Louisvillians are as serious about their food as they are their horses, and brunch is the perfect time to showcase traditional Southern flavors.

Louisvillians are as serious about their food as they are their horses, and brunch is the perfect time to showcase traditional Southern flavors.

Begin your brunch with this simple minted fruit salad. It can be made ahead, and the mint echoes the Derby's traditional julep cocktail. More than a Southern staple, biscuits are a brunch prerequisite-- and the cheddar and chives in this recipe update add an extra punch of flavor.

No Southern brunch would be complete without a variation of grits. A grits souffle is easier to prepare for groups than traditional grits, and will stand up better if left out for your guests to serve themselves. And for a decadent twist on another favorite, Banana Bean Cafe shared their recipe for bananas foster French toast.

The country ham in this frittata is a great Kentucky tradition, and a perfect blend of smoky, salty and sweet. End your brunch with bourbon bread-- made with Kentucky bourbon, of course-- or wrap up loaves for your guests to take as tasty parting gifts.

-- Heather Buchanan

Minted Fruit Salad

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup honey
2 medium mangos, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
3 cups green grapes
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Whisk together the ginger, lime zest, lime juice and honey in a small bowl. Mix together the fruits and mint in a separate, large bowl. Add dressing to fruits and toss to combine.

Cheddar Chive Biscuits

4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out biscuits
3 large eggs, beaten lightly, plus 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. Place the cheese, chives and 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl and toss to combine. In a separate small bowl, combine the 3 lightly beaten eggs and the cream. Set both bowls aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, paprika and salt. Add butter and mix on low speed until butter is in pea-size pieces, about 1-2 minutes. Add egg and cream mixture and mix on low speed until just blended. Add cheese and chive mixture and mix until just combined.

Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and knead dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 2 1/2-inch circle cutter. Transfers biscuits to prepared baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash. Place in oven and bake until tops just begin to golden, about 15-20 minutes.

Cheese Grits Souffle

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon butter
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick grits (not instant)
1 egg
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish with 2 tablespoons butter.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup butter, water and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When mixture comes to a simmer, add the grits, stirring until combined. Continue to cook grits at a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together egg, cream and pepper. Stir into cooked grits, along with the grated cheeses. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Bake until set, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Country Ham Frittata

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 pound cooked country ham, diced into small pieces
3/4 cups finely chopped parsley
12 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat oil in a medium saute pan. Add onion and cook until tender and browned. Add diced ham and parsley and cook for another 5 minutes, or until all ingredients are thoroughly heated.

Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Spray a 12-inch round baking dish lightly with cooking spray. Add the onion and ham mixture to the bottom of the dish. Pour egg mixture over the ham and onion.
Bake until the eggs are set and the sides have puffed, about 20 minutes. The top of the frittata should be golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. Allow to set for a few minutes before serving. This can be served hot or at room temperature.

Bourbon Bread

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
5 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons bourbon, plus 2 tablespoons bourbon
4 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup golden raisins

Soak the raisins in 3 tablespoons bourbon for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 2 9-inch loaf pans and line bottoms with waxed paper or parchment paper.

Separate the eggs into two small bowls. Lightly beat the egg yolks.

Drain the raisins, reserving the bourbon. Add the bourbon to the additional 2 tablespoons bourbon, and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the sugar with the butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat well. Add the bourbon and orange zest, and mix until well blended.

Sift together the flour with the baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold in the raisins.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cooling rack to cool completely.

Banana Bean Cafe's Bananas Foster French Toast

For the French Toast
1 French baguette, staled
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
4 eggs, large
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla or Madagascar bourbon

For the Bananas Foster
1/4 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup brown sugar or turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup bourbon
4 bananas, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces

Combine the eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon and vanilla; whisk well. Slice baguette on a bias into slices approximately 3/4 inch thick. You should get 12-16 slices. Dip baguette slices into custard mixture and saute in melted butter on both sides until golden. Reserve warm.

Combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large skillet or saute pan over low heat. When sugar has melted, add bananas and saute briefly until they soften and begin to caramelize. Using extreme caution, flame pan with the dark rum and bourbon over medium heat. Allow flames to die down and sauce to reduce slightly.

Divide French toast slices on four plates; spoon bananas foster equally over all. Garnish with seasonal fresh berries and mint, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of:

Banana Bean Cafe
340 Greenlawn Ave. in the Brewery District.

For information, call 614-443-2262 or visit bananabeancafe.com.

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