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These 5 punch and small-bite combos will have you party-ready for every holiday festivity

These 5 punch and small-bite combos will have you party-ready for every holiday festivity
December 2019

Holiday party recipes from Charleston food-and-bev pros

“On Hanukkah, we celebrate the miracle that a one-day supply of oil burned for eight by preparing lots of fried foods, like these latkes, as well as jelly-stuffed donuts.”—Michael Shemtov


Mint Iced Tea & Potato & Zucchini Latkes with Apple Cider Crème Fraiche & Caviar
Melody and Michael Shemtov of Butcher & Bee and The Daily celebrate the Festival of Lights with a tea punch sans spirits and latkes made grand with caviar and seasoned crème fraiche

Mint Iced Tea

(Makes 12 four-oz. cups)

1 gal. water, divided
15 mint tea bags, Rishi Organic Green Mint
Tea preferred

Optional additions while steeping: fresh peppermint, cardamom, spearmint, lemongrass, or rosemary
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup wildflower honey
2 lemons, sliced
Springs of fresh mint for garnish

Bring two quarts of water to a boil in a large nonreactive pot. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat and add the tea bags, slices from one of the lemons, and fresh herbs and spices, if using. Let steep for five minutes. Do not over-steep or you will extract bitter flavors from the tea and herbs.

Strain into a large container, making sure not to press down on the tea bags. Add two quarts of cold water to help prevent the tea from getting overly cloudy. Refrigerate.

Serve over an ice ring laced with fresh pomegranate seeds. Garnish with slices from the second lemon and sprigs of fresh mint.


Potato & Zucchini Latkes with Apple Cider Crème Fraiche & Caviar

(Makes 20 latkes/Serves 8-10)

For the apple crème fraiche:

1½ cups (12 fl. oz.) crème fraiche
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup minced chives

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate to firm up until ready to serve. Covered, it will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days.

For the potato & zucchini latkes:

1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
1 lb. zucchini, ends trimmed
1/2 lb. sweet onion, such as Vidalia or yellow, peeled
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly whisked
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
Vegetable or grapeseed oil
Flake salt
2 oz. jar of caviar
1/4 cup minced chives

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with paper towels.

Using the large-holed side of a box grater, grate the potatoes, zucchini, and onion into a medium bowl. Toss with the salt and let set for 15 minutes. Take a bit of the mixture at a time and squeeze out as much water as possible. Place in a dry bowl and repeat with the rest of mixture.

Pour the egg over the vegetables and mix. Add the cornstarch, baking powder, and ground pepper and mix to combine.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet (about 1/4 cup). Working in batches, use a large tablespoon to scoop out the latke mix, about the size of a silver dollar. Slowly slide into the oil and flatten it with the back of a spoon. Continue to do this until the skillet is full but not overcrowded.

Cook the latkes on one side until browned and crispy, about three minutes. Carefully flip them over and cook until the other side is browned and crispy, another two to three minutes. Transfer the latkes from the skillet to the prepared baking sheets and place them in the oven to keep warm while cooking the rest.

Repeat with the remaining mixture, adding oil to the skillet if necessary. Sprinkle lightly with flake salt.

To serve:

Place a small dollop of the apple cider crème fraiche in the center of each latke. Using a plastic or other nonreactive spoon, place 1/4 teaspoon of caviar on top of each latke. Sprinkle with minced chives to garnish.


“Sharing great food and drink with guests around the table at home and at Babas is what truly gives us joy in life.
So the holidays are our favorite time, because no one needs an excuse to get together.” —Edward Crouse

Christmas Eve

Campari Punch & Fancy Eggs

Edward Crouse and Marie Stitt of European-style café Babas on Cannon serve up a refreshing punch that’s low in alcohol paired with a sophisticated protein—the perfect combo for guests heading on to Midnight Mass

Campari Punch

(Makes 20 punch cup servings or 10 in ice-filled collins glasses)

Note: Make the orange oleo-saccharum at least 72 hours in advance of making the punch.

