Planning to serve something bubbly during your holiday get-together? A great bottle of Champagne is never snubbed, but sparkling cocktails are a fun break from the traditional flute-and-effervescent libation.
GINGERED LIMON SPUMANTI (pictured)
When to serve it: When you’re wearing your fancy pants.
Where to order it: Osteria Mazzantini, 2200 Post Oak Blvd., 713-993-9898
Comment: Osteria Mazzantini’s Kimberly Paul can teach you how to make a six-foot lemon peel curl. Well, maybe not six feet, but she did produce some of the longest, curliest citrus rinds I’ve ever seen when we set up the photo shoot of this drink. This is an easy-to-prepare cocktail to keep in mind when you’re hosting a large gathering and want to have cocktails ready to serve upon your guests’ arrival.
- 1 oz. limoncello (click here for Kimberly’s easy limoncello recipe)
- ½ oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur
METHOD: Sugar the rim of a Champagne flute or coupe glass. Pour the limoncello and ginger liqueur into the sugared glass and then top off with Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon wheel or curl of lemon peel.
When to serve it: Let’s not mince words: The Furlough is a great drink to serve friends who actually enjoy heated political debates. The Rush Limbaugh and Hillary Clinton of your party challenge each other and the other guests sit back and watch the performance unfold. But you know those two old college pals live for this moment, and soon the subject matter will evolve to the rescue dog she just adopted and his recent participation in a 5K.
Where to order it: Gratifi Kitchen + Bar, 302 Fairview, 832-203-5950
Comment: Gratifi promoted their Furlough cocktail on social media platforms during this fall’s government shutdown, but they are happy to recreate it upon request: Molasses, whisky, lemon simple syrup and Angostura bitters are shaken together with ice and strained into brandy snifters. Top with Cava or Champagne and add the optional maraschino cherry garnish.
When to serve it: Hosting your landman buddies and oil tycoons this holiday season? Even if your New Year’s Eve guests don’t include wildcatters, this pink drink will be well received by loud and proud natives.
Where to order it: Brasserie 19, 1962 W. Gray, 713-524-1919
Comment: The original Texas Fizz didn’t call for the topper of Champagne; instead, soda water was used. In 1936, savvy Parisian bartenders began substituting bubbly for soda water to make the Texas Fizz more appealing to high-end consumers. Rich taste and enthusiastic spending made it attractive to wealthy travelers – namely Texans – who had made their fortune back home in the oil patch.
Read about all seven sparkling-wine cocktails in the December 2013-January 2014 issue of My Table magazine, now on newsstands or available digitally December 1.
Photo by Kevin McGowan.
It just wouldn’t be December without the fragrance of cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon wafting from the kitchen. Local pastry chefs Michael Savino, Vanessa O’Donnell and Shannen Tune share their secrets for blissful gingerbread treats, from artful gingerbread man cookies to decadent gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to gingerbread waffles with rum-kissed blueberries and cinnamon whipped cream.
MICHAEL’S COOKIE JAR’S GINGERBREAD COOKIES
Michael Savino says he got this recipe from a “crusty” (no pun intended) old German chef 20 years ago. Note that the dough is very soft so it must be chilled overnight to firm up.
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- pinch of white pepper
- 6 cups flour
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz. butter (2 sticks)
- 5 whole eggs
- 3 Tbsp. molasses
METHOD: Have all ingredients at room temperature. Measure all dry ingredients except sugars and sift together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a mixer with a paddle, cream together sugars and butter until well blended on low-medium speed. Scrape the bowl well. Slowly add eggs on low-medium speed until blended for 1 minute and then blend in molasses. Turn off mixer to add dry ingredients then mix on low until dry ingredients are incorporated, about one minute. Wrap dough in plastic and chill overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the chilled dough into four portions and roll out one portion on a floured surface. Refrigerate the rest of the dough. Cut out shapes and place cookies on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Continue the same process with the next three portions. Bake for 7 minutes and then rotate pans. Continue baking until the cookies are light golden brown. Cool completely and decorate with desired icing and candies. Yield: 5 dozen cookies
OOH LA LA GINGERBREAD CUPCAKES
These easy cupcakes by Vanessa O’Donnell are also delicious served warm without the cream cheese frosting. Think of them as holiday muffins.
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
METHOD: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 10 jumbo muffin tins with paper cupcake liners, set aside. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, spices, salt and baking powder; set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Mix in brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in molasses, baking soda-water mixture and flour mixture. Beat in eggs.
Pour cupcake batter into cupcake liners, filling each three-quarters full. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. Frost with cream cheese icing (recipe below) Yield: 10 cupcakes
CREAM CHEESE ICING
- 6 oz. unsalted butter
- 6 oz. plus 1 lb. powdered sugar, divided
- ½ tsp. of vanilla extract
- ½ lb. Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
METHOD: Beat butter in mixer bowl with paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add 6 oz. powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mix until smooth. Beat in cream cheese until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add 1 lb. powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix until smooth. Yield: enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes
HOTEL DEREK’S GINGERBREAD BELGIUM WAFFLES
Chef Shannen Tune has been executive chef at Hotel Derek since last spring – he came from the Driskill Hotel in Austin – and these fragrant waffles have become one of his most popular menu items. They would be perfect for a holiday brunch.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (just eyeball it, says the chef)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some extra to butter the waffle iron
METHOD: Preheat waffle iron. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Do not over-stir the waffle batter. Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook 4 waffles, 4 sections each. Serve with spiced rum blueberries (recipe below), cinnamon whipped cream (recipe below) or the toppings of your choice. Yield: 4 servings
SPICED RUM BLUEBERRIES
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ cup spiced rum
- 1 12-oz. bag or carton fresh blueberries
METHOD: In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. When the sugar has dissolved, add the spiced rum and cook for another minute. Gently stir in the blueberries. Cook until the berries are heated through but still retain their shape, 3 to 4 minutes.
CINNAMON WHIPPED CREAM
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
METHOD: Combine the whipping cream, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whip until medium soft peaks form. Transfer the whipping cream to a serving dish.
This article is a web-exclusive feature of the December 2013-January 2014 issue of My Table magazine, now on newsstands or available digitally December 1.