Growing up the youngest of three boys meant I was the small, quiet one. The one who listened and watched to center stage from afar.
Older me tells younger me that’s AOK because it helped me make the most of the precious time I had with my parents. I was able to soak it all in and pick up on a few tips I still hold near and dear to this day… including a few memories like the joy of fondue.
I’m not sure the first time I had fondue but I was likely about the age of 12.
My family would gather around the spirited fondue pot to create our meal using individual spears, dipping things in hot oil or cheese and then a sauce or two that Mom would create. The simple things.
Little did I know back then but fondue was more than “just that.” Fondue marries food with the imagination and to me, there’s nothing better!
This summer I stumbled upon a random search result for a vintage fondue pot that reminded me of the one my parents had. I knew what I had to do.
A few days later the electric fondue set arrived at my home and I set it aside for a special day when I would unveil the 1970s fondue pot. It sat in the dark since then as most of 2021 brought some challenging times caring for – and parting with – my secondary shadow in the form of my yellow Lab, Harley.
This Christmas Day I thought there was no better way to round out the year than by revving-up the fondue pot and reliving and sharing this foodie form with my family and here, with you.
If you’re not already a fondue fan, I hope you give fondue a try! It’s remarkably simple and will treat you to the joy of this dish with Swiss origins!
❤ Fon-do try these out: I’ve included a variety of my favorite recipes that caught my Mom’s eye below – cheese and beef fondue and a few sauce suggestions, including butter-browned mushrooms, caper butter, mustard, and a red sauce! Scans of the recipes from her cookbook are also below.
❤ This is a dish of variety! Fon-don’t just try one dip or item to be dipped – go for a range of flavor and put the power of the fondue pot to the fullest! For the cheese fondue you can try cubed pears or apples as an appetizer entry or a dessert dismount! I don’t have two pots but I’m only guessing that cooked beef fondue dipped into cheese fondue is a double fondue delight!
❤ Fon-do check out some of the vintage fondue pots I found strolling on Etsy. They’re hot so get yours before they’re gone!
Total prep: There’s no rush here in the land of fondue, but I’d allow at least 90 minutes – 2 hours for the whole shebang.
to dunk | french bread, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
¾ pound (about 3 cups) | swiss cheese, cut into thin julienne strips
1 tablespoon | flour
1 clove | garlic, halved
1 ¼ cups | sauterne (a sweet french wine)
dash | fresh cracked black pepper
dash | nutmeg
3 tablespoons | dry sherry
cheese fondue directions: 1) I toasted up my bread a bit to give it a little crunch. Toasting the bread on a foil-lined pan for 5 minutes at 350°F should do the trick. 2) Toss the cheese with the flour to coat and set aside. 3) Rub the inside of the fondue cooker vigorously with the cut surface of the garlic clove. 4) Add the sauterne and warm it just until air bubbles start to rise. Don’t cover and do not let it boil. 5) With a wood or silicon spatula stir constantly from this step forward and in the same direction – a process known as “shear thinning” which helps the cheesy fondue become thinner. Add a handful of cheese strips and wait until the cheese has melted before tossing in another handful. Keep stirring! After all the cheese has been incorporated and the mixture is bubbling gently, stir in the pepper, nutmeg and the sherry. 6) Dunk spears of the cubed bread into the cheese, twirl and enjoy! If the cheese becomes too thick pour in a little warmed sauterne (or butter, if you are channeling my inner foodie).
4-5+ cups | salad oil, for cooking (vegetable, canola, corn, peanut, etc.)
1 ½ pounds | beef tenderloin, trimmed and cut into ¾ inch cubes
to serve | your chosen sauces/sidekicks (recipes below)
directions: 1) Pour the salad oil in the fondue pot to 2″ or no more than ½ full. 2) Heat to 425°F or until the oil slowly boils. 3) Spear a beef cube with your fondue fork and place it in the oil. 4) Rotate the beef so it’s evenly cooked to your desired doneness. It doesn’t take long! Dip the beef with your sauce and enjoy!
2 tablespoons | butter (my Grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias)
2 cups | fresh mushrooms, sliced
directions: 1) Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. 2) Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. Season with salt and better and serve alongside the beef fondue.
directions: 1) Place the butter and capers, with liquid, in a small mixing bowl. 2) Beat until light and fluffy. 3) Serve alongside the beef fondue.
bottle | dijon style hot mustard (we used french’s stone ground dijon mustard)
directions: Simply squeeze the mustard into a serving bowl and use it as a dipping sauce for the beef fondue. What could be easier?
¾ cup | catsup
2 tablespoons | vinegar
½ teaspoon | prepared horseradish
directions: Combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl and let chill and mingle for at least 30 minutes. You’ve just made a tangy dipping sauce for the beef fondue. I used leftovers on a homemade hamburger and it was great for french fry dipping!
From the simple to the savory and everything in between, I hope you have fun creating your own special fondue tastes and memories to last a lifetime!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
I’m still on the hunt for what publication these recipes came from (below). I recognize the font and some of the type treatments and I think this likely hails from the 1970s or possibly the 60s. The fabulous food of skiing!
I was really excited when I found this candy apple recipe in Mom’s cookbook.
After making my first batch, I was less than excited (more de–fla–ted) when I realized that I’ll need a little more practice before I become a master of the red apple makin‘.
While my failed attempt at creating the ultimate delight on a stick, give this a whirl and see if you can make a go if it.
Treats for eats rule!
12 | small red eating apples
3 cups | sugar
¾ cup | light corn syrup
1 cup | water
few drops | oil of cloves
a few drops | red food coloring or 12 red cinnamon candies
ii. the *special stuff*
iii. what to do
1. Wash apples in hot water, removing stems, then dry.
2. Insert skewer into the blossom end of each apple (the side of the apple opposite the stem side… a.k.a. the top).
3. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, mix sugar, corn syrup and 1 cup of water. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
4. Add the oil of clove and a little red food coloring.
5. Continue cooking without stirring until a small amount of the mixture forms a hard piece that cracks when dropped into cold water (when it reaches 290°F on a candy thermometer). Don’t cook over 290°F!
7. Stand apples on a parchment covered tray to cool and harden.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Scare-up the best of Halloween foodie fusion ~ Drizzle or dip melted caramel on top of the apples for a doubly-delicious creation. Did somebody say caramel?
♥ Not sure how to clean your pot of the red sugary mixture? Don’t do what I did and leave it sitting out overnight; it’ll harden into a brick. Re-melt the mixture if necessary on the stove and empty it into a plastic bag and discard. Don’t pour it down the sink unless you want to invite clogs into your home.
♥ Go fresh. Use fresh eating apples and eat them soon after making them. I made the mistake of buying my apples before I had found my oil of clove, popsicle sticks and my new candy thermometer. A week later, the apples were s-a-d, making my finished treat a little meek.
♥ Don’t substitute your candy thermometer with a meat thermometer! The candy thermometer registers and calculates much higher temperatures than it’s meatier kissin’ cousin.
♥ I have a new appreciation for the love of candy apples. I’ll think twice about making vs. buying them next time! Truly a labor of love.