3 cups (24 oz.) Campari
2 cups (16 oz.) cold brewed or hot brewed then chilled Assam or other breakfast tea
3 cups (24 oz.) pomegranate juice
1½ cups (12 oz.) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (8 oz.) Demerara syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) orange oleo-saccharum (recipe follows)
16 drops orange blossom water
5 cups (40 oz.) chilled club soda (or chilled
Champagne for a boozier option)

Combine all of the ingredients except the soda or Champagne in a big container, cover, and refrigerate until cold. When it’s time to serve, combine the mixture with the soda or Champagne and serve over ice in cocktail glasses.

To serve in a punch bowl, use the biggest, fanciest ice you can muster, such as an ice ring. To make, fill a couple of Bundt pans with water and add your choice of sliced fruit, herbs, and pomegranate seeds. Place in the freezer until solid. Remove one from its pan and float it in the punch. When it melts and starts to look unappealing, switch it out with the second ring.

For the Demerara syrup:

3/4 cup Demerara sugar
2/3 cup boiling water

Combine and stir to mix well.

For the orange oleo-saccharum:

10 oranges, washed well
1 cup sugar

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest, but not the white pith, from the oranges. (Squeeze the peeled oranges and save the juice to drink by itself or in mimosas.) Put the zest and the sugar in a nonreactive bowl or jar and stir or shake to combine. Cover and leave on the counter. Give it a stir or shake whenever you think about it until the sugar is dissolved. This should take about 72 hours. (If some sugar granules remain, they’ll dissolve in the finished drink.) Remove the peels and refrigerate the syrup for up to one week.


Babas Fancy Eggs

(Serves 10)

10 fresh farm eggs
2 yolks
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ cups canola oil
4 oz. smoked trout roe

To soft boil the eggs:

Let the eggs come to room temperature. Prick a hole in the larger end of each egg with a thumbtack or safety pin to make for easier peeling. Bring a heavy-bottomed six-quart or larger pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the eggs, reduce the heat to medium, and bring the water to a steady simmer. Cook the eggs for eight minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and run cold water over them until they are cool to the touch. Peel the eggs. Tightly covered, the peeled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.

To make the mayonnaise:

Combine the yolks, mustard, vinegar, and salt in a food processor or blender on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and steadily pour a few drops of oil at a time into the mixture with the machine running. After 1/4 cup of the oil is incorporated, add the oil in a steady thin stream until all is incorporated. Refrigerate.

To serve:

Cut 1/16th inch off of the top and bottom of the eggs so when cut in half they won’t fall over. Using a very clean paring knife, cut each egg in half laterally (not lengthwise), which provides for a clean and symmetric plating. Using a spoon or piping bag, place a teaspoon-sized dot of mayonnaise on each egg, slightly off center so the yolk is still visible. Using a plastic or other nonreactive spoon, mound about a teaspoon of roe next to the mayonnaise. Arrange the eggs on a plate or platter and serve immediately.


“We traditionally make a big batch of my husband John’s eggnog. It keeps the party going as we’re never without friends, family, and neighbors popping in for some holiday cheer.” —Carrie Morey

Christmas Brunch

Eggnog-topped Irish Coffee & Callie’s Cinnamon Stickies

Carrie Morey of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits always serves husband John’s decadent eggnog on Christmas Eve, making sure there’s plenty to top Irish coffee for Christmas brunch, which she accompanies with her scrumptious stickies

Eggnog-topped Irish Coffee

(Makes 4-6 servings)

1 qt. water
4-5 Tbs. dark roast coffee beans
Pinch kosher salt
Premium Irish Whiskey, Redbreast preferred
John’s Eggnog (recipe follows)
Ground cinnamon

Bring the water to a boil. Grind the coffee beans and place in a French press. Add the salt. Pour in the boiling water and brew for four minutes. Gently push down on the plunger until it reaches the bottom of the vessel. Pour into mugs and add one jigger of whiskey per cup of coffee. Top the coffee with a generous dollop of eggnog and a dusting of cinnamon.

John’s Eggnog

(Makes 12-14 servings)

12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
12 egg whites
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup bourbon
1 cup rum

Whisk the yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl. Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed while gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form; this will take a couple of minutes. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture until combined. Slowly add in the milk, cream, bourbon, and rum and stir until well combined. Chill. Stir again before serving.

Callie’s Cinnamon Stickies

(Makes 10-12)

For the topping:

1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.

