Setting the seasonal table with a little originality can be a challenge. This year, I took inspiration from the Hermann Wine Trail vintners and the St. Louis Originals – St. Louis’ independent restaurateurs. Each has created unique recipes designed to give the holiday menu a gourmet touch using traditional favorite ingredients such as cheese.
Cheese is a popular element in holiday recipes, and is the theme of the recent Just Say Cheese Holiday Wine Trail. The annual event produced by the Hermann Wine Trail presented a collection of unique cheese dishes paired with wine. For example, Chef Andrew Durbin of Stone Hill Winery’s Vintage Restaurant’s pairs a Traminette with his Ham and Cheese Crisps, a sophisticated yet simple recipe using Parmesan cheese to make a cheese cracker crisp that’s topped with herbed Boursin and oven-fried prosciutto shreds. Its multilayers of textures and pungent flavors are complemented with the crisp fruit flavors of the Stone Hill Traminette.
“There are some general guidelines for wine and cheese pairings—red wine with hard cheese, white wine with soft cheese—but no hard and fast rules,” says Patty Held, president of the Hermann Wine Trail. “Like everything having to do with wine, it’s a matter of taste.”
Seven Hermann wineries along the trail offered specialized samples and sips of small plate cheese dishes paired with the correct wine.
The Saint Louis Originals also had a few recipes to share that promise to make old Santa smile, which were spotlighted at the Originals recent Fall Food Frenzy fundraising event for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Counted among this year’s standout dishes were Vin de Set’s Escargot Barigoule (Garlic-White Wine-Parsley-Butter) over grilled sourdough, Companion's Walnut & Thyme Goat Cheese Crostini with Honey and Sunset 44 Bistro’s 72-hour braised Short Rib Sliders with Caramelized Onion Demi, Buttered Broiche.
For those needing a few more last-minute resources for holiday recipes as well as a gift idea for your favorite foodie, consider two recently published locally authored cookbooks. European Tarts: Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking by St Louis bakery guru Helen Fletcher and St Louis Chefs Recipes; published by St Louis Magazine, features many of the St Louis Original chefs and serves as a fundraiser for Operation Food Search. Each book has a number of recipes that translate beautifully to the holiday table.
Finally, there's still time to take a cooking class. Check out Schnucks or the Dierberg’s School of Cooking. And don't forget the free recipes found throughout the grocery stores for ideas. If all else fails and you still need a recipe for your favorite ingredients, check the back of the box or package. It's the fail-safe place to find tested recipes that often become family favorites.
Ham and Cheese Crisp
(Recipe by Chef Andrew Durbin, Vintage Restaurant, Stone Hill Winery)
- 3/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
- 5 thin slices of prosciutto ham
- 10 tablespoons Boursin cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a lightly greased baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Mix the Parmesan and flour together in a small bowl. Use a tablespoon to put mounds of Parmesan mixture every 4 inches on the baking sheet, and then gently spread mounds into 3-inch ovals. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown 8-10 minutes.
Let the Parmesan crisps cool on the baking sheet. While the crisps are cooling, cut the prosciutto into thin strips and brown in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. To assemble, carefully spread 1 tablespoon of Boursin cheese on each Parmesan crisp and top with the prosciutto. Serves 10
Fruit ‘n Cheese Crescents
(Bias Winery & Gruhlke’s Microbrewery)
- 1 package Crescent Rolls
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 cup fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll dough into 4 rectangles, press perforations together to seal. Combine cream cheese and sugar, then spread onto rectangles within a 1/4-inch of edge. Top evenly with fruit. Bring opposite corners of rectangles together, press and seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while cooling. Makes 4
Walnut & Thyme Goat Cheese Crostini with Honey
(Companion’s Owner/Chef Josh Allen)
- 8 oz. Goat cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoon walnuts, chopped and toasted
- Salt to taste
- Coarse black pepper
- 1 French Baguette
Chop walnuts and dry toast in a small frying pan for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Set aside. In mixing bowl combine cheese, cream, lemon zest and juice, fresh thyme and salt and pepper. Whip to desired consistency. Fold in toasted walnuts.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice baguette into 1/2" thick slices. Toss with olive, salt and pepper and toast in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until browned and crunchy. Cool. Spread a generous amount of mixture on toasted bread. Drizzle with honey and add coarse cracked pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 12
Vin de Set’s Escargot Barigoule*
2-3 sprigs thyme
2-3 garlic cloves
2 cups white wine
6 cups heavy cream
Place the lemon, garlic, thyme to a saucepan placed over medium heat for about a minute. Add wine and reduce volume by half. Add cream and reduce by half.
To assemble the dish:
2-3 pearl onions
2 ounces artichokes
2 ounces smoked bacon, chopped
6 pieces escargot (small button mushrooms can be subsituted)
1/4 cup Barigoule sauce
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 grilled sourdough bread slice
In a hot sauté pan add olive oil to cover bottom of pan. Add pearl onions and cook until soft. Add artichokes, bacon, onions and escargot and sauté until hot. Add barigoule sauce and reduce until slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and parsley. Plate on a square appetizer plate and top with a grilled sourdough half. Serves 1 large or 2 smaller servings
* Recipe adjusted for the home kitchen
Gruyere Chive Gougere (Recipe inspired by Hermannof Winery)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tablspoon fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in butter, flour, cheese and seasonings. Remove from heat and add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth and glossy. Drop by teaspoonfuls or pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven; cut a small slit in side of each puff to allow steam to escape. Once cool, spoon a teaspoonful of herbed cream cheese in center of each puff. Makes 12 –14