Archive for the ‘Appetizers’Category

SAY CHEESE! Homemade Fromage Blanc Cheese PAIRED with a Sancerre from Loire Valley in France

“Wine and cheese are ageless companions”

Last month,my wine and foodie group got together for a French-Themed Dinner. Let me just say I am the luckiest foodie in the world!  These monthly dinners are a delightful collection of professional and personal chefs, a pastry chef,local boutique wine lovers and distributors and all around kick-ass passionate foodies and cooks.


We were to each bring our favorite French-themed culinary creation. I was intrigued by the FROMAGE BLANC; fresh,homemade (white) cheese made by Karin. Fromage Blanc has a fresh and creamy texture and the mild taste creates an endless palette for ingredients and pairing possibilities.

I knew my next challenge was TO MAKE CHEESE!

These pictures are of the cheese I made at home. The cheese was liberally drizzled with rich,fruity olive oil and sprinkled with hand-harvested sea salt (flour de del) from France. The french bread rounds and salty green and black olives along with tart and tangy cornichons (french pickles) also paired well with this creamy,fresh cheese.

The Wine:
My wine choice was easy!
Sancerre from Loire,France. Sancerre is French Sauvignon Blanc.
If you have never ventured beyond the front door of the wine shop and have never bravely chosen a bottle of French Wine, now is your chance! This IS the perfect pairing for the creamy and Fresh FROMAGE BLANC.

The Palate:
fresh,dry and crisp,essences of lime,peach,white floral notes ~ distinctive chalky minerality from the limestone soils

The Loire Valley in France is famous for producing some of the world’s best Sauvignon Blancs. Well-balanced and refreshing acidity,dry,citrusy (lime and grapefruit kind of acidity) and fruity with a hint of grassiness makes a perfect pairing with this creamy,fresh cheese. Other pairings might include shellfish dishes cooking in garlic and butter or roasted chicken.
My choice for this particular Sauvignon Blanc was easy. The Sauvignon Blanc grape is the queen of acidity.
It produces some of the most refreshing acidic white wine no matter where it is produced. New Zealand and California might be most familiar to you. These wines are great crowd pleasing wines and pair with a variety of foods.
Yet, Old World Wines i.e. wines from France, so eloquently show us their “sense of place.” You can taste the terroir; the land,soil,climate. The wines from this famous area of France with it distinctive and unique minerality most certainly complement the creamy fromage blanc.

My rockin’ homemade FROMAGE BLANC deserved a wine to showcase its uniqueness, incredibly fresh local ingredients and-of course-its “sense of place.”

Below is the recipe and photos of my cheese-making process for Fromage blanc.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Fromage Blanc
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Making fresh homemade cheese is easy! This is a creamy,fresh,mild-flavored cheese. Double this recipe if you want more than one ramekin of cheese. And, you will!
  • Fresh, local whole milk (1 quart)
  • Active-culture buttermilk (1 cup)
  • Lemon juice or white vinegar (2 tsp, or more if needed)
  • Salt (3/4 tsp, or to taste)
  • Measuring cups
  • Heavy-bottomed sauce pan
  • Thermometer
  • Colander
  • Stock pot
  • Cheesecloth
  • String
  • Wooden spoon
  • Stirring spoons
  1. Add milk to sauce pan on low heat.
  2. Stir regularly and bring the temperature up to 175 degrees.
  3. Use a heat proof thermometer to correctly determine temperature.
  4. The milk will be just slightly simmering and bubbles beginning to form.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Pour Buttermilk and lemon juice and stir slowly.
  7. Curds will begin to form and separate from the whey.
  8. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  9. Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth.
  10. Gently scoop the curds into the cheesecloth. Discard the whey.
  11. Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth;tie this to a wooden spoon handle.
  12. Let the cheese drain for about 30 minutes.
  13. The longer you drain it the dryer the cheese will be.
  14. Once drained,cut open the cheese cloth a place cheese in a bowl.
  15. Incorporate the salt into the cheese with a wooden spoon.
  16. Place the cheese in a 4 ounce ramekin or crock.
  17. Enjoy the cheese now or let it set overnight.

Nashville is abundant with local products such as  local milk and local meats and produce. Be sure to use as many local ingredients as you can in your recipes. WE LOVE HATCHER DAIRY MILK and all of their products!

The ingredients include the creamy WHOLE MILK from Hatcher Dairy Family Farms and the WHOLE BUTTERMILK.
Using the whole milk and whole buttermilk adds to the creamy richness of the finished product.

Getting close to 175 degrees

The cheese curds have formed

Drain the excess moisture from the curds

Isn’t this pretty and rustic? Image yourself in a quaint little cottage near the vineyards in France.
I am now obsessed with making cheese.

Incorporate the salt for flavor



That’s French for THERE YOU HAVE IT! Your very own home-made cheese!

