Monday, September 24, 2007

Fromage Fort

My refrigerator door holds a lot of stuff: butter, condiments, pickled shallots. Taking up the most real estate, however, are cheese nibs: those pieces of cheese you don't feel justified in throwing away, but you never seem to eat again. They look okay - no visible mold - but you can never fully remember how long they've been sitting there. Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano I keep for adding to soup (although I often forget about that too), but the softer cheeses, the French or Spanish cheeses, those outstay their welcome.

Recently a friend was telling me about a great little recipe from Jacques Pepin's Cuisine Economique, which puts to good use those nibs de fromage. It's called Fromage Fort (strong cheese) and a quick search on Chowhound pointed me to a 1989 New York Times article written by Pepin with the recipe. It's so easy and delicious and you feel great making it. Not only are you making a creamy cheese spread in about 10 seconds, but suddenly your refrigerator door seems weightless and clean again. It's frugal gourmet, French style.

Fromage Fort
adapted from Cuisine Economique

3 or 4 peeled garlic cloves
1 lb. leftover pieces of cheese, a combination of as many hard and soft varieties as you desire
(like Brie, cheddar, Swiss, bleu, mozzarella or goat), trimmed to remove surface dryness and mold
1/2 cup dry white wine or vegetable broth or a mixture of both
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt, if needed.

Place the peeled garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process for a few seconds, until coarsely chopped. Add the cheese, white wine (or broth), pepper, and salt (if needed) and process for 30 to 45 seconds, until the mixture is soft and creamy but not too smooth. Place in a crock, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Enough for about 50 pieces of toast.


Andrea said...


Moira McPartlin said...

Hi Rebecca, I love your blog. I see you have the same problem I have. I began a blog last month but it is taking a while for word to get round and comments to come in. Good luck


Karen said...

This is a post-party staple in our house -- a great way to use up all those little odds and ends of cheese. I start with 1/4 cup wine, 3 Tbsp softened butter, 2 Tbsp parsley, and
1 clove garlic -- then adjust the ingredients depending on what cheeses I've used.

The Foodie Princess said...

This sounds so simple and just lovely, I can't wait to try it.

Lisa said...

Hi, I just found your blog via Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks, and I'm glad I did!

I love fromage fort! I included the recipe for it in a post I wrote about Pepin's autobiography The Apprentice. There I called it "the French version of pimento cheese," which is kind of a stretch (!), but I had made that spread for the first time just before I read about FF in Pepin's book.

Tara said...

I've made this before, too - it might just be the best idea anyone ever had!

Lauren said...

Fromage Fort is also great with an Italian style Mostarda. You can also take the exact recipe, and then melt it, for a wonderful rustic fondeu.

And Great Blog. Mind if I link to it?

Tempest in a Teapot said...

God, I love Jacques. One Saturday morning when I was 15 I happened to turn on the television and caught an episode of Jacques and Julia: Cooking at Home. It changed my life and took me down a completely different culinary path than my forebears.

In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say my husband married me because of Jacques fine tutelage in the kitchen. Thanks for this reminder. I'll get out Fast Food My Way and have dinner in tonight.

Deborah Dowd said...

I got this recipe from Alton Brown (my husband's an addict) and it is a great way to salvage those bits and pieces of cheese, and it tastes different everytime based on what you add. Sometimes I use wine, and I have even used brandy- it turns out great!

Pieds Des Anges (Kyla) said...

Oh wow. That is the first recipe I ever saw that manages to be both frugal and decadent.

Rebecca, great to see your blog. I work in food studies myself though my blog is only about cooking and today. Look forward to following along.

Polish Pottery said...

This is perfect for a party I plan on giving this fall. Thanks so much and I will certainly be back!

eileen said...

Yay, realistic cooking! I suspect a lot of our refrigerator doors look just like yours. Mine certainly does.

Rebecca Federman said...

Thanks for all your comments! I love Jacques Pepin too. I'll try to post some more tips from him soon. Happy Cooking.

Kate Hedges said...

This is a fantastic idea and my refrigerator thanks you too.

I love your blog. Keep writing and I'll certainly keep reading.