February 6, 2019
A gooey cheese fondue is one of winter’s greatest pleasures. With all the skiing, skating, snow shovelling and cold-weather dog-walking, there are plenty of opportunities to warm up, and long, chilly evenings are well suited to gathering around a pot of cheese. It’s easy enough to make, a good reason to gather a small crowd around the table, and it requires hardly any actual cooking.
If you don’t have a fondue pot, a small cast iron pot will hold the heat well for quite awhile, and can go back onto the burner to warm if need be, and you can use bamboo skewers to impale chunks of bread, sausage, veggies and pickles to douse in the molten cheese. And there are other things to do with this gooey blend of Swiss cheeses—make the easiest from-scratch mac & cheese, pour it over savoury waffles, sauté mushrooms in a skillet and make the cheese fondue right in the skillet with them, or fill roasted squash halves for the most indulgent side dish—a modern version of the broccoli with cheese sauce that was so popular in the eighties. Once you realize how easy it is to whisk handfuls of grated cheese, tossed with a tiny bit of flour first to encourage smooth thickening, into simmering wine, beer or milk, you’ll find all kinds of new ways to serve cheese fondue. And if you like a bit of garlic, rub a cut clove on the inside of the pot or skillet before you start cooking.
Mushroom Skillet Fondue
2 Tbsp canola or olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped mushrooms, any variety
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 lb Swiss cheese or Emmental, grated
1/2 lb Gruyère, grated
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dry white wine, beer or dry cider
Directions: Set a medium-large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and butter and when the foaming subsides, cook the mushrooms and rosemary for 5-7 minutes, until tender and golden. Meanwhile, toss the grated cheese with the flour.
Add the wine, beer or cider to the pan with the mushrooms and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese mixture in handfuls, stirring to melt the cheese after each addition. When the cheese is melted and smooth, serve immediately with crusty bread, or warm the skillet in the oven before serving.
- Julie Van Rosendaal
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