Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cheesy Friday Night

You know those days when you have to run out and shop for this, that and the other thing? Then you come home loaded down with food but too tired to cook it?

That happens to me a lot, but after keeping house for over 25 years, experience has taught me to buy something frozen or easily assembled for that night's dinner, to avoid the indignity and expense of ordering take-out after all my careful grocery budgeting.

Except for last night, when I had too many things on my mind. Oh, sure, there were edible, if unappealing, leftovers in the fridge. There were rolls that needed using, there were veggie burgers... but looking around, I got a brain wave. What if we used those rolls as dippers?

I knew we had some hard cider around; and for whatever reason, we have two fondue pots, one new and unused for several years, the other a hand-me-down, an electric one. I went searching for a recipe and found the perfect one almost instantly, thanks to the Cooking Light forums.

The original recipe is from The Melting Pot, a chain of fondue restaurants, and AZJane of the CLBB nabbed it from Recipezaar. She had jigged it around some. I jigged it further to meet my needs. It came together wonderfully easy, prompting me to suddenly desire a fondue cookbook.

The only real work here is prepping the dippers. We used lightly cooked fresh broccoli, sliced Mac and Empire apples, chopped and toasted sesame rolls, and a few walnuts on the side. Chunks of cooked potato or slices of raw fennel would be lovely, too. With a glass of wine or beer, this is a cozy little meal for two or three, perfect for a cold evening.

Melting Pot Cheese Fondue, as adapted by Mari

SERVES 4 as starter, 2-3 as a light meal.

12 ounces hard cider*
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup flour
1 hefty tablespoon dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix cheeses with flour.

Heat cider in fondue pot until steaming.

Add garlic, mustard and pepper; mix well.

Add cheese and stir until melted. Keep warm on low setting, if using electric pot.

Serve with dippers such as sliced apples, toasted bread cubes or pretzels, crunchy steamed broccoli or green beans, and raw carrots or fennel.

*Angry Orchard Hard Cider is a nice regional brew-- I used the Apple Ginger.

Hope you have a hot, cheesy night, too. Peace, Mari

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