Friday, December 13, 2013

Perfect Fondue

Tis the season of clementines counting as a vegetable, making this an *even easier* meal.
Were you in need of a festive weeknight holiday-season dinner that takes 1 second to make, and can be eaten in the cozy comfort of your living room, near the Christmas tree, like a kind of mid-winter indoor picnic? I thought so. Fondue is what you're after, believe me.

Because I (do-gooder alert) work at our local soup kitchen at lunchtime on Mondays, I tend to come home with a day-old baguette from the food pantry, and fondue is starting to become a weekly tradition. The bread, heated for 15 minutes in a 350 oven, is good as new, and a dinner of melted cheese always feels like a little party. A very little party.

I know that I posted a different fondue recipe before, and it was our go-to for years. But now that the children are growing up, they actually prefer this tangier, more robust version that swaps apple cider in for milk, and adds some cheddar to mix up the Extreme Mildness of the Monterey Jack.
Have I mentioned that our coffee table is always covered in white paper? We used to do it just for parties (as a kind of de facto drawing activity), but now we always do. We do spirograph on it, and drawings; we write Boggle words and Scrabble scores; we illustrate things we're drying to describe to each other; I jot down notes and recipes. So great.

Perfect Fondue
Serves “6” (cough *4* cough)

Feel free to experiment with the cheese (Swiss, gruyere, etc.) and liquid (milk, broth, or even the children’s unfavorite, wine, are all viable options). Also the zestifying ingredients are, of course, fully optional.

2 cups apple cider (something light, like Martinelli’s is ideal for this)
½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Dash each of garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne

While you heat the cider over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan, toss the cheese, flour, and cornstarch together in a bowl until the shreds are nicely floured. Stir the cheese into the now-simmering cider a handful at a time, waiting until each handful melts (about a minute) before adding the next. When it is all melty and smooth (this will take about 5 minutes altogether), season with the optional seasonings, pour it into a fondue pot, and serve with cubed bread for dipping.

(Other good dippers include cooked potato chunks, other cooked or raw veggies of your liking, cubes of ham, and apple wedges.)


  1. Mmm...fondue always seems like a complicated, "look for the fondue pot and do we actually own those skewer thingies or did we borrow them that one time we made it" sort of meal, but I like the idea of it as after a hard day's night sort of meal. Also, I like mine made with beer, but I will give apple cider a try, for the children's sake. :)

  2. Anonymous1:43 PM

    Sigh. All of us lactose-intolerant folks (mine developed in my early 40s) look on wistfully and wish you bon appetit!

    1. Anonymous3:11 PM

      Mine in my 30's. My stomach began to bloat like I was 5-6 mo preg. I just love cheese and milk and all things related!!! Suuuucks! Fondue, yum!!! but, alas ....

    2. Anonymous2:58 PM

      Choose hard cheese with no added lactose - cheddar for example - and lactose-free milk (if you use milk) and unless you are VERY lactose-intolerant, it will be fine! I can eat hard cheese without problems, even though ice cream, yoghurt, cream cheese, ordinary milk etc are hopeless... Apparently the longer cheese is ripened, the more the cheese bacteria digest to lactose.

    3. Anonymous2:59 PM

      Digest THE lactose.

    4. Lactaid pills are my savior when I want a cheesy meal.You chew one right at the meal and it provides the enzymes we're missing. I just pick mine up at a drugstore; I don't think they're hard to find.

  3. Oh anonymous, I feel your pain. Thankfully there is still chocolate fondue, and the sort where you cook meat etc. in hot broth.

  4. Erin K.5:39 PM

    We love cheese fondue in our house - it's my husband's specialty - but our recipe uses two cups of white wine and 1/4 cup of kirsch so it's nice and boozy. His recipe is a tattered old piece of paper in a plastic sleeve that we affectionately call 'the parchment'

  5. Hmmmm... now is the time to bring out all the cheese I made with my goat milk this summer. I might have some one year old cheddar in the cheese cave. Bring on the bread! Bring on the cold! We are all set. Now where is the white wine?

  6. I tried to make fondue about a month ago and ended up with a gluey, rubbery cheese wad. So sad. Yours looks so silky and delicious.

  7. Anonymous12:18 AM

    I'm getting a roll of white paper tomorrow - I will never have to dust our "always dusty or finger smudged" black coffee table again - and the kids will love it. Win win!

    Also just wanted to comment that Santa's bringing Bohnanza, Love Letters, Candy Wrapper Puzzle and the Secret Door. I can't wait - hoping this helps me take a real break from work and enjoy some time off with the kids. Thank you for the recommendations - we've loved all of them so far!

    -Amy M from IL

  8. I like the paper on the coffee table idea! Do you fold it under and tape it? Do you end up saving them? I always love reading your posts. Thanks!

  9. So excited. I buy the package cheese foundue at the store when I'm feeling extravagant. For some reason it's something I never thought you could make yourself! BTW, your Kale salad has become a staple in my house. So easy and so tasty! Thank you!

  10. OMG!!!! I want some of that so badly. Love fondue and haven't had it in more years than I care to remember. Might have to dig out my mother's fondue set and throw a party ...