Archive | December, 2016

Give Your Holiday Brunch a Sweet Touch

Give Your Holiday Brunch a Sweet Touch

Chocolate Candy Cane Doughnut Bread Pudding

What did we do before Mint Twists came on the market? We tried crushing our own candy canes or peppermints, of course. And if you’re like me, you always made a mess of things. But now that you can find bags of the already-crushed candies in the aisle near the chocolate chips, you can make you’re own treats — and not just at Christmas.

This dish came about when life handed me more doughnuts than I could eat. At a recent office meeting, very few people touched the two dozen Krispy Kremes that someone had brought. Leftovers included a healthy mix of regular glazed and chocolate-glazed, which had me thinking about bread pudding.

But what would make it more holiday friendly? Chocolate and peppermint, of course. I’m obsessed with dark chocolate-coated peppermint bark, so it only seemed right to add it to the mix, especially when some of the doughnuts already had a little chocolate on them.

Enjoy this at your next holiday brunch with hot chocolate, egg nog or even an Irish coffee on the side.


Chocolate Candy Cane Doughnut Bread Pudding

Let the stale doughnuts soak for at least 10 minutes before baking.

10 to 12 stale doughnuts, with regular glaze or chocolate glaze

3 large eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips, preferably dark chocolate

1/4 cup crushed candy canes or Mint Twists, or to taste

Hard Sauce (optional)

Cut or tear the doughnuts in small pieces. I use a pair of kitchen scissors. Spread out in a 9-by-13-inch dish. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Add milk, heavy cream, vanilla and salt, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Pour over the doughnut pieces. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

While the doughnut slices are soaking, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the doughnut slices and stir once or twice to make sure all everything is moist.

Shortly before you put the dish into the oven, sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the top to taste.

Bake for 30 minutes. Check to see if everything has a come together. You may need to bake up to five minutes more. If you do, turn the oven off and let it sit in there.

Serve warm. Top with Hard Sauce, if desired.

Makes 12-16 servings.

From John Griffin

Hard Sauce

This is a variation of Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s recipe.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Kahlua Peppermint Mocha or whiskey, or to taste

In your mixer, whip the butter for a couple of minutes at medium speed. Add the sugar slowly and scrape down the sizes so everything is thoroughly incorporated. Then add the liquor and mix for a minute or two more. Use at room temperature. (If you make this in advance, refrigerate until about an hour before it’s needed. Take it out, so it can warm up.)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups sauce.

Adapted from Ree Drummond


Posted in Featured, RecipesComments Off on Give Your Holiday Brunch a Sweet Touch

Put a Little Fire into Your Egg Nog

Put a Little Fire into Your Egg Nog

Michael Sohocki’s Wood-Fired Egg Nog

National Egg Nog Day is Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, and what better way to celebrate than with a cup of holiday cheer as created by San Antonio chef Michael Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn, Kimura and Il Forno.

Sohocki decided that wood fire didn’t just belong in the fireplace, tucked behind hanging stockings; instead he is pushing boundaries by adding it to everyone’s favorite holiday sip. He strove for a warm egg nog with a smoky and wood essence to it — and burning oak gave him just that.

With a dollop of brandy at the bottom of each mug, drinkers will experience a potent potable that has a very merry ending indeed. (Editor’s note: We have not tried the recipe ourselves, but we are willing to test it if anyone wants to make it for us.)

Wood-Fired Egg Nog

1 quart whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (paste only)
6 egg yolks
2 cups burning wood (oak, hickory or maple)
Splash of your favorite brandy
Soft-whipped cream, for garnish
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

Bring milk, sugar and vanilla to a raging boil. Before it spills over the sides, pull it from the flame.

Put egg yolks in a separate 4-quart bowl. Stir the boiling liquid into the yolks a little at a time, starting with about a tablespoon at a time until you see steam, then you can increase the interval to about 1/4 cup or so.

When the boiling liquid is incorporated, take about 2 cups of burning wood, preferably in small pieces (greater surface area) still on fire, and dump them all at once into the milk and egg mixture. Stir to extinguish the flames, and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or so to absorb smoke and wood essence. Strain through fine mesh to remove wood pieces. (Note: Sohocki recommends only using clean, food-grade wood.)


