By JAN MAIN
Valentine’s Day comes as a welcome sparkle in the middle of the coldest month of winter. It’s a chance to say, “Let’s celebrate!”
This year, try a 1960s favourite – fondue. Everyone participates to make their dinner which results in comradery and good eating.
There are two fondues, a main course cheese fondue, ideal for a winter’s night with a salad, followed by an irresistible chocolate fondue, a luscious finish. Friends and family around the table warm up winter with a Happy Valentine’s Celebration!
A simple entertaining dish where everyone participates and chooses what and how much they want to eat. It is the happy answer for pleasing each guest with the minimum of fuss for the hosts.
Oh, and you don’t need a fondue pot. A large oven proof dish or a chafing dish will do nicely.
Serve the fondue with an ample basket of crusty baguette pieces. Lightly steam broccoli and cauliflower florets, slice crispy apples (such as ambrosia) into wedges and serve a platter of these to accompany the bread as dippers for the tasty hot cheese sauce. Add a salad and you are done.
2 tbsp (25 mL) soft butter
2 tbsp (25 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh grated nutmeg, salt and pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 clove of garlic cut in half
3/4 lb each, Swiss and old cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
About 8 cups / 2 L grated cheese
1 cup (250 mL) beer
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat melt butter. Stir in flour and cook until pale golden brown and bubbly (should smell like shortbread). Gradually stir in milk and cook, stirring until smooth and thickened 3-4 minutes. Stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper, cayenne and ½ garlic.
Set aside until ready to add cheeses and beer. Rub the inside of the ceramic serving bowl or chafing dish with the other halved garlic. Discard. Remove the other garlic half from sauce.
Just before serving, heat beer over medium heat in stainless steel saucepan to bubbling. Gradually add hot beer to cream sauce then add cheese about 1 cup (250 mL) at a time to sauce allowing it to melt completely before adding more cheese.
When all cheese has been added and is melted transfer to serving dish and serve immediately with prepared bread, vegetables and fruit. Serves 4-6.
Chop chocolate into small pieces to melt easily for this fondue. Again, you don’t need a special fondue pot. You can use a ceramic bowl over simmering water or chafing dish.
Serve with fresh strawberries, raspberries, orange segments, pieces of sponge cake or marshmallows (especially child friendly!)
10 oz (280 g) semi- sweet chocolate chopped into small pieces (or use quality semi-sweet pure chocolate chips)
3/4 cup (175 mL) whipping cream
2-4 tbsp (25 -50 mL) brandy, rum or liqueur or omit and increase cream
Selection of fruit, cookies, sponge cake or marshmallows as dippers
In mixing bowl over saucepan of simmering water over low heat, melt chocolate. Stir in cream and liquor if you are using.
Transfer to a serving dish or chafing dish over a warmer and serve immediately with fruits and other dippers of your choice. Serves 6. Recipe may be doubled.
A Winter Salad to Lift Spirits
You need some fresh flavours to complement the rich, cheesy fondue. This is one of my favourites with piquant tastes of citrus, crunchy nuts and fresh greens. Try to use a mixture of lettuce to add interest. I like the buttery taste of Boston (with roots on – so fresh!) nip of arugula and the tang of spinach mixed with fresh orange, toasted almonds and a lemony vinaigrette.
8 cups (2 L) mixed greens as above or your personal favourite
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced fennel
2 oranges, zest cut away and thinly sliced horizontally
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted natural almonds, to toast, bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for 10 minutes
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice about 2-3 lemons
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp ( 5mL) salt
4 tsp ( 2 mL) fresh black pepper
In large platter or salad bowl, gently combine lettuces, fennel, orange slices, red pepper, almonds and dried cranberries.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to toss with dressing and serve. Use only enough dressing to lightly coat leaves. Taste!
Vinaigrette: In food processor or blender, combine lemon juice, oil honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour into jar and refrigerate until ready to use. You will have enough dressing for several salads.
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