If you won't be in the Grandstand at Pimlico, you can still celebrate the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes in style with a black-and-gold party.
Black and gold — the colors of the Calvert family — pop up everywhere at the Preakness, from the state flag to the winner's wreath of black-eyed Susans. Recreate that feeling at home with black and gold stacks of polenta, goat cheese and olives, deep brown chocolate bread pudding with a gold topping, and Black & Tans, a fruity cocktail with turn-of-the-century Maryland roots.
The creative appetizers: Fried Chevre, Polenta & Black Olive Tower
These small stacks, created by Hersh's Pizza & Drinks' Josh Hershkovitz, layer tangy chevre, briny olives and mild polenta, with a sprinkle of basil for freshness. A bonus: the black and gold squares will remind your guests of Maryland's much-loved state flag.
Makes 8 hors d'oeuvres
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup yellow polenta
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
4 ounces chevre
1 garlic clove
7 ounces oil-cured black olives, pitted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
8 large basil leaves, chopped to a fine dice
1.Add salt to water in a medium sauce pan and place on high heat. Bring to a rapid boil and slowly add polenta, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.
2.Once all polenta is incorporated, turn heat down to medium-low to keep a simmer going.
3.Add in mascarpone cheese and whisk until fully incorporated.
4. Let polenta simmer for 30 minutes. If it becomes too dry and thick, add small increments of water.
5.Prepare 9"x13" baking dish with pan spray or vegetable oil. Once polenta is thick and smooth, pour into 9x13 inch baking dish and smooth over quickly with spatula. Place parchment over polenta and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until polenta is completely firm and chilled.
6.While polenta is chilling, cut chevre into 8 equal pieces.
7.Next, place garlic, olives and olive oil in food processor and process until smooth.
8.When polenta is firm, use spatula to loosen around edges and turn out onto cutting board.
9.Cut polenta into 8 equal-sized pieces. Then cut each piece in half height-wise to create two stackable pieces, effectively creating 16 pieces.
10.Heat butter and vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
11.Once bubbles have subsided but before butter browns, add polenta squares to pan in a single layer, and fry. Do this in multiple batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan and prevent proper frying. Fry for 2 minutes and then flip and fry 2 more minutes.
12.Place fried polenta on paper towel-lined plate to absorb some butter/oil. Polenta should be golden yellow/brown.
13.Once all pieces have been fried, lay 8 pieces out on the serving dish.
14.Top each square with chevre and then top with a polenta slice, pressing down on each to help warm the chevre.
15.Top each stack with one spoonful of the black olive paste and sprinkle with diced basil.
The refreshing drink: Black & Tan
Instead of a traditional Black-Eyed Susan cocktail, Doug Atwell suggests trying a Black & Tan, a springtime drink of blackberries, lime, mint and rye. Atwell, the head mixologist at RYE in Fells Point, discovered the drink in a turn-of-the-century Baltimore cookbook filled with the era's country club favorites. "It's a pretty easy drink to enjoy, especially in the springtime," he says. "And with its connection to country clubs, it's strongly connected with Maryland's turn-of-the-century sporting life." We like the way the way the colors gradually separate after mixing the drink.
Makes 1 drink
8 mint leaves
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces Old Overholt rye
Ginger beer (Atwell recommends the Regatta brand)
1.Muddle the blackberries, mint, simple syrup and lime juice in a mixing glass.
2.Add the rye, and shake well with ice.
3. Double strain, through a mesh tea strainer, into an ice-filled Collins glass.
4.Top with ginger beer, garnish with two whole blackberries and a sprig of mint.
The sweet treat: Chocolate Bread Pudding
Celebrate the winning horse with a final course of rich chocolate bread pudding. Chef Pedro Matamoros, of b bistro in Bolton Hill, makes a version that is simple to create, but layered with the decadent flavors of semi-sweet and milk chocolate. Top with a gold caramel sauce.
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped
8 ounces heavy cream
8 ounces half-and-half
3 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
4 cups of day-old bread (brioche or challah, crust removed and cubed)
1.Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.Bring a pot of water to boil. Place a metal bowl over the pot to create a double-boiler. Place chocolate in the bowl to melt, stirring occasionally.
3.Remove from heat and whisk in cream and half-and-half.
4.Whisk in sugar.
5.Place bread in a baking or casserole dish.
6.Stir vanilla and egg yolks into chocolate mixture.
7.Pour mixture over bread.
8.Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until cooked through.
9.Drizzle with caramel sauce, or serve with ice cream.