In the Junkyard Tales story “The Junkyard Feast: A Story of Thanksgiving,” it is time for the annual Junkyard Feast. In this autumn celebration, the Junkyard animals cook special dishes in gratitude for all they have given each other throughout the year. But when Ben Thompson, clever cat, learns that Sergeant will be spending the feast day with the Warden and his family, he insists that they must make something delicious for Sergeant before he leaves. The result is a last-minute conglomeration of all that the Junkyard animals love best.
Oh sweet Ben — we've all been there! It's fifteen minutes before the time to leave for a party and all of sudden something or someone has been forgotten and the situation just cannot stand.
If, over the upcoming holiday season, you find yourself in a similar predicament and it can be solved with food, may I recommend adopting Ben's method? You may not want to gather your last-minute dish ingredients from the favorites of the Junkyard animals, but if you have a few bits of cheese in your fridge, I've got a plan for you.
Fromage forte (“strong cheese”) is a French cheese spread that is made from odd bits and pieces of cheese. (Odd bits and pieces of any cheese, like, whatever you have in your fridge right this second.) The cheese is broken up and mixed in a food processor with chicken stock until it's a spreadable consistency.
It will taste a little different every time you make it, depending on the cheese you have on hand, but really, truly, don't feel like you have to start with fancy cheese. For this particular version, the majority of what I used was the bottom of a bag of shredded cheese, a few tablespoons of feta leftover from taco night, and a couple of cheese sticks that didn't make it into my son's lunchbox during the week. It's good to have a mix of hard and soft cheese if you can, but even that can be corrected with a little butter or salt at the end if you need additional creaminess or flavor.
Fromage forte is very forgiving and very quick. Now quit reading this and go hunt up some cheese — you've got a celebration to get to!
1 pound mixed cheese
About ½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup softened butter
thyme, rosemary, or other savory herbs
Collect your cheese odds and ends until you have about a pound. Break or cut them into small chunks, and place them in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse the cheese several times, then slowly add chicken stock as the processor is running until the cheese is a spreadable consistency. You may not need to use all of the stock.
Once the cheese has come together, give it a taste. If it's still not creamy enough, consider adding butter. If it needs more bite, try a pinch of salt or some garlic. If it needs something earthy, consider a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary. Make as many additions as you wish, tasting between each one until you get it just right. Keep in mind that flavors like garlic will get stronger over time, so if you're not making this last minute — that is, if you're intending to let the spread sit for a few days before you use it — you may want to begin more cautiously.
When you're happy with the flavor, spoon the cheese spread into a container with a lid. Serve it at room temperature with veggies, crackers, slices of baguette, or whatever else you think might benefit from a smear of yummy cheese.
Print recipe card HERE.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.