For the stickies:

2 cups self-rising flour, White Lily preferred, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
14 Tbs. (1¾ sticks) butter, divided: 

8 Tbs. cut into cubes and kept at room temperature and 6 Tbs. melted 1/4 cup (2 oz.) cream cheese, brought to room temperature 3/4 cup whole buttermilk, plus 1 Tbs. if needed (may substitute low-fat)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and flour the paper generously.

Place two cups of flour in a large bowl. Mix in the two sugars. Incorporate the cubed butter and then the cream cheese into the flour, using your fingers to “cut in” the butter and cream cheese until mixture resembles chunky cottage cheese.

Make a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and, using your hands or a small rubber spatula, mix the flour into the buttermilk. The dough will be wet and messy.

Sprinkle flour on the dough and turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet. Press into a rectangle. Flour the top generously and roll out into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Use a pastry brush to remove excess flour from the top of the dough. Then brush the top with four tablespoons of the melted butter. Sprinkle two-thirds of the topping over the dough.

With well-floured hands and working from the long side, use the parchment paper to lift and roll the dough into a log. Smooth the dough, and freeze it for 45 minutes on the baking sheet.

While the log is freezing, preheat the oven to 500°F. Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Trim the ends of the log and cut it into 1/2-inch-thick slices using a serrated knife. (Flouring the knife will help keep the dough from sticking.) Lay the slices flat on the prepared baking sheet. Brush them with the remaining two tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining third of the topping.

Place the stickies in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan once, until golden brown. Serve warm.

You can make, shape, cut, and top the stickies the night before and refrigerate them to bake in the morning.


“Saint Cecilia punch and cheese straws with a spicy kick are our go-to cocktail hour holiday fare. We make sure to place them front and center so they’re visible as soon as guests step in the door.” —Ted Lee

New Year’s Eve

St. Cecilia Society Punch & Cheese Straws

Brothers and cookbook authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee deliver old Charleston hospitality with this venerable punch—a mildly potent tipple of brandy, rum, tea, and bubbles—along with an ever-popular nibble

St. Cecilia Society Punch

(Makes 3½ quarts, enough for 10 people to have two drinks)

2 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger (about one two-inch-long piece)
2 lemons, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
3 ripe peaches, skins on, sliced 1/4-inch thick or 15 oz. can Del Monte peaches in syrup, drained and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 cups brandy
3/4 cup dark rum, such as Mount Gay or Barbancourt
1 small ripe pineapple (about 3 to 3½ lbs.)
3 cups cold, strongly brewed Lee Bros. Sweet Tea (recipe follows)
1 bottle chilled Champagne or sparkling wine
1 qt. chilled seltzer water or club soda
1 round block of ice, made by freezing water in a 4½-cup ring mold or a 6-cup bowl

Wrap the ginger in a piece of cheesecloth or a strong paper towel folded like an envelope and seal with string or a large paper clip. Place it with the lemons and peaches at the bottom of a two-quart bowl. Pour the brandy and rum into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and steep in the refrigerator for at least two hours, twice that if possible.

When ready to serve, discard the ginger and peaches and transfer the lemons, brandy, and rum mixture to a six-quart punch bowl.

With a sharp knife, trim the ends of the pineapple, carefully slice off the rind, and cut it in half lengthwise. Cut the core out of each side, slice each half crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half moons, and add them to the bowl. Pour the chilled sweet iced tea, Champagne, and seltzer into the bowl and float the ice ring in the punch. Ladle into punch glasses or teacups and serve.

For the sweet tea:

(Makes about 1½ quarts)

6 cups (1½ qts.) cold water, divided, plus more to taste
6 bags orange pekoe tea or 2 rounded Tbs. loose black tea, such as Lipton
1/2 cup sugar

Pour three cups of the water into a kettle and bring to a boil over high heat.

Strip the paper tags from the tea bags, gather the strings together, and knot them around the handle of a ladle or long-handled spoon. Place the ladle and bags in a heatproof two-quart pitcher (if using loose tea, simply put the tea in the pitcher). Pour the hot water into the pitcher and let steep 10 minutes.

Remove the tea bags (don’t squeeze them!) or if using loose tea, pass the concentrate through a strainer into another vessel and return the tea to the pitcher (discard the leaves). Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour in the remaining three cups of water, or more to taste. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill.

