Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Cooking with Fire, Part III

Do you fondue? I think it’s a fun and social way to dine. Every family should have a fondue pot...or two!

A surprising number of foods lend themselves to fondue cooking. One of my favorites is garlic French bread. It’s quick and easy to prepare, and so tasty!

Garlic French Bread for Fondue

French bread, sliced into 1-inch cubes (about 36)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon water
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Beat the eggs in a small bowl and stir in the melted butter, water and garlic. Dip the bread cubes into the egg mixture, then roll the cubes in Parmesan cheese. Set the prepared bread cubes on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

To fondue: spear a bread cube with a fondue fork and cook in hot (375°F, 190°C) cooking oil. When it’s crisp and golden, it’s done! Yum!

Chocolate fondue is another favorite, although the first time I tried it was a complete disaster. I put the chocolate mixture in the oil fondue pot, lit the burner, and it immediately got too hot, and the ingredients separated and started to burn.

Now I know that a chocolate fondue pot should be ceramic, not metal, and only needs a small tealight candle to keep it warm. Favorite things to dip: strawberries, banana and pineapple chunks, ladyfingers and shortbread cookies.

Chocolate Fondue

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur (optional)
Melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium for 2 to 3 minutes, or in a saucepan on the stove over medium low heat. Add the whipping cream and stir until blended. Mix in the liqueur, pour the mixture into a ceramic fondue pot and keep it warm.

Hint: if you omit the liqueur, you can replace it with 3 tablespoons of whipping cream.

Kirsch, a cherry-flavored liqueur, is a popular addition to chocolate fondue. I’d like to try it some day, but it’s expensive and I can’t find it in small bottles. And other than occasionally using a couple of spoonfuls in fondue, I can’t image what else I’d do with a liqueur that sounds suspiciously like cough syrup.

So, do you fondue? Any favorite recipes you’d like to share?

Until next time,


Gillian Layne said...

I have no fondue pot, but I remember how fun parties were in college, with other married couples, and they had cheese fondue. So how does the top pot work? Is that a little gas burner in the bottom?

Lee McKenzie said...

College fondue parties? No need to ask how old you are, Gillian ;)

Fondue is so versatile—great for parties, family dinners, an appetizer buffet, etc.

The oil goes in the large top pot. I use peanut oil because it withstands high heat without smoking, and I use a candy thermometer to make check the temperature. Through trial and error, I’ve found that having the fondue items at room temperature makes it’s easier to keep the oil at a fairly constant temperature. Especially important if you’re cooking meat.

The small “pot” on the bottom is the fuel burner. Any kitchen store that sells fondue pots will also have the fuel. The top of the burner can be rotated to control the flame.

Electric fondue pots are also available, but I use mine on the dining room table and the cord would have been a problem. I don’t even want to think about someone tripping over a cord that’s attached to a pot of hot oil.

Some people fondue with broth rather than oil, but I haven’t tried that. Haven’t tried a cheese fondue, either, but I suspect it requires a much lower temperature.

Hm. I feel the need to fondue something!

Anonymous said...

Our family does fondue every New Year's Day. We use oil and cheese. We find that it's almost easier not to put any heat under the cheese once it's ready. French bread is a favourite for dipping. A veggie tray is awesome too. I have a parmesan cheese fondue recipe that I get groans of protest if I suggest trying something different. An old recipe my dad found for a curry dip is one of my favourites as well.

Lee, I'll definitely have to print off your Garlic French Bread recipe and try it.

We've done chocolate a couple of times. It works well in the cheese fondue pot. Not at the same time, of course. :-) This is the kids' favourite.

Hmmm, cheese light would be very nice. :-)


Anonymous said...

Sorry that last sentence should say cheese fondue might be nice about now. Sheesh!


Lee McKenzie said...

Oooooh! I love fondues and family traditions. What a perfect combination!

Sheryll, would you consider sharing your recipe for parmesan cheese fondue? Sounds yummy.

So does the curry dip. We're big curry fans at my house.

Gillian Layne said...

Thanks, Lee!

(And no, there is no need to ask the age...;)

Anonymous said...

Here's the recipes you asked for!

Parmesan cheese fondue:

12 oz cream cheese, softened and cut up
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup milk

Combine all 5 ingredients in a large saucepan. beat on low until blended. Heat and stir on low until smooth. Carefully pour into fondue pot. Place over very low heat.

Because I don't keep cream cheese in the house normally, I adjust the recipe to use two whole bricks of cream cheese. Of course, we have a minimum of 6 at New Years fondue.

(My daughter loves the leftovers - if there are any - reheated.)

Curry Sauce

In saucepan, melt 3 tbsp buttoer or magarine over low heat. Stir in 1 tsp curry powder (I use about a tbsp, but adjust to your own taste) and cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Blend in 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of pepper. Add 1 cup milk all at once. Cook quickly, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles. Serve hot.



Lee McKenzie said...

Sheryll, thank you! Both recipes sound delicious and I can't wait to try them!