As cheese is expensive, Jacques says you shouldn't waste it and shares this easy recipe that uses up leftover bits.
Jacques says: "A specialty of my father, fromage fort ('strong cheese') is made of leftover pieces of cheese — any kind — that are puréed in a food processor and seasoned with garlic and white wine. It's best on bread or toast. As a child, I would spread the cheese mixture on a thick slab of country bread, impale the bread on a fork and then hold it in the fireplace with the cheese side as close as possible to the fire. When the cheese bubbled and a nice glaze formed, I would rub the crusty cheese with a piece of butter and eat it piping hot. Although I have a strong attachment to that early memory, I find that the toasts glaze just as well when placed under the broiler for a few minutes. Refrigerated, this original and economical cheese combination will keep for a week or two. If you use only unsalted cheeses, or a large amount of unsalted farmer's cheese, for example, you may want to add a little salt. Usually, however, the cheese itself is salty enough so that additional salt is not needed."
Pro Tip: This spread can be frozen and defrosted once ready to serve.
And not only is Jacques a culinary legend, but he's also an amazing artist — and his book Menus: A Book for Your Meals and Memories combines the two. (It made the 2018 list of Oprah's Favorite Things!)
Recipe adapted from Essential Pépin by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used with permission by Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 1 pound leftover cheeses (a combination of as many hard and soft varieties as you like—such as Brie, cheddar, Swiss, blue, mozzarella, and/or goat), trimmed if necessary to remove dried-out places or mold
- ½ cup dry white wine, leek broth, or vegetable broth, or a mixture of these
- Salt, if needed
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Bread or toast, for serving
With the motor running, drop the garlic into a food processor and process for a few seconds, until coarsely chopped. Add the cheeses, white wine and/or broth, salt (if needed), and pepper, and process for 30 to 45 seconds, until the mixture is soft and creamy. Transfer to a crock, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, spread generously on slices of bread or toast and eat cold; or arrange on a tray and broil for a few minutes to melt the cheese before serving.