Kolaches are to Houston what donuts are to LA—sweet, soft, clouds produced by small street-corner shops, filled with fruit, studded with garlic and jalapeños, covered in sprinkles, or dripping with bacon and chocolate. As Central Texans are not adverse to lining up for food, early morning queues form in front of B-Jo’s Czech Bakery, Revival, Kolache Factory and Pat’s Donuts for yeasty, just-out-of-the-oven buns.
You might ask, “Why Kolaches in Houston?”—it’s the Czechs again. During the mid to late 19th century, immigrants from Czechoslavakia settled in Central and Southern Texas, now known as the “Czech Belt“, and along with dumplings and sausage, they brought Kolaches and polka bands. The Czech people and their culture mingled with Texas and Mexico and within a generation, polka bands had a guitar twang in the oompa and jalapeños in the Kolaches.
I would no more make Kolaches at home than I would crank up a donut machine, so in lieu of a kolache recipe, here’s a great one for coleslaw from an Austin barbecue joint, The Salt Lick, known not only for its top quality smoked brisket and sides but for its top quality waiting area.
Coleslaw recipe from “The Salt Lick Cookbook, A Story of Land, Family, and Love”
“Dousing the cabbage with mayonnaise wasn’t an option for settlers when they were traveling west in wagon trains. They had to use ingredients that wouldn’t spoil. We wanted to stay as true as possible to how my family originally made coleslaw.
The key to this coleslaw is to mix and serve it fresh. Over time, the vinegar pulls juices from the cabbage, changing the texture, taste, and bite. At the restaurant, we don’t make a batch of coleslaw until the first customer of the day has walked in the door. And we don’t make another batch until the first tray is more than one quarter empty. That way we’re constantly serving this classic salad at its absolute best.”
Salt Lick vinegar mix:
- 1 ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/8 cup salt
- 1/8 tsp. white pepper
- 1 head shredded cabbage
- 1/8 cup vegetable oil
- Pinch celery seed
- 1 ounce sesame seeds, popped (toasted)
- ½ cup Salt Lick vinegar mix (above)
For the Salt Lick vinegar mix: Place vinegar in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. While vinegar is boiling, slowly add sugar and salt, stirring constantly until dissolved. Turn off heat. In mixing bowl, place white pepper. Slowly pour vinegar mixture into white pepper while whisking, and mix well. Cover.
For the coleslaw: Place cabbage in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle oil over top and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle celery seed and sesame seeds over top of cabbage, and mix thoroughly. Add Salt Lick vinegar mix, and combine well. Place in serving bowl, scrape all remaining seeds and dressing from mixing bowl, and add to serving bowl. Serve immediately because coleslaw is best served while cabbage is crisp and crunchy.
Note: This mixture can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours prior to making coleslaw. Be sure to mix well and have pepper in suspension prior to using in coleslaw dish.”