In the interest of climate consciousness, many chefs are turning to zero/low waste practices. Interestingly, many of these are simply a reinvigoration of old ways and are happily proving to offer delicious, excellently cost-effective, zero-waste food options. Our ‘last but not least’ grazing plate features fromage fort – a rustic cheese spread made of leftover bits of cheese, wine and herbs – the embodiment of ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’, delicious tops and tails pickles, kitchen sink pesto and fennel topped sourdough crackers.
Share plates for four pax.
- 320g cheese ends/leftover pieces, chopped (we used honey cow, smoked cheddar and brie)
- 75 ml white wine, prosecco or Champagne (this is a great use of the leftover smidge of wine in the bottle)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Cracked black pepper
Tops and tails pickles
- 250g veg scraps (tops and tails or peels)
- 250ml sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Sprig of thyme and/or rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 garlic clove
Makes 16-18 large crackers
- 125g sourdough starter discard
- 60g spelt flour
- 60g rye flour
- 60g plain flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 65g cultured butter, softened
- 20ml water
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (you could also use, sesame, nigella, dukkha or cumin)
- Sea salt flakes
1. To make the fromage fort
Put the chopped cheese into a lidded container, pour over the wine and stir to combine. Add the garlic, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour (or longer). Transfer to a food processor, add a good grind of black pepper and blitz until you have a creamy spreadable consistency (about 30 seconds). Season to taste and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
2. To make the pickles
Wash and drain the veggie pieces and transfer them to a lidded container. Gently heat the sherry vinegar in a small saucepan, add the salt, sugar, peppercorns and mustard seeds. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved, pour the warm vinegar over the veggie scraps, add in whatever herbs you are using, the bay leaf and garlic and top with cold water until the veggies are just covered. Cover and sit until cool before transferring to the fridge.
3. To make the kitchen sink pesto
This is not a recipe as such but a guideline. Pesto is the perfect upcycle for ‘on their last legs’ soft leaf herbs or leafy greens (e.g. spinach and rocket).
Blitz herbs/greens until coarse, add a little garlic if desired, some nuts and lemon zest, and if you like, some grated cheese, blitz again until you have a dry coarse mix. With the processor running, drizzle in enough oil (e.g. olive, avocado or nut) to form a spreadable paste. Season to taste, press a piece of baking paper into the surface (to prevent oxidisation), cover with a lid and refrigerate.
4. To make the sourdough crackers
Bring together the sourdough starter, flours and salt, until you have a stiffish dough. Using your fingertips, work in the softened butter and finally add the water, working the dough until just combined. Divide the dough into 23-25g balls and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 180°C (fan on pulse).
To shape the crackers, flatten them with your hands before rolling into very thin ovals – about 1mm – rolling on or between sheets of baking paper can help achieve the thinness required. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with silpat or baking paper, sprinkle with fennel seeds and sea salt, pressing them gently into the crackers. Bake for 12-15 minutes until crisp and beginning to turn golden around the edges. Cool completely on wire racks and store in an airtight container between layers of baking paper.
- For the fromage fort, the marinating stage can be extended over several days. This is another angle for experimenting with flavour profiles and intensity of the final product.
- Try with different combos but be super careful with blue cheese or any super strongly flavoured cheese – a little goes a long way as does pairing with more subtle creamy cheeses in these instances.
- Herbs are optional. You could add all sorts of herbs, consider the cheeses you are using – e.g. thyme, rosemary, chives, marjoram, parsley – the addition of herbs might impact the longevity of the spread.
- For the sourdough crackers, these are best kept in a cool spot with low humidity.
As seen in Summer 23/24