For the past few years, I’ve turned the odds and ends of leftover good cheese from various festivities I’ve had at the house over the holidays and made Fromage Fort. If you’re unfamiliar with the cheese spread, it’s a French method of taking leftover cheese, adding wine, garlic and butter, and creating something new from them all.

The end result is always different, but always good. Last night, I made my yearly batch, but it didn’t go as smoothly as in the past. First of all, I didn’t have enough leftover good cheese to create a pound of leftovers. I had some Birchrun Blue, Maytag Blue, Port Salut, a nice Italian Parmesan, some mozzarella, and a local horseradish cheddar, but when I weighed all I had, it didn’t come to a pound.

I cut off a chunk of my everyday cheddar, Cabot Seriously Sharp, but I was still a little under. That’s when I decided to really test the bounds of Fromage Fort. Instead of adding more cheddar, I made the untested decision to add deli sliced provolone. The cheese was leftover from an afternoon of tree trimming and meatball sandwiches. It needed to get used up, and that’s the purpose of Fromage Fort – to use up leftover cheese.

I threw all my cheese into my food processor, added the garlic and the wine and let the machine do it its work. It just wasn’t turning into a smooth cheese spread, though. I added some more wine and let the food processor go until everything was smooth. I added some parsley and gave it a few good pulses to distribute the herb.

Then, I put it in a bowl and gave it a taste. It wasn’t right.

“Could it be that I made my first bad batch of Fromage Fort? Did the deli cheese kill it?” I wondered

Then I realized that I had left out the butter. So, I scraped everything back into food processor, added the butter, and let it whir. The end result was a mint green-colored, smooth, creamy cheese spread. Since the parsley ended up getting blended more than usual into the spread, it tinged the entire spread with its color.

Fortunately, it now tastes good. And, as all the flavors mellow even more over the next day, it will taste even better tomorrow night when I take it a friend’s house for Christmas Eve.

Long story short, Fromage Fort, which is an improvisation to begin with, is very forgiving. You can add less than stellar cheese. You can forget the butter, add it after the fact, and still end up with a good cheese spread. You can even inadvertently make it mint green in color, and you will still have something that will impress those you serve it to.

Why will they be impressed? When someone asks what’s in it, you’ll say, “Oh, it’s just the odds and ends of cheese that were in my fridge that I whipped up with some wine, garlic and butter. It’s how the French do it,” and you’ll look like a culinary genius - even if you messed it up like I did this year.

If you have odds and ends of cheese in your refrigerator, you too can be a culinary genius. Check out Fromage Fort gives new life to leftover cheese for the recipe and some additional tips on making this cheese spread.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Fromage Fort, improvised
The cheese spread is not only a brilliant and forgiving way to use up odds and ends of cheese, it also makes you look like a culinary genius.