***inspired by the Wonder How To Videos and my FOODIE FRIENDS!

Mardi Gras Time! Crawfish and Andouille-Stuffed Bread paired with Alexandria Nicole 2010 Washington State Rhone-Style White Wine Blend~2011 Winery of the Year

Jambalaya,an a crawfish pie an a file gumbo,cause tonight
I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
Son of a gun, we gonna have big fun on the bayou!!!

It’s THAT time of year again! Even though we did not live in New Orleans,my family and friends always celebrated Mardi Gras in a big way in North Louisiana. Schools even gave us a week off!

Well,it’s TIME to slip on your Haute Hostess Mardi Gras Apron,sip on a delicious glass of wine and while eating your crawfish bread.

Have you seen these luxurious aprons? Elizabeth Scokin,a successful event planner and entrepreneur located right here in Nashville,Tennessee,is the designer of these popular designer aprons making every occasion in your life extra-special. She is located here in Nashville but reaches markets all around the country with these chic designer gems. These make very special gifts for birthdays,wedding showers and holidays. Think Valentine’s and Mardi Gras. My daughter has had the opportunity to photograph some of Elizabeth’s aprons for publication. More to come on that!
Check out her website to see where you can purchase a Haute Hostess Apron in your area: and

Pour yourself a lovely glass of Washington State Wine. Celebrate your special occasion with glasses from IBEZA Fine Gifts located at 4231 Harding Road Nashville ,TN in the Stanford Square in Belle Meade.

This exquisite handmade Italian Wine Flute by Arte Italica was so graciously provided by IBEZA. Vetro Gold Flute $84.

Enhance any special occasion.


2010 Shepard’s Mark       $20

Alexandria Nicole  Rhone style White Wine  ALEXANDRIA NICOLE CELLARS of Horse Haven Hills located in Washington State.

2011 Winery of the Year

The Grapes: Roussanne,Viognier and Marsanne ~ A Classic Rhone White Wine Blend

From the first sip to the last drop,you will experience a clean,crisp,dry medium-bodied wine. The flavors of tropical fruits such as fresh pineapple and lemon and floral notes of honeysuckle and lavender are typical of these Rhone varietals.

The rocky soils of Horse Haven Hills lend a sense of terroir.

A wine should taste like where it comes from and do I believe Alexandria Nicole Wines have accomplished this. THANK YOU, Jarrod Boyle for bringing your wines to the Nashville market. I enjoyed meeting you and discussing your wines and vines and the terroir of which they are grown.

The crispness,fruit and floral character of 2010 Shepard’s Mark pairs well with Spicy Crawfish and Andouille Bread. You must try it with your seafood celebrations!

These great wines of Washington State have been introduced to Nashville by Jeanne and Larry of Boonedocks a local wine distributor specializing in unique and boutique wines.

Crawfish Bread ~ My Version of this JAZZ FEST and MARDI GRAS TREAT!

Crawfish and Andouille Sausage filling

Warm and Spicy Crawfish and Andouille Sausage Bread

This New Orleans original is hugely popular especially during the Jazz Fest. There are many versions of the original recipe that were first served. This version is made with Pillsbury Simply Rustic Bread dough stuffed full of spicy crawfish étouffée and lots of warm and gooey melted cheeses.

A great recipe for Mardi Celebrations or anytime you want!

½ cup butter , softened
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper;tricolor bell pepper medley from Publix
¼ cup chopped celery
1 cup chicken broth
1⁄4 to 1/2 cup of flour
1⁄8 teaspoon dried thyme
1⁄8 teaspoon sweet basil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 link Savoie’s Andouille Sausage sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails
1⁄3 cup sliced green onion
½ teaspoon or MORE of Tony Chachere’s seasoning
8 ounces shredded colby and monterey jack cheese blend
8 ounces shredded mozzarella
2 cans Pillsbury SIMPLY RUSTIC French Bread
flour for rolling the dough
egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoonful of water)
Sesame seeds

In a large heavy skillet,brown the andouille. Remove from pan.

To the skillet,add butter,chopped onions,bell pepper,garlic and celery. Sauté until somewhat caramelized.
Sprinkle the flour over the sautéing veggies and stir until slightly browned.

Return the andouille to the skillet.

Next add the broth and let the mixture thicken. Note,it will be thicker than what you would have for an étouffée.

Add thyme,basil,Tony’s Seasoning and Tobasco.

At this point, return the mixture to a boil once again but immediately lower the heat and simmer everything together for about five minutes more or until thickened.

Now add the crawfish tails.

When everything is thoroughly combined, simmer the skillet for about 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened and warmed thoroughly.

Set the mixture aside to cool.

Sprinkle surface area lightly with flour.

