Whether you’re inviting one guest or a dozen, planning a menu for your at-home Kentucky Derby party can be a headache. Food is more expensive, and you may have lost the experience of hosting a banquet during a pandemic.
Instead of worrying about new recipes, you can easily spice up your usual party products by emphasizing this year’s most popular flavors. Analysts at Supermarket News say 92 percent of U.S. households plan to continue eating at home at least as often as they do now, and cooking fatigue is a real thing.
If you want to get excited again in the kitchen, a great way to do it is to try something new, whether it’s adding a hint of spice, a new flavor, or switching to plant-based dishes altogether.
Here are some national food trends for spring, the Kentucky Derby and all the festivities this season brings.
Add Hibiscus Flowers to Your Kentucky Derby Cocktail
Hibiscus has a long history in tea, but now it’s spreading to everything from fruit spreads to yogurt and, of course, cocktails. Hibiscus flowers even have health benefits, such as being high in antioxidants, which are good for lowering blood pressure.
Heather Wibbels of the Cocktail Contessa website, author of “Bourbon is my Comfort Food” and general manager of Bourbon Women, says hibiscus syrup can be used to turn a cocktail a bright fuchsia, which is a good match for cocktails served in a glass It’s very cute.
“If you use it as a simple syrup, you get a little tart but also some floral and fruity notes,” she said. “For the Peppermint Juliet, you can use hibiscus syrup instead of regular syrup, which will give it a really nice color. It matches the mint flavor perfectly. You can even add some fresh flowers to your mint , for a beautiful Juliet.”
Hibiscus soda can also be added to an Oaks Lily drink (use 1.5 oz of cranberry syrup and 1.5 oz of hibiscus soda) to make it lighter and give it a little effervescence. Hibiscus ginger beer can be added to a Kentucky mule to give it a pinkish color.
Woodforth, traditionally made with bourbon lemonade and cranberry juice, can be updated with a hibiscus lemonade instead.
“You can also make mock cocktails with citrus and soda,” she said. “I would make an ounce of lemon juice, an ounce of hibiscus syrup, and add something fun to it. Or you could make a flavored soda with no color as a base. If you use ginger beer, it has a slight A yellow tint, it turns yellow on top and transitions to pink and a brilliant fuchsia.”
Make a Plant-Based Dish for Your Kentucky Derby
Mushrooms are this year’s theme. Indian vegan chef and Food Network champion Priyanka Naik said mushroom foraging has become popular on TikTok, and fungi have grown in popularity for their ability to mimic meat. The New York Times called mushrooms the food of the year and said the number of small urban farms growing them is expected to explode.
Locally, mushrooms from Frondosa Farms have begun to appear on menus across Louisville, such as The Fat Lamb at Grinstead Dr. 2011 and Everyday Kitchen, Market St. 552 E.
Everyday Kitchen chef Mike Wajda says his fire-roasted mushrooms with mojo Rojo vinaigrette are a hit.
“Traditionally, this vinaigrette would be used to base the roast with a little extra garlic,” says Vaida. “It goes well with the meaty taste of mushrooms and we often sell out. And it’s vegetarian and vegan, so people who want a meat alternative can opt in but still get that without consuming animal products. A delicious meaty feel.”
The key to plant-based dishes, he says, is to keep them plentiful with spices, such as zaatar or Korean gochujang.
“On our menu, we like to use a lot of spice in our cooking, and I think that’s going to be a trend,” he said. “I’m talking about the fresh spices, not the ones that have been sitting in your cupboard for years. You can pack a lot of flavor into these dishes, especially if you’re doing something like derby dip.”
Use edible spoons, bowls or cutlery for your Kentucky Derby party
If you’re going to serve food anyway, why not use edible utensils to serve it? According to The New York Times, the quality of edible plates, bowls and cups is constantly improving and prices are falling. They may still be hard to find in stores, but it’s worth looking for them online.
Alternatively, you can simply make your own.
Chef Nick Bean of the Phantom Cafe (1813 Frankfort Ave.) serves many dishes in bread bowls that are so popular that he is expanding this part of his menu.
“Bread bowls are my main selling point,” Bean said. “I take my bread a step further and wrap it with garlic, fresh herbs and parmesan cheese while baking so it’s like having a fresh garlic bread with pasta in it. I even do it with edible sugar bowls Desserts. We definitely have an edible bowl trend.”
you might like it. Menthol koji: How Kentucky’s best bartenders have revamped this Derby classic.
Bean says he has ambitions to become a Michelin-starred chef, but customers in Kentucky are a bit behind the trend in places like New York. It’s possible to elevate the southern staples you might be serving with “big city flair,” he said.
