Any Kitchen Will Do

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Fondue Feast

Is it French or Swiss in origin? I don’t know. The evolution in America of fondue is such a different animal compared to the simple cheese fondue I found to be served in Europe. Way back in the ’80s my family would join forces with other families and have fondue parties. At the time it was a throwback to the 1960s, when my parents stocked up on fondue sets. Regardless of when it peaked in popularity or where it first happened, it is still a fun time with abundant and delicious food.

I learned a number of things from those fondue parties when I was growing up. The first was you must commit to any dip you take with your loaded fondue forks, for double dipping in a pot of cheese or chocolate is frowned on in the fondue world. If you do such a thing there may be nothing said, but the vibes of the fondue tribe may change toward you. Those fondue forks can be lethal when stabbed into a hand guilty of double dipping! The second thing I learned was there is never enough room on the little divided plates for all the sauces. With divided fondue plates you need to commit to, like, four of the ten or so available sauces. Another option is to do a lot of dollop dropping on individual pieces you cook. The third thing was that it took a while to get full from fondue, and since the process took a while to cook and eat and reload and cook and eat…there was plenty of time to talk and sip wine and laugh and, especially, try and sneak other people’s forks when they are not looking so you get to double up on your pile of cooked bites. The trick to sneaking forks is to not have any of your own on your plate. Have your own forks cooking away before stealthily stealing your neighbor’s fork while they are gesturing dramatically during the telling of a story. Don’t forget to reload their fork with the same stuff. A bonus is their quizzical look when they check their fork and wonder why the chicken is still raw after their story about Uncle Festus at the family reunion.

Although it may take a while to fill up on fondue that full stomach will sneak up on you. Before the chocolate fondue is served you wonder if you have any room left in your belly. But it is just fruit, right? There is always room for fruit! Maybe not fruit covered with chocolate, but it is very much worth trying. And it will fit!

For our fondue feast we did a sample of four different fondues – cheese, oil, broth and chocolate. In the future I will probably limit myself to one fondue for a meal, surrounding it with non-fondue dishes. This particular meal was a chaotic mess of food and fun, and a great way to sample the different fondue types. Everyone had a blast.

The following recipes account for feeding seven people, since our fondue party included as many guests. After digging through the closets mom found four – count ’em – four fondue pots. We chose not to use the small one from France meant for chocolate fondue, but only because the sheer number of people, all that dipping would have overwhelmed the little thing. The meal called for a lot of preparation, but it can be spaced out in small chunks, mostly as early as the day before, and makes for quick set up when it is actually time to eat. I pulled everything out of the refrigerator (yes, even the meats) about 45 minutes to an hour before serving so things were cool but not chilly.

Everyone should scour their parents’ pantry, estate sales and thrift stores for fondue sets and be ready to pull them out for some fun eats. If you are short of cash the fondue feast can be turned into a pot luck where everyone brings a little bit but eats a lot. Have fun with it and be sure to make a mess!

I served the cheese fondue when people were first arriving and standing around in the kitchen, then served the oil and broth fondues at the table with all the sauces. In addition to the sauces I made, shown in the recipes below, I provided tartar sauce, BBQ sauce and creamy horseradish, all served simply in their pre-made states in bottles from the grocery. I did not even start preparing and melting the chocolate fondue until the table was cleared of the oil and broth. It was quick to do and a fun dessert. I remembered a lot of the recipes from when I was younger, but found a lot of helpful reminders here.

FONDUES

Cheese Fondue

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

1 cup dry white wine
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
8 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded
2 ounces Dubliner cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp Kirsch or brandy
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp paprika
Black Pepper (optional)

Handful of Cubed bread per person
Vegetables also used with Broth Fondue

The measurements for wine and cheese should be enough, but you may want to have a little more on hand to adjust the consistency if needed. Add more cheese if it’s too liquid, add more wine if it’s too thick. I have found that if you mix the cheese fondue on the stove top or electric fondue pot about an hour before serving, then turn it off, but then start to reheat about ½ hour before serving it makes for quick set up when guests first arrive. To begin preparation, rub the garlic inside the fondue pot then discard. Pour the white wine and lemon juice into the pot and turn on the burner. Let the wine and lemon juice warm up without boiling. Reduce heat and add the shredded cheese. With a wooden spoon, mix well and stir regularly. Dilute the cornstarch in the Kirsch or brandy, and add remaining ingredients to the pot. Add pepper to taste. Adjust consistency with additional wine or cheese. Dip bite size pieces of bread or vegetables. Let the freshly dipped pieces cool off for a few seconds before enjoying. You may have to twirl the cheesy bits on your fondue fork until it cools and stops drizzling long strings of cheese before you eat them. Also, extra liquid may be needed after the fondue is half gone because it thickens as time passes.

