What once was old is new again, and the same can be said for fondue.
A group of our friends began talking a few months ago about having a party on new year’s eve. We came up with the idea to have a fondue party. We decided we would have the party at Karen’s house and since we are all such good friends we also thought we would be most comfortable if we would wear our PJ’s. You know – stretchy waist bands equal comfort. The idea of a fondue pajama party was born.
Over the years Charles and I have become less and less interested in staying up late and partying into the new year. To be perfectly honest, we are usually in bed asleep several hours before midnight ever even rolls around, just call us a bunch of fuddy duddies! However, next morning, no big head and no regrets,.
With a great deal of excitement, we looked forward to the festivities. The menu was chosen – for starters, a traditional cheese fondue with french bread and breaded mushrooms, main course would be chicken, filet mignon, shrimp and lobster. For dessert a Swiss chocolate fondue with fruit and angel food cake – all pretty simple and straight forward.
Best advice I can offer, is preparation. It isn’t hard, it is just time-consuming because every single thing you dip, you need to chop into bite size pieces – doing it ahead of time is the way to go. And for the most enjoyment you need to know that this isn’t a quick meal, the idea of fondue is to take your time. Another secret we have found is to pick a group of people you really enjoy spending time with. Don’t get in a hurry, the point is to enjoy your time with your companions, good conversation and good food at a slow leisurely pace.
LaDonna made this torta for us to snack on while we were doing the prep work. I didn’t get the recipe, and y’all know I’m not too good at following the recipes anyway, but the ingredients are something like this. Mix cream cheese and pesto for top and bottom layer and cream cheese and sun-dried tomatoes for the middle layer. Place the ingredients in alternating layers in a plastic lined bowl, chill until set. When ready to serve invert onto a plate. It makes a nice presentation and tastes just great. LaDonna served this with pita chips.
The torta did not want to come out of the bowl, so LaDonna and McKenzie finally ran a little warm water over the bowl and that did the trick.
Back to the fondue –
The fondue cheese recipe came from my Gourmet Cookbook and for the most part I do follow this recipe – it is as follows:
Cheese Fondue Serves 6
1 Garlic clove, halved crosswise
1 1/2 cups dry white wine, preferably Swiss
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons kirsch
2 cups coarsely grated Emmental
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere
Rub inside of a 4-quart heavy saucepan with cut sides of garlic, then discard. Add wine to pan and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat. Stir together cornstarch and Kirsch in a cup.
Gradually add cheese to pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern, NOT a circular motion, to prevent cheese from clumping, until cheese is just melted and creamy; do not boil. Stir cornstarch mixture again and stir into fondue. Bring fondue to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to fondue pot set over a flame and serve with bread for dipping.
As I said, we had french bread and breaded mushrooms for our cheese fondue. Here is the basic recipe that I used to bread my mushrooms:
1 cup dry bread crumbs to which I added a little salt, fresh ground pepper, paprika (I used, smoked, hot Hungarian and regular Hungarian and yes there is a difference) to the bread crumbs, I added freshly grated Parmesan cheese about a half a cup – I grate my own for a good fresh taste – place this in a shallow container such as a pie plate. In another pie plate I beat 2 eggs with a shake of salt. Then take mushrooms that have been cut into bite size pieces, first dip in the egg, then into the bread crumbs.
Cook the mushrooms in your oil fondue and then dip into the cheese fondue.
All of the bite sizes of meat are cooked in the oil fondue. You can use a broth to cook in, however, we used canola oil, because of the high smoking point it has and lower imparted oil flavor. I just prefer the oil fondue, however my mentor has recently switched to broth and now prefers that. Serve with a variety of your favorite dipping sauces. Arrange your meats, seafood in separate bowls, so that each person sitting at the table can easily reach, I like to separate the servings and people into groups so that you have everything evenly spread out and so that your pot isn’t overworked – thereby cooling the oil too much – hot oil is the key. For instance we had 8 people, ideally you should have 2 hot oil pots and 2 cheese pots with 4 people using each set.
The chocolate recipe came from the book Fondues & Hot Pots by Susan Fuller Slack
Swiss Chocolate Fondue
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 (3.52 – ounce) bars Toblerone Swiss milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat, chopped
2 (3.52 – ounce) bars Toblerone Swiss Bittersweet chocolate with honey and almond nougat, chopped
2 tablespoons almond liqueur, (I used Disarona)
Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand for 3 to 4 minutes; stir melted chocolate and cream until smooth and blend in the almond liqueur. Pour the fondue into a warm chocolate fondue pot. Place over a tea light – eat immediately – not a problem.
We dipped, fresh chunks of pineapple, apple, strawberries and angel food cake. Pure heaven!
Twenty some years ago, I gave Karen an electric fondue pot as a wedding gift and we used that pot for the first time for our special night, in addition to my sterno heated pot. I’ve never done fondue with an electric pot, but it was so much easier to control the heat than using the sterno. From the department of irony my mentor friend, that taught me how to do a fondue, and whom I consider to be the true fondue goddess, told me last night over margaritas, that she purchased an used and electric fondue pot for the first time the night before and she is sold. She purchased hers at Williams Sonoma, it is a Cuisinart Electric Fondue set, on sale for $79.95, however I found one on Ebay, for about $10.00 less, and then yet again on Amazon for about $54.00.
Our party was a big success, such nice friends and the food was delicious and it was a fun thing to do. The pajamas and fun slippers that we all picked were a hoot. The party plans also included us bringing our records from the ’70’s and ’80’s, but alas the turn table would not work, so we brought the party back to today and spent the night dancing with the Wii.
What a great time we all had. Yes, I had a big head the next morning, but no regrets. Eating all that chocolate at 1:00 in the morning had me buzzing and I could not get to sleep when we finally made it home. I was dog tired, but I was wide awake!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Until next time,
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