It’s down to the wire. Derby Day is the day after tomorrow and I still haven’t posted my addition to the field of Derby recipes this year. Even though Derby Day is a full seven days into the month of May this time around I am still running behind, still true to my inspiration for naming this blog three and a half years ago, still doing things in My Own Sweet Thyme.
It’s not that Kentucky and Derby Day haven’t been on my mind. Over the past few weeks I’ve cooked and carved a traditional Kentucky Country Ham from Finchville Farms, I’ve tried a recipe for a Mint Julep Cheesecake, and I've blended a batch of my sister-in-law’s recipe for Benedictine. It’s just that, distracted by a few bright bursts of sunshine (among other things), I haven’t found my time for writing about them yet. Since Derby Day is now practically here, I’ll start with the simplest of the three.
Benedictine is a recipe my sister-in-law shared with me long ago. Though I grew up in Kentucky I didn’t really know about this creamy green cucumber spread until she told me about the menu for her annual Derby Party in their new home out west.
To me Benedictine sounded positively medieval. It brought images of cathedrals and monks to mind, along with the flavors of Benedictine liqueur and mustard made by the Benedictine Sisters in Mt. Angel, OR where I went on retreat a few year ago.
As it turns out though, it’s not that Benedict but rather Miss Jennie Benedict the famed restaurateur and caterer from Louisville, Kentucky that this traditional recipe is named for. It makes a delightfully fresh tasting spread for tea sandwiches that are a perfect addition to a Derby Day spread, a Mother's Day Tea or any spring gathering. It can also be served as a tasty dip for fresh vegetables or a spread for crackers.
from my sister-in-law's favorite recipes
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
3 tablespoons cucumber juice
½ large cucumber, grated and strained
1 tablespoon onion juice (from grated and strained onion pulp)
1 teaspoon salt
a short dash of cayenne pepper
Green food coloring, optional
Combine all ingredients, including 1 or 2 drops of optional food coloring, if desired. Blend with a fork or in a blender until smooth.
Makes filling for six to eight full-size sandwiches.
Notes: For a variation on the recipe for Benedictine and a few more words on Miss Jennie Benedict and green food coloring check out my friend Alanna's post at A Veggie Venture.
For more Derby Day inspirations:
- Share a pan of Mint Julep Brownies topped with whipped cream and Candied Pecans.
- Enjoy a dinner of Country Ham Steaks and Red Eye Gravy, with Southern Style Green Beans and a loaf of Uncle Hal's Biscuits.
- Try your hand at making homemade candies with traditional Kentucky flavors like Kentucky Bourbon Balls or Bourbon Vanilla Truffles.
- Or try a new recipe from The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, like this one for Pan-Seared Salmon with Chipotle Honey-Lime Bourbon Glaze for a new twist on some classic Derby flavors.