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A First Look at the New Silo Terrace Oyster Bar

A First Look at the New Silo Terrace Oyster Bar

Silo Fried Oysters with Braised Pork Belly

Silo Fried Oysters with Braised Pork Belly

Give in to your seafood cravings by dropping by the new Silo Terrace Oyster Bar near the Dominion on I-10. Whether you love your seafood on the half-shell or fresh out of the fryer, you’ll likely find something to please you.

Silo's Flounder Special

Silo’s Flounder Special

A pair of oyster-loving friends and I met up there recently for lunch and had a hard time narrowing our appetizer choices to just three selections from the lengthy menu of bivalves, largely from the Northeast.

We started with a trio of oysters from Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Maine. Each had its own delicious personality, even if the flavors did not always match the menu’s description. For example, we read that the liquor of our La St. Simon oysters were more sweet than salty, but the ones we were served were so briny that we felt instantly transported to a wind-swept seascape. That’s a good thing, by the way, as is trusting your own taste buds to come up with your own descriptors. You do it with wine and beer, right?

The Terrace

The Terrace

One friend couldn’t get enough bivalves in her diet that day, so, for her main course, she went for Silo’s signature fried oysters, which were served up with generous slabs of braised pork belly. It may have only been listed as a small plate, but it was large enough to please her while offering a few tastes to share.

The serving of fish and chips was enormous, with two large slabs of fish fried to a deep brown. There was plenty of tartar sauce, which taste better on the fries, in my opinion, than on the fish. Blame it on the European habit of dipping fries in mayonnaise, which I also love.

Silo's Fish and Chips

Silo’s Fish and Chips

I opted for the daily special, which was pan-fried flounder over coconut milk rice. A dollop of avocado relish (aka guacamole to most of us) and a few strands of fresh chervil crowned the dish in elegance. It was real eye candy, and it tasted as good as it looked.

The indoor dining area is more intimate than Silo 1604’s, yet there was a healthy vibe of contentment energizing the scene. The new location also offers an elevated patio with its own oyster bar and plenty of tables for fair weather days. I can hardly wait for spring – or even a warm afternoon — and a chance to dive into a dozen or two oysters on that patio.

Silo Terrace Oyster Bar
22211 I-10 W.
(210) 698-2002Lunch: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Dinner: 5 – 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 – 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

The inside dining room at Silo Terrace Oyster Bar

The inside dining room at Silo Terrace Oyster Bar

Posted in Featured, Restaurants0 Comments

Hosts, Make Sure You Have a Tasty Non-Alcoholic Drink to Serve This Season

Hosts, Make Sure You Have a Tasty Non-Alcoholic Drink to Serve This Season

In December 1992, the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse released a slender cookbook called “Holidays Ahead: A Collection of Spirited Drink Recipes Without the ‘Spirits.’”

punchIt was the council’s way of showing “our responsibility as adults to eliminate the dangers created by mixing alcohol and driving,” writes spokeswoman Patsy Torres in her introduction. The message rings true 22 years later.

So, if you’re hosting guests over the holidays, make sure you have a non-alcoholic drink for your designated drivers, not to mention any children that may want to share a glass of some Christmas cheer.

These selections range from hot Wassail to a frosty Mudd Slide, which could double as a dessert shake. So, find one or even a few mocktail recipes that suit your needs, and raise a toast to a safe holiday season.

It’s fascinating to read through the book to see contributions from the likes of Spurs superstar David Robinson as well as politicians, TV personalities and other local figures. All are identified by who they were back in 1992.

Mudd Slide

4 ounces vanilla ice cream
¼ scoop ice (only a few cubes)
2 chocolate-chocolate chip cookies
1 ounce chocolate syrup
2 ounces milk

Blend ice cream, ice, cookies, syrup and milk in a blender until smooth.

From Donna Parker of KSAT/“Holidays Ahead: A Collection of Spirited Drink Recipes Without the ‘Spirits’”

Coffee Punch

2 quarts strong brewed coffee
2 cups milk
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
2 cups whipping cream, whipped
Ground nutmeg

Combine coffee, milk, sugar and vanilla. Stir well. Chill thoroughly. Place ice cream in a large punch bowl. Pour coffee mixture over ice cream, stirring gently. Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Makes 1 ¼ gallons.

From Cyndi Taylor Krier, Texas Senator, District 36//“Holidays Ahead: A Collection of Spirited Drink Recipes Without the ‘Spirits’”

holidays aheadBig Red One

3 cups cranberry juice cocktail, divided use
1 (3-ounce) package strawberry-flavored gelatin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 (12-ounce) cans Big Red
1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen (plus more for garnish, optional)

Bring half of the cranberry juice cocktail to a boil in a medium pan. Stir in gelatin until dissolved. Stir in remaining half cranberry juice, strawberries and lemon juice. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Fill tall glasses with ice cubes. Pour equal portions of each cranberry mixture and Big Red. Garnish with strawberries, if desired.

