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My favorite fondue is the classic Swiss variety with Gruyére, Emmenthaler and Appenzeller.  My brother, though, is a rather fussy eater and finds it too sharp.  Since he was here for dinner tonight, we opted for this English variant instead.  With apple cider (some hard, some sweet) as it’s liquid base and cheddar cheese, my brother thought it sounded ok.  It was ok – but I still prefer Swiss.  I also remembered (but only after it was too late) that every fondue I’ve made from the book I got this recipe from came out too thin.  Got to remember to cut the liquid in half next time!

Recipe

Source: The Book of Fondues by Lorna Rhodes

1 small onion
1 c. hard apple cider (but I’d use considerably less – 1/2-3/4 c.)
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 lb. shredded Cheddar cheese (if you can get it, use a really good one, not your typical supermarket vareity – I used Cabot Clothbound this time)
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbs. cornstarch
3 tbs. sweet apple cider/juice
A little white pepper

If you bought your Cheddar whole (which is best) grate it using the grating blade of your food processor if you have one, or the course holes on a hand grater.  Cut the onion in half and rub it all over the inside of the pot in which you’re going to cook your fondue (I do it right in the fondue pot, but not all fondue pots can go directly on the stove).  Put the hard cider and lemon juice in the pot and start it heating over medium heat.  While the liquid is heating, mix together the sweet cider, cornstarch and mustard in a small bowl.  Once the liquid is hot, add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring each new addition until it melts.  At first you will see distinct bits of cheese in the liquid, but as you add more cheese it will start to smooth out.  If it starts to boil you can turn the heat down a bit.  Once all the cheese is incorporated, add the sweet cider/cornstarch/mustard mixture (give a good stir first) and a sprinkling of finely ground white pepper.  Stir the cheese until it starts to thicken.  If you used the full amount of hard cider, then this is going to end up pretty thin no matter what you do.  Serve it with apples and a good, crusty, solid bread cut into bite-sized pieces.

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