I place myself squarely in the category of people who love leftovers. There are few things that makes me happier than to have the previous night’s soup or stir fry to take to the office for the next day’s lunch, or better yet, to give new life in some other form. Some foods, though, lend themselves better to leftover-ing than others. My cheese drawer suffers from this fact. We love having two or three good cheeses on hand, but at some point I always find myself sifting down through layers of tiny aluminum-foiled nubs of cheese, probably mostly rind.
On a scavenger hunt for a checkbook yesterday, I discovered a cache of torn-out recipes from magazines. An old Food & Wine clipping reminded me of fromage fort (literally French for “strong cheese”), one of those astonishing why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? ideas. It is this simple: take your leftover bits of cheeses—the only rule is to not be too heavy handed with strong, blue-veined ones—and process them with a peeled and crushed clove or garlic and white wine or a little vegetable broth. Everything swirls into a gorgeous, aromatic spread, which I enjoyed licked off of my fingers and then spread on crackers. The best, though, was when I got home from the market on Sunday. We arrived bearing little containers of chilled asparagus soup from a local restaurant. Ben spread the fromage fort on bread, and we broiled it for a few minutes. I hadn’t thought the recipe was exciting enough to post here, but as I watched six slices of the fromage fort-spread bread disappear, dipped into cool soup, crumbs on the table, I changed my mind.
Adapted, barely, from Food & Wine.
The recipe can be adjusted based on how much cheese you have, and if you don’t know how much cheese you have, it really can be done just by adding a little bit of liquid at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.
You will need
- 1/2 pound cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces or smaller
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a knife
1/4 cup dry white wine or mild- or onion-y tasting vegetable broth (Jacques Pépin’s family evidently used leek broth), or a mix of both
Freshly ground black pepper
- Put cheese, garlic, wine or broth, and a generous grind of black pepper into a food processor. Process for 30 seconds. At first, the processing might be a bit turbulent as the cheese breaks up, so hold onto the lid of your food processor. Check for consistency and taste. Salt is usually not needed, but you might want to add. If you want the mixture a bit smoother, blend it a bit longer, but don’t overprocess or it can get a bit gummy. If you think it looks a bit dry and crumbly, add more liquid and process until smooth.
Serve the fromage fort spread on bread or fruit cold, or broiled until a bit golden and bubbly.
Packed into jars, the fromage fort can last 1-2 weeks.