Recipes from Holly Hill Inn’s James Beard Dinner - Noon Show 7-16

The Laufer Family Recipe used at Holly Hill Inn

1 ½ pounds cream cheese
4 large cucumbers or 6 if they seem small
Onion juice to taste- start with 1 tsp.
1 tsp. salt or more to taste
3-4 dashes of Crystal Hot Sauce
1. Soften the cream cheese to room temperature.
2. Peel the cucumbers- leaving a little bit of skin on for color. Puree them in a food processor. Squeeze as dry as possible in cheese cloth. The cucumber juice is delicious in a Bloody Mary or chilled with a splash of lemon and vodka.
3. For the onion juice- grate ¼ of a peeled onion on a cheese grater and squeeze the juice out with a little cheese cloth.
4. Combine all the ingredients together. Check the seasonings.

Note: We do not use food coloring or mayonnaise.

This recipe was served at the Holly Hill Inn’s James Beard Dinner on silver dollar corn cakes with Shuckman’s smoked trout, chive and lemon zest. It is still one of our most requested canapés at the Inn. This recipe also works well with other smoked or cured fish and hickory smoked bacon. The former “Fat Cats” on Bardstown Road in Louisville had a wonderful Benedictine, Bacon and Spinach Sandwich

Cheese Wafers
Makes 4 dozen silver dollar size

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature—some times when making an extra large batch we leave the butter out over night in a cooler spot of the house
2 cups flour
1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese—we use sharp white cheese
¼ tsp. cayenne or more to your liking
Fresh thyme leaves or a pecan piece if you want to get extra fancy

1. Bring the butter and flour together quickly to form a very soft dough. They should be well combined but do not over knead. I use the paddle attachment of a Kitchen Aid mixer for about 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the grated cheese and the cayenne- bring together until the cheese is well incorporated but not over mixed. In the mixer, this would be about 3-4 minutes.
3. Roll the dough into logs about 3 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze at this point.
4. Slice each log into 1/8 of an inch discs. If you’ve decided to get fancy, press a leaf of thyme or another hearty fresh herb or pecan piece into the center of the circle. Bake on parchment or lightly sprayed cookie sheet 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. They are a little soft when first removed from the oven. Let them cool just a bit on the cookie sheet, and then you can lift them off to a plate.

We make very large batches of this dough at one time and freeze the logs. Just pull from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you want to bake them

Make more than you think you’ll need because they go down fast!

Nothing says Derby like a Cheese Wafer and a Mint Julep! We serve hundreds of these crisps through the spring racing season.

Benne Wafers
Makes 5-6 dozen silver dollar size

¾ cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
5 Tbsp. flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2cup toasted sesame seeds—spread them on a cookie sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven until nice and brown and nutty smelling.

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Scramble the eggs together and drizzle into the butter and sugar whipping as you go. Take a pinch of batter and rub it, if you can feel the sugar, keep whipping until it is almost gone or less pronounced.
3. Combine the flour with the salt and the baking powder; sift it into the sugar mix and fold in. Fold in the vanilla and finally the sesame seeds.
4. Drop by the ½ teaspoon full on to a non stick cookie sheet, silicone baking sheet or buttered cookie sheet. This is the tricky part-- They will spread quite a bit during baking so get out the little measuring spoon, don’t use one from the silverware drawer or your wafers will be too big! Leave plenty of space on the sheet for spreading. Bake 8 minutes at 375 degrees.
5. Cool briefly and remove with thin spatula while still a little pliable. Don’t wait too long or they will break when lifted! As they cool, the wafers become crisp.

Sweet bites like these are often a perfect foil for bourbon or even dry white wines. They are traditional in South Carolina but I started making them years ago. “Benne” is the Bantu word for sesame seed. The plants were brought to the southern United States from east Africa during the 17th century slave trade. Slaves also brought field peas, black eyed peas, okra, sweet potatoes and peanuts. Sesame seeds have been cultivated for more than 2000 years and were one of the first foods grown for their oil. They have been included in aphrodisiac recipes and have been a symbol of good luck for centuries.

Luxe Corn Custard
Serves 6

1cup heavy whipping cream
5 large egg yolks
5 cups fresh corn off the cob—milk the ears
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. sugar

1. Clean and shuck the corn.
2. Warm the cream, butter, salt, spices, sugar. Add the corn to the warm cream.
3. Whisk the egg yolks together and temper into the corn mixture. Pour into a buttered 1 quart baking dish and bake at 350 until set.

Holly Hill Inn’s Extra Creamy Cheese Grits
Serves 4

1 cup Weisenberger stone ground white grits
2 cups water
2 cups milk
2 tsp salt—or more to taste
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1. Bring water, salt and milk to a hard boil in a heavy 2 to 4 quart pot with a lid.
2. Add grits, reduce heat and stir until they come back to a simmer and the starch begins to develop.
3. Cover the grits and lower the heat as low as possible. At the Inn we let the grits just sit over our pilot light for about an hour and a half—as Lisa says “letting them swell.” If you don’t have this kind of time, they should cook over very low heat for about 30-40 minutes. Check them occasionally to make sure they don’t scorch on the bottom, but don’t stir too frequently.
4. Add the cheese, cayenne and taste for salt.

For an extra rich result, you can substitute heavy cream for milk in the recipe.

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