Fromage Fort Cheese Spread

Fromage Fort is a French Cheese Spread consisting of leftover cheeses blended together with wine.  The flavor of the different cheeses blends together and becomes stronger over time.  I used Reggiano Parmesan, Asiago and Pecorino Romano because that is what I had on hand.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread My friend Leif is a wood working artisan who creates beautiful hand crafted pieces like the amazing cheese board in these photos.  I had planned on redoing the photos of a cheese board post I did a few years back.  I recently saw a picture of an amazing cheese board that Leif posted on Instagram and decided that this would be a great opportunity for both of us.  I asked him if I could use his cheese board in my photo shoot and that he could use the photos as well.  He said of course and we were both very stoked!

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread The photos turned out great but when Leif saw them he said, “Where’s my board?”  Haha, I had it buried under all the food.  Woops!  So I told him that I would do another photo shoot to showcase his beautiful board properly.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread A few days later I met up with a couple of friends at the farmer’s market.  We were talking about cheese and one of them had mentioned Fromage Fort.  I hadn’t heard of it before and she explained that you take all your leftover cheese to make a whipped dip out of them.  Right then, I immediately knew what I was going to make for my reshoot of Leif’s cheese board.  I looked around the web for inspiration and found Jacque Pepin’s recipe and adapted my recipe from his.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread You can serve this spread with a variety of wines like a Soave, Pinto Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja or a Sancerre for a white or a Pinot Noir, Tempranillo or a Red Rioja for a red.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread Fromage Fort Cheese Spread Recipe:

Approx. 2 Cups

  • 1/2 Cup Reggiano Parmesan – finely shredded and packed
  • 1/2 Cup Asiago – finely shredded and packed
  • 1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano – finely shredded and packed
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand which has strong notes of grapefruit)
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • Dash Black Pepper
Milder Variation
  • Add in 4 oz. Chevre Cheese
Spicy Maple Pecan
  • 2 Cups Raw Pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Other additions options:
  • Crostini or French Bread
  • Pears – sliced
  • Quince Jam
  • Olives – your choice
  • Manchego Cheese Wedge
Garnish
  • Sprigs of Rosemary
Instructions:
Fromage Fort

Finely shred the three kinds of cheese, measure and add to a food processor along with the wine, olive oil, garlic and pepper.  Puree until creamy.

Pecans

Add everything to a cast iron or a saute pan and turn the on stove onto medium heat.

As soon as it starts to bubble, stir continuously.

In about 3 – 6 minutes they will start to get sticky.  When the moisture is ALL gone, turn off the heat.
Spread onto parchment paper or a baking sheet.  Don’t worry about them sticking together, when cooled you can separate them.  Wait until they are completely cooled.
Assemble

Arrange everything on a wood board or platter except the cheese spread and jam.  Serve the spread and jam in small bowls.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread

 

 

Baked Camembert with Gorgonzola Hazelnut Cilantro Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

This Baked Camembert appetizer is full of flavor and texture.  The Camembert cheese is baked then topped with my unique Gorgonzola Hazelnut Cilantro Pesto.  I garnished it with pomegranates seeds, hazelnuts and Gorgonzola crumbles.  The pomegranates seeds add the perfect balance to the richness from the pesto and cheese.  Serve it with your choice of crackers and bread.  You can customize this dish by adding your favorite pesto.

Baked Camembert I am looking forward to a brand new year full of creativity, inspiration, health and happiness.  As I said before, I won’t make a new year’s resolution but I plan to further my food photography and styling skills as well as incorporate yoga into my life even more than I have.

Baked Camembert This appetizer is best served right away so that the cheese stays nice and melted.  Make sure to have everything prepped and ready to go before you bake the cheese.  You may or may not want to add the extra gorgonzola as it adds a strong flavor to the dish.

Baked Camembert I served this appetizer with a light Pinot Noir.  It’s also nice with a Sauvignon Blanc.

Baked Camembert Baked Camembert Recipe:
  • Camembert or Brie
  • 1 to 2 Pomegranates – seeds removed
  • 1/2 Cup Hazelnuts – toasted – roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Gorgonzola – crumbled – optional
  • Gorgonzola Cilantro Pesto – recipe below
Gorgonzola Hazelnut Cilantro Pesto Recipe
  • 1 Cup Hazelnuts (Filberts)
  • 1/2 Cup Gorgonzola
  • 2 Cups Cilantro – packed
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste ( taste it before you add the salt, some gorgonzola is saltier than others)
Instructions:
Hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 – 14 minutes.  In about 5 – 7 minutes stir the nuts so they toast evenly while also checking on the progress.