From Linda and Gary Weaver, Timber Tech//“Holidays Ahead: A Collection of Spirited Drink Recipes Without the ‘Spirits’”

Stormin’ Norman

6 ounces grapefruit juice
3 ounces spicy tomato juice
Celery stick, for garnish

Pour juices into a glass filled with ice. Stir. Serve with celery stick.

Makes 1 drink.

From David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs//“Holidays Ahead: A Collection of Spirited Drink Recipes Without the ‘Spirits’”



Wassail Bowl

Whole cloves
1 large orange
2 quarts apple cider or juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cinnamon sticks

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Insert cloves about ½ inch apart into orange. Place in shallow baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Pierce orange in several places with 2-pronged fork. In large saucepan, combine apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks and baked orange. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and orange. Pour into heatproof punch bowl. Float clove-studded orange in punch bowl. Serve hot.

Makes 16 (1/2 cup) servings.

From Claude Roberts of the Roberts Group/“Holidays Ahead: A Collection of Spirited Drink Recipes Without the ‘Spirits’”

Mock Champagne

½ cup sugar
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
14 to 16 ounces Sprite
1 ½ cups water
½ cup orange juice
½ cup pineapple juice

Boil water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Cool. Add cranberry, orange and pineapple juices. Add Sprite and crushed ice before serving.

Makes 12 (4-ounces) servings.

From Donna Frances, Sales & Marketing Executives of San Antonio and Board of Directors, San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse//“Holidays Ahead: A Collection of Spirited Drink Recipes Without the ‘Spirits’”

Posted in Drinks, Featured0 Comments

Making a Tradition of Serving Oyster Stew at the Holidays

Making a Tradition of Serving Oyster Stew at the Holidays

America’s history with the oyster has been chronicled in a number of books, articles and websites, with a pair of standouts being Mark Kurlansky’s “The Big Oyster” and Robb Walsh’s “Sex, Death & Oysters.” It seems the Native Americans on the eastern seaboard had been eating oysters for several millennia before the Pilgrims and other settlers arrived, and they introduced their new neighbors to this seafood treat. The newcomers quickly became addicted to the bivalve’s briny charms, and the love affair continues to this day.

Oyster Stew

Oyster Stew

Within that culinary history is a smaller chapter on serving up oyster stew for Christmas Eve. The likely origin of this is steeped in Catholicism and the practice of not eating meat on the eve of the observance of Christ’s birth. But the ties are stronger than that, Stephanie Butler writes on In an article on this savory American tradition, she traces a lineage that goes back to Ireland and a simple stew made with ling. Lings aren’t available here, but oysters are. They share a similar taste and texture, so the substitution was made. And soon, the Christmas Eve menu was set for many families.

I’m introducing the tradition to my family this Christmas Eve. For years, while I was growing up, our whole family would be invited to an oyster stew party that a co-worker of my dad’s threw every year. I’ll be honest: I didn’t really care for the thin, milky soup when I was 7 or 8 years old or the odd taste of the seafood, but we were not allowed to say that to our hosts. We ate every last mouthful of oyster stew and thanked our hosts.

I began to appreciate the flavors more as I got older. And I’m more grateful to that couple, the Meyerhausers, with each passing year. I’m also grateful to my parents for forcing me out of my comfort zone when it came to trying such culinary treasures, but that’s another story.

There are so many different variations of oyster stew that recipes could likely fill a chapter of a book. Emeril Legasse, for example, includes Andouille sausage mashed potatoes in his version. The folks in South Carolina’s Lowcountry add peanuts. I prefer the much simpler style I grew up with, which features oysters gently cooked in warm milk or cream until they curl. You can use as many oysters as you’d like for taste, and vary the seasoning, even the garnishes, to your liking. Robb Walsh’s single-serving stew calls for one pint of fresh oysters. The traditional recipe from, uses double that amount, but for six servings, which provides a math equation I’d rather not do, except to say that the amount of oysters is sadly less. In our collection of recipes, we also include one that serves 50, in case you’ve got plenty of family and friends coming by. (A tip to the wise: If you’re making oyster stew for 50, make it a party game and have your guests help with the shucking – if they’re sober, that is.)

The basic oyster stew recipe is simple, which is what makes it attractive when you have presents left to wrap and possibly plans for services later that evening or in the morning. If you’ve never made it before, make sure you watch the process closely your first time through. You don’t want to burn the milk and you don’t want to overcook the oysters. What you do want are oysters swimming in cream with a helping of crackers – and tradition – seasoning each serving.

Oyster Stew Recipes

Posted in Featured, Griffin to Go0 Comments

Oyster Stew Recipes for One or 50

Oyster Stew Recipes for One or 50

Oyster Stew recipes come in all servings, sizes and textures. Here are a series that show off the bivalves to their best advantage.

