Friday, November 24, 2006

F is for...

F is for Fondue.
Who: Fondue.
What: A communal meal shared by friends at the dinner table. The most traditional and common sort is a Cheese fondue, where cheese is melted and mixed with beer, kirsch or wine, seasoned and served warm in a pot on the table with long forks to dip bread cubes in. There are also Oil, Broth and Dessert fondues.
Where: Fondues can be prepared in restaurants or in the home. Make sure you take care if you are using a fondue pot with an open flame, or having an oil fondue. Nothing wrecks a fondue party like a fire or third degree burns.
When: Some say fondues originated in the long winters in the 1800's of Switzerland. Not only were they a hearty filling meal, they also made use of stale bread and dried hunks of cheese when food was scarce. The fondue made a huge comeback in the swinging 70's.
Why: Why? Cause it's good! Fondues aren't necessarily healthy, but they are fun. The more the merrier around the pot!

Make sure you have a knowledge of fondue etiquette and let your guests know too. Unless you know your company intimately, the forks that are used to dip the food into the pot should not be placed in your mouth. The food should be removed to your plate, and another fork used for the eatin'. Don't forget - if a gentleman loses his food to the fondue pot, he must buy a round of drinks for the table. If a lady loses her food to the pot, she must give a kiss to all the gentlemen at the table.

Cheddar Fondue

1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
1 cup beer
1/2 lb cheddar, shredded
2 tb flour
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 green onion, finely chopped

Warm a heatproof bowl by either setting in a low oven, or filling with boiling water and leaving it to sit. If you would rather use a fondue pot, then do the cooking in the pot rather than on the stove. Rub the inside of a medium pot with the garlic clove. Discard clove. Heat the pot over medium heat. Add the beer and bring to a simmer. Toss the cheese with the flour and add the cheese, one handful at a time to the beer, letting the cheese melt before adding more. When all the cheese is added and melted and smooth, stir in the Worcestershire, mustard and green onion. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Pour into your warmed heatproof bowl, and serve at once with cubes of bread and veggies.We had steamed potatos and broccoli, bread, and raw mushrooms, tomatos and green onions.

These fondue balls come from Nigella's latest book "Feast" and they are quite something. They are a snap to make, they just need some chilling, so it's a good appetizer to make ahead of time. Beware, they are addictive!

Fondue Balls
From Feast, by Nigella Lawson

makes approximately 45

55 g butter
1 tb olive oil
75 g flour
150 ml dry white wine
150 ml milk
dash of chicken stock concentrate or a bit of a chicken stock cube
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
100g finely chopped ham
3 tb parsley, chopped
3 tb grated parmesan
25 g breadcrumbs or matzoh meal
oil for frying

Melt the butter and oil in a pan and add flour, stirring together to make a roux. Whisk in the wine and milk and the stock liquid or powder and keep stirring over medium heat until the white sauce comes to the boil and is really really thick. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the nutmeg, pepper to taste, ham, parsley and cheese. Transfer to a shallow dish to cool and cover the surface with some plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. When cool, put in the fridge to become completely cold and solid. Roll teaspoonful's of the mixture into balls and then coat in the crumbs. Heat 1 cm of oil in a frying pan and cook the fondue balls until golden on all sides. ***Very Important, as I learned the hard way - Drain briefly on paper towels and let sit for a couple of minutes so you don't burn your mouth!

A dessert fondue can be made quickly and easily - chop up some good quality chocolate or better yet, a Toblerone bar, and melt it with a bit of liqueur or cream. Serve with pieces of fruit, marshmallows and cake bits.

There aren't a ton of places that do fondue, but Alberta has a great restaurant in Banff, the Grizzly House Restaurant which is a very old skool fondue place - dark and sort of 70's, with some amazing and tasty stuff on the menu.
My very favorite is the Bagna Cauda Fondue, which means "hot bath" and is a garlic, butter, oil and anchovy fondue that you dip bread cubes and veggies in. It was heavenly. I thought about making it at home, but all that oil and butter aren't good for the waistline. This Bagna Cauda recipe doesn't have any butter (why?) but does sound pretty good.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg


Anonymous said...

Your alphabet posts are fun! I'm going to make those fondue balls for my family at Christmas, thanks for sharing!!!

Lis said...

I love fondue - last year around this time I was obsessed with it and spent months in search of the perfect fondue set (which I still have not found - maybe I'm too picky?) but received a small "just for 2" set for Xmas from a friend and that cheddar/beer fondue is the first recipe I made, loved it!

I like the sound of that Bagna Cauda Fondue as well and am anxious to try it!

Great post :D

Anonymous said...

If you like fondue you will love raclette! It is the much older relative of fondue, said to be as old as from the 1500's, from Switzerland as well, with cheese as well, but with potatoes and healthy side dishes. These days made in electric table grills each guest gets a mini pan to do their own thing. Incredible fun and perhaps... R is for Raclette...?

Brilynn said...

I had never heard your rules about buying drinks and giving kisses, but I do love fondue...

Fondue? More lik FUNdue!

Rachel said...

I love fondue so much!

kickpleat said...

i love all fondue, but cornelius isn't a fan of the regular cheese fondue so i think your version with cheddar cheese would be a clear winner in his books. i'm totally bookmarking it! yum.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm cheese fondue. Oh how I love it so.

KJP said...

Ah! You are killing my Swiss ancestors! Beer and Cheddar? Hmmm, maybe if the kids are gone I will try it...... I hear grandfather turning over even now!

If you are going to use the Toblerone bar, you have best have a non-stick surfaced pot - the toffee in the bar will make quite the mess.

Raclette, is great as a melty cheese!

Love your postings!

Sara said...

Mags - thanks so much for your kind comments. The fondue balls are really great, hope you enjoy them.

Lis - thanks! Yes the bagna cauda is good...too good.

raclette forever - thanks for comments and for the info. I've been interested in raclette for a while now, but haven't had the chance to try it yet.

Brilynn - exactly!

Rachel - if only it didn't like my hips and thighs quite so much...

kickpleat - thanks, hope Cornelius likes it. Scott inhaled most of it himself.

Peabody - oh yeah!

Sara said...

kjp - hey, I love a traditional fondue as much as anyone else. it's just nice to mix things up from time to time!

Anonymous said...

Hey sara!
I can tell you as an original Piemontese, where Bagna Cauda comes from, that there's NO butter in the original recipe!!!!!!!!! So if you want to make it, follow the recipe you found, but 1) anchovies are NOT optional and 2) you need to cook it for much longer than 5 minutes because the garlic must be completely dissolved. I have only experience of making a huge amount of bagna cauda, and I remember cooking it for about 1 hour. Moreover in the traditional dish there's nothing else. No salt (enough from the anchovies), no pepper, and mostly, NO parseley and no chili :). Serve it with raw vegetables of any possible type, to dip in the sauce. :)

Sara said...

Chem - thanks for the info, that's great!

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)