Hot Oil Fondue

2 – 4 cups peanut or canola oil
4 ounces beef per person, cut in bite-sized cubes
2 – 4 ounces chicken breast per person, cut into thin strips
2 ounces per person medium size shrimp (cooked or uncooked), tails intact

Heat oil to 325 – 350F, either in the fondue pot if electric, which is best for oil, or on the stove top for flame pots. If using a flame pot carefully transfer the hot oil to the fondue pot. Do not fill the pot more than 2/3 full, to reduce splashing over the rim of the pot while cooking. Pierce the raw meat or seafood with fondue forks and submerge in hot oil for about a minute. Remove and let cool briefly before dipping.

Broth Fondue

4 – 6 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3 Tbsp Worcestershire or soy sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

2 – 4 mushrooms per person, whole or halved, depending on size
4 – 6 broccoli crowns per person, blanched
2 – 4 cauliflower crowns per person, blanched
4 – 6 snow peas per person, blanched
2 – 3 mini carrots per person, blanched

Combine all ingredients (salt and pepper optional) into electric fondue pot or on a stove top pot if using flame pot. Bring liquid to a simmer (liquid is moving and steam coming off surface) and begin dipping. For flame pots bring liquid to a boil on the stove then carefully transfer to the flame fondue pot. Dip vegetables into broth until cooked to your liking, warm but still crisp, or soft and mushy. If you really want the vegetables cooked quickly, I recommend blanching all the vegetables (drop them for 2 – 5 minutes in boiling water, then stop the cooking process by dropping them in cold water, then drain) before cooking them in the broth. The blanching can be done in advance and then refrigerated until serving time.

Chocolate Fondue

½ pound semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup Light Cream
1/8 cup brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Combine all ingredients in pot on stove top or in a microwave-proof glass bowl. Melt on low heat until liquid and well combined. If using the microwave heat for 30 seconds and stir until mostly melted, then stir until all lumps are gone. Whether prepared on the stove top or in the microwave, transfer to fondue pot for serving and dip dip dip (but don’t double dip!).

SAUCES

Lemon Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 cup Sugar
2 tbs Lemon Juice

Add all ingredients to a pot on the stove top. Heat until ingredients come to a boil. Let cool.

Hollandaise Sauce

4 oz Butter
2 Egg Yolks
1 tbs Lemon Juice
1 tbs Water
1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter and let cool briefly. While butter is cooling mix the rest of ingredients in a blender but do not blend them yet. When butter has cooled a bit spoon out the foamy, bubbly top from butter, leaving the clear, yellow clarified portion. Begin blending the mixed ingredients and gradually and steadily add the butter. Let blend for about a minute. Leave at room temperature until served.

Spicy Oriental Sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 4.5 ounce can mild green chiles
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp Sesame Oil

Combine all ingredients in tall bowl. With hand blender combine ingredients to a uniform, slightly thick texture. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Garlic Lemon Dip

1 ½ cups mayonnaise
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp garlic, crushed
½ tsp hot sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients until well blended. Keep refrigerated until served.

Curry Sauce

1 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp ground curry
1 ½ tsp lime juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Refrigerate until served.

Dill Dip

1 ½ cup low fat sour cream
½ shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients well. Refrigerate until served.

Guacamole Dip

1 rip avocado, mashed
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup plain low fat yogurt
½ cup low fat sour cream
¼ cup finely chopped pine nuts, walnuts or pecans
1 leek, white and light green part finely chopped
½ tsp hot sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the avocado flesh with the lemon juice. Mix avocado mixture with the rest of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. If prepared ahead of time of serving, keep refrigerated.

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