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Cheese Fondue - my favourite way to entertain on New Year's Eve

Fondue's are social, fun and delicious.  Each Christmas and New Year we host a fondue party.  Not only is it a relaxing, entertaining evening, it is also a brilliant way to use up leftover Christmas cheese.

To have a good fondue you need great cheese and we use a range of Marks and Spencer cheeses - white apricot stilton, parmeasan, French brie, soft cheese and cranberry stilton - as they are delicious, well sourced, and provide flavours of lovely balance.

Gathering friends around a pot of bubbling cheese, each armed with a pronged spear.  They reach and laugh, dip and inevitably drop things into the fondue.  

The cheese fondue is surrounded by plates of roast ham, baby tomatoes, roast baby potatoes, sweet potatoes wedges, olives, a really crunchy salad with a sharp cranberry dressing and bowls filled with slices of toasted baguette, pickles, roasted peppers and artichokes.

We use day old baguette from Marks and Spencer thinly sliced then toasted in a low oven.

Ham is thinly sliced then shredded.

Marks and Spencer delicious cheese melts - emmental, gruyere and calvados, and cheddar and cider, are served bubbling on the table.  These can be put out individually with salad and rustic crusty bread or as a ready made fondue supper, or as part of a larger fondue table.  They have rounded flavours combining the richness of cheese with dry bittersweet alchohol.

Fondue is the perfect food to gather friends around the table at Christmas, by its very nature it encourages sharing, and laughter.  The food is relaxed, filling, warm and soothing, the latter two particularly important during cold sparkling frost weather.

Cheese fondue is a heavy rich food, that takes time to eat.  It sound be eaten slowly in a relaxed manner.  Red wines can be refreshing with it, but they are also heavy, I recommend brut champagne or sparkling wines, the bubbles cut through the richness of the cheese.  Glasses of ice cold Austrian schnapps are also delicious - you can even suggest your guest drink a shot for every item dropped into the fondue.

There are lots of ways to make cheese fondue, with many different recipes but a cheese fondue is bascially melted cheese and alcohol, and can be made in lots of different cheese combinations.  There is no right way to make fondue, you should make it according to your own personal tastebuds.

For this fondue, to serve about five people I crumbled up  about a cup of each of the following the Marks and Spencer White Apricot Stilton, Cranberry and Cointreau stilton, French Brie (remove all the rind), soft cream cheese, and about 2 tbsp of grated parmeasan.  Have the cheeses at room temperature before cooking.

After frying a plump clove of garlic in butter, I added four cups of cider and boiled for rapidly for a couple of minutes, then over a low flame, I added the cheese, stirring with a wooden spoon until it was all dissolved. (This can be done over the fondue, but I prefer to do it in a pot, then add to a warmed fondue dish)

The cider provides a dry refreshing backdrop to the rich sweet cheeses.

Light the fondue with a low flame and add the melted cheese to the fondue pot, allowing your guests to spear, with lots of things from the table to dip into the bubbling, oozing cheese.

Cheese fondue is simple, delicious and food that will leave those dining satisfied and relaxed, it is one of my favourite ways to entertain.

That's it for now ...


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