Take a loaf of locally made bread and make it into a bread bowl, he says. You can turn Tuscan grilled cheese into a Benedictine sandwich. You can even turn something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich into something unexpected.
“I used to make a derby grilled cheese with tomato bisque,” Bean said. “You can also make it into Pimente cheese and dress it up with your dressing, your way. The sky’s the limit.”
Serves 8-10 people. Courtesy of Chef Nick Bean
Stored Mini Croissants
1 tablespoon garlic
1/2 cup herbed goat cheese
1 cup Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese
16 ounces thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
8-10 disposable food straws
Making Herbal Butter
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon basil
A can of Campbell’s soup or favorite tomato bisque
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon mint garlic
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
practice. First mash the bacon. Cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat falls off. Drain the fat, then add the sugar. When the bacon starts to caramelize, toss it as needed. Cool on a metal pan. Do not use paper towels as it will stick.
Mix the herbal butter and brush the top of the croissants. Roast in the oven at 350°F until golden brown. Add garlic, goat cheese, sharp cheddar, and Pimente cheese and mix.
Remove the croissant from the oven, cut it open, and add the cheese sauce and bacon. Brush the top of the croissant again with herbal butter. Return to oven and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes, or until you can see golden cheese melted.
Heat the soup in a pot and combine with oregano, Parmesan, red wine vinegar, and mint garlic. Bring to a boil and cook until warm. Load into a micro-syringe or small bowl. Serve with sandwiches.
Courtesy of Chef Nick Bean
loaf of bread
oil or butter
Choice seasonings such as rosemary, thyme or garlic
practice. Melt butter and add seasonings. Spread the seasoning on the bun. Heat oven to 350°F and bake until golden brown. After cooling, cut a thin slice from the top of the bread. Hollow out the inside, leaving a 1/2-inch crust. Load your desired dishes. Serve.
Courtesy of Chef Mike Wadjda
2 garlic cloves, cut into small pieces
100ml extra virgin olive oil
75ml red wine vinegar
1 dried peppercorn
1 dried guajillo pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
practice. Combine all ingredients except red wine vinegar and olive oil. Heat the olive oil to 150F and pour the heated olive oil over the mixed ingredients. Add red wine vinegar to the mixture.
If using mushrooms. Wash and trim mushrooms. In a medium bowl, coat your party thoroughly with the desired amount of mushrooms. Using a preheated hot grill, grill the mushrooms until they are cooked through and have a decent amount of color. In a medium bowl, coat with extra Mojo Rojo. Garnish with chives or favorite herbs.
If using chicken. Marinate your favorite farmhouse chicken for four hours with a cup of Mojo Rojo. If using a smoker oven, smoke at 225°F for two and a half hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, if using a convection oven, cook at 350°F for one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
Hibiscus Ginger Goblet
Courtesy of Heather Wibbels
2 ounces Rittenhouse rye (or any rye 100 proof or above).
1/2 oz Hibiscus Ginger Simple Syrup**.
8 drops Meyer lemon bitters
2 drops Hella Ginger Bitters
2-4 oz Hibiscus Lemongrass Sparkling Drink (Joe Trader).
Garnish: Candied ginger and dried hibiscus flowers (Joe Trader).
practice. Place rye, simple syrup, and bitters in the bottom of a tall glass. Add the bitters and stir. Fill glass with ice, top with sparkling drink, and give one final stir. Garnish with candied ginger and dried hibiscus flowers.
**Hibiscus Ginger Simple Syrup. Heat 1 cup of water to a boil and add 1/2 tablespoon of dried hibiscus flowers. Soak for 8 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar and 1.5 inches of chopped peeled ginger root, then strain and add to a small pot. (If you don’t have fresh ginger, add 5 slices of dried ginger root and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it soak for 30 minutes. Strain out and refrigerate. Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 weeks.
Courtesy of Heather Wibbs
2 ounces Uncle Nearest 1856 Bourbon
1 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup*.
1/2 ounce hibiscus syrup
3 drops 1821 Aromatic Bitters
1 egg white
Garnish: lemon zest studded with cloves
practice. Combine whiskey, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, hibiscus syrup, and egg whites in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain out the ice and shake again, this time for 30 seconds. Alternative: Instead of re-shaking with ice cubes, you can beat with a handheld latte whisk for 30 seconds to create a generous amount of foam. Garnish with lemon zest studded with cloves.
*Cinnamon syrup. Heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water on the stove to low heat. Add 4-5 split cinnamon sticks and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cinnamon sticks soak in the syrup until completely cooled. Strain it into a clean glass bottle.