Hot Browns and Hats (plus a giveaway winner!)

Derby Day is always such fun...whether you are a diehard racetrack aficionado or just like to people watch and peruse the extraordinary hats. I've only been once, but the excitment is something I'll never forget. Now I never miss it...even though it's only on the big screen.

Everyone knows about the mint julep, but how many of you know about Kentucky Hot Browns?

There's a hotel in Louisville called The Brown Hotel. During the 20's it would draw as many as 1,200 guests for its' dinner dance. In the wee hours of the morning, the guests would grow tired of dancing and would want a little something to eat. They were getting bored with ham and eggs, so Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. His unique creation was an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. Enter The Hot Brown!

Now a Louisville tradition, the Hot Brown has been featured in Southern Living Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, NBC's Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, as well as being included in many cookbooks. So if you want to be part of a Derby tradition, here's the original recipe, right from The Brown Hotel.

The Legendary Hot Brown Recipe

Ingredients:  (Makes two hot browns)

2 ounces butter
2 ounces flour
1 quart heavy cream
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
14 ounces sliced roasted turkey breast
2-4 slices of Texas Toast (To make your own, a recipe follows)
4 slices of crisp bacon
2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced in half
Paprika, parsley, tomato for garnish


In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a roux. Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk whipping cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one or two slices of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey.

Place the tomatos on top of turkey and toast. Next, pour the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish.

Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble and is heated through. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

I can find Texas Toast in my market.

But if you can't here's how to make your own: start with some good bread; smash a couple cloves of garlic and mix them with some butter. Spread on the bread, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then toast it.

And now something just for the ladies. I collected some photos of fun and fabulous Derby Day hats. Pick out your favorite! Which one would you love to wear?

Last, but not least,  The Mother's Day Giveaway: The lucky winner is: Faith from An Edible Mosaic. Congratulations! Please email me your address at bsmithw@gmail.com so I can get your cookbook in the mail ASAP!

Hat photo source: http://www.deescrafts.com/hats/


A Mother's Day Giveaway!

What's your all-time favorite cookbook? Is it on the Beard Foundation's  just released list of essential baking books?  

In alphabetical order:

1. "Baking: From My Home to Yours," by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006).
2. "Beard on Bread," by James Beard (originally published 1973; reprinted by Knopf, 1995).
3. "The Book of Great Desserts," by Maida Heatter (Andrews McMeel, 1999).
4. "The Bread Baker's Apprentice," by Peter Reinhart (Ten Speed, 2001).
5. "The Cake Bible," by Rose Levy Beranbaum (William Morrow, 1988).
6. "Classic Home Desserts," by Richard Sax (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000).
7. "Cocolat," by Alice Medrich (Warner Books, 1990).
8. "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book," by Marion Cunningham (Gramercy, 1996).
9. "Great Pies and Tarts," by Carole Walter (Clarkson Potter, 1998).
10. "The Italian Baker," by Carol Field (William Morrow, 1985).
11. "Martha Stewart's Cookies," by Martha Stewart (Clarkson Potter, 2008).
12. "My Bread," by Jim Lahey (W.W. Norton, 2009).
13. "The Simple Art of Perfect Baking," by Flo Braker (Chronicle, 2003).

Most of us probably own the first two, but I loved to see Maida Heatter next as she is my dessert guru and I own ALL her cookbooks! (She was also on their Core Collection: 20 Essential Books to Build Your Culinary Library” released in 2007.) And does anyone make a better cake than Rose Levy Beranbaum? And who makes a better cookie than Martha Stewart?

Just in time for Mother's Day I'm giving away a cookbook to one of my readers. And what a fabulous cookbook it is, too! It may not be on the Beard Foundation's list, but it has won a James Beard award. It's one of my favorites: Savor the Moment from the Junior League of Boca Raton, Florida. And you get a CD-ROM to go with it!

