Fads in cookbook publishing come and go. That’s what fads do. Sometimes cookbook fads are synchronized with what people actually are doing in the kitchen; sometimes they precede and even drive those kitchen habits; and sometimes they trail behind.
In the late 1990s, to cite two examples, many publishers released books on tapas and wraps. More than a decade later I still like both of those subjects and would be happy to edit a good book on either. The word on the street, however, is that they’re “already done.” The gatekeepers want the next hot trend, not one from the previous century.
Another topic that supposedly has had its day, in cookbooks at least, is fondue. There was an explosion of fondue books that started around 2001 or 2002 and lasted three or four years. Every U.S. publisher had one or two, and the British, Australian, French, and Italian exporters of photo-rich global editions had dozens more they were trying to sell at all the publishing conventions. The foreign rights aisles looked like Fondue Alley.
Back in the 2012 kitchen, I don’t think the fondue era has ended. For the Super Bowl, the next episode of “Downton Abbey,” or any other gathering in your proximate future, here are two nice recipes worth a try.
The first, for a Porcini Cheese Fondue, is from Lynda Balslev’s excellent blog TasteFood, a terrific source for a wide range of recipes from all kinds of cuisines. Lynda is a Cordon Bleu grad who has lived in Switzerland, Denmark, the UK, and, now, California, and the inventive recipes reflect the diversity of her background.
The second is for a Pumpkin Fondue created by Kelly Jaggers, who blogs prolifically and scrumptiously at Evil Shenanigans. Kelly ranges widely, too, but she has a focus on baking and has written two books about pie. This particular fondue was posted recently by Kelly as a guest post on Andrew Wilder’s blog Eating Rules, a go-to source for healthy recipes and nutritional guidance, but with an emphasis always on the pleasures of eating and not on finger-wagging advice.
Porcini Cheese Fondue
The original post in its entirety is here.
The extra ingredient in this cheese fondue is porcini mushrooms, which I highly recommend adding. They will simmer in the cheese and impart a rich umami flavor to the fondue. If you prefer a simple cheese fondue, omit the porcini. This recipe has been tweaked and fine-tuned over the years, influenced by taste and available ingredients. In addition to serving it with the usual bread, I like to pass around bowls of parboiled baby potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli florets for dipping.
- 3 tablespoons Calvados or Poire William brandy
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 pound high quality alpine cheese such as Gruyère, Emmental, or Comté (I use 2/3 Gruyere and 1/3 Emmental), grated
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water until reconstituted, drained, squeezed dry, and coarsely chopped
- 1 loaf peasant bread, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
Note: Have all of your ingredients ready before you begin. Once you start, the fondue will come together quickly, and during this time it must be constantly stirred. The fondue must not come to a boil during this time.
- Combine Calvados, cornstarch, salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside.
- Add wine and garlic to a large heavy saucepan or fondue pot. Heat over medium heat until tiny bubbles form, giving the wine a fizzy appearance without bringing to a boil. Add cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly until each handful is melted before adding the next – do not let the fondue boil.
- Once cheese is added, continue stirring one minute – do not let the fondue boil.
- Stir in cornstarch. Continue stirring until mixture thickens to fondue consistency. (I find that some cornstarch brands thicken more easily than others. If your fondue remains thin, add 1 more tablespoon cornstarch diluted with 2 tablespoons white wine.) If using porcini, stir the mushrooms into the cheese at this point. Remove from heat. Pour cheese into a warm fondue pot if necessary. Serve immediately, with extra ground pepper, bread, and, if you like, parboiled vegetables.
Recipe and photo used by permission of Lynda Balslev
Here is a recipe for a dish that is as interactive to prepare as it is to consume. Most pumpkin fondue recipes call for a cheese sauce to be baked in a hollowed out pumpkin. I find those recipes to be a little disappointing as they are often thin and lacking in much pumpkin flavor. Here I incorporate homemade pumpkin purée into the fondue along with a crisp apple cider, warm spices, and creamy cheese.
Why pumpkin in the fondue? First, it is loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. It is also a good source of fiber and minerals. Second, pumpkin purée works as a replacement for some of the cheese in this recipe, and since it is naturally low in calories but packed with flavor you don’t miss anything.
Serves 12 to 18
- 1 clove Garlic, smashed
- 1 3/4 cup Crisp-Style Hard Apple Cider (or non-alcoholic apple cider if you prefer)
- 3/4 cup fresh Pumpkin Puree
- 1/4 teaspoon dry Mustard Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Homemade Mixed Spices (See below)
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 tablespoons Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) grated Cheddar Cheese
- 1 ounces (about 1/4 cup) grated Gruyère Cheese
- 3 ounces Brie Cheese, rind removed (about 1/3 cup of cheese without the rind)
- 1 teaspoon fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon Cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground Ginger
- In a medium sauce pan combine the garlic, apple cider, pumpkin, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, mixed spices, and sea salt. Whisk occasionally until well combined then cook over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- While the mixture is heating combine the flour with the cheeses and toss to coat. Add the cheeses to the pumpkin mixture in three installments, whisking until the cheese is melted before adding the next addition. Whisk in the lemon juice then pour into a fondue pot, or a heat-proof serving bowl that has been warmed.
- Serve with diced apples, cubed rustic bread, and cut vegetables.
- Combine the spices and mix well. Store in an air-tight container until ready to use. Yields 2 tablespoons (enough to season 1 apple pie).
Recipe and photo used by permission of Kelly Jaggers and Andrew Wilder
Elsewhere: The most widely linked to fondue recipe in the blogosphere is this one, from the Anglo-Swiss photographer and food writer Rosa Mayland’s great blog Rosa’s Yummy Yums—and from a post from way back in 2005. Bookwise, the prolific and always reliable Rick Rodgers was out ahead of the fondue-books trend with his very fine book from 1998, simply called Fondue. At HCP we took our time hopping on board the fondue train, but our 2010 title by Hallie Harron, Not Your Mother’s Fondue, was, I think, well worth the wait.