Saturday, March 19, 2011

Low Calorie Fondue

I love fondue! I have had so much fun with it over the years, despite the mess and time. I have served entire fondue meals, with each course a different item dipped into a different liquid. I have experimented with sauces, oils, cheeses, chocolates, you name it. I have several lovely vintage fondue sets, forks beyond counting, and maybe 10 books on the subject, but I hadn’t yet ventured into fondue for kids (hello, hot oil burns!) until I found this recipe. Straight out of Concord, CA: 1968’s Nitty Gritty Productions “The Fondue Cookbook”.

Let me point out that by the time I was born, fondue’s heyday had come and gone. I clearly recall my parents making fun of fondue, even while my friend’s older sister worked in a Berkeley fondue restaurant that, apparently, was still popular. It was a fad of their immediate past - I think my mom and every single one of her contemporaries was given a fondue set as a wedding gift, which they probably used once, if at all. I know, I understand: It is a fairly elaborate set up, takes ages, and leaves a big mess. Lots of people don’t even like the taste of the traditional Swiss fondue, with sherry and Emmenthaler and Gruyere cheeses. But come on, the real fun of fondue is the party element! After all, fondue is “the happiest entertaining idea since cheese first melted”, and such a great way to get to know your neighbors. Oops, who’s fork is that?

My dinner guests this time included a friend and two 6 year old girls, and there was much hilarity but not much patience, so half-way through, we abandoned the forks and turned the hot broth into soup. This worked just fine - why not, after all, it’s a party! In the interest of reducing burns, I also used not a vintage aluminum set, but my fancy new All-Clad fondue set (which also comes with ceramic insert for chocolate, allowing for those entire fondue meals!) which has the benefit of a proper-fitting splash-guard and secure Sterno holder. Expensive, but worth it if you plan on actually using it more than once. Also, all my work creating several sauces was for naught, as the kids wanted nothing but (surprise!) catsup. Still, it is amazing the number of sauces you’ll find in any given fondue cookbook, or even in the prepared foods aisle of your supermarket. Get out your Sterno, folks, and enjoy the Magic of Fondue!

Low Calorie Fondue

This version of fondue is very popular with calorie watchers. Meats and vegetables are cooked in this delicious broth instead of being deep fried. After the meat has all been cooked, the flavorful broth can be served as a tasty bonus.

2 ½ cups beef or chicken broth
1 ¼ cups water
½ cup dry white wine
½ bunch green onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Few sprigs parsley
Salt and pepper
1 tsp fine herbs

Simmer ingredients in saucepan 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 2 hours. Strain into fondue pot and bring to boiling. Use as directed.