Put a dollop of brandy in the bottom of a tall warm coffee cup, and pour the egg nog mixture from up high, so you get a swirling effect in the bottom of the glass (practice this in private: don’t pour it in your guest’s ear). Sohocki likes that the mixture is not the same throughout, a little more punch at the bottom.

Top with whipped cream and nutmeg, and serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.
From Michael Sohocki/Restaurant Gwendolyn, Kimura, Il Forno

Posted in DrinksComments Off on Put a Little Fire into Your Egg Nog

Shake Up Your Holiday Gift List with Tickets to the Cocktail Conference

Shake Up Your Holiday Gift List with Tickets to the Cocktail Conference

Gift-block. It’s a thing. It’s when you want to give someone something great, but you just can’t figure out what they’d never re-gift. So you procrastinate until a candle seems right. Ugh. This year, give an experience to remember at San Antonio Cocktail Conference, Jan. 11-15.

The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is coming. Are you ready?

Start 2017 off in fine fashion with seminars, tasting, parties and entertainment! Here are some ideas to smash gift-block to pieces:

For the Thinker: Bundle up a package of two or three tickets ($45-$55 each) to informative seminars led by cocktail experts!

For the Adventurer: Take them to Stroll on Houston Street on Saturday night. Together you’ll wander through a street full of great parties, filled with a live music, cocktails, and food at every location along the two block stroll. $85

For the Young at Heart: This year’s big opening party on Thursday night is at the incredible DoSeum, a whimsical playground where they can explore and celebrate music, entertainment, food and cocktails. $85

For the Gourmet: Send them on a four-hour tour of the SACC Tasting Suites on Saturday afternoon and give them an opportunity to experience flavors from a wide variety of large and boutique brands, plus time to talk spirits with the experts. $45

For the Bon Vivant: Friday night’s festivities at the historic St. Anthony Hotel are a stylish soirée worthy of that special friend. $100

For the Sweets Lover: Cookies and cocktails: two great things that go great together. Wednesday night’s Women Shaking It Up pays special tribute to women bartenders, women chefs and women in business, sports and leadership who shaking it up in non-traditional roles. This year’s event benefits Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. $65

For the History Buff: Invite them to a Sunday cocktail brunch in the courtyard of the historic Spanish Governor’s Palace and immerse them in a cultural experience filled with food and drink that matches the preserved 1700’s architecture, furnishings, artworks and iconography. Includes tours of the treasured building. $55

See the schedule and buy tickets at Simply print the tickets at home, enclose them in your personal card, and check another to-do item off your list.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Shake Up Your Holiday Gift List with Tickets to the Cocktail Conference

County Line Gives Your Favorite Cocktails a Makeover for Cooler Weather

County Line Gives Your Favorite Cocktails a Makeover for Cooler Weather

Big Ol' Vanilla Coke at the County Line

Big Ol’ Vanilla Coke at the County Line

A new slate of specialty handcrafted cocktails for the fall and winter—as well as Texas craft beers—are now available at The County Line Bar-B-Q restaurant at 10101 I-10 W.

Jack Daly

Jack Daly

The cocktails were designed by the restaurant’s assistant general manager/pitmaster/chef Garrett Stephens to focus on a “playful twist on traditional fall flavors.”

All beers and specialty cocktails are discounted during happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. Happy hour includes $1 off these handcrafted cocktails, as well as beer, house margaritas, Grande margaritas, Gallo Borracho margaritas, wells and all appetizers.

