pie is one of them.  Although this is not my recipe, I have changed it a bit to to make it my own as I always do. I stay true to my motto, “A recipe is just a starting point.”  ...

Posted on November 14, 2013 and filed under appetizers, International.

Easy-to-make Appetizers for Christmas

I will not apologize for deviled eggs.

Just let me say this, these deviled eggs are AWESOME! Easy – tasty – and almost everyone loves them. These little devils are not just relish, mayo and yolks anymore. However, they are still easy and a great way to get put your Christmas ‘love’ in the food.   Needless to say, these are inexpensive to make.

Posted on October 8, 2013 and filed under appetizers, Holiday.

Grilled Salmon with White Balsamic and Vanilla Marinade served with Grilled Fennel and Peach Salad Paired with Commanderie de Peyrassol Rose'

While trying to come up with this dish for The Urban Grape’s August newsletter I had to read about this beautifully colored wine. If a wine can be that pretty in the bottle then I just had to know what people thought. Rose’s are among my favorite summer wines and I wanted to do this one justice. I had a bottle in front of me, but still wanted to compare notes. I read what the professional’s thought and the everyday palate of course. I was amazed to find both tasted 95% the same things. Strawberry, peach, hint of licorice, mineral, etc. My mind was made up for a recipe and then I called TJ and told him what I was pairing with the wine. I heard him laugh on the other end and I said “does that sound good?” and he said “you had me at balsamic.”

 Fresh Salmon - NOT farm raised!

Fresh Salmon - NOT farm raised!

The wine is made of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah ( hence the kiss of licorice) The producers do everything organic for this wine and that is right up my alley. They only fertilize with sheep manure and use no synthetic fertilizers. It is hard enough to make wine let alone doing it this way as well. My hat is off to a fabulous Rose’. Please enjoy this pairing.

Serves 4
First things first, put that Commanderie in the fridge for a hour or so and get a nice chill on it, not freezing just chilled!
4 4-6 oz pieces of Wild American Salmon, skin on, King Salmon if you can get it! (other wise what ever is FRESH not farmed)

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced fine
  • 1.5 tsp fresh organic parsley, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp fresh organic basil, leaves torn
  • 1.5 tsp fresh fennel fronds, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split and seeds removed

In a plastic bag or bowl mix all the ingredients and add the fish for at least a hour up to 2. Heat the grill to medium high and use either a grill pan or some aluminum foil on the grill. This will help the fish not to stick. Brush the pan lightly or foil with a little olive oil and get hot.

Remove fish from marinade reserving it to brush on along the way to help keep fish moist. This step is really important, pat the fish dry from marinade and brush lightly with olive oil, cook skin side down on the foil. fish should sizzle and you should leave it alone now. If it is windy and you feel the fish isn’t cooking the close the top, adjust the time down about 3 minutes total if you close the grill. Otherwise 5-7 minutes on one side, depending on thickness of your fish, flip and 5 more minutes. During this 5 minutes lightly brush the salmon with marinade mixture several times. leaving the fish alone the last minute of cooking. Salmon should be just barely cooked through, but still rare/ pink in the middle for the most tender and moist fish.

Grilled Fennel & Peach Salad

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, tops removed and cut in half and cored, slice 1/4 slice
  • 2 medium, firm peaches, halved and pitted
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp of a good sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp any local honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • s and p to taste

This should be done before the fish if possible and served at room temp or just warm. Toss the sliced fennel in a bowl with a little olive oil s and p and place on the grill in a grill pan or on foil. Grill until just soft and has some nice golden color. remove to a plate and let cool. Brush peaches with olive oil and grill directly on grill over flames for a couple of minutes watching closely so they do not burn. Peaches will cook in about 2-3 minutes each side. turn once to get some nice grill marks. remove to a plate with fennel and let cool. In a bowl add the 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, dijon, honey and s and p. Whisk until combine and add the fennel to this bowl and toss well, set aside for a minute until needed.

To Plate this dish
Put the piece of nice salmon on a pretty plate. on the side of the fish put 1 piece of the grilled peach top with about 1/4 cup of the grilled fennel tossed with the dressing. garnish with some fennel fronds and open that chilled Commanderie de Peyrassol Rose’.

Posted on July 11, 2013 and filed under dinner menus, Fish.

Bone Warming Minestrone

It's the right mix of texture and flavor that softens the impact of a cold midwestern night...

