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Publication: I'm Not Martha
Fondue it yourself!

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         I'M NOT MARTHA - Tuesday, February 5, 2008
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Hi! I'm Lizzy!!  and I'm not Martha!!!

The cold has settled in...even the South is wrapped up unseasonable  
weather.  Friends in Florida have complained of the deep chill.  Up  
North and out in the Midwest it's positively frigid and the big snows  
in the western mountains are pretty amazing.  Poor California with  
the storms and mudslides.  Ai-yi-yi!

So what will fill the chill?  What can you make for your family to  
get them all together and having fun without the sun?  I'm thinking  
fondue!  How about you???

P.S. If you're interested we now have a forum. You can post 
comments on this and recent issues at... Not Martha forum


Each component of a traditional Swiss fondue plays an import role.   
Most recipes we see for "traditional" Swiss style fondue are a  
combination of two cheeses, Gruyere and Emmenthaler.  These two  
cheeses are combined because either cheese alone would produce either  
a mixture that was too sharp or too bland. The cheeses are most  
commonly melted in a dry white wine which helps to keep the cheese  
from the direct heat as it melts as well as to add flavor. The Kirsch  
(a clear cherry brandy) was added if the cheese itself was too young  
to produce the desired tartness. The garlic was for additional  
flavoring while the flour or cornstarch assists in keeping the cheese  
from separating.

Just like any regional food (chili or BBQ for instance) each canton  
in Switzerland has their own "traditional" style fondue.

* Given Fondue is a "communal" meal there are a few basic guidelines  
to follow:

Skewers are no substitute for fondue forks!

To eat cheese fondue spear a piece of bread using a fondue fork and  
dip it into the pot. Twirl the bread cube gently in the cheese to  
coat it.  You'll want to let the bread drip a bit before you put it  
in your mouth.  This will allow the excess to drip back in the pot  
and also allow time for cooling.

When you put the bread in your mouth try not to touch the fork with  
your lips or tongue because the fork does go back in the pot.    
Alternately you can use a dining fork to slide the bread off the  
fondue fork then eat it with the 2nd fork.  This is probably more  
cumbersome than necessary.

* A baguette works very well although any crusty French or Italian  
style breads will do.   When you slice the bread make sure that each  
piece includes a bit of the crust. This crust helps keep the bread on  
the fork after it is  placed in the cheese.

* Keep the fondue warm over as low heat as possible to avoid  
scorching the cheese. Fondue is supposed to stay hot during the meal  
but not boil. Boiled cheese sauce of the fondue or any other variety  
will clump and become unpalatable.

A fondue pot is typically heated by placing a can of sterno (a fuel  
that is comprised of denatured alcohol, water and gel) beneath it.  
When planning a fondue dinner, remember not only to buy sterno but to  
buy the right sterno. The tall camping stove sterno cans put the  
flame too close to the pot and make it bubble uncontrollably. Fondue  
pots typically require smaller 2.5 oz. cans of sterno.

* Secrets of success:

Make sure your recipe includes a bit of corn starch, all purpose or  
potato flour. The starch in the flour helps to keep the cheese in  
suspension which keeps the fondue from separating.

Adding a small amount of lemon juice to the wine increases acidity  
which in turn helps to break up the cheese.

When you add the cheese to the simmering wine, stir in a zig zag  
rather than circular motion to help break up the cheese.


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CLASSIC FONDUE

1 small garlic clove, halved
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 pound Gruyère cheese, grated
3/4 pound Emmenthaler, raclette or Appenzeller cheese, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 to 2 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (optional)

Crusty bread cubes; steamed broccoli or cauliflower; carrot, celery  
or fennel sticks; cubed apple; seedless grapes; clementine sections;  
cubed salami, soppressata or kielbasa; roasted chestnuts and/or dried  
apricots, for serving.

Rub cut side of garlic on inside of large Dutch oven or heavy- 
bottomed saucepan, preferably cast iron, rubbing the bottom and  
halfway up the sides. Add wine and bring to a simmer over medium-high  
heat.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss cheeses with cornstarch. Add a  
handful at a time to simmering wine, stirring until first handful  
melts before adding next.

Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until cheese is completely  
melted. Add kirsch, if using, and heat until bubbling, about 1 to 2  
minutes.

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, if desired. Serve with crusty  
bread and other accompaniments.

Yield: 6 main course servings or 10 appetizer servings.

VARIATIONS from the New York Times

Red wine-garlic fondue: Substitute red wine for the white, preferably  
a light-bodied wine like a Loire Valley red. Mince garlic used to  
season pot and add it to pot along with wine. Omit kirsch and nutmeg.

Cheddar-whiskey fondue: Substitute
1 1/2 pounds good extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, and Irish whiskey for  
the kirsch. Omit nutmeg.

Port wine-Cheddar fondue: Omit garlic and kirsch. Substitute port  
wine for the white, and use 1 1/2 pounds good extra-sharp Cheddar  
cheese instead of other cheeses.

Raclette fondue with cornichons: Omit kirsch and nutmeg. Substitute 1  
1/2 pounds raclette cheese. Thinly slice garlic and bring to a simmer  
with wine. Just before serving, stir in 3 tablespoons finely chopped  
cornichons.

Chipotle fondue with bacon: Omit kirsch and nutmeg. Substitute 1  
pound mild Monterey Jack and 1/2 pound aged Monterey Jack (or use all  
mild). Just before serving, stir in 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons minced  
chipotle chili in adobo sauce and 4 slices crumbled cooked bacon.

Seedy Gouda fondue: Substitute Gouda no older than 2 years old (older  
Gouda might separate). Stir in 1 teaspoon whole caraway or cumin  
seeds. Omit kirsch.

Goat cheese herb fondue: Substitute half-and-half for the wine. Mince  
garlic used to season pot and add it to pot along with half-and-half.  
Substitute fresh goat cheese. Omit kirsch and cornstarch. Stir in 1  
tablespoon each chives, parsley and tarragon.

Dark beer caramelized onion fondue: Cook 1 sliced onion in 1  
tablespoon butter until dark brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes.  
Substitute dark beer for the wine. Omit kirsch. Stir in caramelized  
onion.

Do fondue, dear friends....warm the tummy and the heart.

Lizzy


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