Oyster Stew for One

oysters tray“In Texas, oyster stew is a bowl of oysters with a little milk, not a bowl of milk with a couple of oysters.”

So says Texas food writer Robb Walsh in “Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook, with More Than 200 Recipes” (10 Speed Press, $25). Perhaps that’s why his version includes a pint of the briny bivalves into a single serving.

1 pint shucked oysters and their liquor
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus 1 pat
Tabasco sauce, for serving
Soda crackers, for serving

Pour the oysters and their liquor and the water into a small pot. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Place over medium heat and bring almost to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the edges of the oysters curl. Add the milk and heat until steaming hot. Do not allow to boil. Stir in the 2 tablespoons butter.

Pour the stew into a soup bowl and top with the butter pat. Enjoy piping hot. Season with Tabasco. As you eat the stew, crumble soda crackers into the bowl.

Makes 1 serving.

From “Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook, with More Than 200 Recipes” by Robb Walsh

Traditional Oyster Stew

“The most important factors in preparing Oyster Stew are do not boil the milk and do not overcook the oysters,” according to Be careful to avoid overcooking oysters, which causes them to become tough.

2 pints (about 32 ounces) small to medium-sized raw shucked oysters with their liquor (see note)
4 tablespoons butter, plus more for garnish
3 cups milk (a little added heavy cream can be added to make it richer)
1 or 2 dashes Tabasco
Salt, to taste
Pepper to taste
Minced parsley, sliced chives or sliced green onions (for garnish)
Oyster crackers

Note: The amount of oysters used may be varied according to your taste.

Drain the oysters, reserving their liquor. (I like to strain the oyster liquor with a fine strainer to remove any sand.)

In a large pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add oysters and simmer very gently for about 2 to 4 minutes or until the edges of the oysters curl.

While the oysters are simmering, in a separate saucepan over low heat, slowly heat the milk, cream, and oyster liquor (do not boil).

When the oysters are cooked, slowly add the hot milk mixture to the oysters, stirring gently. Season with Tabasco, salt and pepper.

Remove from heat. Serve in warm soup bowls and garnish each bowl with parsley, chives, or green onions and a generous pat of butter.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Oyster Stew for 50

Sometimes you just need enough to feed a crowd, assuming, that is, you have a pot large enough to hold three gallons of ingredients. This simple recipe comes from “Temptations,” the cookbook from the Junior League of Lansing, Michigan.

2 gallons milk
2 ounces salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 gallon oysters, shucked, with liquid
1 cup butter
Paprika, for garnish

Scald milk, but do not boil.

In a saucepan, add salt and pepper to oysters, cook over low heat until the edges of oysters begin to curl.

Pour scalded milk over oysters and add butter. Sprinkle top with paprika and serve immediately to avoid curdling.

Notes: Care should be taken not to overcook oysters as they will get tough if heated too long. Quantity makes this ideal to serve at a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party. The recipe is from Jim’s Tiffany, Lansing, Michigan.

Makes 50 (6-ounce) servings.

From “Temptations: Junior League of Lansing”

Oyster Stew with Potato

Oyster Stew

Oyster Stew

Mention the word “stew” or “soup,” and some cooks automatically get out the potatoes. So, it should come as no surprise that a few have even added them to oyster stew.

Cookbook author Morton G. Clark would have you believe that this is a common factor in oyster stews across Texas. In his 1970 “The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cookbook,” he writes, “Oyster stew, in Texas, as with similar shrimp dishes, often has potatoes in it, thus being somewhat like a chowder. But as it is also highly spiced and has a quantity of green onions in it, along with celery leaves, it has a Creole taste. This combination, it seems to me is very Texas.”

Yet I could not find another recipe for oyster stew with potatoes in it, despite looking in more than four dozen other cookbooks from Texas and beyond. Still, it would thicken the base, making it less watery for some, and the odd inclusion of pickling spices in the seasoning helped this recipe stand out.

1 rib celery, diced; leaves, minced
6 green onions with part of tops, sliced
4 large white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium-size white onions, chopped
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices in a cheesecloth bag
4 cups water
1/4 pound butter
1 quart whole milk or half-and-half
2 quarts oysters and their liquor
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

In a heavy pot, combine vegetables with spices and water. Cover and simmer until all are very tender. Drain, reserving the liquid. Discard spices. Puree vegetables through a sieve. combine with reserved cooking water, butter and milk. Heat until butter has melted. Blend. Add oysters and their liquor. Cook gently until their edges ruffle and the oysters are plump. Season with Worcestershire sauce, salt and cayenne to taste. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

From “The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cookbook” by Morton G. Clark

Peanut and Oyster Stew

Peanuts and oysters together? Well, they both have shells, right? Bad joke aside, this soup features a classic combination that dates back to the 1840s if not before. Matt Lee and Ted Lee provide a little background — and a little updating — in “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen.” Here is the story in their words:

“The lovely notion of combining oysters with nutty flavors has been a steady current through Charleston cookbooks, a relatively recent example being the oyster and benne (sesame) soup in “Charleston Receipts.” One of the earlier examples, however, appeared in Sarah Rutledge’s 1847 “The Carolina Housewife,” in a recipe for ‘Ground-Nut Soup,” where the oysters played second fiddle to the groundnuts — the peanuts:

“To half a pint shelled ground-nuts, well beaten up, add two spoonsful of flour, and mix well. Put to them a pint of oysters, and a pint and a half of water. While boiling, throw on a seed-pepper or two, if small.

