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

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart with a Almond Oat Crust

This Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart is rich, decadent and oh so good!

This tart was born out of ingredients that were in my fridge just waiting to be made into something delicious.  I made this just after Beto and clan had stayed with us a few weeks back.  I had planned on making them my roasted fennel buckwheat tart but we decided to go out for dinner instead.  I had also planned on roasting red peppers for our beach picnic but I forgot to.  So, with the unused fennel, red peppers along with a tomato Jill happen to leave behind, I came up with this tart.  I guess you can say it’s a Mediterranean style tart.  It’s best served with a green salad and a crisp glass of wine.

3U9A7654 There is so much craziness going on in the world as of late and I normally pride myself on being able to block it out.  But sometimes it can be difficult when something happens in a place where I spent time in or where a friend is from.  I was fortunate enough to visit Turkey with my friend Maggie a number of years ago.  Maggie and I were traveling in Europe at the time and she had asked me if I wanted to go to Turkey with her.  At the time I really knew nothing about Turkey, but I eagerly said yes!  Our plan was to meet up with her relatives that were living on an American/Turkish air force base in Adana.

We flew from London to Dalaman and then caught a bus to Fethiye where we stayed the night.  Fethiye was right on the ocean and it was so incredibly beautiful!  We found a cheap hotel to stay in and the manager told us about a wonderful local place to eat.  It was an outside restaurant run by a local family.  We had some great food and a night of classic Turkish music and dancing.

The next day, we took a bus along the coast to our final destination.  It was a twenty hour long bus ride, which normally would take 11 hours by car.  The bus ride wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been for a 17 year old bus steward that apparently had it in for us.  There were maybe two other women on the bus and the rest were men.  Almost everyone was smoking, so Maggie asked the steward if he could open the vents on the roof of the bus.  They were barely open and we hoped that he would open them more since the windows on the sides of the bus could not be opened.  Instead, he closed the vents completely and gave us a look like too bad for you!  I had also put my feet on a metal box that was in front of our seats and he came over and shoved my feet off.  Maggie and I both looked at each other and then started to talk back to him.  Thank goodness there was a really nice man sitting behind us who had told the steward to leave us alone and he did.

3U9A7663 We finally arrived at Maggie’s aunt’s house and were enthusiastically greeted by Maggie’s cute little cousins.  The next day, Maggie’s aunt took us to a local restaurant that had some of the best food I have ever had. The meal consisted of small bowls filled with different salads, soups, rice, vegetables and sauces with a giant piece of flat bread.  I had no idea what Turkish food was like before my visit but I will tell you that I was in heaven with all the great vegetarian options!  After lunch, Maggie’s aunt took us to the cute town near Karatepe.   We saw women weaving rugs in a shop’s showroom and decided to take a look.  Unfortunately, we didn’t buy any rugs.  We also found another shop with a large assortment of beautiful scarves.  Maggie and I both bought a bunch.   We bought scarves made of crepe with lace stitched on the edges but my favorite ones were gauze scarves that had seed bead flowers dangling off the edges.  Of course, I bought one in every color.  Aside from the 17-year-old, everyone one we met was extremely nice and helpful, the food was out of this world and the countryside was insanely gorgeous!  I would love to spend more time there and I will be praying for peace, love and understanding!

Also, my friend Aysegul from the amazing blog Foolproof Living is from Turkey.  While I have never met Aysegul in person, we have been getting to know each other through social media.  She has been a great inspiration and very helpful to me.  Luckily, Aysegul’s family and friends are ok but it’s scary nonetheless.

3U9A7548 This Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart pairs great with a Cava or a Txakoli.

