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Elegant, yet easy: Whipping up some dishes that are perfect for Derby Day

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MILWAUKEE -- The race is on with recipes that will win place and show at your Kentucky Derby party. Chef Alisa Malavenda joins Real Milwaukee with some dishes perfect for derby day.

Traditional Mint Julep

  • The cocktail of the Kentucky Derby – Woodfood Reserve Kentucky Bourbon is the official bourbon for this drink at the Derby.
  • 2 oz Woodfoord Reserve  Bourbon or other Kentucky bourbon like markers mark.
  • 1.5 oz simple syrup ( this is made by making equal parts sugar and water and bringing it to a boil just until sugar dissolves- chill and keep refrigerated.
  • 1 sprig , plus 3 mint leaves

Crush the 3 mint leaves in a mint julep or copper mule glass to release the mint oil and rub all inside the glass.

Fill the glass full with crushed ice.

Add the bourbon and simple syrup to the same glass. Stir to combine.

Garnish with mint

Sweet Bourbon Tea Pops

  • For a fun twist on a mint julep and southern sweet tea these are a real crowd pleaser.
  • 3 C water , divided
  • 4 tea bags
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1 C fresh mint leaves
  • ½ - ¾ C bourbon
  • 3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 4 tea bags with 1 cup of fresh mint and ½ cup sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and let it steep for 10 min.

Strain into a pitcher. Add 1 cup of cold water, bourbon and lemon juice.

Pour mixture into popsicle molds or plastic cups ( if using plastic cups cover with cling wrap or foil and make a slit in the center to insert popsicle stick.

“Run for the Roses” Pimento Cheese

  • 1/3 C Good quality Mayo
  • 2 t apple cider vinegar
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 t tabasco sauce
  • 1 t whole grain mustard
  • 1 t sugar
  • ¼ t pepper
  • 1 oz finely chopped onion
  • 1 jar ( 12 oz) pimentos , diced small ( you can also use roasted red peppers)
  • 1 # sharp cheddar cheese , shredded

Mix everything on a medium bowl except pimento and cheese until smooth, Gently fold in the pimentos and cheese.

Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4-6 hours.

Derby Hat Brie with Apple Roses

  • I large round of brie
  • 1 small round of brie or other spreadable cheese like Boursin
  • 3 small spinach leaves
  • Apricot jam (or honey)
  • Walnuts
  • Dried cranberries

Apple or Prosciutto Roses , Ribbon , Herb Bouquet , Dried Nuts and Fruit

Stack the 2 brie rounds on top of each other spreading some apricot jam (or honey) between the two cheese layers.

Arrange 3 small spinach leaves on the side between each cheese round. Place the 3 prosciutto or apple  roses  on top.

Decorate the edges of the “hat” with some walnuts and dried cranberries. Serve with crackers.

Alternatively you can just wrap a ribbon band around the “hat and garnish with a small bouquet of herbs !

For Prosciutto Roses

  • 3 slices of prosciutto

Slice each slice of prosciutto lengthwise into 3. Roll up one piece tightly. Loosely roll the second piece around the first piece. Using a pair of scissors, make little slices around the edges and fold them outward to look like a rose.

Loosely wrap the last piece around the rose and again make little slices to look like petals. Repeat with the remaining prosciutto to make 2 more roses.

Red Apple Roses 

  • Large Red Apples
  • ½ C fresh orange juice
  • ¼ C sugar
  • ½ C melted butter

Slice apples with mandolin, place in bowl with sugar butter and orange juice mixture. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

Roll apple slices like prosciutto to create a rose.

“And They’re Off” Pickled Shrimp

  • 2 pounds shrimp – cleaned, boiled and chilled
  • 1 medium purple onions sliced in rings
  • 1 lemon , sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ C fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ C olive oil
  • ½ C white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T Old Bay
  • 1 T whole grain or Dijon  mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T fresh dill , chopped
  • 1 T fresh parsley , Chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Make alternate layers of shrimp, lemons and onion slices in bowl.

Mix all other ingredients and pour over.

Refrigerate 6 or more hours stirring occasionally.

Serve as hors d'oeuvre with crackers or tooth picks or serves 6 as a salad on top of lettuce

Kentucky Hot Brown Casserole

  • 1.5 # cooked Turkey Breast – either sliced or cut into cubes
  • ¾ # bacon , chopped
  • 12 sliced of thick Texas toast, cut into cubes
  • ½ C unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 t salt
  • 1.5 t white pepper
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • ½ t Dijon mustard
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese , divided
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 3 T Flour
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 oz fresh chopped parsley

 Preheat oven to 375˚F. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium until crisp; remove bacon. Reserve bacon drippings to grease a 9x13 inch  casserole pan  Toss together the cubed white bread slices, melted butter, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon  pepper on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until toasted.

In a large bowl , whisk together the eggs, 2 cups milk, remaining salt ,pepper, and mustard. Stir in half the Parmesan, chopped cooked turkey,, half the bacon, and bread cubes. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and set, about 45-60 minutes, if the casserole seems to brown too fast , just shield ( not cover with foil)

 Whisk together unsalted butter and flour in a saucepan over medium until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in remaining 1 cup whole milk; cook until thickened and mixture just begins to bubble. Remove from heat; whisk in remaining other 4 oz. Parmesan, some salt and white pepper to tastes. Spoon sauce over casserole. Garnish with  tomatoes, chopped parsley, and remaining bacon.

Churchill Downs Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with Vanilla Bourbon  Ice Cream

Pie Crust ( or you can use store bought)

  • 1 ¼ c flour
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • ½ c butter (chilled and cut into 1" cubes)
  • ⅛ - ¼ c cold water
  • ½ t apple cider vinegar

Put the flour, salt and sugar in the food processor and process until combined. Add the chilled butter and process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour vinegar into ⅛ c water through food tube, adding a little water at a time until the dough holds together and forms a ball. Gather and cover in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 30 min.

Roll dough out thin ( about ¼ in.) and cut into circles that fit into jar . Press the dough firmly in the jars on bottom and sides. Chill in fridge or freezer while preparing filling.


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 T bourbon
  • ¾- 1 C. chocolate chips
  • ¾ - 1 C chopped  pecans

Preheat oven to 350

Add the chocolate chips and chopped pecans to the pie crust lined jars. Combine sugar, melted butter and corn syrup until incorporated. Add the bourbon and eggs one at time , mix well. Fill the jars ¾ full to allow for expansion and to be able to still put the lids on after they are cooked.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature or slightly warm and serve with ice cream on top

NOTE: you can make these ahead of time and place in the freezer. You can bake straight from the freezer adding an additional 15 minutes to cooking time.

Vanilla Bourbon Smash Ice Cream  (or you can use store bought)

  • 6 large eggs yolks
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 C heavy Cream
  • ½ C honey
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ¾ t kosher or sea salt
  • 2 T bourbon
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale in color in a large bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat,

Add the milk, cream, honey.

Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrap the seeds into the mixture and also add the pod.

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil (between small bubbles around the outer rim of the pan , but before it is a rolling boil that spills over). Remove from the heat and temper the egg mixture with a small amount ¼ C of the warm liquid, mix constantly so you don’t make scrambled eggs.

Slowly continue to add the cream mixture to the egg mixture and then place back on the stove and cook on low heat until the mixture becomes a thick custard( It should coat the back of a wooden spoon)

Place a strainer in a heat proof bowl and strain custard for a silky custard discarding the pod and any egg sediment. Stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon , cool and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours or over-night. Put the custard in an ice cream maker using manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to air tight container and store in the freezer until ready to use

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