“We adore the simplicity and efficiency of her recipe and language: it plays out so plainly in the mind that you can almost see the stoneware bowl and apron strings. And yet it’s difficult to make the flavors sing, following the recipe as written. We began with her basic formula, but introduced a few ingredients that embolden the flavors while keeping the peanuts and the oysters — both — at top billing. We wrestled with he idea of adding other ingredients (like paprika, sherry, lemon peel) to jazz up the soup, but in the end decided that the minimalist approach suits the spirit of the peanut-oyster combination best.”

1 cup roasted unsalted skinned peanuts
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup very finely chopped celery (about 2 smaller ribs)
4 tablespoons minced, seeded jalapeños (about 2 small)
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups fish or shellfish broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 pint shucked oysters and their liquor (about 24 to 32 oysters), separated
Freshly ground black pepper
2 finely sliced scallions (white and green parts)
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Process the peanuts in a food processor to coarse crumbs and reserve.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the bubbles subside, add the celery, jalapeño, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is evenly incorporated. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it looks like it is drying out. Add the peanuts, stirring for a minute, then add the broth, wine, 1 cup of water and the oyster liquor. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down to medium, and simmer covered, stirring occasionally until the soup has reduced by about a third, about 40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Turn off the heat and add the oysters, stirring gently twice, and allow to sit for a minute. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with the sliced scallions and a lemon wedge, and including a few oysters in every portion.

Makes 6 servings.

From “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

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Christmas Cookies Create Memorable Holiday Traditions

Christmas Cookies Create Memorable Holiday Traditions

Cookies have always been an integral part of my Christmas. My mom, Annaliese Griffin, was a baker for more than 50 years, and her kitchen in December would be filled with hundreds of dozens of handmade treats that would perfume the house with vanilla, cinnamon and other inviting aromas.

Johns Cookies 4 croppedMom’s not actively baking now, but a collection of her recipes, “Cookies and Cakes You’ll Love,” has recently been published. (Email me at if you’re interested in getting a copy for $15 apiece plus handling.)

Many of the recipes are from her childhood in Germany, and they’re mixed with American favorites. I’ve never known a Christmas without a few of the treats included here — Zimsterne, Springerle and Cream Cheese Cookies. Here’s hoping they help you create your own Christmas memories.


These German favorites get their name from the way they spring up during baking. The anise-flavored cookies are made with a special rolling or board decorated with pictures, and you press the dough into them, much like Silly Putty. If you don’t have the roller or the board, roll out the dough and cut into rectangles about 1 inch wide and 2 inches deep. Use a small cookie cutter and make an indentation in the top.

Special equipment: Springerle rolling pin (optional)

4 extra large eggs
1 pound powdered sugar (4 cups)
2 teaspoons anise seed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Beat eggs with electric mixer on high until light. Add powdered sugar and continue beating on high for about 6 minutes. Add anise seed and lemon zest. Beat 2 more minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder; add very slowly with wooden spoon to egg mixture. Turn onto lightly floured board. Knead about 10 timed until smooth and satiny. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for about 2 hours. (If dough is refrigerated overnight, take dough out of refrigerator for 1 hour before baking.)

On floured board, with lightly floured rolling pin, roll half of the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Dust Springerle rolling pin with flour, tapping to remove excess. Slowly roll Springerle rolling pin, firmly and evenly, over surface of dough to create a clear impression. With sharp knife, cut along lines in dough to make individual cookies. With spatula, transfer cookies, 1 inch apart, to greased cookie sheet. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature, overnight to dry.

Repeat with other half of dough.

Before baking, adjust oven racks to upper and lower thirds of oven. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Place cookies on lower rack and cover upper rack with empty cookie sheet. Bake for 27 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container where you can keep them for up to six months. They are at their best about three weeks after you make them. They’re perfect for dunking in coffee.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

From “Cookies and Cakes You’ll Love” by Annaliese Griffin

Cream Cheese Cookies

I make these at Christmas using the tree shape in the cookie press and decorate them with green and red sprinkles. But you can make them for any occasion, using the press of your choice and any color of candy sprinkles.

