A catch-all for cheese leftovers, fromage fort, French for 'strong cheese', is a great way to use up small pieces of cheese. You can clean out the cheese compartment of your refrigerator, and at the same time create something wonderful to eat. Serve it with bread, crackers, or slices of olive oil-brushed baguette.
1 pound assorted leftover cheeses, at room temperature
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, marjoram, or basil)
1 clove garlic (optional)
- Remove the rind, hard spots, and any mold from the cheese. Cut the cheese into 1/2-inch cubes, and grate any hard cheeses.
- Combine the cheeses, wine, butter, and optional herbs and garlic in a food processor and blend until very smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 1 hour if you would like a firmer consistency.
- The mixture can be kept for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups, serving 10 to 12.
Note of Interest: In France, the home of fromage fort, it is a little more elaborate than simply leftover cheese. Traditionally leftover cheeses where mixed together then allowed to ferment in liquid such as milk or vegetable broth. Wine or oil was then added to stabilize the mixture, and herbs, salt, and more wine were added to season it. It was often put in a stoneware pot to age, and when it was time to eat it, apparently the word "fort" took on a whole new meaning. Fromage fort is still made in France, but usually with just one cheese-which is determined by the region where it is being made. Because of its runny consistency, it is sold by the ladleful. For this version try to balance the types of cheese you use. For example, don't use more than one especially salty cheese, as it will make the mixture too salty. Don't use blue cheese (or if you do don't use a lot) unless you want that to be the dominant flavor; it will overtake all other flavors. Because of fromage fort's relatively neutral character (depending on the type of cheese you use), it can be livened up with almost any type of herb or flavoring you like--or none at all, since the combination of cheeses, no matter what they are, take on a flavor of their own.