Look at the awards it's received:

2001 James Beard/Kitchen Aid Book Award
2001 ForeWord Magazine -2nd Place
2001 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist
2001 Writer's Digest "National Self-Published Book" Award Honorable Mention
2001 Independent Publisher Book Award-Finalist
2000 AJLI-Honorable Mention

A lovely hardcover book, Savor the Moment is a treat for the visual senses. The Junior League of Boca Raton, Florida published it in January of 2000. Great photography and design are a big part of its' continued success, but let's face it, the recipes have got to be meticulously researched, tested and rated sublime to rack up sales. The photographs by Dan Forer are breath-taking… with rather enchanting and unique mise-en-scènes. And you don’t need to live in Boca Raton to appreciate them either. The book highlights special menus aboard a yacht, playing croquet, in a garden on the grounds of our Morikami Museum, on a polo field, in local homes and a picnic under a beachside gazebo. The vignettes go on page after delightful page- in color and in exquisite taste.

I seem to be rambling on about the visuals rather than the flavors but let me reassure you: while the photography is first class, so are the recipes within. Everything gels perfectly to form a superb cookbook.  And what’s really sweet about this book ( and all other Junior League cookbooks) is it raises funds directly benefiting community projects.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment at the end of this post. Would you like two chances to win? Then become a follower on my blog! It's open to anyone and entries will be closed at midnight on April 27th.

I'll announce the winner on April 28th at the end of my Derby Day post. The winner will be picked out of my lucky Derby Day hat by my totally unbiased son. (Who doesn't even read my blog, let alone yours!)

Good luck!


Third Time's the Charm

Now and then I obsess over a recipe in the kitchen. Here's a perfect example: I made this lemon cake three times!
In the first version, I ground my own almonds in the processor. A mistake. And with the second attempt, I used packaged almond flour.  Moi heaves a sigh of relief! Thank you, Whole Foods.

Compare the two versions. Quite a difference; the first one is darker and has itty bitty annoying pieces of almond that get stuck between your teeth. But the second photo looks exactly like the photo in the book so it was a success!

So what's my problem, you ask? I don't like potato flour. It smells ummm....nasty. Nor did I like the texture of the batter in the first two versions. Now, dear gluten free readers, go ahead and make this version. It's good. Tastes fine. Exactly what it's supposed to look and taste like. And you invert the cake anyway so it's smooth on top. But I had to try the recipe one last time, using all purpose flour to see what difference it would make. And the result is the photo accompanying the recipe below. I don't know why I am fussing so over this one recipe, but I can't help it. There's something about this cake that appeals to me and I wanted to give it one more go.

This post is also about a cookbook. Sophie Dahl's. For one thing, she is Roald Dahl's granddaughter. Don't you adore his books? My kids were brought up on them.

Sophie really is a woman of parts, no pun intended! Of course you've all seen the ad for Opium perfume she did ( HERE) which caused such a scandal at the time. She was modeling in NYC at the time. And she IS rather voluptious. Or she was until she went from a size 14 to a size 6. I hope she has some sort of autobiography in the works because her life (and she's still only 33) would make a good read. It's worth the CLICK just to read about Sophie, especially if you know nothing about her.

Some say her new cooking show in the UK is trying to copy Nigella's. Who cares? is what I say. I think her cookbook is fun. And typically British. I've already made a couple things in it which I loved and this lemon cake makes three. Or five, if you want to count my fiddling around with the other versions.

From Sophie:"I wanted to write a memoir about food, a recipe book that gets over the message that you don't have to starve yourself to be reasonably skinny. You can eat quite happily and the more you obsess about it, the more of an issue it becomes. It's an anecdotal book about how to be slim - and still eat. Healthy breakfasts, lunches and suppers, and some fattening puddings. Easy, simple home cooking that's healthy."

Sophie says she got this lemon torte recipe from a taxi cab driver in Sorrento whose wife hated when he made it because he made such a mess in the kitchen. She's right. It's a lot of bowls. And it kind of shoots out of the mixer if you're not careful. I've never made a cake quite like this and while potato flour smells peculiar, I must admit you can't really taste it when you eat the cake. And her idea of mixing lemon curd with crème fraiche is brilliant. It makes the cake. I don't know squat about gluten-free, but this version with potato flour is, isn't it? Which ought to please some of my readers who are very loyal even if most of my dessert recipes use APF. I suppose there are other substitutes for potato flour that are gluten-free, but I'm calling it quits now. Three times is definitely enough.