When hazelnuts are cool put in the center of a towel and pull corners of the towel together and roll hazelnuts around with some force till skins come loose.  A small amount of skin will remain on the nuts and that is fine.

Sometimes I separate the ones that the skins didn’t come off and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Pesto

Measure everything and put into food processor or blender except olive oil, puree while slowly adding the oil.

Camembert
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Leave it in the box and score the top into diamonds.  Drizzle with a little olive oil then bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until it is oozing in the middle.
Assemble

Place the hot cheese onto a large bowl or plate and top with some pesto, pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts and gorgonzola.  Add remaining pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts and gorgonzola all around the camembert or in a bowl served on the side.  Serve with the remaining pesto, crackers, crostini or crusty bread.

Baked Camembert Health benefits:

Cilantro is an immune-booster that helps detoxify the body by loosening them from the tissue, binding to and pulling out toxins and heavy metals.  It helps promote a healthy liver function and is an overall digestive aid.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may help symptoms of arthritis and joint pain.  It also helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar. It is rich in antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins (one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K) and dietary fiber.

Hazelnuts are one of the only tree nuts with folate that may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression. They have a high concentration of oleic acid an omega-9 fatty acid that is known to prevent cancer, reduce blood pressure, prevent strokes and help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol that help prevent heart attacks.  They are also rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium, the minerals help regulate blood pressure. Hazelnuts are one of the richest in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that promotes healthy skin, hair and nails.  They are also packed with B vitamins that bring energy to your cells and increase the metabolism. They are one of the few nuts that contain vitamin A, which is great for your eyes and are also high in dietary fiber and minerals like manganese, selenium and zinc.

*People who are allergic to peanuts, macadamia nut and/or Brazil nut might also be allergic to hazelnuts.

Whole Roasted Broccoli with Italian Style Tomato Salsa Verde

This Whole Roasted Broccoli has to be one of the easiest yet extremely gratifying side dishes and it happens to be the perfect starter dish for a Holiday dinner.  There is something about the charred flavor of broccoli that I adore!  I had some extra salsa verde and thought to myself that I should try it on top of some charred broccoli. I am sure glad that I did because it was outstanding and I know you are going to love it too!

3u9a3688 We had a really awesome Thanksgiving this year, how about you?  If you read my last post you know that we had some of our friends and their kids over, 11 people in total.  Beto and clan arrived first and Paloma immediately wanted to do a dance performance that she had been practicing.  She had a special Thanksgiving tutu just for the occasion.  She had choreographed a dance routine to Flamenco music and it was fantastic!  After she completed her performance, Beto put on the Mexican Hat song and little Severin started his own little dance.  I believe they had practiced their routines at least twice before they came and little Severin was so good that I just about died!

Whole Roasted Broccoli Everyone made amazing food and there was a ton to eat along with lots of wine.  We adults had a great time and I must admit the wine went straight to my head! I haven’t been drinking that much lately so it affects me much more these days.  Needless to say, I had a blast! Alison had invited her daughter’s friend because her parents had to work. It was really cute because Paloma and her really hit it off. The kids had the time of their lives, running around the house like crazy people. We thought that if they went down to the beach, they would burn up most of their energy but we were wrong. Haha!

 I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve been going a million miles an hour for weeks now.  Don’t get me wrong; I love it but the day after Thanksgiving I took the opportunity to relax, disconnect and have myself a Gilmore Girls marathon.  It was the perfect day to stay away from all the black Friday crowds and thoroughly enjoy myself.  Now it is time to prepare for Christmas, are you ready??  I have some great recipes in store so keep an eye out for them.

Whole Roasted Broccoli I love a glass of Soave with this dish but it goes with just about any white wine.

Whole Roasted Broccoli Whole Roasted Broccoli Recipe:
Roasted Broccoli
  • 1 Large Broccoli Head  – roasted
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sprinkle of Sea Salt or Maldon Salt
Tomato Italian Style Salsa
  • 1/2 Cup (about 1) Tomato – minced
  • 1/4 Cup Asiago Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley – minced
  • 1/2  Cup Basil – minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Chives – minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Mint (optional) – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Capers – roughly chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Shallots – minced
  • 1  Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest – microplaned
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons White Wine Vinegar or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Peppers – or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
Instructions:
Broccoli
Preheat oven  to 425 Degrees
Cut the stem off of the broccoli as even as you can so it will stand up and place on a baking sheet.  With a pastry brush or your fingers spread on olive oil over the whole head.  Sprinkle with a little salt and place on the middle-upper rack.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until you see some black char.
Tomato Italian Style Salsa
Mince the tomato into tiny pieces, finely shred the Asiago, coarsely chop herbs and capers, mince the shallots, chop garlic very fine, with a lemon juicer juice the lemon, measure and add to a medium-sized bowl.

