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 probably overlooked this recipe due to my first hangover in college from an untimely overdose with Kahlúa.
But this recipe doesn’t incorporate the Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur; I discovered it’s actually spelled “kālua,” which refers to a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an underground pit oven called an “imu.” We won’t be digging any holes in the back yard for this recipe but I think you’ll find – sans the pit – that its got a delicious and warm flavor that will high five your tastebuds.
This recipe hails from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen. Hawaii held a special place in her heart; in Julie’s later years she would whisk her kids and grandkids to Hawaii for Christmas holiday. Also Hawaii fans, my Mom, “Betty,” and Dad Honeymooned in Hawaii in 1955 just 4 years after it became a U.S. state. So strap on your hula skirt, open-toed sandals, and top things off with a lei – we’re making kālua!
❤ Dry sherry vs. cooking sherry? Yeah, I still get confused. Here’s where you can get the 4-1-1 on sherry.
❤ My Cousin Jennifer said Julie and the family often enjoyed this dish with taro rolls, which are funky purple moist rolls often served at Hawaiian Luaus. You can score a recipe for taro rolls here. Other great sides that Jennifer said complemented Julie’s meals were a salad, Sister Schubert’s yeast rolls, and mashed potatoes.
Allow extra time to marinate the pork. I let mine rest overnight but the recipe only calls for 2-3 hours. Total prep is about 6 hours. This is a slow-bake delight well worth the wait!
5 pounds | center cut loin pork roast
¼ cup | soy sauce
2 tablespoons | dry or cooking sherry
large clove | garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon | ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon | thyme
⅔ cup | peach or apricot preserves
¼ cup | chili sauce (hot sauce)
8 ½ ounce can | water chestnuts, drained and sliced
iii. What to do
1. Place the pork in a gallon-sized baggie.
2. Combine the soy sauce, sherry, garlic, cinnamon, and thyme and pour over the roast. Marinate the pork in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
3. Preheat your oven to 325°F.
4. Remove the roast from the baggie, saving the marinade. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes per pound (about 2.5 hours) or until a thermometer registers 170°F.
Why was I using a candy thermometer vs. a meat thermometer? Well, it’s what I had in the drawer. LOL
5. While the roast is still in the oven, in a small saucepan combine the reserved marinade, the preserves and the chili sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring often.
7. To the remaining marinade add the water chestnuts and any juice that is left from the roasting pan. Heat this through and serve on the side along with the roast.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Picadillo Is My Pillow
In March 2014 my awesome Cousin Julie gifted me the recipe for this ole time family favorite.
What a great gift! I remember Mom talking about “picadillo” but the recipe wasn’t in her cookbook. Luckily, it was in her sister Delores’ cookbook that Julie has in her care!
Totally flexible, this Cuban-inspired dish made its way to San Antonio kitchens before the days of the internet … and into my heart 4ever. A foodie’s BFF.
♥ The original recipe scan below makes mountains of this delicious stuff. My Cousin Julie said the portions were large because her Mom, “Delores,” would often serve this dish at parties. I divided the recipe down, down, dowwwwwn into 6ths below. And yet after Joe and I ate it all, we wanted more.
♥ Cousin Julie was very specific – unless you don’t mind soggy almonds, sprinkle the almonds on top just before serving; or set them aside in a serving bowl with a spoon.
♥ Cousin Julie also said this picadillo freezes well. Sweet! If you freeze or refrigerate it overnight, add more dry sherry when reheating. It’s the honest thing to do.
♥ You can serve picadillo many ways – on top of scrambled eggs, breakfast tacos, nacho chips or inside tacos. This stuff is so good I even ate some with a shovel-spoon or two… :)
1 pound | ground round
⅓ cup | dry sherry
1 teaspoon | salt
⅓ teaspoon | pepper
3 | japaleños, chopped
1 clove | garlic, chopped
splash | oil
4.8 ounces | canned tomatoes
⅔ cup | tomato sauce
2 tablespoons | pimiento
to taste | raisins
⅓ teaspoon | oregano
½ cup | water chestnuts, sliced
⅔ cup | canned mushrooms, sliced
flour or corn tortillas
tostitos brand scoops
⅓ cup | salted almonds, diced
ii. what to do
1. In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, bring the first 5 ingredients (see “marinate”) to a happy sauté.
2. Add “the mixture” ingredients (the 9 ingredients) above and simmer, covered, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
3. Uncover and stir until “mushy.”
4. Serve with your preferred foodie accents and style (above). And smile. :)
Before P.F. Chang’s, there was “King Wah”.
King Wah was the nicest Chinese food restaurant I had ever been to… until years later when my cousin Melissa married in San Francisco; after the ceremony we ate at a fancy Chinese food restaurant called the Empress of China, which was a beaut.
Flash back 1980s. King Wah was located in a white office building at the SE corner of Loop 410 and Wurbach road (1800 NE Loop 410) in my childhood home town of San Antonio.
Inside King Wah you’d find
white table cloths, fancily dressed wait staff and large round tables that the expanded family would gather around. Why, there must have been 10-12 of us feeding at a single table! While I only ate at King Wah with my Aunt Sister, Uncle Bill and the wolf pack (my cousins), it was one of the few times I can remember that felt more Thanksgiving than mere Chinese dining. King WOW!
Today I live precisely 270.42 miles from where King Wah was located. But thanks to this savory lip-smacking recipe featuring the egg roll, I can relive the mouth-watering memories growing up… and the taste of the exotic orient. I will be eating this again!
享受 (that’s chinese for “enjoy!”)
2 tablespoons | soy sauce
2 tablespoons | dry sherry
1 teaspoon | sugar
½ teaspoon | salt
1 pound | beef round, cut into thin 4 x 3/4-inch strips
¼ cup | vegetable oil
1 package | frozen chinese pea pods, partly thawed
2 cups | celery, thinly sliced
1 cup | scallions, finely chopped
16-ounce can | bean sprouts, drained and rinsed
16-ounce can | condensed beef consomme
2 tablespoons | cold water
2 tablespoons | cornstarch
2 5-ounce packages | frozen egg rolls
ii. what to do
0. Preheat oven to 250°F.
1. Combine soy sauce, sherry, sugar and salt. Add to beef strips and ross to coat with mixture. Let stand 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add Chinese pea pods and cook until pods have separated from one another and they’re tender crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove pea pods from skillet and reserve.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil to the skillet. Add beef strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef loses its pink color.
4. Add celery, scallions, bean sprouts and consomme. Reduce heat to low (about 225°F). Cook, covered, a few minutes until vegetables are almost tender.
5. Stir cold water slowly into the cornstarch and add to skillet mixture.
6. Blend well and heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and thickened. Pour into a greased 1½-quart shallow casserole.
8. Place in a preheated 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, or until rolls are crisp on top. Serve with rice, if desired?
Foodie Tips ~
♥ While the egg roll flavor was not specified, because this recipe calls for beef round, I suggest a simple veggie egg roll to accompany the beef.
♥ What’s a “Chinese Pea Pod?” It’s also known as a Snow Pea or a Sugar Pea. Technically they’re different than edamamme (a sweet bean). You’re likely to find them frozen vs. fresh at your local grocery.
♥ “Serve with rice, if desired?” Of course it’s desired! Get outta my way ~ I’m hongry!