These new handcrafted cocktails will be available through the fall and winter include:

  • Frozen Rebecca Creek and Coke: Frozen Rebecca Creek Whiskey and Coca-Cola – $6.75
  • Whirly-Gig: Bulleit Rye, Laird’s Applejack, apple cider, simple syrup and Angostura Bitters – $8.00
  • Ribs and Whiskey: Bulleit Bourbon, blood orange, chocolate bitters and simple syrup – $7.50
  • Big Ol’ Vanilla Coke: Double shot of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, scraped vanilla bean and vanilla bitters, served on the rocks in a jumbo chalice with an upside-down 8 oz. Coke Classic longneck – $8.50
  • Ribs & Whiskey

    Ribs & Whiskey

    Caramel Green Apple Martini: Caramel vodka, green apple vodka, apple pucker and apple cider – $7.50

  • White Chocolate Peppermint Martini: Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, vanilla vodka and peppermint schnapps – $8.00
  • Apples and Pears: Grey Goose Pear Vodka, apple cider and Prosecco – $7.75
  • Coco-Rum Chata Hot Chocolate: Rum Chata, Malibu Rum, hot cocoa, jumbo marshmallow, toasted coconut and cinnamon – $7.75

Past specialty cocktails that remain on menu:

  • Old Smokey: Texas Red River Rye, BBQ bitters, flamed orange and pit-smoked ice – $8
  • The John Daly: Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, limoncello and sweet tea – $7.50

Texas draft brews include Busted Sandal 210 Ale, Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower, Rahr & Sons Helles Lager, Cedar Creek Dankosaurus IPA and Shiner Bock.

For more information, call 210-641-1998.


Posted in DrinksComments Off on County Line Gives Your Favorite Cocktails a Makeover for Cooler Weather

Planning a Children’s Christmas Party 1935 Style

Planning a Children’s Christmas Party 1935 Style

christmas-bookA friend cleaned out her cookbook collection before moving out of town, and she left me with 11 boxes of treasures that I’ve been going through them now for months. In one was a slender volume with a gorgeous cover featuring a handful of youngsters partying with Father Time, an Easter bunny, jack-o-lanterns, a witch and, of course, Santa Claus.

It’s called “Children’s Party Book: Games, Decorations, Menus and Recipes,” and it was written by Cornelia Staley. It was published in 1935, and each copy sold for the then-princely sum of 25 cents. A quick glance through it suggests a much simpler time. Much simpler than I can ever remember. Can you think back to a time when you taught your children how to write their own party invitations by hand, such as this one from the book’s premier party girl, Barbara Smith?

Buy tiny horns, attach a tag and write on it:
“Blow me at my New Year’s Party.” I do hope you can come. Wednesday, January 1, at 3:30 o’clock.
— Barbara Smith

Each occasion, from birthday to New Year’s,  includes games suggestions far removed from the world of Xbox and World of Warcraft, such as this one for Halloween:

Bowls of Fortune

Place in a row an empty bowl, a bowl of clear water and one of milky water. Each child in turn is blindfolded, turned about three times and told to put on hand in a bowl. If the child touches clear water, it means marriage to a bachelor or maiden — milky water, a widower or widow — the empty bowl, unmarried.

There are even tips on planning the appropriate decorations, including hanging groups of pastel colored balloons from your chandelier for an Easter party.

For the Christmas party, Barbara Smith has learned that “Gay Christmas seals on white, red or green cards will make your invitation gala.” And she suggests you use greeting: “School’s out! Let’s celebrate the Happy Holidays at my house on Thursday from 3 to 5.”

christmas-pictureIf you can make it, expect as many red and green balloons tied to the Smith home’s chandelier. But don’t expect Barbara and her party crew to stop there. Here are Staley’s suggestions for table decorations:

Cover your table in white, and for a centerpiece dip a fat little Christmas tree in a thin solution of Staley’s Starch. While still moist, sprinkle it generously with artificial snow or silver glitter. Hang red and green balls on it. Have a small tree at each place and a suitable gift gaily wrapped and tied to the stick of a lollipop.

Game ideas include Spider Web, Pin a Star on the Christmas Tree, Paper Race and Chinese Tag, in which “any child who is ‘it’ must hold on to the spot he has been tagged with one hand while trying to tag another child with the other.” How that makes it Chinese is anybody’s guess.

The suggested menu for all this fun includes Minced Turkey or Chicken Sandwiches, Tiny Molds of Cranberry Jelly, Celery Curls, Hot Chocolate, Ice Cream Santa Claus, Snowballs and Lollypops.