Open the cans of bread dough. Cut in fourths. Roll into 4 balls with your hands.

Using a rolling pin,roll each dough ball into a circle. Use flour as needed for the surface and rolling pin.

You will have 8 dough circles.

Doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s Rustic.

On one end of each circle,spoon about 1/4 cup or more of the crawfish mixture.

Sprinkle liberally with cheeses,may use up to 1/4 cup.

Bring the other side over and seal with a fork.

Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 350 degrees til golden brown.

Cheese and Chopped vegetables all purchased pre-chopped from Publix Produce Dept.

Crawfish tails and andouille

Pillsbury Simply Rustic French Bread Dough

Cut into four equal portions

Roll each piece into a ball

Using a rolling pin,roll into a circle

Fill the dough with heaping spoonfuls of crawfish mixture.Fold the other side over the filling.
Don’t worry if its not perfect. It’s not supposed to be.

Bake until crispy and browned. The melted cheese will ooze out. So delicious!

Succulent Short Ribs Roasted with Pomegranate Molasses and Pears Poached in Riesling,Honey and Cardamom and a Perfect Chiroubles Beaujolais Wine Pairing

 “The success of the dinner depends as much upon the company as the cook.”
                                        Ward McAllister, (1890)


New Year’s Resolution for 2012-MORE Couples Dinner Parties at my house.

Not what you expected?
I already exercise enough and don’t watch too much TV anyway. Being the self-proclaimed FOOD REBEL that I am,sticking with this resolution should be easy. Short Ribs are one of my winter time favorite comfort meals. What better way to share that comfort than with 4 couples celebrating friendship with food and wine on a cold Saturday evening. I planned the meal and asked everyone to bring a a side dish for sharing with our dinner.

Casual,warm and Rustic Meals shared with my friends is my favorite way to entertain. And,there is nothing better than enjoying a great glass of wine or two that is in harmony with the food I am serving. The meal,the food,the wine and the friends were especially all in harmony this Saturday night.

The Menu:

Oven-Roasted Beef Short Ribs with Pomegranate Glaze

Lazarolli’s Raviogi~ Their version of Italian-style Pierogies~Filled with Yukon Gold Potatoes,Caramelized Onions and Gruyere

Riesling Poached Pear Salad with Spicy Pecans and Cranberry-Ginger Dressing

Sweet and Sour Green Beans with topped with Crispy Benton’s Bacon

Warm Artichoke Dip with Olives and Pita crisps

Mezzaluna Bread

Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream


First Course: CAPION  1C 2008 White Wine Blend of Chardonnay,Roussanne,Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc from the Languedoc Region of France

Second Course: Chiroubles 2010 100% Gamay from Beaujolais,France.

Dessert: Chateau La Fleur Des Pins 2007  Sauternes Blend from France


*LAZZAROLI’S PASTA SHOP is a local pasta shop located in the Germantown Area of Nashville.Tom Lazzaro makes Old World,hand-crafted small batch pasta and ravioli. You have to check this place out! Some of the best artisan pasta I have ever had and is available with many unique fillings and styles.


Beef Short Ribs with Pomegranate Glaze Recipe as follows:

Serves 8 to 10 guests

20 custom cut short ribs- Thanks to Fresh Market for providing amazing high quality short ribs
3 fresh Bay leaves
Garlic-2 Tablespoonful minced
Onion-1 large,small dice
Carrots-3 brunoise cut
Celery-3 stalks-small dice
Tomato Paste-2 Tablespoonful
Brown Sugar- 1 heaping tablespoonful
Fresh Thyme-8 springs
Beef Stock-1 large box
Wine-about 2 cups

Veal Base-1 container MORE THAN GOURMET BRAND
Pomegranate Molasses-about 1/2 bottle *This can be purchased at any Middle Eastern Grocery
Soy Sauce-2 Tablespoonful
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce-2 Tablespoonful
Pomegranate Seeds for garnish
Flour for Dredging
Olive Oil


Thoroughly season the short ribs with salt and pepper and coat all over with flour.Remove the browned ribs and add to a large and deep roasting pan.

Heat a large pan with olive oil and brown the ribs in batches on all sides. Start with about 1/2 cup of oil and add more as necessary.

In another pan with olive oil,sauté carrots,celery and onions until lightly browned.Add garlic during the cooking process to prevent over-cooking the garlic. Once cooked,add to the roasting pan with the ribs.

Once all of the ribs are browned,transfer to a large roasting pan.

Add the wine and beef stock to the warm pan that the short ribs were browned in, scraping up the bits with a wooden spoon.

Add the veal stock,bay leaves,fresh thyme,tomato paste,soy sauce,brown sugar and reduce till slightly thickened.

Add reduction to the large pan with the short ribs and sautéed vegetables.

