This weekend the Kentucky State BBQ Festival returns to Danville for the fifth year. The festival, at Constitution Square Park in downtown Danville, runs 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission and parking are free. There will be cooking demos, amateur contests, a Smokin' Butts Bike Ride and the annual bean-eating competition.
Pitmasters, including Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porker in Nashville, Moe Cason of Ponderosa BBQ in Des Moines, Mike Mills of 17th Street BBQ in Murphysboro, Ill., Craig Kimmel of Firehouse BBQ in DeLand, Fla., Shelly Frisch of Desperado's BBQ in Angola, N.Y., Shane Draper of Draper's BBQ in Cunningham, Ky., and Brad and Cindy Simmons of Lucky Dog BBQ in Danville will have beef brisket, pork shoulder, ribs and more for sale. Prices and menus vary.
■ On Sept. 9, Portofino Restaurant, 249 E. Main St., will host a wine dinner featuring the official wine of the Breeders' Cup, 14 Hands Winery. Chef Jordan Noel will fix a five-course dinner with six wines. Vineyard representatives will lead a wine discussion. Cost is $64, including tax and tip. Dinner at 6:30. Reservations, (859) 253-9300.
■ After a tasting contest, Caramanda's Bake Shoppe, 332 Southland Drive and 3805 Dylan Place, will provide this year's Breeders' Cupcakes for the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland. Caramanda's won out over Donut Days Bakery and Confused Confections with a white chocolate raspberry cupcake, colored purple and topped with a yellow buttercream rose and green leaves. Purple, gold and green are Breeders' Cup colors.
If you can't wait for the Oct. 30-31 Thoroughbred championships, you can get the cupcakes at either Caramanda's store for $2.75 each or $30 for a dozen. One dollar from every cupcake sold goes to charity, according to the Breeders' Cup. Caramanda's owner Steve Henderson said he plans to support Central Kentucky Riding for Hope.
■ Woodford Reserve is celebrating Bourbon Heritage Month with the ultimate Distiller's Table with master distiller Chris Morris, from 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 18. Begin in the visitors center at the distillery at 7855 McCracken Pike in Versailles with Morris and cocktails; chef-in-residence Ouita Michel will serve tapas and small plates. Then, on an 88-foot long harvest table along Woodford's historic barrel run, guests will dine by candle and lantern light. The menu includes Black Hawk Kentucky Proud Wagyu beef, slow-cooked over Woodford barrel staves, whole roasted wild salmon, heirloom tomatoes, Happy Jack's sweet corn, the first of the fall squashes, local lettuces, greens and beans, biscuits, corn pones and Woodford's own pickles and relishes. For dessert, there's Woodford's apple Charlotte, drizzled with caramel and served with Crank & Boom bourbon honey ice cream. Reservations are required. Call (859) 879-1953 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $95 per person plus tax and gratuity.
■ Willett Distillery, the Jack Rose Dining Saloon, the Harrison-Smith House and Husk chef Sean Brock are planning something special for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. The Whiskey Pig dinner will be at the Harrison-Smith House, 103 E. Stephen Foster Ave. in Bardstown, from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 17. The menu features prime smoked brisket, Josh's rolls, pickles, mustard; country sausage, aged beer cheese, bourbon sauce; Benedictine, country ham salad, limestone Bibb; garlic potato soup, local catfish, fried croutons; chocolate/black walnut/pretzel truffles from chef Newman Miller. And from Brock: low country shrimp and grits; Husk chicken skins with white barbecue sauce; two-year Bob Woods country ham; Cheerwine glazed pig ears with benne rolls and smoked Duke's; Carolina Gold rice cake with pimento cheese and pickled ramps.
Bill Thomas and Jared Hyman of Jack Rose Dining Saloon will pour a selection of rare whiskeys, and Willett master distiller Drew Kulsveen will pour a special barrel selection of Willett Family Estate. Tickets are $100 and benefit the Home of the Innocents. Go to Kybourbontrail.com/whiskey-pig.
■ Egyptian Band, a unit of the Daughters of the Nile who support Shriners' Hospital, will hold its annual fundraiser, a formal tea with four courses and settings from antique china to Wildcat-themed tables, 2 p.m. Sept. 27 at Oleika Shrine on Southland Drive. Reservations are required. Tickets are $20. Call Susan Wade, (859) 333-0146 or Cathe Vaughn (606) 492-9353. Tables for up to eight available.
There also will be a style show presented by Midway Boutique.
■ The 24th Annual St. Andrew Heritage Festival will be Sept. 26-27 on the grounds of St. Andrew Orthodox Church, 1136 Higbee Mill Road. The festival will include ethnic food and dance demonstrations, music, and tours of the church and its extensive hand-painted iconography.
■ Kentuckians chose producers from Danville, Lawrenceburg, and Lexington as the 2015 Local Food Heroes. Sidney Ratliff of Danville, Kathy Sink and Cindy Nabar of Lexington, and Nathan Truesdell of Lawrenceburg were the top vote-getters. Results were announced at the state fair in Louisville earlier this month. Sink and Nabar produce tomato plants. Truesdell is a produce grower who operates Circle T Farms. Ratliff owns Mozybeau Farms, a producer of heirloom seeds and vegetables.
■ Reader Babette Hiestand, a native of St. Louis, read my recipe for Gooey butter cake a couple of weeks ago and said that the real gooey butter cake has a different crust. She brought us a version from Dierbergs grocery store, so we could see for ourselves. After extensive newsroom tasting, it was found to be a fine gooey butter cake, although many preferred the other version.
Hiestand recommended this recipe for a classic yeasted gooey butter cake from The New York Times.
St. Louis gooey butter cake
For the cake:
3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1¾ teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
For the topping:
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
In a small bowl, mix milk with the warm water. Add the yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Let sit for 5 minutes until mixture begins to foam.
Cream together butter, sugar and salt on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Increase the speed to medium and beat the dough until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.
Press the dough into an ungreased 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot and let rise until doubled, about 2½ to 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. To prepare the topping, whisk together the corn syrup, water and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Cream together the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour in three additions, alternating with the corn-syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
Drop the topping by large spoonfuls over the risen dough and gently spread it into an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. Cool completely before serving. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. This cake is best eaten the same day it's made. Yield: 12 to 16 servings