Cheese Straws

(Makes 30 straws)

1½ cups (about 4 oz.) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened and cut into four pieces
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt, and red pepper flakes in a food processor and process in five, five-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-by-10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into long, thin strips, 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide. (Dipping the knife or pizza cutter in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut.)

Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving at least 1/4 inch between them. The dough will sag and may break in the transfer, but don’t be concerned—just do your best. The straws can be any length, from two to 10 inches.

Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature. In a sealed container, the cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator for two days.

“These Hoppin’ John cakes are a fun way of continuing this New Year’s Day tradition. Topping them with collard greens brings it all together.” — Kevin Mitchell

New Year’s Brunch

Bloody Marys & Hoppin’ John Cakes with Spicy Collards

Culinary Institute of Charleston chef instructor Kevin Mitchell presents the holiday’s traditional dishes for good luck and prosperity in a toothsome, flavorful cake topped with collards

Homemade Bloody Marys

(Makes 8 drinks)

4 cups chilled tomato juice or V8
1 cup chilled quality vodka, Dixie Black Pepper Vodka preferred
1 cup chilled sherry vinegar
1 rib celery, peeled
1 shallot, cut in half
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. hot sauce, Tabasco preferred
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs. kosher salt
Bulls Bay Red Mash Sea Salt to garnish rim of glass, optional
Pickled okra and shrimp for garnish

Combine the tomato juice, vodka, vinegar, celery, shallot, fennel seeds, paprika, hot sauce, lemon juice, and salt in a blender and blend until completely smooth.

To rim the glasses with the Bulls Bay salt, rub the outer rim with a cut lemon. Place the salt on a small plate. Tip the wet outer rim of the glass into the salt at about a 45-degree angle, making sure not to get the salt inside the glass. Let dry for a couple of minutes before adding the ice and bloody mary mix. Garnish with the shrimp and okra.

Hoppin’ John Cakes with Spicy Collards

(Makes 10 four-oz. cakes)

1 Tbs. vegetable oil, plus more for frying
4 oz. bacon, chopped
1½ cups minced onion
1 cup peeled and minced celery
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1½ cups cooked black-eyed peas
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 eggs, beaten
3 cups panko bread crumbs
2 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 Tbs. black pepper, plus more for seasoning
3 Tbs. water
1/2 cup benne seeds
Spicy collards (recipe follows)
1 cup diced red bell peppers for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon has browned, about five minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about five minutes. Add the celery and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional three minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains become translucent, about two minutes.

Add the stock a half a cup at a time and cook, stirring frequently, until all of the liquid is absorbed and rice is just al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate.

Once chilled, add the thyme, parsley, and Tabasco and combine well. Divide the mixture into 10 balls and pat into cakes. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Place the flour, eggs, and panko in three separate shallow dishes. Combine two tablespoons of salt and one tablespoon of black pepper with the flour and mix well. Whisk the water into the eggs. Add the benne seeds to the panko and mix well. Dredge the cakes in the flour. Tap off any excess, then dredge them in the egg wash. Shake off any excess and roll in the panko mixture. Place them on the parchment paperlined baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line another rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

Put approximately three inches of vegetable oil in a large pot (you want enough oil to cover the cakes). Heat to 350°F over medium heat. Working in two batches, fry the cakes for five to eight minutes, until hot on the inside and golden brown on the outside. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while frying the rest. Place about one to two tablespoons of collards on top, garnish with diced red bell peppers, and serve.

The cakes can be prepared and then frozen for about a month. Thaw in the refrigerator before frying.

For the spicy collards:

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 oz. applewood smoked bacon, diced
3 cups chopped yellow onions
2 Tbs. minced shallot
4 oz. bourbon
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 lb. collard greens, stems removed and leaves cut into one-inch pieces
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 pinches red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about five minutes. Add the shallots and cook until just fragrant, two to three minutes. Add the bourbon and allow the alcohol to cook out, about two minutes. Add the red bell peppers and cook for one minute. Stir in the collard greens and cook until they start to wilt. Add the stock and red pepper flakes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the collards are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain well before putting on the cakes. Any leftover collards can be used in a frittata or soup.


Prop Styling by Angela Hall - Food Styling by John Ondo