1 cup shortening
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white beaten slightly with about 1 teaspoon water
Candy sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening and cream cheese for at least 1 minute. Add sugar and cream again until thoroughly incorporated. Add egg and mix. Add vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt, and mix. Slowly add flour, making sure all is blended well, and dough is solid, easy to mold into a log that will fit inside cookie press. If dough is too moist, add 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and more flour, up to ¼ cup. You do not want dough to get too stiff.

Press onto greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush tops with egg white mixture. Sprinkle with candy sprinkles.

Bake 8-10 minutes until a light golden color. Remove immediately to cookie rack. Let cool.

From “Cookies and Cakes You’ll Love” by Annaliese Griffin

Jumbo Raisin Cookies

Most drop cookies are dropped by the teaspoonful. Not these big beauties. Get out a tablespoon and create some jumbo snacks for the people in your family who have big appetites.

2 cups raisins
1 cup water
1 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1 cup chopped pecans or almonds

Boil raisins and water for 3 minutes. Cool.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening, then add sugar, followed by eggs and vanilla. Fold in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Add nuts and raisins. Drop by tablespoonful about 2 ½ inches apart onto greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Makes 3 ½ dozen very large cookies.

From “Cookies and Cakes You’ll Love” by Annaliese Griffin


Chocolate Amaretto Balls

This is an easy chocolate truffle that people will love because of the unbeatable addition of amaretto and almonds. These will not stay fresh longer than a few days, but they probably won’t last that long once people taste them.

18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, such as Eagle Brand
3 tablespoons amaretto
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup slivered almonds
Almonds, ground into a fine powder

In a double boiler over low heat, melt chips and sweetened condensed milk together. Remove from heat. Stir in amaretto, almond extract and nuts. Chill at least 2 hours. Shape into ¾-inch balls and roll in ground almonds.

Makes 4 dozen balls.

From “Cookies and Cakes You’ll Love” by Annaliese Griffin

Chocolate Mint Wafers

These cookies are best if you make them over the course of two days. One the first, you make the dough, which rests overnight. The next day, you’ll be ready to roll out the dough, bake the cookies and then add the mint filling. It’s not hard, but it does require patience. But the end result is worth it, if you like the combination of chocolate and mint.

2/3 cup (1 ½ sticks) margarine or butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Cream butter, sugar and egg. Add flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. Add milk to form dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake the next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough on floured board until ¼-inch thin. Cut with round cookie cutter and place on greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

After cookies are cool, take one and spread filling on it. Place another cookie on top like a sandwich.

To make filling, mix powdered sugar, cream and peppermint extract. Filling can be left white or tinted with food coloring of your choice.

Amount will vary by size of cookie cutter.

From “Cookies and Cakes You’ll Love” by Annaliese Griffin

Zimsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
Dash of salt
3 tablespoons margarine or butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts or pecans
1 egg white
Sugar sprinkles

Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream margarine and sugar well, until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolk. Add lemon juice and mix until fluffy. Add flour mixture and hazelnuts. Mix well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Before baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll dough on floured board until 1/8-inch thick. Cut with star cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Beat egg white with a fork until fluffy. Brush tops with egg white. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles. If making around the holidays, use gold, red or green for stars.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Makes 8 dozen cookies.

From “Cookies and Cakes You’ll Love” by Annaliese Griffin

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Christmas Is Coming. The Goose Is Getting Fat.

Christmas Is Coming. The Goose Is Getting Fat.

There are only a few days left until Christmas. Have you made your reservations yet for brunch or dinner? Here are some ideas for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Reservations are required at most places, unless noted. Tax and tip are not included.

Christmas ornamentBiga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 225-0700 — Christmas Eve dinner will be served from 5 to 8 p.m. Specials include open-faced BBQ lamb ravioli with Rebecca Creek goat cheese and fig relish and braised, stuffed veal breast with spinach & mushrooms, salsify and natural jus. Egg nog and Christmas crackers (the kind with paper hats) are also available.

Crumpets, 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road, (210) 821-5454 — Christmas Eve dinner is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The multi-course special includes choice of appetizer, followed by choice of soup or salad. Entrée options include Breast of Chicken with Montrachet Sauce ($34.50), Fresh Rainbow Trout – Meuniere or Amandine ($34.50), Shrimp Lyonnaise with Wild Rice Blend ($39.50), Veal with Mushroom-Cognac Sauce ($39.50), Tenderloin of Beef with Green Peppercorn Sauce or Béarnaise ($39.50) or The Trilogy (lobster tail, lamb Provencal, beef tenderloin with Rossini Sauce ($49.50). Dinner also includes dessert.

