First, I should apologize for my absence. Over the last three weeks I’ve been teaching some certification courses in my diocese. I had a great time doing it, but it has pretty much consumed my life.
So, I thought I come back with probably the most successful meal I think I’ve ever done when I had company over. And, that was a fondue dinner I did with my folks and my wife a while back. The food was great and we all had a blast sitting around the fondue pot and enjoying one another’s company.
That night I didn’t go vegetarian. We had seafood fondue, but shortly after that I tried a vegetarian version with my wife that was very good too. (Not to mention we once again had an enjoyable time ;-))
The meal requires that you have a fondue pot. It is also helpful if you have an insert for the fondue pot for the cheese and chocolate, so that you don’t have to clean your fondue pot between each course (perhaps like this one – luckily we had an insert from another set of pots that fit right into our electric fondue pot).
The fondue meal I’m going to suggest does have a good bit of dairy in it. So, I’ll leave you to decide on that as it’s been a matter of discussion on this blog. Otherwise, I think you’ll enjoy it.
[One of our favorite restaurants is a fondue restaurant called the Melting Pot. You can find a significant number of their recipes scattered over the internet or in this cookbook. Each of the recipes below are from the restaurant.]
For the first course, I’d recommend starting with a spinach and artichoke cheese fondue. The recipe can be found here. Rather than waste space reproducing that, I’ll just give a couple of pointers.
The recipe calls for cheddar, but the current one that they are doing at the Melting Pot uses a mix of Fontina and Butterkäse cheeses. I think this mixture probably works better, as we’ve had it at the restaurant. However, I’ve not been able to find Butterkäse locally, so we’ve stuck with the cheddar, which is still very good.
In addition, for the dipping the recipe suggests cubed bread and raw vegetables. I’d suggest that tortilla chips work well too, perhaps even better.
You’ll want to use an insert to cook the cheese at this stage if you have one, so that for the next course you can simply remove the insert and cook your broth in the large pot.
The second course I did was the entree, but if you wanted to throw in a salad you could easily turn this into a four course meal.
For the entree, the first thing that you will want to do is get a broth going in the fondue pot. You can just turn the heat up to high and add the broth ingredients. Or you can get the broth going on a stove top and then add it to the pot. Our personal favorite by far is the mojo broth. It is very citrusy and has a bit of a kick. But, if you are looking for something a bit more savory you can try the coq au vin. The coq au vin is also great because whatever wine you don’t cook with you can then drink ;-).
While you are getting the broth going, you can bring everyone a selection of items that they will use their fondue forks to cook in the broth. For a vegetarian meal, I’d suggest giving everyone a selection of portabello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and vegetable dumplings. I used wonton wraps and stuffed them with shredded cabbage and carrots. If you wanted to add a bit of meat you might want to add a bit of pork.
Once, the broth is going throw in some broccoli florets and small size potatoes (or larger ones cut up). The longer you let these cook in the broth the better they will be. (The broccoli is probably my favorite part of the meal because the tips of it soak up the broth so well).
While those vegetables are cooking everyone can begin sticking their main entree selections (i.e. mushrooms, artichokes and dumplings) with their fondue forks and cooking them in the broth. They shouldn’t take too long to cook, but you may want to check the cook times and give everyone an idea of what to expect.
You will also want to make a dipping sauce ahead of time. Since you are using vegetables, I would recommend a Green Goddess dipping sauce. I used this recipe once, but I did it a second time substituting cream cheese for the sour cream. It was much better the second go round. You can let everyone dip out the sauce on to their own plates.
One good thing, since you are using vegetables, those who are dining can eat from the same plate that you served them with their selection of vegetables. When using meat for the fondue you’d have to use separate plate.
Don’t forget to enjoy your conversation while everyone is cooking their vegetables. And, maybe even share some of the wine you used for your coq au vin 😉
The third course was the most simple. I just threw some fondue chocolate into the insert (which my wonderful wife cleaned while I was getting the broth ready for the second course) that we place into the fondue pot. I served out strawberries and bananas for everyone to dip in the chocolate. Though this was the easiest, it is probably everyone’s favorite part of the meal. Once you melt the chocolate you can cut off the heat and let everyone use their hands to dip the strawberries and bananas if you’re okay with that. Otherwise, you may need to clean some of the fondue forks.
I’m sure I may have left out some details in such a long post. Feel free to shoot out your questions or suggestions in the comments section below.
In my opinion, fondue isn’t all that hard to do. You could even take the cheese or chocolate fondue recipes and add them to a course for any meal that you are cooking for friends, even if you do something else for the entree. The upshot is a lot of fun and some really good food. The down side is the clean up afterwards. 🙁 But, it’s worth it if you’ve got good friends and family coming over.