Cold winds are howling through the Columbia River Gorge. Darkness envelopes neighborhoods by the late afternoon. The fire in the fire place is crackling. Spiced cider or perhaps some Glühwein is simmering on the stove. Friends are arriving for an evening of conversation and dinner. Everyone is gathering around the kitchen table to nibble on a delectable assortment of vegetables and crusty French bread to be dipped into the melty, gooey cheese fondue.
Swiss Cheese Fondue is one of my favorite winter dinners to prepare for friends. I usually start by preparing a variety of vegetables, both raw and lightly cooked. I also buy plenty of good french bread as well. Once the veggies are ready, the cheese gets grated. Fondue is very simple to prepare, especially if you have a fondue pot.
For the fondue to turn out well, you have to use the best quality cheeses you can get. I always use real Gruyere and Emmentaler Swiss cheese. A good cheese will melt better and give you a smooth silky texture. The wine for this recipe should be decent, but doesn’t have to break the bank. Do use the nutmeg and Kirschwasser! They add an authentic touch to this. Kirschwasser is a clear cherry liquor, and it’s not sweet. It’s available at most liquor stores. Also, cornstarch helps create a better texture for the fondue. Some recipes recommend using white flour, but I have not had good luck using it. The finished fondue had a thicker texture and lumps of flour, which I didn’t like.
These kinds of dinners are fun! Each person can decide what to dip into the melty cheesy goodness. We all sit, dip, nibble, sip and chat! I love this part of the meal! No one is in a hurry, it’s warm inside, and all is well with the world. If only for an evening!
So, if the winter blues is getting you down, whip up a pot of fondue and invite some people you like over to join you for relaxing evening at home!
Here’s the recipe:
- about 1 1/2 pounds of good quality Swiss cheese, like Emmentaler and Gruyere
- 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of cornstarch
- a bottle of dry white wine
- grated nutmeg
- a tablespoon or two of Kirschwasser
- assorted vegetables, like steamed broccoli and asparagus, roasted small potatoes and mushrooms,
raw sliced bell peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, etc…
- lots of crispy cubed French bread
- pickles provide a great contrast in between the cheesy morsels
Prepare all the vegetables you are planning on using.
Lightly steam the broccoli and asparagus until crisp-tender.
Chill briefly under cold running water to stop the cooking.
Roast the small potatoes and mushrooms with a little olive oil.
Cut carrots, bell peppers, etc. into bite-size pieces.
Next, put your fondue pot on the stove over medium-low heat.
Put the garlic pieces into the fondue pot and leave it to warm up gently.
Slowly add about 2 1/2 cups of the white wine to the garlic.
Let this simmer slowly while you grate the cheese.
Put the grated cheese into a large bowl and toss it with the cornstarch.
This will help with the smooth texture and prevent the melted fondue from separating.
About 10 minutes before you want to serve the fondue, turn the flame up a bit.
The wine should be hot, but not boiling.
Add the cheese, one handful at a time while stirring continuously.
When all the cheese is melted sprinkle some grated nutmeg over the cheese.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of Kirschwasser into the fondue.
Continue to stir and simmer for a few more minutes.
Bring the fondue pot to the table, and let everyone dive in!