Saturday, June 11, 2016

On the Homefront: A Day at the Races Table

Midnight the horse may never run in a race, but little Ryder the
Dalmatian is absolutely convinced that his favorite steed is the
fastest thing on four legs!

The Belmont Stakes, last "jewel" of the Triple Crown, is being run today.  Even though I am not much of a racing fan, I do love horses.  I have quite a bit of horse-themed tableware and recently purchased some new dishes with a horse design, so I decided that today would be the perfect day to set a horse-themed table.  Since the dishes are tan and brown, the colors used for this table are shades of brown plus white (the color of the carnations used for the blanket that is draped over the winning horse).


Dark brown wooden bead placemat; Running Horses Dinnerware dinner plate, dessert plate, and mug; dark brown wood coaster; Moss Brothers Running Horses Flatware; white napkin; Park Design Horse Napkin Ring; Gallop Tumbler Glass.




A simple arrangement of white carnations sits at the head of the table.

Two white candles in dark brown wood candle holders flank a larger
white candle in a ceramic dish filled with multi-colored glass beads.

A closer look at the horse head napkin ring.


Today is all about the race, so I kept the menu simple.  Since Belmont Park is on Long Island and not far from New York City, I decided to feature foods associated with the city.  The weather is so hot here in Georgia right now that I felt a hearty salad would suffice for the main dish.  Chef salad most likely originated in New York City, so it was the logical choice.

A simple appetizer of mini bagels with lox and cream cheese can be served before or with the dinner salad. New York bagels are my favorites and are without a doubt the best choice if available (just slice them in half, add the toppings, and cut the halves into quarters for appetizer-sized bites).  However, here in Georgia we have to make do with what we can find, so I settled for mini bagels available at the local supermarket.

Rich, dense, tangy New York-style cheesecake was the obvious selection for dessert, and I found a recipe for individual servings.  It is a similar idea to my easy Mini-Cheesecakes recipe, but only makes four servings and includes a sour cream topping.  I added ingredients for a graham cracker crust, but vanilla wafers or similar cookies work just fine.

The choice of beverage for this meal was made difficult by the fact that there have actually been three official Belmont Stakes drinks over the years!  The original was called the White Carnation, which was then replaced by the Belmont Breeze.  The current signature drink is the Belmont Jewel.  I am leaning more toward the White Carnation, because it fits my table theme, but I have included links to all three so you can pick your own poison... I mean potion!

A Day at the Races Menu:

Mini Bagels/Lox and Cream Cheese
Chef Salad**

From The Wall Street Journal

*White Carnation

2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. peach schnapps
2 oz. orange juice
soda water
splash of cream

Pour the vodka, schnapps, and orange juice into a mixing glass filled with ice.  Stir well and strain into a highball glass filled with ice.  Top with soda water and a splash of cream.  Garnish with an orange slice.  Serves 1.

My version of a chef salad, with sliced almonds replacing the bacon
bits and deli chicken substituted for ham because of my red meat
allergy.  I topped my salad with avocado ranch salad dressing.

**Chef Salad

8 C. salad greens, cut into bite-size pieces
4 oz. (or 4 slices) deli ham, julienned
4 oz. (or 4 slices) turkey, julienned
4 oz. (or 4 slices) Swiss cheese, julienned
4 oz. (or 4 slices) cheddar cheese, julienned
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 medium or 4 small tomatoes, diced
croutons or crumbled bacon for garnish (optional)
dressing of choice

Divide the salad greens among four dinner plates.  Divide the meats, cheeses, eggs, and tomatoes evenly among the four servings and arrange over the salad greens.  Garnish with croutons or bacon bits and serve with your favorite dressing.

Note: Use any meats or cheeses you prefer.  Add any other chopped or sliced vegetables that you like, such as avocados, cucumbers, green onions, celery, carrots, etc.  It may not be traditional, but it's your salad so eat it your way!

***Mini New York Cheesecakes

1/3 C. graham cracker crumbs
1 T. sugar
1 T. butter, melted
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
6 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 C. sour cream
2 T. brown sugar

Combine the first three ingredients.  Divide evenly among four muffin pan cups lined with paper or foil liners, pressing the mixture down firmly into the bottoms of the liners to form the crust.  Beat together the next five ingredients and pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for four hours.  When ready to serve, combine the sour cream and brown sugar and pour over the tops of the cheesecakes.  Serves 4.

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The chocolates on the table today are Hershey's Milk Chocolate Caramels:

These caramels may not be from New York, but they are delicious!

While this year's Belmont Stakes race will certainly not be as exciting as last year, when American Pharoah won the race to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, for those who enjoy a good horse race this event should still be exciting to watch.  Nyquist, winner of the 2016 Kentucky Derby, was withdrawn from the Belmont Stakes due to illness. Will Exaggerator, winner of the 2016 Preakness race, take first place, or will another horse unexpectedly pull off a victory?  Check out the contenders here and here.  Who do you think will win?  The answer is only a few more hours away!

Last year's Triple Crown winner American Pharoah easily takes first
place at the 2015 Belmont Stakes.
(from Charm City Wire)
             

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