So this one time, I was reading Smitten Kitchen’s blog, and I came across a recipe that I just had to make. I mean … HAD. TO. MAKE.
Has that ever happened to you? You see a recipe in the latest issue of your favorite food magazine — or perhaps in your new favorite cookbook — and you know you just have to make it right then and there? Yep, happens to me all the time.
In this case, the recipe in question was Smitten Kitchen’s fromage fort, a delicious spread made from various bits of cheese, garlic, white wine, and herbs all blended together in a food processor until it’s ready to slather on crostini, serve as a dip for fresh veggies … or just be eaten straight from the bowl.
The best thing about this “recipe?” As Smitten Kitchen says, “there are no rules as to how you put this together. Maybe you want more wine, or less. Maybe you want a heavy hand with salt and pepper, or you want the natural flavors of the cheese to shine through.”
Yes, my friends, there really are no rules to this recipe … use your favorite cheeses, your favorite wine, and your favorite herbs. Don’t like garlic? Don’t put it in. Want to add an onion kick with some minced shallot? Go for it … I did! I also decided to switch it up a bit and use a dry sparkling wine since, well, I have a small sparkling wine / prosecco / cava / champagne addiction. Okay, perhaps “addiction” is too strong of a word, what with the negative conotation and all … but I do love any and all forms of sparkling wine, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
I leaned heavily on France for this round of sparkling fromage fort, using 3.5 ounces of raw milk gruyère, 3.5 ounces of brie, 4 ounces of chèvre, and 2 ounces of raw milk cheddar; 1/2 cup of dry sparkling brut; and 2 tablespoons of fresh tarragon.
Want to lean on Spain? Try some manchego and idiazabal cheese, a dry cava, and some smoked paprika in place of the herbs. Thinking Italian? Try some parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino, ricotta salata, or even some asiago if you’re a fan, a dry prosecco, and some fresh oregano and rosemary. I told you the possibilities are endless!
Sparkling Fromage Fort
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- Approximately 1 pound mixed cheeses, grated (harder cheeses) or cut in chunks (softer cheese)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, if using mostly harder cheeses
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 to 1 cup dry or extra dry sparkling wine
- 1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In the work bowl of a food processor, blend the cheeses, butter (if using), and garlic together until combined.
2. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the sparkling wine until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
3. Remove the cheese spread from the food processor, and place in a separate bowl; stir in the shallot and herbs until combined.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, or store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Notes: I used two tablespoons of butter to smooth out my cheese spread. I also prefer to stir in the shallot and herbs by hand as I find they can become bitter when processed in the food processor. Finally, I prefer to make this spread the day before I want to serve it as it thickens in the refridgerator, yielding a lighter, fluffier texture — and the flavors meld and deepen for an even more fabulous taste.