Sizzle Simmer Sauté Sylvania – Let’s talk Derby

By Jennifer Alexander Ruple

The Kentucky Derby, horseracing’s most beloved event, is happening this Saturday, May 7. Don your prettiest dress or suit and most fanciful hat and get ready to celebrate the 148th Run for the Roses. Once you’ve figured out what to wear, it’s time to plan your menu. Be sure to include these Triple Crown recipes including the classic Mint Julep. Round the turn with Southern-style Pimiento Cheese and cross the finish line with petite Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pies. Happy Derby Day!

Bourbon Mint Julep

The traditional Derby Day cocktail – this recipe comes from Woodford Reserve, the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby. Serve icy juleps in silver cups with a colorful paper straw and a sprig of fresh mint.


  • 2 ounces Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 fresh mint leaves
  • Crushed ice

Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. 
To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice, fresh mint and powdered sugar.
(Recipe from

Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add sugar, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cool completely before using.

Petite Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pies

The classic pecan pie in miniature is amplified with the addition of chocolate chips and a splash of bourbon. If you don’t want to use the bourbon, feel free to substitute water. Either way, these pies are the perfect pint-size pastry for guests to enjoy while placing their wagers.
Yield: 24 pies

  • 1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon or water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 24 pecan halves

Heat the oven to 325 F. Coat the wells of a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Unroll pie dough. With a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out 24 circles and place them into the muffin pan. Sprinkle chopped pecans and chocolate chips into the pie crusts.

In a medium saucepan, combine corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and bourbon. Bring to a boil and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, cornmeal, vanilla and salt. Whisk about one-quarter of the hot syrup mixture into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Pour remaining egg mixture into the syrup mixture, whisking constantly.

Pour filling into pie crusts, about 3/4 full. Top each pie with a pecan half.

Bake pies for about 25 minutes or until pies are set and crust is golden. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer pies to a wire rack.
(Recipe by Jennifer Alexander Ruple)

Pimento Cheese

A true southern party appetizer straight from the kitchen at Churchill Downs. Serve cheese with assorted crackers or toasted baguette slices.

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
  • 12-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together first 8 ingredients until smooth. Fold in pimentos and cheese. Cover and chill 6 to 10 hours. Before serving, let stand at room temperature 30 minutes then stir.
(Recipe adapted from

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