by Elizabeth of Guilty Kitchen
For me, cheese is a comfort food, a soothing reminder of childhood sandwiches, gooey sauces; and snacks packed with care for school. Cheese holds a special place in my heart and I eat it as often as I can (in moderation, of course). I buy a small wheel of Brie, a few cuts of aged cheeses and a little charcuterie, and I’m already feeling wonderful in the grocer lineup. There’s just something about eating in the way of the Italians/Mediterraneans that brightens my day.
Fondue, in particular, is something I like to make for romantic occasions. I used to make it for my girlfriends on Valentine’s Day when we were single and wished to drown our sorrows in a vat of bubbling comfort. Nowadays, I make it for my husband and myself. Stirring the bubbling pot of delicious, creamy goodness while he puts the little one to bed.
We cut the vegetables together, sipping our wine and giggling like children. A little wine for the pot, a little wine for the cook…
At long last our fondue is ready. My husband lights the flame to keep the fondue pot warm, while I plate all the goodies we will be dipping. I like to dip steamed, in-season vegetables as well as mushrooms, tart, crisp apples and big hunks of fresh sourdough bread. I feel just a little too naughty dipping only bread – so we fill up on veggies and consider this a healthy meal.
Fondue is one of the most interactive foods that one can share with family and friends, loved ones, even children. The simplicity in making fondue adds to its alluring persona. When I make fondue, it’s usually cheese-based, as I’ve found eating a big pot full of chocolate and its accoutrements (sweet fruits, marshmallows…) is too much for my stomach. Amazingly, a pot full of gooey cheese is almost soothing to my tummy, or maybe it’s really a moment of mind over matter.
Fondues also make a great party dish. Guests can choose a little, or a lot, of their chosen “dippables,” pile on whatever else is on offer, and scoot back to their table to enjoy. It’s also famous as an après ski snack. Coming in from a cold day on the slopes, what better to warm you up than a steaming bowl of cheese and wine?
Whatever occasion you are celebrating (Tuesday after work? Sunday afternoon?), fondues should be something you add to your repertoire. Although often misconstrued as complicated or overly fancy, fondues are actually quite easy and fast to prepare. Having the ingredients on hand helps of course, but don’t be afraid to whip this up at any time.
Wisconsin Swiss & Gruyère Fondue
by Guilty Kitchen
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
1 cup white wine or vermouth
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp Kirsch
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 lb Wisconsin Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 lb Wisconsin Gruyère, grated
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
Put lemon and wine in a small pot and bring to a light simmer over medium high heat. Mix Kirsch and cornstarch together in a small bowl and set aside. Add the grated cheese to the wine and whisk constantly until creamy and smooth (do not boil).
Stir the cornstarch/Kirsch mixture into the cheese and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Cook for about 5-8 minutes.
Tranfer your fondue to a heated fondue pot and keep a flame or Sterno underneath to keep it warm. Add nutmeg and pepper, to taste. Stir every now and then. Serve with your favorite lightly steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus), tart apple slices and sourdough bread cubes.