We love organizing kitchen play dates and a Swiss cheese fondue cooking project makes for a wonderful and fun experience for the little ones (especially if you end with chocolate fondue!)
Fondue may as well be the symbol of Switzerland (along with watches and fancy private banks). I remember when I first learned about fondue in my teenage years, I was fascinated. Who does not like a warm, gooey mess of cheese that you eat communally by dipping bread and vegetables into? Dream come true on a cold snowy day. Even better if you happen to be on a mountain. Fondue which means “to melt” in French is a generally a combination of a few types of cheeses, white wine and garlic. The Swiss are very particular and precise about what goes into their fondue and also about how it is to be eaten.
Our kitchen play date started as a food adventure to a wonderful cheese shop in Cole Valley called “Say Cheese”. We love visiting cheese shops with our little ones and sampling cheeses before we buy them. The munchkins definitely have a mind of their own in terms of what they like and I am delighted to report that over the years, they are becoming more adventurous in terms of the types of cheeses they will try.
The kids were involved in pretty much every aspect of the fondue project – grating cheese, rubbing the pot with garlic, pouring, measuring etc. Once the fondue was ready, we dug in and all ate large amounts of bread, cheese and (some) vegetables. 🙂 The leftover fondue (even we could not consume that much cheese) was mixed with some boiled pasta for an instant mac and cheese for the next day. Yum!
If you do not have a fondue pot, consider borrowing one. Our latest thing is sharing specialty kitchen appliances with friends and neighbors, so all of us do not buy the ice-cream maker that gets used a few times and then languishes in the cabinet.
Cheese Fondue from Martha Stewart
- 1 clove garlic, halved crosswise
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider or dry white wine
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (3 cups)
- 8 ounces Emmental cheese, grated (3 cups)
- 8 ounces raclette cheese, grated (3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 1 loaf French bread, cut into one-inch cubes
- Assorted pickled vegetables, such as cornichons, pearl onions, cauliflower, baby carrots, and mushrooms
- Rub inside of a fondue pot with garlic; discard garlic. Pour cider or wine into pot, and place over medium-low heat. When liquid starts to bubble, start adding cheeses by the handful, stirring until melted and combined.
- Whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch dissolves; stir into cheese mixture. Continue stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbling slightly, about five minutes. Season with nutmeg and pepper.
- Transfer fondue pot to the table, and keep warm over the fondue pot warmer. Serve with bread and pickled vegetables.