This soup has become the new household favorite now that the weather has turned a little colder her in Chicago. This is our new home for the next couple of years. Though we miss Sonoma very much we are embracing our new surroundings by getting a more wintery mix of food going in the house. This was a great start.

4 tablespoons of your favorite good olive oil, mine is shown here
4 ounces pancetta, 1/2 inch-dice
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onions
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
4 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
26 ounces canned chopped tomatoes, I use San Marzano because they are the best
6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, or your favorite organic one
2 bay leaf
S and P to taste
1 (15-ounce) can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as Ditalini, cooked according to box instructions
10 fresh baby bello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 to 10 ounces fresh escarole or spinach
2 cups good dry white wine
2 tablespoons pesto, homemade or store bought
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

At our house, we like a lot of pasta in the pot. It makes this soup a "meal in one bowl".

 This Minestrone has become one of our new family favorites!

This Minestrone has become one of our new family favorites!

For soup:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

2. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes, add the tomatoes and mushrooms,cook for 2 more minutes. Add 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaves, S and P to taste to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

3. Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. The soup should be pretty thick but if it’s too thick, add a little more more chicken stock. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the escarole and stir it into the soup. Cook just until the leaves are wilted. put 1/2 tablespoon in pesto in each bowl and ladle soup over it. Sprinkle with a good parmesan cheese and serve hot with a nice piece of grilled crunchy bread and a drizzle of great olive oil


Posted on July 11, 2013 and filed under soup.

Raspberry and Buttermilk Cake

I was on twitter one day last week just hanging out and tweeting away. Then this recipe for Raspberry Buttermilk Cake came along from @MYFOODTHOUGHTS Brian Samuels. I love buttermilk and usually anything made with it so I sent it to myself in email and had a look at it later on in the day. I read over the recipe once and knew I had to make this cake. So easy, so delicious and not too sweet, which is perfect for me. It's even better the next day if you can leave it alone that lone. This cake will be a staple around my house from now on. Terrific recipe Brian! And thanks for letting me share with my readers here as well. His recipe called for just raspberries, but I have tons of blackberries in my yard so of course I did half and half. After tasting this cake I think you could use just about any fruit in it. I am going to make it again with blackberries and peaches this week.

 Raspberry and Buttermilk Cake

Raspberry and Buttermilk Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 oz)
1/2 cup fresh blackberries (about 5 oz)

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Makes a rich, beautiful batter!

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar.

Bake for 24 to 30 minutes.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

This cake won't last one night!

Used by permission, from Brian Samuel @myfoodthoughts (c) 2010

Posted on July 11, 2013 and filed under Desserts, Coffeecakes.

Home Grown Pumpkin & Local Mushroom Salad

Serves up with a Truffle Vinaigrette

Serves 8 

  1. 1 small about 1 1/2 lb sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
    (if you can’t find fresh pumpkin)
  2. 2 large shallots, sliced in rings
  3. 1 pound of meat mushrooms such as portobello,
    shiitake, or cremini, de-stemmed tops cut in half, portobello cut in strips
  4. 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
  5. s and p to taste
  6. 1 small truffle (or a bottled one if you can find it - or truffle oil)
  7. 2 tbsp of a nice balsamic vinegar (at least 15 years old)
  8. juice of one fresh lemon
  9. 1 tsp super finely minced fresh rosemary
 Musrooms! Earthy, and luxurious ... 

Musrooms! Earthy, and luxurious ... 

Combine the pumpkin, shallots, mushroom tops and oil in a bowl and toss to coat. Turn out onto a baking sheet and season with s and p to taste. put baking sheet under the broiler for about 15-20 minutes until pumpkin is slightly charred and cooked through.

You will have to turn the veggies with a spatula a few times during the cooking to help them cook evenly. When veggies cook through transfer them to a bowl.

Then, whisk the balsamic with the fresh lemon juice - if using a canned truffle, mince about 1 oz. and combine with 1 tablespoon of the truffled oil from can. Put both into the dressing. If not, add 1 tbsp olive oil and whisk. Add the rosemary. Whisk that in too and let it all sit for a minute so flavors combine. Toss the dressing in the now warm to room temp broiled veggies.

Plate at this time, a nice portion of roasted veggies on 8 plates. If using a fresh truffle, slice 4 or 5 slices on a truffle slicer over each plated salad or drizzle a small amount of truffle oil last minute over each salad and serve.

Posted on July 11, 2013 and filed under Salads.