Tightly seal with aluminum foil and bake for 4 hours until thick and bubbly and the meat has fallen off the bone.


salt,pepper and flour the short ribs

brown in olive on all sides and transfer to a large roasting pan

saute’ the chopped vegetables


reduce the wine,beef stock and veal stock with the herbs,brown sugar, tomato paste and Pomegranate Molasses

pour the reduction over the short ribs

add the sautéed veggies and gently combine


I always greet my guests with a fun cocktail to begin the evening. Tonight it was a blend of chilled pomegranate juice,gin,homemade lime simple syrup and a splash of Prosecco topped with pomegranate seeds

Amy’s warm artichoke dip-delicious appetizer to start off an evening with friends

While everyone was talking and enjoying their appetizers,I prepared the first course.


Chilled Poached Pears in Riesling,lemons,honey and cardamom
Field Greens salad tossed with Walnut Oil
Balsamic glaze drizzle
Sweet and spicy pecans-Trader Joe’s
Cranberry Ginger Vinaigrette-Tart Cranberries and Spicy Ginger were a perfect accompaniment to the spicy Poached Pears and continued the tart-sweet Pomegranate dinner theme!

Over the holidays,my trip to Charleston,SC lead me to Magnolia’s Restaurant. I was inspired by the pear salad that I had there and wanted to recreate this first course for my friends. I doubled the recipe from Food Network and added 2 lemons and their zest and 2 TB of honey.

The Wine: CAPION 1C 2008 White Wine Blend from the Languedoc-Roussillon of France. This elegant wine was chosen to complement the pears that were poached in Riesling and lemon. The fruit was fresh and floral with hints of tropical fruits and the lively acidity really made a great match with the salad.

This is the salad I had at Magnolia’s in Charleston. It was so delicious I just knew I had to try to make it myself when I got home!

How did I do?

Lazzaroli’s Pasta
delicious pillows of pasta filled with caramelized onions,Yukon Gold potatoes and nutty gruyere cheese

Sweet and Sour Green Beans topped with Smoky Benton’s Bacon

2 packages Fresh Green Beans steamed and then cooled. Place in a large bowl.
8 pieces of Benton’s Bacon Cooked Crisp,crumbled and set aside
2 small shallots
2 Tablespoonsful brown sugar
1 Tablespoonful red wine vinegar
Soy Sauce – a few shots
Olive Oil
After the bacon is cooked,pour out most of the bacon fat,reserving about a tablespoonful or so. Saute’ the shallots until soft,then add the sugar,soy sauce,olive and vinegar. Simmer on medium until thickened slightly and pour over green beans,toss and top with the bacon. This made a fabulous side dish and the flavors paired well with the savory and tangy ribs.

Rachel’s Freshly Baked Herbed Mezzaluna Bread

Rachel and I have been inspired by many recipes from The Dairy Hollow House SOUP and BREAD COOKBOOK-A Country INN-Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon. A must-have cookbook full of delicious rustic bread and soup recipes from the inn located in the Ozark Mountains.

You can make the dough from the scratch recipe in the cookbook OR use the refrigerated tubes of rustic bread dough from the refrigerated section of the grocery store OR use purchased pizza dough from the store.
Simply roll out circles and spread with a mixture of butter,olive oil,pressed garlic cloves and a combination of fresh herbs such as rosemary,basil,savory,thyme and oregano.
Drizzle the dough circles with olive oil,top with the herb mixture and fold circles in half. Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Put the bread in a basket and pass,letting your guests tear off what they want. This is a delicious bread for sharing.

The Wine:
Chiroubles 2010 Beaujolais

This Beaujolais wine pairing with the Pomegranate Beef Short Ribs was magnificent! This intense wine made from the Gamay Grape from the area of Burgundy,France known as Beaujolais is refreshing tart,fresh and full of juicy raspberries. Its great acidity and structure were a perfect match with the intense savory short ribs with the tart and sweet flavor of the Pomegranate Molasses. There is something about earthiness of this wine and it’s minerality paired with the RUSTIC Beef Short Ribs that just worked. It was Delicious!


Deb’s Warm Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping

The wine:
Chateau La Fleur Des Pins 2007 Sauternes a Grand Vin of Bordeaux,France

Dessert wine with the Apple Pie,vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce

The next time you serve warm Apple Crumb Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce,you might want to consider a dessert wine pairing.The warm,apple pie spiced with cinnamon and topped with caramel sauce was a match made in heaven!

This luscious sweet and delightfully acidic botrytis-affected blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion grapes was  well-balanced with it concentrated flavors of sweet and acid. The  flavors and aromas of orange marmalade,caramel,creme brûlée and tropical fruits were the right pairing with the apple pie. Another hit with my guests!

I sure hope one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to enjoy wine and food with your friends. I am glad I did!