Frederick’s Restaurant, 7701 Broadway, Ste 20, (210) 828-9050 — Hours for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5:30 to 9 p.m. for dinner; Frederick’s Bistro, 14439 NW Military Hwy., Ste 100, (210) 888-1500 — Hours for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. Dinner specials at both Frederick’s restaurants include: Frederick’s Traditional Turkey ($24), Apple Cider and Maple Syrup Glazed Christmas Ham ($20), New York Strip with Jumbo Shrimp ($35), Veal Tenderloin with Shiitake Mushroom and Port Wine Sauce ($30), Norwegian Salmon with Champagne Caviar Mousseline ($28), Parmesan Crusted Fresh Red Snapper with Avocado Relish ($29), Shrimp and Scallop Lemon Butter Caper Sauce ($25), and Half Fresh Maine Lobster Thermidor ($27).

Christmas bubblesHyatt Hill Country, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive — Two options are available:

  • Christmas Brunch in Hill Country Ballroom will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Breakfast items include an omelet station and eggs Benedict. The seafood station features several types of shrimp, stone crab claws and freshly shucked oysters. At the butcher block, get oak-smoked prime rib with smoked cheddar green chili biscuits, maple-glazed ham and citrus coriander basted Tom turkey with homemade gravy. A pasta bar, pork tamales and cheese tamales with green chile sauce, fresh harvested tomato and caper crusted salmon with pickled radish tartar, and mushroom and walnut stuffing are among the other dishes. Soups, salads, desserts and more Price: $63 Adults, $45 Seniors (60+), $26 Children (6-12), Children 5 & under free. For brunch reservations, call (210) 767-7999.
  • Christmas Dinner at Antlers Lodge will be 5:30 to 10 p.m. The special dinner begins with Chef’s Amuse Bouche, followed by fall harvest salad. Braised venison shank and Texas quail with chorizo grits and roasted tomatillo salsa will be served before Texas sweet potato and apple cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream. Price is $52. The a la carte menu will also be available. For dinner reservations, call (210) 520-4001.

Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., (210) 518-1177 — The elaborate Christmas Day brunch buffet, with seatings every half hour, runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Features include pecan-smoked prime rib, Shiner Holiday Cheer brined turkey breast, bone-in ham with mustard aioli, chilled shrimp, crab claws, classic breakfast dishes including quiche Lorraine and an omelet station, sides, desserts and more. Prices: $69 for adults, $35 for children 6-12, and free for children 5 and under. The Christmas Day dinner buffet with many of the same dishes, but additions include a shrimp and grits bar, salmon with warm faro risotto and charcuterie. Hours are 5 to 8 p.m. Prices: $69.95 for adults, $35 for children 6 -12 and free for children 5 and under.

Christmas ornamentsLas Ramblas, Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., (210) 298-3040 — Three seatings for the Christmas Day brunch will be at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. The brunch will include stations of ham, seafood and turkey, a waffle and omelet station, a savory kitchen table, a pastry table and a children’s buffet. Prices are $49 for aduls, $16 for children (7-16) and free for children 6 and under.

Little Gretel, 518 River Road, Boerne, (830) 331-1368 — Christmas Eve dining begins at 5 p.m. Specials include roast goose, Jaeger Schnitzel, Wiener Schnitzel, Beer-Battered Walleye, Stuffed Pork Chop and Filet Mignon.

Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road, (210) 561-9700 — On Christmas Eve, dinner will be served from 4 to 9 p.m. The special, priced at $33.95 a person, begins with a choice of Zuppa di Zucca, Pasta Fagioli, Misto, Caprese or Caesar Salad, followed by Pesce alla Luce (Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass, Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto with Toasted Garlic Vegetables). A la carte menu also available.

Mi Tierra Restaurant and Bakery, 218 Produce Row, (210) 225-1262 — This restaurant is open 365 days a year, so that includes Christmas Day, which is appropriate since it’s always decorated for Christmas. Reservations aren’t necessary.

Omni San Antonio, 9821 Colonnade Blvd., (210) 691-8888 — The Christmas Day brunch begins at 10:30 a.m. with the last seating at 2 p.m. The menu includes Applewood Smoked Bacon, Herbed Chicken Sausage, Eggs Benedict and Omelet Station, Pan Dulce, Latin American Sweet Breads, Salads and Cheese Display, imported and domestic cured meats, salads, Whole Wildflower Honey Roasted Hog, Pozole, Poached Cod Fish with Cilantro Lime Béchamel, Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Beef Medallions with Chimichurri, Green Bean Almandine, Garlic Butter Whipped Potatoes, Oven Roasted Prime Rib of Beef, Herb Crusted Leg of Lamb with Mint Jelly, Seafood Display and desserts. Prices: Adults $50, seniors (65+) $43, children (5-11) $21, and children under 5 free.

Christmas nutcrackerOstra at the Mokara Hotel, 212 W. Crockett St., (210) 396-5817 — On Christmas Day, a breakfast buffet with omelet station will be served 6:30 a.m. to noon. Price: $19.95 for adults, $9.95 for children 6 -12, free for children 5 and under. À la carte dining at featured menu prices also available. A 3-course pre-set dinner menu will be served from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Prices: $65 for adults, $30 for children 6 -12, and free for children 5 and under.

