Tag Archives | Madame Fromage

July 4 Picnic: The Wrap-Up

picnic table side view

Last week, the lovely Madame Fromage and I shared the various components of summery 4th of July cheese and preserve picnic we made. Our hope was to create something that would help inspire all of you to open up your pantries, buy a few wedges, and invite friends over to celebrate.

open spiced blueberries

I started the week with a batch of spiced blueberries. Preserved in a syrup spiked with just a bit of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness, these blueberries were lovely with cheese. They would also be nice spooned over vanilla ice cream or angel food cake, should you prefer a dessert-y pairing.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, you can replace the vinegar with a little lemon juice, if you don’t love the assertiveness of the vinegar.


While I was writing about blueberries, Tenaya was sharing tips for making light, refreshing, cheese-friendly cocktails. The recipe she included was one that was made with gin and a bit of raspberry shrub, but could be made with any light spirit and tangy fruity syrup.

finished cherry chutney

The next day, my suggestion was to make a batch of sweet cherry chutney. This is a preserve I first shared last summer and is a very good one. When I’m not eating it with a slice of cheese, I like stir it into a bowl of warm couscous, chopped arugula, and a soft boiled egg.

graham crackers

One of the components that Madame Fromage made for our picnic was a batch of whole grain graham crackers. The recipe is one that Heidi Swanson first posted on her site more than a decade ago, but is well worth a revisit. These crackers are sturdy, slightly sweet, and once you eat one with a bit of crumbled blue cheese, you’ll never again be satisfied with a basic Ritz.

whole brittle

My final offering for this celebratory meal was a batch of spicy pecan brittle. Broken into shards, it was delicious with bites of cheese. In slightly larger pieces, it was eaten as a sweet treat at the end of the meal.

three cheeses

For her second to last post, Madame Fromage turned her attention to the cheeses. We made the choice to buy the cheeses for this series from Trader Joe’s, in the hopes of making our selections more widely available while also showing that there are some really great budget options available out there.

friends shooting the board

I hope you enjoyed our picnic as much as we did! Make sure to check out Madame Fromage’s wrap-up here. And once again, many thanks to Peg & Awl for lending us the gorgeous boards (I’m just sad we didn’t find a way to work this jar caddy into the shoot).

And now, a question for all of you. How are you planning on working your homemade preserves into your summer celebrations?

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July 4th Picnic: Sweet Cherry Chutney

finished cherry chutney

I have spent the last couple weeks preserving my way through a sea of cherries. First came a 20 pound box of sweets from the nice people at the Washington State Fruit Commission as part of the annual Canbassador program. Then, just when I’d finished turning them into chutney, jam, kompot, clafoutis, and shrub, I picked up a flat of sour cherries from Three Springs Fruit Farm. I have one more pound of those to work through from that flat and then I’m done.

cherries for chutney

Happily, cherries were a perfect fit for this July 4th cheese board project. I made a fresh batch of sweet cherry chutney with some of the Canbassador fruit. Paired with a wedge of sturdy blue cheese and piled on those homemade graham crackers, it was pretty darn delicious.

chopped cherries

If you don’t have the time or desire to pit four pounds of cherries (admittedly, it can be a little tedious), I suggest you make a batch of pickled cherries. These can be preserved with the pits still in them and after a few days, they are ready to eat. These honey-sweetened cherries with fresh rosemary would also pair up nicely with that wedge of blue.

chutney in spread

Tenaya posted her tips for stirring up tasty summer sparklers to drink with cheeses today. Make sure to head over there and take a look!

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Cheese and Jam for the 4th of July

cheese and preserve picnic

One of the things that I firmly believe is that my job here as the writer of this website is not just to offer up canning instructions and recipes, but also to offer up suggestions on how to use and enjoy the things you’ve made. After all, there’s no point in preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables if you never open the jars and empty them out again.

cucumber baguette raspberries

To that end, my dear friend Tenaya (aka Madame Fromage) and I dreamed up a little 4th of July picnic to share on our blogs that features a handful of cheeses paired up with preserves, crackers, and a slab of spicy pecan brittle. The cheeses are all from Trader Joe’s, so they’re quite widely accessible, and the preserves are mere suggestions. Feel free to take inspiration from what you already have on hand.

