Derby Days

One of the sweetest and most elegant exhibitions of gracious Southern living at it’s finest is exemplified each May in the Kentucky Derby.  For 17 years now, Audley and I have spent the first Saturday in May caught up in the tradition and beauty of this amazing race.  From hats to horses, everything surrounding this fabulous race is a true taste of the South.

Horse racing in general is a real passion of ours and I look forward to the day when we can slip away to attend in person.  Until then we will settle for our own weekend celebration at home.  This year is the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, so I wanted to mix up a little tradition with my own modern twist for our Derby fare.

On the menu? 
(I have included links to some recipes)

Bourbon & Peach glazed Pork Tenderloin
Stuffed Mushrooms
Asparagus w/ Lemon-Caper sauce
Dijon Deviled eggs — scroll down to find this recipe
Run for the Roses Salad w/ white balsamic vinaigrette
Parmesan-Herb biscuits
Derby Pie
non-alcoholic Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby is a colorful affair, so it felt only natural to set a colorful table.  I love this aqua and red toile tablecloth.  Not only does it make me feel happy, it also shows off bright color associated with the Derby.

I used basic white plates with red bread & butter plates, simple crystal goblets, and finished off the settings with white napkins.  Food is to be served in my silver pieces.  Since this is the “Run for the Roses”, I used fresh red roses in vases for accents.

When it came to making my menu for our Derby fare, I chose items that are fresh and currently in-season at the market, like asparagus, baby greens, strawberries, herbs from our garden and naturally the eggs since they were just laid over the weekend while I was at my parents house.

To make the Bourbon & Peach Glazed Pork tenderloin:

  • 3 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup good quality bourbon
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Smart Balance oil 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups peach jam, melted with 1 tablespoon butter 
  • Kosher salt
  • Rinse and pat dry the tenderloin. Combine soy sauce and next eight ingredients plus 1 cup of melted peach jam (reserving the rest for grilling… you will have to reheat) in a large shallow dish; cover, and chill at least 10-12 hours. Remove pork from marinade, discarding marinade. Sprinkle evenly with salt.
  • Grill, covered with grill lid, over high heat (400° to 500°) 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 155°, turning occasionally & brushing with remainder of peach jam. Remove from heat; cover with aluminum foil, and let stand 10 minutes or until thermometer registers 160°. Garnish, if desired with fresh peach slices, Rosemary or Basil. 
  • For the “Run for the Roses” salad:
  • Baby greens, washed and well drained
  • 1 red rose, petals pulled, washed and gently dried
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • Arrange fresh greens, rose petals and strawberries in serving dish.  Top with walnuts and gorgonzola cheese.

Serve with a light white balsamic vinaigrette:

1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1-2 tsp. Kosher salt for taste
1 finely diced shallot
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup Olive or Smart Balance oil
Mix first five ingredients together well, then slowly drizzle the oil in, whisking well as you work it.


And for the Parmesan-Herb Biscuits:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading dough
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives, basil, & rosemary
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Preheat the oven to 425 and grease a baking sheet for use.  In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cups flour, the baking powder, salt, cheese and fresh herbs. Using a pastry blender or the paddle on a Kitchen Aid mixer, cut in the butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs about the size of peas. Add the milk to the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula, stir just until evenly moistened. 
    Using your hands, dusted in flour, shape biscuits and drop them onto your baking pan.  Bake until the biscuits are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly, then serve. Makes 12-15 biscuits. 



It’s not too late the be thinking of ideas for a Derby party this weekend!  

Linking up with Foodie Friday.  Race on over and see what else is cooking this weekend!
If you are interested, you can still enter my Lodge cast iron giveaway here.  I’ll be picking a winner Saturday night!

2 thoughts on “Derby Days

  1. Your menu sounds amazing. Will make copies and especially like the Pork Tenderloin recipe, YUM. I too will be watching the Kentucky Derby with my Mint Julep in hand.

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook


  2. That menu…wowzer! You really do know how to celebrate an event. I can just see you in your hat and Audley in his top hat at the Kentucky Derby one year soon! You simply must go. (Now up here in the frozen tundra, the Kentucky Derby is not such a big and grand day to ponder. So thank you for expanding my horizons. I'll probably pay better attention this year.)


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