Q Kitchen | Bar, Hyatt Regency San Antonio, 123 Losoya St., (210) 510-4477 — The Christmas Day Brunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Features include a seafood and antipasto display, Brazos Valley cheeses, salads, soups and desserts. The carving stations include peppercorn-crusted prime rib, glazed roast of pork with Rebecca Creek Fuji Apple Compote. The Great Wall of Fire will include bourbon-braised beef short ribs, crab-crusted rainbow trout, Broken Arrow Ranch wild game paella and chicken roulade. Prices: Adults $46, children (4-12) $23. Complimentary Champagne Toast.

Texas Roadhouse, various locations — Christmas Eve hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Tre Trattoria, 4003 Broadway, (210) 805-0333 — There is a five-course prix fixe dinner for $39.95 a person. Entree choices include Braised Beef Short Ribs with Sweet Potato “Mashers” and Pearl Onions ($5 supplement), Grilled Rainbow Trout with Brown Butter Spaetzle and Chopped Kale Salsa Verde, or “Cast Iron” Seared Pork Loin with Braised Greens, Crispy Pancetta and Huckleberry Jam.

20nine, 255 E. Basse Road, (210) 798 -WINE (9463) — Christmas Day dinner will be served 2 to 8 p.m. The dinner begins with a choice of Mixed Greens, Caesar Salad or Butternut Squash Soup. Entrée choices: Confit Turkey Leg, Filet Mignon and Veal Meatloaf, Pork Porterhouse or Rockfish. Dessert choices: Crumble Cobbler Bar, Napoleon Apple Pie or Gingerbread with Streusel, Vanilla Ice Cream and Egg Nog Anglaise. The price is $35 a person.

Umai Mi, 555 W. Bitters Road, (210) 496-0555 — A three-course prix fixe dinner is offered for $30. Main course options include Duck Confit, Umai Mi Bomb Wagyu Steak ($12 surcharge, served medium rare), and Squid.

If you wish to add a restaurant to this list, email or




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Lessons Learned from the Annual Burger Brawl

Lessons Learned from the Annual Burger Brawl

burger brawlStuck in a burger rut? You won’t be if you try some of the ingenious specialty burgers served up Saturday at The Point Park and Eats, 24188 Boerne Stage Road, during the second annual Burger Brawl.

The six entries, from a broad variety of food trucks, offered bold flavors that played on favorite tastes and offered new combinations.

Scratch's Mushroom Gouda Burger

Scratch Bistro’s Mushroom Gouda Burger

In the end, the judges’ choice was for Scratch Bistro’s Mushroom Gouda Burger, which featured an Akaushi patty topped with mushrooms, smoked gouda, tomato jam, bibb lettuce and a spicy Dijon aioli on a handmade brioche bun. So many exciting features on this burger, such as the tomato jam as a ketchup substitute. But the real star was the patty itself, with a nice char on the outside and juicy, beefy richness at the center.

Gilbo's Grill's Saucey Baucey

Gilbo’s Grill’s Saucey Baucey

The fan favorite was from Gilbo’s Grill. The Saucey Baucey was a kind of gourmet version of the Big Mac with its double meat, double American cheese with the Original G sauce, lettuce, pickle and caramelized onion finishing off the burger in high style.

Big Guido's Cosa Nostra Burger

Big Guido’s Cosa Nostra Burger

There were no bad burgers in the lot, so choosing was not entirely easy. Praise could be make for Big Guido’s Costa Nostra Burger with ham, salami, prosciutto, pepperoni and roasted red peppers melted on top of a burger patty with plenty of mozzarella and the tang of an Italian vinaigrette.

Dixieland BBQ's Hillbilly Heritage Burger

Dixieland BBQ’s Hillbilly Heritage Burger

Or Dixieland BBQ’s Hillbilly Heritage Burger with a smoked patty smothered in pimento cheese, bacon and a generous smear of spicy chow-chow.

Crazy Carl's The Luther

Crazy Carl’s The Luther

Crazy Carl’s The Luther featured Angus beef smashed on the grill with bacon and American cheese all sandwiched between a grilled glazed donut as the bun.

The Melting Point's Grilla Zilla

The Melting Point’s Grilla Zilla

And finally, there was the Melting Point’s Grill Zilla, which used two grilled cheese sandwiches as the bun with the beef patty, grilled onions and pepper Jack cheese all tucked nicely inside.

The Point Park and Eats is home to the Burger Brawl.

The Point Park and Eats is home to the Burger Brawl.

So, take a tip or three from these burger beauties and dress your own accordingly. Your burger — and your belly — will thank you.

The Point Park and Eats is on Boerne Stage Road.

The Point Park and Eats is on Boerne Stage Road.