We know that we’re still a couple weeks out from Independence Day, but we figured posting this series now will give you the time to do a little preserving and make a plan for your own celebratory gathering.

three cheeses

All this week, we’ll be posting tidbits from our little cheese and preserve party. Over on her site, you’ll find the recipes for hearty whole wheat graham crackers and an easy shrub sparkler as well as tips on pairing cheeses with various jams, pickles, and other edible delights.

tenaya shooting the table

I’ll be sharing the recipes for the spiced blueberries and the pecan brittle, as well as pointing you to the cherry recipes that would best accompany this board (we used a jar of my sweet cherry chutney in the shoot and it was heavenly with all three cheeses). Make sure to check back all week long for all the celebratory fun.

Oh, and huge thanks to Margeux Kent and Peg & Awl for lending us all the pretty boards you see in the pictures above. I wanted to tuck one or two into my bag, but managed to keep my sticky fingers to myself.

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In Deep Autumn

One of the things I’ve discovered since become a full-time freelancer is that it’s really important to reach and out find people with whom to collaborate. When you work in an office, teamwork is often assumed. When you work from the solitude of your living room, it takes intention to forge alliances.

What I have to share with you all is the product of one of these intentional alliances. A few weeks back, Tenaya Darlington (author of the blog Madame Fromage and the forthcoming book Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings), Jason Varney (he blogs at Fussing with Forks, makes some of the most enticing food photography I’ve seen and is an Instagram wizard) and I teamed up. The results of our efforts are these four digital pages. They contain cheese suggestions, preserves and drinks to go along with those cheeses, and really gorgeous images.

Our hope is that you’ll take this mini-magazine, and try out the pairings and recipes. Gather your friends around a table, fill jelly jars with port, balance persimmon chutney atop a few crumbles of Stilton and appreciate the autumn.

You can click on the viewer above to expand the image or you can download a PDF by clicking here.

Many thanks go to Jason and Tenaya, as well as to Di Bruno Brothers for providing the cheese and to Sara Varney, who played a pivotal role in the layout and design.

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Links: Pumpkins, Pickled Ginger and Kimchi

winter squash

Finally, here are links to a few things I published elsewhere over the last week.

  • Over at Simple Bites, there was my Maple-Sweetened Pumpkin Butter. It’s not safe for canning, but it keeps in the fridge for several weeks and freezes like a dream.
  • What’s a squash hater to do in this season of pumpkin-spice-everything? I say, turn to chai and I did a round-up of tasty autumnal alternatives for Table Matters.
  • Finally, for the FN Dish, I made Ina Garten’s Skillet Brownies. I served them for dessert at a little potluck, but after the trying week the east coast has had, I encourage you to make them for friends, family, first responders and anyone else who needs a little comfort and chocolate.
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A Pair of Food Blogging Classes with Madame Fromage


I started blogging in February 2005. In actual years, that’s not so long ago, but in internet years, it’s at least two lifetimes. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words for wide swath of online sites (most of them having to do with food, Philadelphia or food in Philadelphia). I’ve launched, run, edited, managed and even closed blogs.

I know a little bit about this blogging thing.

Next month, I’m teaming up with Tenaya Darlington (you might know her as Madame Fromage), to teach a pair of workshops about food blogging at Indy Hall. The first session is geared to those who are newer to the food blogging world or haven’t even started a blog yet. The second workshop will be a bit more advanced and is the perfect thing for those who need a bit of grounding and focus. Both sessions will leave you motivated, excited and happily fed (of course, I’ll be bringing jam). We hope a few of you will join us!

Food Blogging I : An Introduction
Sat., October 15, 10-1 p.m.
Indy Hall, $75, includes brunch
Instructors: Marisa McClellan & Tenaya Darlington

Want to launch a food blog, or spice up the one you’ve already started? Spend a morning developing your culinary identity. We’ll give you an anatomy lesson of good blog components, talk photo gear, explore trends and niches, plus brainstorm future posts with you. This is a hands-on class. You will eat muffins. You will take lots of notes. When you leave, you’ll have all the tools to start blogging with a clear vision of the food story you want to share.

Food Blogging II: Ethics & Etiquette
Sat., Nov. 5, 10-1p.m.
Indy Hall, $75, includes breakfast
Instructors: Marisa McClellan & Tenaya Darlington

So you’ve been blogging for a while, but you’re wondering how to get noticed. And you’re worried your posts might be too long. And you think you might want to run advertising? In this 3-hour workshop, we’ll run through Blog Ethics 101 and help you think through the choices ahead. We’ll also look at several case studies of successful bloggers who have landed book deals and launched full-blown careers in writing. It’s not just about branding, it’s also about understanding the ethics and etiquette around posting recipes, photos, and comments. Consider this your baptism into the pro blogger community.

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