cheese fondue and kitchen gatherings

I hosted my second Kitchen Gathering this past Thursday evening at my home in Costa Mesa.  The night was filled with Christmas cheer, festive decor and  traditional holiday fare.

It  was different from the first, but still equally enjoyable with great people, joyful banter and good food.

The menu for the evening included: shrimp cocktail, romaine tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, fresh mozzarella, balsamic and pesto, cheese fondue with assorted breads and almond sugar cookies for dessert.

I decided to serve fondue because my family and I traditionally enjoy cheese fondue on Christmas Eve.

This tradition began when my mom and dad first got married. As newlyweds, they were wanting to create some Christmas traditions of their own. They decided it’d be fun to enjoy a variety of delicious appetizers and desserts, as dinner, while opening all the presents from under the tree.  We continued the tradition, and now do it every year after returning from church.  We just love it.

The fondue we create is a mock fondue, really, as its main ingredient is a can of cheddar cheese soup. The original recipe, given to us by my aunt Patty, had no actual measurements.  It was only a list of ingredients and then it was up to you to do as you please, so I’ve attempted to add measurements to the recipe below to help us out.

Cheddar Cheese Fondue

fondue set with pot, stand, forks and candle

1/4 c onions, chopped
1/2 T butter
3/4-1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 T flour
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 t worcestershire  sauce
1 T dry white wine
dash garlic salt (use more or less of last 3 ingredients to reach desired taste)
pepper

loaf of fresh bread

Saute onions and butter in fondue pot (or saucepan) over medium for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Place cheese and flour in plastic bag and shake. Add cheese and rest of ingredients to pot and stir rapidly. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until cheese is melted. Place pot over stand and light candle underneath. Serve with chunks of fresh bread.

As you can see, there are two different types of fondue cooking on the stove top.  I thought it’d be fun to compare my family’s semi-homemade fondue to a real traditional swiss cheese fondue and see which one my guests preferred.

The group favored the cheddar cheese fondue to the traditional swiss. I think it’s because the swiss had too much alcohol in it.  It called for a large amount of white wine and brandy which made it difficult to even taste the cheese.  We all commented on it.

Just for the heck of it, I served the fondue with three different types of bread.  I thought it would add an additional element of fun to the tasting.

Kyle and I cut the bread in chunks together.  He was my sous chef, yet again, and a great help.  Thanks love!

The three breads included: a fresh french baguette, a hearty hunk of stone-ground wheat bread and a small fruit and nut loaf (which hails from Trader Joes).  All three breads seemed to be equally enjoyed. The fruit and nut loaf paired well with the cheddar cheese fondue.  It was a pleasant surprise.

As I cooked, I shared some fondue etiquette with the group.

No part of the fork, that’s used for dipping the bread into the cheese, is allowed to touch any part of your mouth and there’s no double dipping. According to Swiss tradition, if you’re a man and a chunk of bread falls from your fork into the cheese, you have to buy the table a bottle of wine and if you’re a woman and this happens, you have to kiss the man to your left.  We all hoped we wouldn’t be the one!

My next Kitchen Gathering will be Thursday, January 27th 6:45-9 at my home in Costa Mesa. The cost is $24 per person and both ladies and gentlemen are welcome.  Space is limited, so please email at snyder7991@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

I do have to say that I love these gatherings!  They make my heart come alive and my guests leave inspired.  I have much to celebrate and be proud of but I also have much to learn as I move along on this adventure.  I’m both grateful and excited!

I wish you a Merry Christmas!  This will be my last post for a few weeks, as I’m heading home for the holidays.  I look forward to more in the New Year!  God bless!

**All photos were taken by KG guests, KD and MB — thank you!!

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