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Panna Cotta Pie Is Almost Too Easy to Make

Panna Cotta Pie Is Almost Too Easy to Make

The silky elegance of panna cotta has been framed in a pie crust in this way-too-easy recipe from the Culinary Institute of America’s new “Pies and Tarts” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $29.99), written by Kristina Peterson Migoya.

Panna Cotta Pie

Panna Cotta Pie

It’s also easy to adapt to the season. The recipe, as it appears in the cookbook, is crowned with strawberries in a balsamic dressing, perfect for the spring, when the berries are at their ripest. I used crushed candy canes to top it, giving it a more Christmas touch. (Just beware and don’t top any portion that you won’t be serving immediately. The crushed candy canes liquified until a minty red pool on the top of the pie.)

The cookbook also suggests a handmade graham cracker crust, but I used a store-bought one, and no one minded. They were too busy enjoying the taste of sweetened cream. You will, too.

Panna Cotta Pie

2 tablespoons cool water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3 cups heavy cream, divided use
1/2 cup sugar
1 (9-inch) graham cracker pie crust

Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the powdered gelatin on top. Whisk to combine. Set aside to bloom the gelatin, about 10 minutes, or until the gelatin has absorbed all of the water.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the heavy cream with sugar, stirring continuously over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Set aside.

Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream in a medium stainless-steel bowl. Add the gelatin to the cream and gently whisk until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the reserved hot cream and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to cool until it registers 85 to 90 degrees on a candy thermometer and appears slightly lumpy.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Smooth and level the filling with an offset spatula. Immediately refrigerate the pie, chilling it for at least 4 hours until set.

Serve with the topping of your choice.

Makes 1 pie.

Adapted from “Pies and Tarts” by Kristina Peterson Migoya



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Let’s Raise a Toast to National Repeal Day

Let’s Raise a Toast to National Repeal Day

National Repeal Day, the day Prohibition ended, is celebrated each year on Dec. 5. It may not be as widely known as Christmas, but it’s worth raising a glass or two in recognition of our liquid freedom.

A Boulevardier at Biga on the Banks.

A Boulevardier at Biga on the Banks.

This year, I’ll be drinking a Boulevardier.

Never heard of it? Don’t worry. Not too many bartenders in San Antonio have either, even at a couple of our tonier watering holes.

But it’s a simple recipe because it’s the bourbon version of my summertime favorite, the Negroni. You simply stir bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari with some ice. Garnish with lemon or orange peel. Drink. Repeat — if you have a designated driver.

Don’t have any fresh vermouth or Campari on hand? Or you simply don’t want to bother making one yourself? Head to the Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave., where the bartenders know exactly what a Boulevardier is and how to make one that’ll cause your toes to curl in delight. I also had an excellent version at Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., recently.

I know that not everyone’s a Campari fan, so here are a couple of other bourbon drinks to keep you warm this National Repeal Day and all winter long.

The Boulevardier

1 1/2 parts bourbon
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Campari
Orange or lemon peel for garnish

In an ice-filled rocks glass, add bourbon, vermouth and Campari. Stir vigorously until drink is cold. Twist an orange or lemon peel over the top. Stir once more. Garnish with peel.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From John Griffin

Kentucky Corpse Reviver

This cocktail, meant to tame the hair of the dog on the morning after, is another variation on a gin classic. And that’s OK with us.

1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Lillet Blanc
Thinly sliced lemon for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, Cointreau, lemon juice and Lillet Blanc.

Shake until your cocktail forms a nice frost on the exterior.

Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe or wine glass. Top with the lemon and enjoy.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “The Cocktail Club” by Maureen Christian-Petrosky


This cocktail is a favorite in the West Indies, according to “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” a bible among cocktail aficionados. It’s also as easy to make for 20 as it is for one.

2 parts bourbon
2 parts dry vermouth
2 parts sweet vermouth

Pour into a shaker half full of cracked ice. Shake well and serve.

Adapted from “The Savoy Cocktail Book”

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Nao Heads for the Amazon

Nao Heads for the Amazon

The flavors of the Amazon are being featured at Nao.

The flavors of the Amazon are being featured at Nao.

Take a culinary adventure down the Amazon River. Nao, the Culinary Institute of America’s restaurant at the Pearl Brewery, 312 Pearl Parkway, is featuring the flavors of the Amazon from Dec. 2 to Jan. 26.

“The vast region known as the Amazon encompasses 40 percent of South America,” a release from the school says. “Its jungle and unique treasures are integral to the health of our planet. Also found there are the flavors and diverse culinary traditions that make Amazonian food so exciting. From chayote to açai and from papaya to Brazil nuts, our tribute to the flavors of the Amazon awaits you at Nao!”

Featured dishes include Xuxu Salad, which is made with chayote; Moqueca di Peixe, a seafood stew; and Creme de Papay con Açai, a fruit pudding.

For reservations or more information, call 210-554-6484.


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