3U9A7679 Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart Recipe:
6 to 8 servings
  • 1 Recipe Toasted Almond Oat Crust – recipe below
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers – roasted
  • 1 Fennel Bulb – cut in half – cored – cut halves in half – thinly slice
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove – minced
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 3/4 Cups manchego – shredded – divided
  • 1 Cup Pecorino – shredded
  • 8 oz. Creme Fraiche
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Large Tomato – thinly sliced
Garnish options:
  • Fresh Basil
  • Edible Flowers
Tart Dough
  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds – ground
  • 1 Cup Oat Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Chia Seeds – ground
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 5 Tablespoons Salted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Ice Water or until it sticks together (don’t over do it)
 Instructions:
Dough
*
Grind the almonds in the food processor then add flour, ground chia and salt.  Pulse several times to combine.
Add the butter in 1/4 inch piece.
 Pulse a few times to break up the butter evenly, then add ice water slowly as you pulse, until it resembles a coarse meal with tiny pieces of butter.  It will be crumbly but holds together when squeezed with your fingers, do not over process.
Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thick and transfer to a tart pan.  Press into the edges and up the sides of the tart pan.  Poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or overnight.
*
Roasted peppers
*
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 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.
 Slice in half and remove the seeds and stems.  Cut the tops and bottoms off of the peppers.  Thinly slice a pepper to create a lattice. (this part is optional, you can dice them all up if you want) Create the lattice on an extra plate so you know how much you will need then dice up any remaining piece and the remaining pepper.  Set aside.
*
Fennel
 *
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut the fennel in half and cut out the core.  Cut each half horizontally into 1/4 -inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Toss to evenly coat.  Roast for 15 – 20 minutes or until soft and golden.  Set aside.
*
Onions and cream sauce
*
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes then add the garlic and salt.  Saute until the garlic just starts to become golden.  Add the onions to a medium sized bowl and mix together with the roasted fennel.  Set aside.
Add the creme fraiche with the one cup Manchego, pecorino and salt to a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until cheese is melted, stirring frequently.  Set aside.
*
Assemble
*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bake the tart crust on the middle rack for 10 minutes with pie weights or beans and then 15 min without the weights.
 Slice the tomatoes and push out any seeds with your finger to remove as much water content.  Set aside.
Sprinkle half of the reserved manchego evenly over the warm tart crust.  Spread out the fennel mix, sprinkle on the diced red peppers and arrange tomatoes in a single layer.  Spread the creme fraiche mix over the tomatoes and then carefully create the lattice with the strips of bell peppers.  Sprinkle on the remaining Manchego.
Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until golden.
*
3U9A7745 Health benefits:

Bell Peppers are extremely high in vitamin A, which helps to support healthy eyesight especially night vision.  It is also very high in vitamin C, which is really important for the skin.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.  Red peppers are one of the veggies highest in lycopene and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes, that are great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas.

Fennel is a very good source of fiber that helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood.  The fiber also helps remove carcinogens from the colon and it can eliminate constipation.  It contains the phytonutrient anethole, the main part of its volatile oil that has been shown to reduce inflammation and also helping prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is helpful for eye inflammation, and reduces premature aging and macular degeneration.  There are high levels of potassium in the fennel bulbs and seeds and can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities and it also increases the reach of oxygen to the brain.  The fronds above the fennel bulbs contain important vitamins, like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Spanish Piquillo Pepper Pesto

This pesto has the flavors of Spain with the piquillo peppers, manchego and macrona almonds!

Piquillo-Pepper-and-Manchego-Pesto

I made this pesto to bring along to a barbecue at our friends Jill, Paloma and Beto’s house.  Beto turned me on to piquillo peppers years back and I have been obsessed ever since.  I wanted to see what they would taste like in a pesto and yes, I have to make everything into a pesto.  Anyways, it was a hit!

Piquillo is Spanish for “little beak” and are traditionally grown in Northern Spain.  They are perfect for stuffing and made into tapas.

Piquillo-Pepper-Pesto

Enjoy with a Spanish wine like a Rueda, White Rioja, Cava, Txacoli or Red Rioja.

