Since Keeneland was founded almost 75 years ago, it has had two appointments: racing (horses and betting) and hospitality (dining and entertaining).
It's the hospitality lifestyle that Fran Taylor has captured in Keeneland Entertains: Traditional Bluegrass Hospitality and Favorite Recipes (Eclipse Press, $39.95).
Taylor, executive director of Keeneland Foundation, started to write a cookbook in celebration of Keeneland's 75th anniversary in 2011.
"It became a project about the lifestyle that has evolved from Keeneland and the Thoroughbred industry," she said. "There's so much entertaining that's wrapped around the meets and the sales."
Casual tailgating at the track, brunch for out-of-town guests, dinner after the races and hosting college students home for a Keeneland weekend all call for a hospitable host and hostess.
Taylor begins with planning the Keeneland outing — this fall's meet is Oct. 8 to 30, by the way — and preparing the guest rooms, even offering tips on how to be a great guest. She explains the Keeneland sales and what to expect if you've been invited to a sales party given by breeders. And for those new fans, there's Keeneland 101.
If cooking is not your strong suit, Taylor explains how to choose and work with a caterer. But for those who prefer to prepare meals like the great cooks at a Thoroughbred farm, they can try recipes such as chicken croquettes and beef tenderloin with Dijon horseradish sauce.
Mary Ellen Hardin was the caterer of choice for many horse farm owners years ago. Here is her recipe for tomato aspic, one of the dishes she was known for.
3½ cups tomato juice, divided
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash Tabasco sauce
2 cups celery, minced
1 medium green pepper, minced
1 cup sliced stuffed olives
1 small onion, grated
Pour 1 cup tomato juice into saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin on tomato juice to soften; place over low heat and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2½ cups tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and Tabasco sauce. Chill mixture to consistency of unbeaten egg white; fold in remaining ingredients. Turn in to large ring mold and chill until firm. Unmold aspic onto serving plate. The center of the ring can be filled with mayonnaise or marinated artichoke hearts.
Makes 10 servings.
Here's a dessert recipe from Keeneland Entertains by Fran Taylor.
½ pound marshmallows, cut up
½ cup bourbon
2 dozen almond macaroons, crumbled
1 pint whipping cream
Place marshmallows in bowl and cover with bourbon. Let soak for 2 hours. Fold in crumbled macaroons and whipping cream. Put in freezer to chill.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.