The most famous dessert of the Kentucky Derby!Read More
When I think of favorite Kentucky Derby memories, there are, of course, stories about sitting right at the Finish Line, over-the-top Derby Parties, and elaborate hats. But, the truth is, some of my very favorite Kentucky Derby Memories are family parties when I was a kid. I can remember sitting in my grandmother's living room -- at a home where drinking or gambling would never be permitted -- and watching the Derby with my cousins. It was always so special to realize that Kentucky was the focus of the entire sports-loving world for the afternoon!
Here are some great tips for hosting a memorable Derby party at home.
1. Keep an assortment of great beverages!
When you think of Derby Day, of course you think of mint juleps! But, y'all know that everybody doesn't like the Kentucky Derby's signature cocktail. Try an Ale-8 "minty julep" mocktail for the kids. Keep some sweet tea and lemonade on hand for those who choose not to imbibe. Maybe mix up a batch of bourbon slush. Have a couple bottles of good bourbon on hand -- a high-wheat and a high-rye should satisfy everyone's tastes. And don't forget that crushed ice makes it all a little more festive!
2. Keep it low-key!
There's no need to pull out the fine china or even the silver julep cups. Make your guests feel comfortable with everyday serving pieces. I LOVE the mint julep cups from Louisville Stoneware. These carafes are only $3 at Target right now. And Derby glasses are always appropriate! I love using a well-loved quilt as a tablecloth. And colorful Fiestaware is always great for a party.
3. Everybody loves a tiny bite!
Make boxed brownie mix something extraordinary by adding a splash of bourbon to the mix, then topping the cooled brownies with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt; cut into tiny, bite-sized squares. Serve sweet Sister Schubert rolls as sliders with salty country ham. Mini hot browns and individual-sized Derby-Pies® are always great tastes of Kentucky!
4. Play some games.
Download a jockey silks template and let kids (and grown-ups!) design their own silks. Draw names of the horses in the field from a bowl, so everyone has a horse to cheer for. (If your crowd is gambling-friendly, set up a small pool for the race winner!) And purchase cheap feathers and flowers from a craft store to decorate Derby hats. Purchase a few extra Derby glasses for party favors that will remind your guests of the fun day.
5. Sing My Old Kentucky Home!
Don't forget the state song. It's a great Derby tradition!
Here's to a fun, laid-back Derby at home!
Perhaps the most iconic of all Kentucky Derby dishes is the Derby-Pie®; in fact, Derby is right there in the pastry’s name! Served warm or cool, with ice cream, whipped cream, or all by itself, Derby-Pie® is one of those treats that you just can’t pass up. The signature mix of chocolate chips and walnuts, the oh-so-light filling, the flaky pastry. Every time you take a bite, you feel like a cross between an amateur chef and a detective: Is that a taste of bourbon? Or maybe vanilla? No, it’s got to be a high-rye bourbon; the tartness will offset the sweetness of the chocolate…
Of course, the secrets of Derby-Pie® are closely guarded by Kern’s Kitchen, a family-owned company here in Louisville. The story goes that, in the early 1950s, George Kern was managing the restaurant at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, KY, just outside of Louisville. With the help of his parents, Walter and Leaudra Kern, George came up with a signature dessert for the restaurant. Once the recipe was perfected, the Kerns needed a great name for their creation, which combined the flavors of a chocolate chip cookie and a nut pie. So, they wrote several suggestions on slips of paper, and threw those into a hat. The winning name was, of course, Derby Pie, a reference to the big horse race just a few miles down the road. Soon, the Kerns were met with so many copycats of their delicious dessert that, in 1968, they filed for federal trademark protection of the term Derby-Pie®.
The Melrose Inn is long gone, having closed its doors in 2000, but the Kern’s Kitchen company is going strong, selling their delicious pies in restaurants and retailers throughout Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. For over fifty years, Derby-Pie® has been the taste of the Kentucky Derby for Kentuckians who are way too young to place a bet or order a mint julep, who miss their Old Kentucky Homes, or for those attending parties en route to the Derby. We may not know exactly what’s in a Derby-Pie®, but we know it tastes like Derby Season!
This post also appears on the Kentucky Derby Book blog. Special thanks to the folks at Kern's Kitchen for Derby-Pie® photos!}
Celebrate Pi Day with Louisville's signature pie!Read More