Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cheese Fondue: Recipe

I recently came across a great find in a thrift store, something I'd been looking for for a long time: a fondue pot. And not just any fondue pot.

My fondue pot is so groovy, so 70s, that just a glimpse of it caused me to be instantly transported back into the era of flares, shag carpeting, clogs, conversation pits, peasant blouses, game rooms and faux wood paneling. It even says "fondue" on the side in a far-out script in case you were wondering what to use it for. Even better is the fact that the fondue pot was still in its original box and all the parts were still unopened and in their packaging. The box had been sitting in someone's attic since the early days of Studio 54. I was the first to use it. It's simply the best four bucks I've ever spent.

I admit that fondue has a kind of cheesey (sorry) reputation. It's not really fondue's fault though. Contrary to popular belief, fondue was not invented in Santa Monica in 1974. The word "fondue" comes from the French word "fondre" which means to melt. Fondue was developed in Switzerland in the 18th century as a way to use old bread and hard cheese in the winter when it was too cold to go outside and get those things fresh.

I had fondue for the first time last night, and I can say unequivocally that I think cheese fondue doesn't deserve its bad reputation. It's a totally delicious, totally easy, totally traditional, super fun vegetarian meal which even buzzkill meat-eaters will enjoy. I've
also offered--thanks to Vegan Lunchbox--a vegan variation.

I feel it's high time for a fondue revival. Fondue is our friend and deserves to be treated with respect. In order to prevent it from
ever falling into disrepute again, I'd like to offer a few of my personal fon-do's and fon-don'ts, which I hope you'll take to heart.

FON-DON'T: Don't serve fondue in July. As much as you'd like to have a hearty cheese fondue at your pool party, fondue is really a cold weather food. It's from Switzerland, where even they served it in the wintertime.

FON-DON'T: Don't get too creative with what goes in the pot. Experiment with different kinds of cheeses, sure, but avoid those fondue recipes that call for a jar of peanut butter, a can of tuna and a box of Ritz crackers.

FON-DON'T: Don't just open a can of cheese soup and pour it into your fondue pot. You'd be surprised at how many recipes tell you to do just that. That's not being fair to fondue. It's like telling someone who wants to try pizza to spread some ketchup on a piece of Wonderbread.

Do use high-quality cheese and good bread for your fondue.

FON-DON'T: Don't serve fondue for more than one course at a meal. As much as you might want an appetizer of cheese fondue, followed by veggie Bourguignonne, with a dessert of chocolate fondue, it's just too heavy. The novelty wears off after a while, too. Fondue is really a meal in itself, but if you feel you must serve it with something go for a light salad or fresh fruit.

FON-DO: Do serve with plenty of stuff for dipping. Although just bread is the most traditional you can also try lightly blanched bite-sized pieces of broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, etc, cubes of roasted potatos, and sliced red pepper.

Vegetarian Cheese Fondue

1 pound chopped cheese (Gruyere or Emmanthaler or combination)
1 loaf good crusty Euro-style country bread, cut into squares
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (plus more for drinking)
Pinch nutmeg
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Kirsch
Salt and pepper

1. Rub the inside of your fondue pot with a clove of garlic. Toss the garlic away. Put 1 1/2 cups white wine in the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2. As soon as the wine has little bubbles in it, throw in the cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted (the wine and cheese will not blend until you throw in the kirsch)

3. Mix the cornstarch and the kirsch in a small cup and then pour it into the cheese mixture. Continue cooking about three to five minutes or until the fondue is thick and blended.

4. Transfer the pot to your fondue stand and light it. Give each guest a fondue fork and allow them to dip the bits of bread into the cheese. Take a moment to dig on all the out-a-sight compliments from your mellows before joining in on the fun.

Vegan Lunch Box's Vegan Cheese Fondue

½ cup chopped baby carrots
one 12-oz. package soft or firm silken tofu
¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ tsp. dry mustard
1 TB mellow brown rice or white miso
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp. salt, or to taste
pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg

1. Place the carrots in a small saucepan and cover with a scant ½ cup of water. Bring to boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the carrots are completely tender.

2. Meanwhile, place all the rest of the ingredients in a blender. When the carrots are done add them and their cooking liquid and puree until completely smooth.

3. Place the fondue back into the saucepan and heat on medium low heat, stirring frequently, until piping hot.

4. To serve, pour the fondue into a small crockpot or fondue pot and serve surrounded by vegetables and bread for dipping.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fondue is awesome stuff. I agree that it is too heavy for multiple courses - although Mr. Dante disagrees with us both ;p

My fondue pot is avocado green. Yours wins since it had the forks and stuff, mine was just the pot and stand.

Invite me over soon and I will bring the light salad and fruit :)


12:48 PM  
Blogger FilmStocker said...

Far out. Do you have an avocado-green polyester jumpsuit to match your pot?

Let's dip together soon. A definite Fon-Do!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous mark said...

The two things I've learned about fondue:
1. if you drop something in the pot you have to kiss someone at the table
2. only drink hot tea or alcohol with cheese fondue lest it congeal in your stomach from cold liquids

then there's 3. it feels like it's been too long since I've had fondue!


11:30 PM  
Blogger FilmStocker said...

Thanks for the tips. Congealed cheese in the stomach is defintely a fon-don't! Yikes!

10:27 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home