Friday, April 17, 2009

Dip and Enjoy

All my adult life I've wanted to be a chef. I love cooking. I love watching cooking shows. I collect cookbooks. I go to the bookstore and get lost in the cookbook section. Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel need to lock the doors when they see me coming. The gadgets to make life easier in the kitchen are phenomenal. Who needs a bigger kitchen, raise your hand.....

So now comes the blogging. I thought, what a great opportunity to discuss my thoughts on food, cooking, restaurants and how everyone, no matter their skill level or culinary expertise, can enjoy food. Everyone eats, and everyone has opinions on what they eat, so this little blog of mine will give me the chance to dig into some of my favorite things and hopefully, pass on some information to others who, like me, are "Foodies."
Being a single parent, I have to figure out how to cook for two(my daughter and myself), without creating a ton of leftovers. One of my favorite quick recipes is a fondue. It's a great way to pack some nutrition and fun into your meal, while getting something on the table quickly on a busy weeknight.

Fondue comes from the French word fondre meaning to melt. There are many types of fondue, made with various cheeses, wine, beer and seasoning, depending on where it's made. A small amount of starch(in my case flour) is used to keep the mixture from separating. The "dippers" can range from bread to fruit, meat or vegetables, depending on your preferences. Below is a recipe for one of my favorite quick fondues. Thank you Rachel're my hero!!!

German Cheddar and Beer Fondue
1 sack, 10 ounces, 2 1/2 cups, shredded sharp Cheddar, available on dairy aisle
1/4 to 1/3 pound, 4 to 6 ounces, Gruyere, shredded
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup German lager beer
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
A few drops hot sauce
A few drops Worcestershire sauce

Combine cheeses in a bowl with flour. Add beer to a small pot and bring up to a bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to simmer and add cheese in handfuls. Stir constantly, melting the cheese in batches. Stir in a figure-eight pattern with wooden spoon. When the cheese has been incorporated fully, stir in the mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Transfer fondue to warm fondue pot or for me, it's a small preheated crockpot, set on low.

Be creative with your dippers. Some of my favorites are chunks of French bread, veggies (like cherry tomatoes, broccoli or green peppers), sausage or ham and pieces of apple. Find things that you like that fit easily on the end of a dipping fork and complement the cheese.

Whatever your preferences, have fun with this dish. It's a great way to create conversation around the dinner table, whether it's a busy weeknight after work or a weekend night in front of the tv watching a moving. My hope is that you'll learn to dip and enjoy your food as much as I do!!!