Measure and add the olive oil, vinegar, salt  and pepper then mix well.  Let sit a bit to incorporate flavors.  You want this to be at room temperature so you won’t cool down the broccoli.

I often make a double batch of sauce to enjoy later with a nice loaf of crusty bread!
Assemble
Spread a little of the salsa on top of the broccoli and serve the rest on the side to add as much as you like.
 Health benefits:

Broccoli has cholesterol-lowering ability and strong impact on our body’s detoxification system.  It is also rich in both forms of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble.  It is very high in vitamin C & K.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini with Roasted Red Pepper, Cucumber and Arugula

These Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini are super easy to make yet they are packed with flavor!  The chive pesto and arugula add a nice mild spiciness, the cucumber gives it a much needed crunchy fresh quality and the roasted peppers provide a lovely smoky flavor that ties it all together.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini I am so excited about my new ceramic plates I recently purchased from my friend Jasper.  I met Jasper and his friend Tom a number of years ago at the Santa Cruz farmers market located downtown Santa Cruz.  Jasper and Tom sell their beautiful creations in a booth shared with two other ceramic artists.  Jasper and Tom made all of the ceramic bowls you see on my blog.  I have been in need of plates for a long time now and my jaw dropped when Jasper told me that he had made some.  I knew I had to see them!  The following Wednesday, I headed to the farmers market and when I saw the plates, I just about died.  They were gorgeous!!  I bought 3 of them and then he gifted me one.  Sooo sweet!  I absolutely love his signature cat painted on the backsides of two of my new plates!

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini The annual Santa Cruz Artist Open Studios was on the following Saturday so Robby and I paid a visit to Jasper’s studio.  I found a large bowl that matched my plates and of course I had to have it!  We were there for a while chatting with Jasper and some of his friends.  We learned that one of his artist friend Joao was from the Azores where Robby’s mom’s family originated.  Before Joao new what island, I blurted out you guys are probably related and he said probably not, then asked what island.  Robby said San Miguel and Joao said yup, we probably are related.  Such a small world!  We also got to meet Jasper’s cat the star of the cat mugs and drawings!  It was a fun visit!  Next, we went to see Tom and of course I found another beautiful white bowl.  Tom was busy with a customer so we bought the bowl and headed home.

I am really stoked for Jasper and any of you who might be interested in his ceramics because he is working on a website store and I will share with you once it is up and running! Woohoo!!!

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini I would pair these with a Pinot Gris, Soave, Sauvignon Blanc or a Tempranillo.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini
Recipe:
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper – roasted – cut into 24 thin strips – instructions below
  • Chive Asiago Pesto – recipe below
  • 1 Large Cucumber – thinly sliced – quartered (you can leave the skin on if it’s organic, otherwise peel it.)
  • 12 Slices Sourdough Baguette – crostini recipe below
  • Arugula
Pesto
  • 1/2 Cup Chives
  • 1/3 Cups Walnuts
  • 1/3 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese – finely shredded – packed
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Crostini
  • Approx. 12 Slices of Sourdough Baguette
  • Approx. 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Instructions:
Pesto
Cut chives into 1-inch pieces and finely shred the cheese.

Measure all ingredients and put into a food processor or blender and blend well.

Make sure to scrape down the sides at least once.
 Pepper
Roast peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag that is rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Cut the top and the bottom off ,then cut one side lengthwise and lay flat. Cut into thin strips the size of your crostini.
Crostini

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place slices onto a baking sheet and with a pastry brush or your fingers, coat both sides with olive oil.

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and broil for about 1 more minute.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check, then put on for 1 more minute while watching.  They cook faster on the second side because they are already hot.
 Assemble

Spread the pesto, top with one slice of cucumber that has been cut into 4, top with two strips of roasted pepper and a sprig or two of arugula.  I like to serve some extra cucumber and arugula on the side.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini

Health Benefits:
Chives contain flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  It is one of the richest sources of vitamin K, rich in vitamin C and is really high in vitamin A. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver and helps decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.  It also helps to maintain bone mineral density.

