Sunday, May 3, 2009

Plenty of Food on Derby Day

We did lots of eating and drinking and celebrating yesterday! And plenty of hat wearing.

Here's "the girls" in our hats drinking mint juleps. Lucy, my dad, and I. We all had hats to match our outfits :)

For appetizers my mother made a batch of one of my favorite Southern dishes. Pimento cheese!

Pimento cheese is usually served on sandwiches. Its a spread made from grated cheddar cheese, mayo, chopped pimentos, and hot sauce. I know it doesn't sound that appealing - I was skeptical the first time I was served it by a craft service woman in Atlanta. But it is pure heaven! Especially when its made with good cheddar and mayo. We also had a traditional spread of cheese and crackers.
And a riding hat full of money for bets on the horses. My mother made a plate of crab stuffed mushrooms - which we affectionately call "crap stuffed mushrooms." A few years ago my mother was cleaning out her freezer and found a container labeled "crap stuffed mushrooms" and wondered "well, why did I save them then?" It was apparently a typo - they do not taste like crap :)

My contributions to the meal included this very colorful black eyed pea salad.

Black Eyed Pea Salad
1 lb dried black eyed peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
3 green onions, chopped
3 Tbls fresh mint, chopped
juice of 3 limes
1 Tbl molasses
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
3 Tbls EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
  • Pick over beans and cover with cold water in a large bowl.  Soak 8 hours or overnight
  • Drain and rinse beans.  Pour into large pot and cover with cold water
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer about 1 hour until beans are tender
  • Drain and rinse beans in cold water and pour into large serving bowl
  • Bring beans to room temperature an chill
  • Toss with bell peppers, cucumbers, green onions, and mint
  • Whisk together lime juice, molasses, garlic, jalapenos in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in EVOO.  And salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss dressing with beans and serve at room temperature.

I also made big batch of one of my other southern favorites - shrimp and grits.

Then we were off to the races! We all threw in a dollar a horse and picked the names out of a hat. I picked Flying Private for Derek, who couldn't be with us. Unfortunately, he came in last. But my mother knows how to pick 'em - her horses came in first and second!

Here she is in the winner's circle. After the race, we moved on to our huge spread of food.

I absolutely filled my plate with deliciousness.

I had some roasted vegetables, shrimp and grits, black eyed pea salad, and cabbage salad. I thought I wouldn't be able to eat all this, but I managed. Lucy, Jon and I decided to take a walk on the beach after dinner. There was a beautiful sunset, which my little camera didn't quite capture.

Trust me, the color was much more intense in person. When we returned, it was time to eat more! First, I had to finish preparing my special dessert made with my homemade gingersnaps - gingersnap banana pudding. I've made banana pudding many times before, but usually I use store bought vanilla wafers. I thought my homemade ginger snaps would add a nice flavor. And of course its better to use homemade. I made a batch of vanilla pudding (from scratch, of course) and the layered it in a baking dish with sliced bananas and the gingersnaps.

After letting this set for a couple hours, I whipped up some meringue, spread it over the top, then ran it under the broiler to brown it.

Unfortunately, the pudding came out a little soupier than I would like. I've never had this issue before - I think it was a combo of not cooking it long enough and the fridge not being quite cold. But it still tasted amazing.

Gingersnap Banana Pudding
Makes 10 to 12 servings
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 Tbls cornstarch
6 cups milk
8 egg yolks
2 vanilla beans (or 2 tsps vanilla extract)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut in pieces
6 ripe bananas
3 -4 dozen homemade gingersnaps
8 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
  • Mix together sugar in cornstarch in a large pot
  • Add milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thickened.  Test thickness by lifting spoon out of liquid and running your finger across it.  If it leaves a solid line in the pudding, its about the right thickness
  • Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl
  • Slowly add about 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture to yolks to temper, whisking constantly
  • Remove milk mixture from heat
  • Slowly pour tempered yolks into milk mixture, stirring constantly
  • Return to low heat and cook another 3 - 4 minutes
  • Remove from heat, then stir in butter
  • Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and use the back of knife to scrape seeds into milk mixture
  • Stir until butter and vanilla seeds are well combined
  • Pour into large bowl and chill for about 3 hours
  • In a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, spread a thin layer of chilled pudding into bottom of dish, top with banana slices, then a layer of gingersnaps.  Continue layering until dish is filled, ending with pudding
  • Cover and chill at least 2 hours (the longer it sits, the softer and more cake-like the gingersnaps will get)
  • Whip egg whites in a large, clean metal bowl with and electric mixture, and slowly add sugar and a pinch of salt.  Beat until whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks
  • Spread meringue over pudding, making peaks in meringue
  • Run under the broiler briefly to brown tops of meringue
  • Enjoy!
Here's our whole dessert spread.

I had a big scoop of my banana pudding, and a small slice of my mother's rhubarb pie.

I was sooo stuffed after all this food. But it was worth it!

Breakfast was big feast of leftovers.

We made egg sandwiches with leftover biscuits, pimento cheese, and fried eggs (and ham for some). I also had a scoop of shrimp and grits and a slice of cantaloupe.

Southern food sure tastes good but it is not light! My mother and I managed to get a 3 mile run in yesterday, and we're about to head out for another one. Although I think that will barely make a dent in all these calories we've consumed!

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