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Three Great Additions to your Fall Cheese Boards: Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam, Fromage Fort and Toasted Walnuts and Raisins

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 Top Left: Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam.  Center: Toasted Walnuts and Raisins
Right: Fromage Fort 
Simplicity itself: Toasted Walnuts and Raisins
Fromage Fort with Garlic and Pepper

I am always on the look-out for ways to freshen the tried and true.   And as the temperature drops in the East, and entertaining moves indoors, Andrew and I love to put out a big platter of cheese and grapes, crackers and biscuits for our guests.  If you do it right, it not only stems those pre-dinner pangs of hunger, it looks gorgeous on your table.  But our cheese platters inevitably leave us with bits and pieces of various cheeses.  There’s leftover Brie, a morsel of hard cheese like Manchego and, if I fish around in the cheese drawer, I can usually come up with some mozzarella that’s too big to throw away or some gruyere that’s too good to do so.  I remembered reading about what the French do with the odds and ends and so I went on a quick and found the recipe for Fromage Fort. It’s so thrifty, I could practically hear my mother applauding from heaven.  And what a way to meld all these flavors together and get something completely new:  A wonderful spreadable cheese, rich in garlic and pepper.   So I had a new anchor for our cheese selection. At a recent cocktail party, my clever host, Huey, had simply combined some really good raisins with some toasted walnuts.  Nothing could be simpler or more satisfying. But my new discoveries didn’t end there.   I was confronted with a recipe I’d been wanting to try since forever.   It was for Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam. 


Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam

When friends go to the trouble of pointing my search in a new direction, I am always supremely grateful.  One afternoon last week, I got an email from one of my favorite people on earth.  I’ve been a friend of Judith for about 35 years.  We don’t see each other that often because she lives between Denver, Aspen and Rancho Mirage CA.  But she gets to New York annually and it’s always a treat.  When I opened her email, she’d taken the trouble to send me an article from The Denver Post’s food section.   Its author, a woman named Stacey Brugeman, who calls herself the Denver Omnivore, says she’d wanted to try making Bacon Jam ever since a Top Chef contestant, Kevin Gillespie, topped a fricassee of

Atlanta’s Kevin Gillespie once topped
snails with Bacon Jam

snails with bacon jam in 2009.  Now Kevin looks like he knows a thing or two about bacon but I am afraid the snail topping might have turned me off sooner than it turned me on.  Stacey, meanwhile, made this combination of thick sliced bacon, onions and shallots, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Maple Syrup for a breakfast party.  It was such a hit that for weeks afterward she kept getting requests for the recipe—some from people who were not even at the original party.   This kind of endorsement sent me straight to the stove.  Here are the recipes for Fromage Fort and Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam.  Make them and you’ll have all kinds of things to talk about over your next cheese platter.


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