And my final version? Sheer delight. Still a dense cake, but somehow lighter. I can see serving it with some lovely fresh fruit, or just go with the lemon curd idea. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Lemon Capri Torte

Adapted from Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights

(My changes will be in parenthesis)


1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
6 eggs, room temperature, separated
zest and juice of 4 lemons
2 cups of blanched almonds, toasted and then ground (I used Whole Foods almond flour)
1 cup of potato flour ( I used 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour instead)

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease and flour (using potato flour) a 9 inch springform pan. (I lined the bottom with parchment paper, and then greased the pan. I used fine bread crumbs instead of potato flour)

In a bowl, mix the potat0 ( or all purpose) flour with the almond flour and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks all at the same time. Then add the lemon juice and rind. At this point the batter will look like scrambled eggs. This is OK.

In another bowl, beat the whites until soft peaks appear. Fold the lemon mixture into the whites. It will still look like scrambled eggs and will not combine completely.Slowly add the flour mixture by hand, folding well after each addition. The batter at this point, if you are using potato flour, will be extremely thick with no sign of the egg whites. If you use all purpose flour, the batter will not be nearly as thick.Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes at 400°, then lower the oven temperature to 300° and bake an additional 40 minutes.

Cool and invert the cake onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.You can serve with fresh fruit, or a mixture of crème fraiche and lemon curd.

For a printable recipe, click


A Quickie

The Kitchen Witch always calls this kind of recipe "White Trash Motherlode", which I think means some of our really old recipes using a can of Campbell's soup... or any of those 50's and 60's type dishes we remember from childhood.  That doesn't mean it isn't delicious, just that it isn't exactly a garden fresh, healthy, I'm-on-a-diet kind of food.

My kids used to love this one, another of the recipes from that cooking contest I told you about when I posted the Mustard Ring. Unfortunately, I lost the card this one came on so can't give you the cook's name, but I know she will forgive me. (If she ever reads this, which I doubt.) This one did NOT win a prize- it's just not unusual or complicated enough, but it's the kind of recipe I loved when I had 3 kids all a year apart to deal with. With everyone going in a different direction, it was hard to come up with something that could be made quickly and in advance, baked slowly and it could sit in the oven for late arrivals. And....everyone liked it.

It's an easy peasy recipe. Just throw it all together and dump it in a casserole. It bakes for quite a while and gets all nice and crunchy. One of those casseroles you like to scrape the empty dish to make certain you got all the good stuff. I know it's naughty of me to post this when bathing suit weather is coming for most of us, but I'm willing to bet we've got some cold weather coming yet and this recipe will warm you up! Just make a fresh salad and veggie (so you feel self righteous) and you've got dinner!

Veal and Sour Cream Casserole

2 pounds veal cut in chunks
1 large onion, sliced
2 tablespoons crisco
2 cups wide noodles, cooked
1 can mushroom soup, undiluted
1 pint sour cream

Brown veal and onion in Crisco. Add cooked noodles to meat and then add the soup and sour cream. Place in casserole and bake 2 hours at 300°.


Rosewater Panna Cotta and Rhubarb Verrine

Am I boring you with all these verrines? I hope not. I really had fun with this one because the layers of flavor go so beautifully together. The panna cotta is made with yogurt and has rosewater for flavoring. And then it has a pistachio/praline layer that you have to break through to get at the panna cotta. The strawberries on top have a little kirch mixed in, but you could use some basalmic vinegar instead. Or use any fruit you like for the top layer. And remember: this has to be made in advance because each layer has to set before you can add the next one. Just so many flavors packed in one little glass!

First, find some pretty glasses, preferably one portion sized, more vertical than round. The layers look prettier than way.

For the rhubarb layer:

Trim and cut some rhubarb in 1 inch pieces, toss the pieces into a pot with some sugar (about half a cup of sugar per pound of rhubarb), and allow them to macerate for a half hour. I think I used about 4 or 5 stalks. It doesn't really matter how much rhubarb you make because you can always use the stewed rhubarb for other desserts. I even froze some.