Yes, you can make your own Lollypops, and Cornelia Staley offers her own recipe, which naturally uses Staley’s Crystal White Syrup. In case you can’t find that, white corn syrup will work as a substitute.


2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup Staley’s Crystal White Syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Red vegetable coloring

Cook sugar, water and syrup until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Then cover and boil 3 minutes. Remove cover and boil undisturbed to 310 degrees or the brittle stage. Remove from heat at once, add vanilla and coloring. Pour into small buttered muffin tins 1/2-inch deep, and when almost cool, insert a wooden skewer in each.

Makes 2 dozen, 2 inches in diameter.

From “Children’s Party Book: Games, Decorations, Menus and Recipes”/Cornelia Staley

Serve your lollipops up with the following joke from Staley:

Why are lollipops like race horses?

Because the more you lick them, the faster they go.

If that’s not enough fun for your Christmas party, have the kids make Dried Fruit and Nut Men: “Funny figures can be made just as easily with fruits and nuts as with candies. Large fruits, such as prunes, are used for heads and bodies, toothpicks for legs and raisins strung on hairpins for arms.”

As silly as it sounds, I think that’s an activity adults would enjoy as much as children. Everyone loves playing with food that they can then eat, even prunes.

Staley’s goal in Depression America was to show people how their children could have some fun and good food — and for not much money. It’s a goal that carries through to today. After all, it’s not the cost of the party, but the good time that people have at it that matters.

Posted in Griffin to GoComments Off on Planning a Children’s Christmas Party 1935 Style

Treat Yourself to an Assortment of Russian Candies

Treat Yourself to an Assortment of Russian Candies

I haven’t been to Russia, but I do have some Russian blood in me, thanks to my grandfather, Ivan Woloskiewitsch. Perhaps that’s why I fell so hard for the Russian candies that I founds in the markets I visited when I was in Little Odessa in Brooklyn.

Russian candies from Sasha's.

Russian candies from Sasha’s.

Or maybe it’s because I’m a chocolate addict at heart.

Whatever the reason, I loved seeing all the bowls of various candies that you could buy in bulk. All of them come in bright, colorful wrappings that don’t always tell you what’s inside — unless you read the Cyrillic alphabet, that is. And I don’t.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered a store in San Antonio that sells these wonderful treats. It’s Sasha’s European Market at 8023 Callaghan Road, and I’ve passed the storefront for months without ever noticing it.

The store has been there for seven years, selling Eastern European specialties from ground sorrel and green garlic sprouts to wines from Russia and Georgia (not the state). If you go past the jars of celery salad and marinated pickles with prunes, you’ll find the bowls of candies in their bright array of red, blue and green wrappers. Some sport images of Red Riding Hood or bears playing in the woods. Others display pictures of what’s inside. One was even called Vodka, which needs no translation, though the actual alcohol content of the candy was fairly low.

If you haven’t tried these Russian candies before, please don’t expect to bite into something akin to M&M’s or a Mars bar. Marshmallows are used in some, jellies in others. Dried fruit, including prunes, can be seen on a label or two. Others are complete surprises. You may bite into chocolate-covered wafers filled with hazelnut cream or dark chocolate with lemon.

The candies sell for $9.99 a pound and would make a great addition to any St. Nicholas celebration on Dec. 6 or any time of the year.

For more information, call the store at (210) 348-7788.

Tim’s is expanding

Tim’s Oriental & Seafood Market, 7015 Bandera Road, is getting bigger. The store is staying put, but it’s also taking over the space once occupied by Peng’s Chinese Restaurant. The work should be completed within the next three weeks.

In the meantime, you can still get a roasted duck (just like in the film “A Christmas Story” complete with the head on) for $19. Or you can get live blue crabs, roasted pork belly, yuzu juice, fresh bitter melon or Chinese Oreos, all of the stuff that makes Tim’s one of the many unique markets in San Antonio that we return to on a regular basis.

Tim's Oriental & Seafood Market

Tim’s Oriental & Seafood Market

Posted in NewsComments Off on Treat Yourself to an Assortment of Russian Candies