No Derby party is complete without mint juleps.
Some of these glasses are very old - we've collected quite a variety over the years. As an appetizer, we served some pimento cheese. If you've never had this stuff, I urge you to give it a shot. Shredded cheddar cheese, mayo, chopped pimentos and a little hot sauce. I know, I was skeptical too when this was first presented to me.
Its great as a dip with crackers, but I love it as a sandwich spread on toasted bread. We also invented this dip for the party.
Sour cream mixed with chopped smoked salmon, lemon zest and chives, served with salt and pepper potato chips. I have since made this with creme fraiche (at our Patio Opening) and liked it even more.
There was also ham and one of my favorite low country specialties, shrimp and grits.
This recipe had bacon and spinach added to it. We order special stone-ground grits from South Carolina. No wimpy instant grits here!
There were lots of stellar desserts, including my mom's rhubarb pie and Cook's Illustrated's perfect chocolate cupcakes. My contribution was a play on the classic Derby Pie, which involves nuts and chocolate. I used this recipe for a caramelized nut tart, and made it with pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews and hazelnuts. Then I drizzled the whole thing with good melted chocolate. I call it...Nut Job Tart.
This was so rich and decedent, you only needed a sliver. But it was pure heaven.
Our next Spring celebration was Mother's Day dinner at my parent's house. The day before mother's day my friend Heather and I attended a book signing for Thomas Keller's new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. This cookbook is beautiful and the recipes are very accessible. Its definitely geared towards the home cook, with lots of tips and detailed instructions. And we got to meet the man himself! I wish I had taken a picture, but at least I have his signature to prove it. He was so friendly and gracious, although I wasn't able to strike up much of a conversation with him. I was all geared up with my question, and asked if he would be visiting any restaurants while in Boston. And he just said, "no, I won't have time." And I was hoping he would invite me out to join him! So for Mother's Day, I just had to make something from his book. I went with the amazing leek bread pudding. So delicious and cheesy. Even my 8 year old cousin ate 3 helpings!
I also sauteed some Spring vegetables. I've never worked with fresh fava beans before. They were delicious. You have to shell them from their lovely pods.
Then you quickly blanch the beans and remove the tough outer skins. I then sauteed these with fiddleheads and asparagus.
Favas and Fiddleheads and Asparagus, oh my!
This weekend is my official start to summer - the beginning of our CSA! More local, seasonal, delicious food to come!