Then stew over medium low heat until the rhubarb breaks down into a compote, about 20-30 minutes. Taste to see if you need more sugar. Allow to cool then spoon into the bottom third of each of your glasses. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

For the panna cotta:


2 tablespoons water

1-1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups whipping cream

1-1/4 cups whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon rosewater
1/2 cup sugar


Pour 2 tablespoons water into small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Whisk 1 cup cream, yogurt, and rosewater in large bowl to blend. Heat remaining 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup sugar in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and cream comes to simmer. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin. Mix hot cream-gelatin mixture into yogurt mixture in bowl. When the panna cotta starts to cool, put it in the refrigerator and watch it. When it starts to thicken, pour it on top of the rhubarb to fill the next third of the glass (or slightly more if you like panna cotta). Refrigerate desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the praline:

Toast and finely chop a handful of pistachios. Sprinkle them on top of the panna cotta. Then combine a cup of sugar in a pan with a splash of water and a squeeze of lemon and place over medium high heat to caramelize, swirling the pan as needed to caramelize the sugar evenly. When the sugar has turned a dark caramel color, turn off the heat and add a tiny splash of water. Pour the caramel in a thin, even layer over the pistachios, working quickly as it will harden as soon as it hits the cold custard. Don't make this layer too thick or you'll need a hammer to break through!

To serve:

An hour before you plan to serve the dessert, dice up a few strawberries and toss with sugar to taste and, if desired, a splash of kirsch. Allow the strawberries to macerate for an hour. To serve, spoon macerated strawberries over the praline layer. (This made enough for about 6 glasses.)

(Based on: In Praise of Sardines by Brett Emerson, April 2007 )


Dulce de Leche Brioche

I don't bake a lot of bread these days, but a while back I noticed a brioche recipe on Tartelette's blog; Dulce de Leche Brioche to be exact and I was a goner. As far as I'm concerned, dulce de leche is food fit for the Gods. I couldn't resist, this brioche was made just for me! Tartelette's recipe is easy to follow and, after several risings, I refrigerated it for one hour as instructed. I divided it in half and then the fun began.

When you live in Florida, you have to deal with high heat and humidity and I think that may have had a lot to do with the problem I had. I made these last fall and let me tell you, it's HOT here in September. And for this recipe, you have to work really quickly while the dough is still cold. Something I didn't realize when I started the first batch, though Tartelette warned it would be messy. A gross understatement. Anyway- I started to roll out the first batch, carefully covered it with cream cheese and dulce de leche-
everything looked good (messy as promised); I rolled it up. Fine. The hard part turned out to be cutting it in 12 pieces. Note to self: refrigerate the dough before cutting. By this time the dough was so soft it practically fell apart. I pushed them together as best I could and decided this would be the batch I put in muffin tins to cook the next morning. Into the refrigerator they went.

The instructions said to bake right out of the refrigerator which I did. WRONG. They did not rise sufficiently during the night and should have been allowed to rise again out on the counter. The rolls were absolutely delicious, but didn't rise like rolls, they looked like muffins. And the dulce de leche bakes to the bottom...though this may not entirely be a bad thing. (yum)

The dough was light and perfect- quite a surprise actually, considering how badly I screwed it up. But I wanted picture perfect as well. Taste-wise, these were a winner (I guess the picture's not bad either now that I look at it again) and I actually preferred these to the successful batch that came later!

I decided to freeze the second half just to see how that worked out. So, having learned my lesson about cold dough in a hot climate, I did the second batch much faster, rolled it up (although dulce de leche still oozed out, just not as much), then I stuck the roll in the freezer for about 10 minutes. That made it easier to slice them. I put the sliced rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, covered them with tin foil and quickly popped them in the freezer.

A few days later, I placed the frozen rolls in a buttered glass baking dish, thawed them overnight in the fridge and in the morning, put them out on the counter to rise. As you can see, the dulce de leche seeps out all over the bottom of the baking dish. I'm thinking perhaps this is supposed to happen. Anyway, this batch rose nicely after a couple hours.

I baked them for 20 minutes. They turned out light and delicious and everyone loved them but there wasn't a stong dulce de leche flavor. (I ended up eating the bottom of the rolls first.) It was sure fun to scrape the remains in the baking dish- gooey, caramely leftovers. And I got my pretty picture too.

Note: If you can't find dulce de leche in your market or prefer to make it yourself there are several recipes online, or use the recipe in one of my older posts.

Dulce de Leche Brioche
Tartelette, March 2007 post

1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1/3 cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
2 envelopes dry yeast
3-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, each stick cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 can dulce de leche


Place 1/3 cup warm water, warm milk, and yeast in bowl of standing heavy-duty mixer; stir until yeast dissolves. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour and salt to bowl; mix on low speed just until flour is moistened, about 10 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.

