Long before nut-covered cheese balls hit the dairy case, French home cooks were making a delicious spread called fromage fort. The basic concept--blending leftover cheese with a little wine and seasonings--is both thrifty and open to plenty of improv (we like to use our favorite Western cheeses). Here's the method and a combination we especially like.
1/2 pound (1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups) coarsely chopped cheese (use equal parts fresh goat cheese such as Laura Chenel and parmesan)
About 3 tbsp. Sauvignon Blanc wine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped unsalted roasted almonds
Crackers, toasted baguette slices, or raw vegetables
How to Make It
In a food processor, whirl cheese until finely chopped. Add 3 tbsp. wine and whirl until very smooth. Scrape into a bowl and stir in thyme, apricots, and almonds. Season generously with pepper. If needed, stir in a bit more wine until spreadable (mixture thickens as it stands).
Serve cheese spread with crackers, toasted baguette slices, or raw vegetables.