Fromage Fort (“Strong Cheese”)
We always have cheese on hand and usually lots of it. I believe it may be law here in Wisconsin that you have to have at least some cheese on hand (or is it butter?). When cheese goes on sale, we buy blocks of it and keep it in our dairy fridge. I know it sounds exotic to have a dairy fridge but when one of our neighbors bought a new refrigerator and asked us if we wanted his old one we said sure. Well it was soon filled with cheese, extra gallons of milk, surplus eggs from the ladies and apples. Did you know you should refrigerate apples? (And in case you’re worrying—don’t; we have a beer fridge, too.)
As a result of having so much cheese on hand, some of it gets tucked away in various places and consequently dries out before I find it. (I am not going to talk about moldy cheese. I will address that in a future blog.) Also, sometimes we just end up with just too much unpackaged or open cheese so I zip it in up a bag and place it in the freezer to cook with later. Once cheese has been frozen it just doesn’t slice well because of the texture, but it is great to cook with. Often I make delicious Macaroni & Cheese with this frozen cheese, but my daughter can eat only so much of it, so the following recipe is another great use for the cheese.
You can use any cheese to make Fromage Fort: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, cream, goat, blue, Muenster and so on. Just think about what tastes you like. Plenty of garlic, freshly ground pepper, a splash or two of white wine and bit of cream all make this dish delightful for just about any taste buds. Make sure to paste the garlic to get an evenly mild flavor throughout, unless everyone is eating it! I like to use a dry Riesling for the wine but any wine that you would enjoy sipping, may be used. If you don’t have cream on hand a splash of half and half may be used instead.
The cheese used for Fromage Fort does not have to be old cheese. You can make it with fresh cheese–which I have on occasion in some of my adult cooking classes. It is great to divide the pureed mixture up into individual ramekins for personal Fromage Fort to be enjoyed with fresh French bread, but I really enjoy spreading it on croutons and warming them in a moderate oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Enjoy with a glass of wine, a cold beer or a glass of sparkling lemonade. Enjoy!
All of these quantities should be adjusted to fit your taste!
½ pound cheese pieces
1-2 garlic cloves, pasted
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup cream
Method: Puree the cheese with the garlic, white wine and pepper until smooth. Season with salt if necessary. Serve cold or broil on bread.
Options: Add chopped chives, thyme, minced basil, diced red pepper or a bit of minced shallot for more flavor.