Tiny Vegetables for Fondue
Which food tradition has been Switzerland’s best gift to the world, fondue or chocolate creations? I think it’s a draw – life without cheese or chocolate would be difficult. (Although it is possible to do some amazingly cheese-like things with nuts/seeds and tamari. If you don’t believe me, just try some dried kale chips dusted with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, and tamari. You would absolutely swear they’re laden with Parmesan. Most addictive snack ever!)
But back to Switzerland. I still say cheese and chocolate deserve thrones on an equal footing, especially since you can make fondues out of both. For now, though, we’ll focus on cheese-based fondues.
I recently scoured my local market to find suitable dipping items for a fondue and realized that there are plenty of miniature vegetables to steam and dip: tiny purple potatoes the size of marbles, tiny pearl onions that are only a tad bigger than the potatoes, bite-sized Brussels sprouts, bite-sized mushrooms, and even baby patty pan squashes. All you have to do is steam/simmer the veggies for about 10 minutes, and you’ll have a wonderful selection of fondue dippables.
Apples and pears pair wonderfully with cheese as well, and of course you can always include bread in your dippables assortment. If you’re using gluten-free bread, though, I would cut it up into cubes and then toast them before serving them – toasting will make the bread a little bit more sturdy and able to be dipped without falling apart.
Any or all of these ingredients (plus many more!) make for an easy and satisfying fondue dinner.
Three Different Fondues
Generally speaking, you want to use 1 cup of liquid and between 12 to 16 ounces of cheese (which is about 4 cups of shredded cheese). You’ll also add a bit of corn flour at the end to thicken the fondue. Other than that, though, what else you add is up to you. I like to add a clove of minced garlic and sometimes a bit of ground mustard; other folks swear by the traditional shot of kirsch.
Just be sure to heat the liquid (and garlic, if you want to include that) over low heat for about 5 minutes before adding the cheese, then keep that heat on low while gently stirring in the cheese. If you get impatient and crank up the heat, you’ll make the cheese separate, and you can’t undo that! Lumpy fondue is not as visually appealing or as easy to eat as smooth fondue.
Stir in the corn flour slurry at the very end to thicken it, then immediately transfer cheese mixture to a warming fondue pot. Dip away to your heart’s content, making sure to stir the fondue as you dip to keep it evenly heated.
The liquid: 1 cup dry white wine
The cheeses: 8 ounces Emmentaler and 8 ounces Gruyére, both shredded
The optional add-ins: a splash of lemon juice, a shot of kirsch (a high-proof cherry liquor)
The slurry: 1 tablespoon corn flour mixed with just enough white wine to make a smooth paste
Follow the directions given in the master paragraphs, adding the lemon juice and/or kirsch to the wine and heating the mixture before adding the cheeses. The final step is stirring in the slurry to thicken the fondue.
Hearty Cheddar Fondue
The liquid: 1 cup beer (either standard or gluten-free)
The cheeses: 8 ounces sharp Cheddar and 8 ounces Red Leicester OR aged Gouda, both shredded
The optional add-ins: 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 clove minced garlic
The slurry: 1 tablespoon corn flour mixed with just enough beer to make a smooth paste
Follow the directions given in the master paragraphs, adding the mustard and/or garlic to the beer and heating the mixture before adding the cheeses. The final step is stirring in the slurry to thicken the fondue.
True Blue Fondue
The liquid: 1 cup dry white wine
The cheeses: 12 ounces ButterkÃ¤se, 4 ounces strong blue cheese (aged French blue cheeses are ideal), both shredded/crumbled
The optional add-in: 1 clove minced garlic
The slurry: 1 tablespoon corn flour mixed with just enough wine to make a smooth paste
Follow the directions given in the master paragraphs, adding the garlic to the wine and heating the mixture before adding the cheeses. The final step is stirring in the slurry to thicken the fondue.
As you can see, you can make a fondue out of many different cheeses. You can also use milk or broth in place of the wine or beer. Another option is to sautée some minced onion before adding the liquid and then proceeding to finish the fondue. Your options are endless! And if you have two fondue pots, you can use the second one for chocolate…but that’s another fondue recipe for another post.