We all know the importance of eating before the Derby. It is totally necessary to eat well before you start into the mimosas, lillies, and mint juleps. Below are some delicious brunch casseroles — one from a Louisville restaurant we miss dearly, Verbena Cafe, and another from The Cheddar Box — that are the perfect fuel for the big day. We recommend you make both and serve them with fruit and cocktails. As an added bonus, we got the recipe for angel biscuits with country ham from The Cheddar Box to go with your meal.
French toast casserole from Verbena Cafe
This perfectly sweet and fruity French toast casserole is simple to make and easy to enjoy. Simply mix the ingredients together, bake and top with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar. With hints of maple syrup combined with the fresh fruit, this recipe is sweet, but not too sweet.
Blueberry French Toast Casserole
- Butter for greasing pan
- 6 eggs
- 3 1-inch-thick slices (8-ounce), day-old challah or sourdough bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 cups whole milk
- ¾ cup maple syrup plus extra for serving
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon plus extra tablespoon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 lemon zested
- 2 cups 12 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries thawed and drained
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Cut strawberries
- Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.
- Add the cubed bread, milk, ¾ cup maple syrup, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt, and the lemon zest. Stir in the blueberries.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the egg mixture in an even layer.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut strawberries and serve.
Breakfast casserole from The Cheddar Box
This favorite breakfast casserole from The Cheddar Box has a little bit of everything for the savory palate: sausage, mushrooms, spinach and lots of cheese. If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can order it from The Cheddar Box in advance and pick it up. If you DO want to make it, here’s the recipe:
- 18 eggs
- 2 tablespoons light cream
- Pinch of salt
- 4 ounces cream cheese cut into chunks
- 4 ounces Purnell sausage
- 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- 6 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
- Combine the eggs, cream, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
- Cook in a large, nonstick sauté pan.
- Add the cream cheese and scramble until you have a very loose scramble. Set aside.
- Saute the sausage in a skillet and drain. Set sausage aside.
- Saute the mushrooms in a skillet. Set aside.
- Squeeze out the spinach and set aside.
- Combine the cooked eggs with the other ingredients, except the Parmesan, and pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Top with grated Parmesan.
- Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
BONUS RECIPE: Angel biscuits with country ham from The Cheddar Box
Everyone needs a little ham and biscuits to go with their meal; it’s a Kentucky tradition! Here is the recipe for the Angel biscuits at The Cheddar Box. Fill them with country ham and spread on the butter, inside and out, and serve this crowd-pleaser slightly warmed in the oven. Again, you can either make them yourself, or you can order them in advance and pick them up.
- 1 package ¼-ounce active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 cups buttermilk at room temperature
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup shortening
- Melted butter
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes.
- Add the buttermilk to the yeast mixture and set aside.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
- Cut in the shortening (The Cheddar Box uses a food processor).
- Add the yeast mixture and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll out to about ½-inch thickness.
- Cut out with 2-inch round cutter.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Let rise for about an hour.
- Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Brush with melted butter when the biscuits come out of the oven.
Now with full bellies and full wallets, head over to the track and enjoy your day! Thank you to Verbena Cafe and The Cheddar Box for sharing these recipes.
Be sure to check out this Derby dining room to get inspiration on how to set your table before your guests arrive for Derby brunch.
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