Piquillo-Pepper-Manchego-Pesto Recipe: Approx. 2 1/2 Cups

  • 3/4 Cup Jarred Piquillo Peppers
  • 3/4 + 2 Tablespoons Marcona Almonds
  • 3/4 + 2 Tablespoons Manchego Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Spanish Hot Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Instructions:

In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine all ingredients and puree to desired texture.  Make sure to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula at least once.  

Health benefits:

Piquillo peppers are a high source of fiber, and Vitamins C, E, A, and B.  The vitamin C content is as high as a citrus fruit.  They improve the blood circulation and reduce high blood pressure.  They also help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and promote healthy cholesterol.

Roasted Leek Manchego Pesto

 The combination of roasted leek and manchego cheese is outright delicious!

Roasted-Leek-Manchego-Pesto

Robby and I have been watching a lot of Jacques Pepin lately and he uses a lot of leek in his dishes.  He has inspired me to use them more frequently.  Roasting them gives them such a depth of flavor and works brilliant with manchego.

Roasted-Leek-with-Manchego-Pesto

I like this pesto with a Spanish wine like a Rueda, Albariño, white Rioja, red Rioja, Tempranillo or a Garnacha.

Roasted-Leek-and-Manchego-Pesto Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 Cups Leek (1 Large)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Manchego Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (and some for drizzling)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Hot Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste (start with a 1/4 teaspoon due to the sprinkling on the leeks, taste and see if it needs more)

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degree

Start by washing the leek really well.  There is always dirt on the inside.  Watch this how to video if you have never cooked with leek before.  Cut the roots off, cut in half length wise and cut the halves in half length wise.

Spread the leeks on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast on the top rack for about 15 minutes or until edges start to brown a bit, measure and add to a food processor.

Juice the lemon with a hand held juicer, measure along with the cheese, walnuts, olive oil, paprika and salt and add to food processor along with the garlic cloves and puree.  Scrape down the sides at least once.

Roasted Jalapeno Cilantro Manchego Pesto

This Roasted Jalapeno Cilantro Manchego Pesto is one of my favorite pestos, I could literally sit and eat it by the spoonful!  It’s bursting with flavor and delightfully spicy!

3U9A9155 This is relatively spicy, depending on the heat of the jalapeños.  If you like really spicy food, you can leave the seeds in a couple or all the jalapeños. If not, then remove them all.

3U9A9141 This pesto pairs nicely with a light Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris or a white Rioja.

3U9A9242 Roasted Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Black Rice Recipe:

Approx. 1 1/4 Cups

  • 5 – 8 Jalapeno
  • 3 Cups Cilantro Leaves
  • 1 Cup Manchego Cheese
  • 1 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 – 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Instructions:
Roasted  jalapeno

Wash the peppers then line them in the center of a baking sheet.

 Turn the oven to broil and place the baking sheet on top shelf of the oven and broil for 4 – 5 minutes.

 Flip over and broil 3 – 4 minutes until they are well charred.

 Peel off the skin with a paper towel by rubbing off the charred skin, cut off the stem then cut in half and deseed.

 Measure and combine everything in a food processor or blender and puree.

3U9A9288 Health Benefits:

Jalapeno peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, 1 pepper provides 18 % of the daily value for men and 23 % for women.  They also have a good amount of vitamin A, which helps skin and eye health.  Jalapenos contain phenols, flavonoids and capsaicinoids that help the body fight free radicals, inflammation and promote weight loss.  The bioflavonoids are powerful antioxidants and help strengthen blood vessels. They also fight nasal congestion by stimulating secretions that help clear mucus from the nose.  They contain more vitamin B6 aiding the immune system, E that protects the cells and K, which increases bone mass, than any other pepper.

Cilantro is an extreme anti-oxidant 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.  Cilantro can lower bad cholesterol level and increase the good cholesterol level.  It also helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar.  It is rich in essential oils, vitamins and is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K and dietary fiber.  It is also an excellent source of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids and calcium.