Monday, February 19, 2007
A Not-So-Romantic Fondue Dinner, Although It Can Be If You Want
No, this wasn't made for Valentine's Day but for Lunar New Year's Eve dinner. And my dining companion was my little sister. But hey, if you have a different dining companion and want it to be romantic... ;) The heart-shaped fondue pot has no significance. Faced between a round pot or a heart-shaped one, and for the same price, I opted for the cuter heart. That's all. I actually use the fondue pot more for keeping spinach dip continuously hot during parties.
Anyway, so the reason for the fancy-ish dinner was because lil' sis helped me scrub the bathrooms and kitchen in preparation for Tet. Someone else helping me clean is always a cause for celebration in my book. My brother had just enjoyed a fancy fondue dinner at Melting Pot. And, of course, that mention got my cravings going...
According to Melting Pot, fondue originated with the Swiss as a way to use up hardened cheese. The French slapped on the word fondre (to melt). The Americans made it popular during the 1950s. Most recipes include gruyere or emmenthaler cheese and wine. So if you want to be authentic, find another recipe for fondue. Mine is based on my limited budget and taste. :)
Fondue with Feta and Cheddar Cheeses
1 8-oz package cream cheese
2 cups milk
1 tblsp cornstarch
As much feta or cheddar or any other flavor of cheese as you'd like.
In a saucepan on medium heat, melt cream cheese with 1 cup of milk. You can cut the cream cheese into cubes first or just chunk it with a wooden spoon on the stovetop. Dissolve 1 tblsp cornstarch in another 1 cup of milk. Add the milk to the pot after the cornstarch is fully dissolved. The mixture will still be pretty liquidy at this point but should thicken in about 15 to 30 minutes. Just keep stirring occasionally.
When the mixture is almost as thick as you'd like, add feta chunks or shredded cheddar as I did, or any other cheese of your choice. Add wine too if you'd like.
Once all the cheeses have melted and the mixture is smooth, pour into a fondue pot.
As for dipping options, you can prepare all the other items while the cheese is melting. I chose to make toasted artisan bread loaf chunks, pesto tortellini, blanched French beans, boiled red potatoes, and grilled steak sprinkled with seasonings.
Lil' sis likes the above photo because it showcases the dipping foods more. I like the photo below because you can see my leaf plate better and the fondue pot is still in the picture.
Dinner was a lovely way to usher in the Lunar New Year, but I think I gained 10 pounds overnight.