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You’re done with all the surfing, shopping and wrapping.  Now it is time to put your feet up with your family and relax with a capital “R”.  I can’t think of a better way to chill than to pick up some great wines, prepare some easy appetizers and sit by the fire with Bing Crosby singing I’m dreaming of a White Christmas in the background.  We asked some of our favorite chefs and wine connoisseurs to give us their best ideas for doing just that, and we think you’ll love what they’ve shared.  If you haven’t finished your shopping, go ahead and chill anyway. It will be there waiting for you tomorrow!

Kevin Ramquist, Chef de Cuisine, F. Scott’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar

Crostini with Goat Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Fig Jam
1 baguette cut into ¼ inch slices
2 TBL melted butter
1 8-oz. log of  goat cheese
10 roma tomatoes
1 jar of fig jam
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Method of Preparation


Melt Butter in pan, toast the baguette slices in a pan on the stove over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides; set aside.

Goat Cheese

Take goat cheese out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temp for about one hour.  Cut the corner off of the packaging so you can easily squeeze the goat cheese out.

Roasted Tomatoes (You may also purchase prepared roasted or marinated tomatoes.)

Cut the roma tomatoes in half and drizzle with olive oil; salt and pepper and roast at 220 degrees for 6 to 8 hours until tomatoes lose about half their volume. Let cool.


To assemble, spread the fig jam on the Crostini, then squeeze goat cheese on top of that, and top with a quarter of the cooled tomato.

Note: At F.Scott’s we use crispy fried polenta instead of the Crostini.  (If you would like to try this at home they sell pre-made polenta at the grocery store in a log form. Slice polenta a quarter of an inch thick and quarter that slice; in a heavy-bottomed pan pour canola or other oil to about half an inch up the side of the pan; fry over medium high heat until golden brown and crispy.)

Crostini means “little toasts” in Italian

Chef Jeremy Barlow, Tayst Restaurant (photo credit:John Schweikert)

Divine Holiday Cheese Puffs

These amazingly light and flavorful cheese puffs are a simple combination of the light pastry dough pate a choux and your favorite cheddar cheese. My current favorite is the Sweetwater White Cheddar from the Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia, Tennessee, but any strong cheddar will do. First you make the pate a choux:

2 cups water
2 sticks butter
2.75 cups bread flour
1 TBL salt
2 cups beaten eggs, about 8

Preheat oven to 375. Then melt the butter in water in a large pot. Add the flour and salt until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the pot. Move the dough to a stand mixer, use paddle attachment and as dough cools, add eggs a little at a time.

Next mix the dough with shredded cheddar at a ratio of 1 to 1, so 1 cup of the dough to 1 cup of cheddar. Mix lightly with your fingers until just blended. Scoop into small balls and bake at 375 until brown and crispy – start checking at 15 minutes. These are delicious warm or at room temperature, and you can mix in finely chopped ham, seasoned ground beef or other savory meat for a heavier appetizer.

Cocktails, Wines and Bubbly!

One of our favorite readers, Barbara Keith Payne submitted this cocktail for your holiday enjoyment.  She is a lucky girl – her husband Richard, owner of the Wine Chap in Belle Meade, whipped this up for her since she’s a devotee of White Russians. (Note to reader: it’s midnight, the night before I am going to New York with my family, and I need another photo.  When I googled “white russians” to find a picture, this is what came up.  I am punch-drunk, minus the punch, so this picture made it in the blog.)

Two wild and crazy white Russians!

As Barbara says, “Who doesn’t love to drink their dessert?”

Feel No Payne Cocktail for the Holidays
Peppermint Mocha White Russian
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. Peppermint Mocha Kahlua
Half & Half

Pour all ingredients over ice, garnish with a peppermint stick. Yum-Yum.

Here are some wines that make nice gifts:

PepperPot Red Blend $16.00
Delicious South African blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, & Tannat – a delicious spicy peppery mix, perfect on a cold winter night.

Miracle One Carneros Chardonnay $29.99
Wonderful medium-bodied Carneros chardonnay with just the right amount of oak. Made by a native Nashvillian- so a little local flair!

La Marca Prosecco $13.99
Beautiful sparkling wine from Italy, this has fresh aromas of white peach & honeysuckle & a creamy finish. A Tiffany blue label makes it a very elegant gift.

For an added touch, add an ornament or a wine stopper to your package. We love the wine stoppers from Knobstoppers located in Midtown.

Happy Holidays!

Liza and Elizabeth

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