The Wonders of Fondue

Nick's father has been making wine for a few years; this year he considered it good enough to bottle, and he asked Nick to design a label for him. He gave us a bottle Christmas Eve. They also gave us a piece of smoked salmon, and two plates of Christmas cookies and candy. My parents sent us money to get stuff for Christmas Eve Dinner, and we got shrimp and cocktail sauce, crackers, and cheese to make the fondue.

Being young, poor and on our own, we are trying to figure out what we can (and want) to have as our family traditions. I don't anticipate we'll have shrimp cocktail every year; but the cheese sauce might be a keeper.

Earlier on in the month Nick had decided that he wanted to learn to make a cheese sauce, and kept asking me what was in it. I made Welsh Rarebit (a beer based cheese fondue) at the restaurant and kept giving him that recipe. Somehow we were misunderstanding each other. I finally gave him the minimum that he needed to make the most basic cheese sauce—a liquid base and cheese. He then told me that he did have an ingredients list.

So when we began to plan for Christmas Eve dinner we bought what we needed and I made the fondue. I added Dad's wine as an afterthought, but it turned out to be the best thing for the cheese. The cayenne and honey were added after tasting it and deciding that it needed a kick, and just a touch of sweet. We dipped crackers, sausage, chips and even the smoked salmon in it Christmas Eve, and sipped wine. It was a marvelous dinner. We then made the cheese again for a New Year's Party the next week.

Cheese Fondue

1 qt milk
1 glass white wine
½ block melting cheese—shredded (or cut as small as possible)
dash cayenne
smidgen nutmeg
3 drops honey
1 tbsp cornstarch

Simmer the milk over low heat; add cheese and stir occasionally till melted. Add wine and spices and simmer.

Slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly—and hard. Add cornstarch. Remove from heat when it starts to get thick. It will get thicker as it cools, and we really like it cold.

Have fun!

-- Zizi