The Simple Art of Cooking: Fondue for Valentine’s Day

Happiness may be that you forgot to put your fondue pot in one of your yard sales. Now all you have to do is dust off the pot and light up the sternofondue is back! And just in time—Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to restore this dish of the ’60s. Think of fondue as the ultimate romantic dinner. It’s a dish to dip into together.

Cheese fondue is classic and delicious with a bubbly mix of Swiss Gruyère and a bit of Appenzeller to add piquancy. While crusty cubes of bread speared onto pronged fondue forks are traditionally dipped into the melted cheese mix, apple slices and blanched vegetables will give variety and substance to the dipping ceremony. For another approach to fondue, thin slices of beef, cut from flank or boneless sirloin, are seared in beef broth and served with a Cumberland sauce. Or you may just opt for a delectable chocolate fondue swirling luscious strawberries or banana chunks or cubes of buttery pound cake into a pool of meltingly creamy chocolate. Can’t wait.

SWISS GRUYERE FONDUE SUPPER
Fondue is traditionally served in a flameproof earthenware pot, but a cast-iron pot with an enameled interior also works. The cheese that crusts in the bottom of the pot is a delicacy to be shared. It is said that whoever loses their bread cube in the pot must beg for a kiss.
Serves 2 to 4

1 large clove garlic halved
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 pound Swiss Gruyère, grated
1/4 pound Appenzeller cheese, grated
2 tablespoons potato starch
2 teaspoons brandy
Freshly ground pepper and grated nutmeg to taste

For dipping
Apple slices
Blanched vegetables of your choice
Cubes of crusty bread

1. Rub bottom and sides of a fondue pot with the garlic halves. Place over medium heat; add wine, heat to simmer: do not boil. Remove and discard garlic cloves.

2. Combine grated cheese and gradually add grated cheese to the fondue pot, stirring with a wooden spoon, in a zigzag motion—not circular, to prevent cheese from balling up. Blend the potato starch with the brandy and stir into the cheese mixture, stirring until cheese is melted and creamy. Do not allow to boil. Season to taste with pepper and nutmeg.

3. Set fondue pot over an alcohol (sterno) burner. Adjust heat under the pot so the fondue continues to bubble gently. With pronged fondue forks, spear and swirl above ingredients into the bubbly cheese.

BEEF FONDUE WITH PIQUANT CUMBERLAND SAUCE
Serves 4

2 pounds flank steak, thinly sliced
1 quart beef broth, preferably homemade or low-sodium

For the Cumberland sauce
2 strips orange peel, 1 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches long
1 cup currant jelly
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne

1. Freeze steak for 20 minutes to half solid for easier slicing. Slice the meat across the grain into 1/8-inch slices. Pour beef broth into enamel over metal pot as distinguished from a flameproof cheese fondue pot.

2. Place the sauce ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor or a blender and process or blend until orange peel is finely chopped, about 10 to 20 seconds. Pour into a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Transfer to a sauce bowl.

3. Set pot with beef broth over an alcohol (sterno) burner and simmer broth over low heat. Thread slices through a long bamboo skewer to dip into the hot broth and sear briefly on both sides to desired doneness. Serve with Cumberland sauce.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE FONDUE
Use the best quality chocolate for heaven in a pot!
Serves 2 to 4

1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For dipping
Whole strawberries, apple slices and/or cubed pound cake

1. Sift cocoa into a bowl and set aside.

2. Pour water into a saucepan and add sugar and corn syrup. Stir to mix and simmer over low heat for 7 to 8 minutes until reduced by one-third. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa until smoothly incorporated into the syrup. Whisk in the crème fraîche and return to low heat. Simmer for a few minutes and remove from heat. Stir chopped chocolate into the hot mixture and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a fondue pot and keep warm over a very low alcohol (sterno) flame. Spear dipping ingredients of your choice on bamboo skewers and swirl into the decadent chocolate fondue.

Visit Silvia’s website at savoringthehamptons.com to read her blogs and more recipes.

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