Host a Throwback Holiday Fondue Party
The holidays are a time of fun, family, food, and festivities. But that doesn't mean every get-together has to be a full-on, turkey-and-all-the-trimmings affair. Smaller, more casual parties can be even more fun and festive, especially after the daunting task of preparing the main holiday meal. Fondue parties are enjoying a resurgence -- there are even fondue restaurants! -- and the holidays are a great time to brush off that fondue pot you got for a wedding present 15 years ago, gather some friends around, and enjoy some casual, delicious eats in fun and interactive way. We've got you covered in this post, from the tools you'll need to three awesome recipes to get you started!
Tools of the trade
If you're going to have a successful fondue party, you're going to need to start with the right tools. What constitutes the right tools depends largely on what you plan to serve. If cheese fondue is on the menu (and really, if it isn't, I'm not sure we can be friends. Cheese fondue, and indeed cheese in any form, is one of the world's most perfect foods.
Potatoes are the other.) you're going to need a ceramic fondue pot. These pots are excellent and holding in the heat and keeping all that cheesy goodness at its ooey-gooey best.
If you're planning on serving a meat or seafood fondue (which you will cook in oil or broth) a stainless steel or cast iron pot is best. This will allow you to keep the heat constant and even, so the liquid stays consistently at a hot enough temperature to ensure the meat/seafood comes up to a safe eating temperature.
Now, on to dessert. Many dessert fondues are chocolate based, which is quite forgiving when it comes to the choice of fondue pot. Usually, only the heat from a tealight is required to keep the chocolate molten and delicious. Steel pots aren't recommended for chocolate, as they hold too much heat, which can scorch the chocolate and make it bitter.
Be sure you have an adequate number of fondue forks for everyone, as well as traditional cutlery, spoons for dipping sauces, and side plates for everyone as well.
Your mother always told you to keep your elbows off the table and not to chew with your mouth full --- and those are still true at a fondue party. But fondue parties, being a communal meal, also bring with them a special set of unique circumstances, and it bears ensuring that your guests are aware of the expectations before everyone digs in, to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience.
There's really only one main rule when it comes to fondue dining: Never eat directly off of your fondue fork. In the fondue universe, this is essentially double-dipping. No one wants to dip their bread into the communal vat of cheese once you've plunged your fork deep into the cavernous corners of your mouth and stuck it back into the pot. Instead, provide everyone with a traditional fork so that they can use it to remove the food from the fondue fork, then use the regular fork for eating. That way, the fondue forks stay saliva free and everyone can enjoy the experience. Rule 1(a): Never use your hands to dip your food. No one wants to have to think about where your hands have been.
You can also create a rule that specifies that if someone drops a piece of food into the fondue pot they have to perform some sort task. Traditionally, this involves something like kissing the person to the offender's left, for example, or singing a silly song for the table. This can add a fun element to your fondue party, but some people may not be into it. You know your friends best; gauge the decision whether or not to include this element in your party based on who you're inviting.
Courtesy of The Fondue Bible Second Edition by Ilana Simon 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold. Image credit: Colin Erricson
Here's where the fun begins! There are so many choices for fondue recipes, from appetizers to main dishes to dessert. Here, I'll give you three recipes that will get you well on your way toward having a fondue party your friends won't forget!
Emmentaler-Gruyère Fondue with Roasted Garlic
6 oz Emmentaler cheese, grated 175 g
6 oz Gruyère cheese, grated 175 g
2 tbsp kirsch (dry cherry schnapps) 25 mL
1 tbsp cornstarch 15 mL
1 cup dry white wine, divided 250 mL
1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg 2 mL
2 cloves roasted garlic, minced 2
1. In a bowl, combine Emmentaler and Gruyère. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together kirsch and cornstarch until dissolved. Set aside.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring 3⁄4 cup (175 mL) of the wine to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add cheese mixture by handfuls to saucepan, whisking constantly after each addition in a figure-eight motion until cheese is almost all melted. Add nutmeg and kirsch mixture; stir until blended and cheese is completely melted.
4. Stir in as much of the remaining wine as necessary to give the mixture a creamy consistency. Transfer to fondue pot and stir in roasted garlic. Serve immediately.
To roast garlic: Divide 1 head of garlic into cloves. Place unpeeled cloves (as many as desired) onto baking sheet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for about 25 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes. Garlic cloves should be tender. Remove from oven, cool slightly, peel and mince. Set aside. If garlic is too tender, just squeeze out roasted garlic cloves from skins and use as required.
Grate Emmentaler and Gruyère and combine in a bowl; refrigerate until needed.
Roast garlic as directed (see tip, above).
Cubes of French bread, steamed new potatoes, rye bread chunks, breadsticks (for dipping).
This fondue was a big hit with my teenage sons — they especially liked the addition of some different dippers to the cheese fondue experience.
12 oz mozzarella cheese, grated 375 g
1 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated 30 g
1 tbsp all-purpose flour 15 mL
2 cloves garlic, minced 2
3⁄4 cup dry white wine 175 mL
2⁄3 cup drained canned diced tomatoes 150 mL
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 15 mL
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil 15 mL (or 1 tsp/5 mL dried)
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano 15 mL (or 1 tsp/5 mL dried)
1. In a bowl, combine mozzarella, Parmesan and flour; mix well to coat cheese with flour. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, combine garlic and wine; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low.
3. Add cheese mixture by handfuls to saucepan, stirring constantly after each addition with a wooden spoon in a figure-eight motion until cheese is melted.
4. Stir in tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil and oregano; cook, stirring, until tomatoes are heated through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to fondue pot and serve immediately.
Grate mozzarella and Parmesan and combine in a bowl; refrigerate until needed.
Cubes of crusty French bread, wedges of focaccia, breadsticks, pepperoni and salami cubes, cooked sausage chunks, bell pepper slices, mushrooms.
Kids’ Favorite Chocolate Fondue
1⁄2 cup whipping (35%) cream 125 mL
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped 250 g
1 tbsp candy sprinkles 15 mL
1. In the top of a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water, heat cream until warm. Add chocolate, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and transfer immediately to dessert fondue pot over candle flame. Add sprinkles just before serving.
2. Spear a piece of fruit or cake with fondue fork and dip in fondue.
When chocolate is chopped, it melts more evenly.
Cut up fruit and other dippers (except for bananas). Sprinkle lemon juice on apple and pear wedges.
Strawberries, banana slices, orange sections, pear wedges, apple wedges, vanilla wafers, sponge cake cubes, marshmallows, maraschino cherries.
All of these recipes can be found in The Fondue Bible by Ilana Simon,
published by Robert Rose. This collection of 200 fondue recipes is the only book you'll need to be a fondue party rock star, whether you're hosting friends and family on New Year's Eve, gathering the gang around for the Super Bowl, or simply looking for a fun and interactive way to shake up your family's dinner routine. Each recipe is simple and straightforward, with easy-to-find
ingredients, along with tips for setting yourself up for success, options for making part of each recipe ahead of time (perfect when you're hosting a party or just trying to get dinner on the table!) and serving suggestions including "dippers" that go with each recipe. This book is truly one-stop-shopping for all your fondue-making needs.