Beat in 3 eggs on low speed, then add sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding next (dough will be soft and batter-like). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Lift up dough around edges and allow dough to fall and deflate in bowl.
Cover bowl with plastic and chill until dough stops rising, lifting up dough around edges and allowing dough to fall and deflate in bowl every 30 minutes, about 2 hours total. Cover bowl with plastic and refrigerate an hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and divide in half.

For the buns: roll out the dough to a 14x9 inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened cream cheese on top, leaving a 1 inch border. Spread the dulce de leche on top of the cream cheese; it's messy but it will spread. Roll into a log and cut into 12 pieces. (Please read my blog above regarding the problems I had.) Place them in a buttered 9 inch round pan, cover and refrigerate until the next morning. The dough will rise slowly overnight. Repeat with the second half of dough.

In the morning, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

More notes from me: To freeze, place cut rolls on parchment, cover with foil and freeze. To bake: place the frozen rolls in a large buttered baking dish or cake pans and thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring out in the morning and let rise for a couple hours. Bake as directed.

For a printable recipe click HERE.


Rhubarb Redux

Don't say I didn't warn you...I've got lots more rhubarb recipes to share with you! And last week I discovered still one more I might just have to make: a rhubarb fool. By the time I've posted them all, summer will be upon us and rhubarb will be ripening in your own garden! Don't worry, I'm not going bore you to death by posting one after the other; there's a limit to how much rhubarb even I can eat! Please accept my apologies to those of you who mentioned  you can't find rhubarb in your area. And yes, Mother's rhubarb pie recipe is coming soon, I promise.

You've got to admit this rhubarb recipe is really unusual. I love savory/sweet recipes, don't you? And this is a knockout served with roasted or grilled chicken. Kind of like a Thanksgiving stuffing with a spring twist. I'd never made it before, but I proceeded with confidence because I've never doubted anything coming from Sarah Leah Chase, whose recipe this is. Ina Garten does a scalloped tomato dish for which she gives full credit to Sarah and this is not the first time I've heard Ina credit Sarah with ideas and recipes.

Let me tell you a little bit about Sarah.

In the early 80's we spent some summers on Nantucket and it was there I was introduced to Sarah's specialty food shop and catering business called Que Sera Sarah.


The food was amazing. I could never make a decision about what to take home, so we always ended up with enough containers to feed the entire island. She ran this labor-intensive business through the 1980s before selling it, then she spent another 10 years catering, writing cookbooks, teaching cooking classes and traveling. (Including biking through Europe, about which she wrote two more books, Pedaling Through Provence Cookbook and Pedaling Through Burgundy Cookbook). Now married with a son, Sarah and her husband Nigel live on Cape Cod and are building a new business called Coastal Goods, which sells specialty salts from Provence, spices, herbs, and sauces. They do business with Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, and Whole Foods. I read someplace she is working on a new cookbook as well.

I have two of Sarah's cookbooks (plus The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook on which she collaborated.) and the pages are getting dangerously food-stained! You'll find her food  eclectic, with a European influence and very innovative; I love her Moroccan-inspired recipes especially, but she doesn't neglect the old recipes (although usually with her own creative spin) and she always includes seasonal favorites.

Sarah has several rhubarb recipes which of course attracted me immediately, although I think her Bluefish Paté was one of the first recipes I ever tried in her first book. I still serve it. A lot. I posted her rhubarb muffins a while back and today I'm going to introduce you to this fabulous spring dish: Sarah's Scalloped Rhubarb.

Scalloped Rhubarb

From Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase


5 cups fresh rhubarb (cut into 3/4 inch chunks)

3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups Pepperidge Farm corn-bread stuffing crumbs (I was unable to find this brand and used another similar product)
1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces, roughly cut  in largish pieces
1/4 cup cassis liqueur


Preheat oven to 325° F.  Butter a 10 or 12 inch gratin dish or shallow casserole. In a mixing bowl toss together the rhubarb and sugar.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until quite soft, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the onion from the skillet and combine with the rhubarb. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and add to it the rhubarb and the corn bread crumbs and nuts. Stir to combine well.
Spread the mixture in the prepared dish.


Drizzle the cassis evenly over the top and bake until the rhubarb juices are bubbling and the crumbs are lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves 6-8.


Happy Easter! 


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