Hibiscus Hummus with Baked Pita Chips

This Hibiscus Hummus has a classic hummus taste with subtle tangy hibiscus flavor and a pink hue.  The additional flowers on top add a nice pop of color as well.

Hibiscus Hummus About a month ago, our friend Beto reserved a campsite for 2 nights at the campground that is right next to where we live.  I was so excited because no one has stayed there ever since we have lived here.   They showed up this past Wednesday afternoon along with Jill’s long time friend Maili.  After they had set up the tents and pulled out all the cooking supplies, our friends Erin, Leif and Taj showed up for a potluck BBQ.  We sat around the picnic table chatting while sipping on wine and watching Jill the master griller at work.  She cooked up a huge BBQ feast.

Maili had brought a whole lot of homemade sushi and a clam dip.  Erin brought a salad, chips and guacamole and I brought this hummus with baked pita chips.  Everyone also brought wine, of course.  It’s pretty cool when all your friends are really good cooks because the spread is always abundant and delicious. As always, there was a lot of great conversations and laughter.

The next day, our friend Jean showed up around lunchtime and Leif and Taj returned for round two.  The kids had the best time playing together.  It was another fun day of beach, food, wine and great conversation.

Hibiscus Hummus I enjoyed this hummus with my hibiscus tea and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s also great with a nice Rose.

Hibiscus Hummus Thanks for stopping by CaliZona! To see what’s going on, you can follow me on  InstagramFacebookPinterest, TwitterBloglovin‘ or subscribe by e-mail to get the latest recipes.

Hibiscus Hummus Recipe:
Approx. 2 1/2 Cups
  • 1 Cup Dried (2 Cups Cooked) Garbanzo Beans – soaked – cooked
  • 1 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Hibiscus Flowers
  • 1 Large Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Tahini
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Pita Chips
  • 8 Pita – cut into 6 to 12 wedges for each pita
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Instructions:
Preparing garbanzo beans
You can cook the garbanzo beans two different ways: one is a quick way, the other is by soaking the beans overnight which is better for your digestion.  This is how I prepare them, plus if you are going to make falafels, this is the way to go.

Place them in a large bowl and cover with filtered water, they will expand to over double their size, make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion.  Soak overnight for at least 12 hours then drain and rinse.

Quick method
Place the beans in a pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water above the beans and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the beans soak in the warm water for 1 hour then drain the water and rinse.  Follow cooking the beans instructions below.

Cooking the beans

If you want extra smooth hummus you can do as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi do from their cookbook “Jerusalem”  and remove the skins from the garbanzo beans.

Just add soaked chickpeas and 1 teaspoons of baking soda to a large saucepan over high heat.  Stirring constantly for about 2 – 3 minutes.  Covers the chickpeas by about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about 30 – 60 minutes or until soft, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer.  Skim off the foam and skins that float to the surface.  They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.
(I have also removed the skins one by one by squeezing them between my fingers. Without the baking soda.)
or

Put the beans back in the pot and cover with several inches of filtered water.

Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about 30 – 60 minutes or until soft, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer.   They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.  Pinch each bean to remove skins if desired.
Hibiscus
Put the hibiscus flowers and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil then remove from heat.  Let sit until it has cooled.
Strain the flowers and set the water aside.  Add the flowers and garlic to a food processor and mince as best you can.
Hummus
Add all the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.  Scrape the sides at least once.
Optional – If you want to garnish with extra flowers you can repeat the hibiscus/water recipe.  It looks pretty but it does change the texture.
Baked Pita Chips
Turn down the oven to 350 degrees

Cut each pita into 8 triangles and place on one side of a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and gently toss.  Bake for 11 – 12 minutes or until crispy.

Hibiscus Hummus Health benefits:

Garbanzo beans are super high in protein and extremely high in fiber, just one cup provides 50% of the Daily Value.  Because of the fiber, they are great for your heart, lowering blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attack, as well as help, prevent constipation and digestive disorders.  Just one cup provides 84.5% of the daily value of manganese, which is an antioxidant that acts as a monitor of the free radicals in the body.  If you are low in energy the high iron content will help and will transport oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body.  They also help to balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Garbanzo beans are helpful for weight loss as they keep you full longer.

Hibiscus Flowers is a simple way to increase your antioxidant intake due to the high vitamin C content.  The antioxidant properties can help reverse the inflammatory process in your body and has the ability to lower high blood pressure.  It protects against chronic disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.  It helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol from the body, therefore it helps protect against heart disease and blood vessels from damage.