Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fondue for Two (and a Half)

Date night has taken on a different meaning in our household. 

Before it used to mean going out and doing something spontaneous, something adventurous - canoeing, walking on the beach, night out in town - followed by dinner afterwards. 

Now it means doing something inexpensive ('cause we spend most of our money buying diapers), yet still fun and memorable, in the comfort of our own home (where I can nurse Baby with ease if I need to).

For those of you who can relate with me, or for anyone that wants something fun and inexpensive to do at home, here's a date night idea for you and a loved one - fondue for two!

With a baby, you learn that if you want something to be done on time, you start long in advance. Here's the set up I had ready an hour before hubby walked in the door. All that's left to put out was the fondue and hot tater tots.
The idea for this came when I kept finding myself thinking about how much I wanted to go the Melting Pot with the hubby but it just wasn't happening. Then I got the brilliant idea to have a fondue party at home. I started browsing the web and I found articles saying that you have to have a fondue pot, little fondue picks, etc... and that wasn't happening. So, I decided to improvise and host a fondue party without all of the extra stuff and it was a success. Here's how you can host your own.

Fondue for Two

The morning of, I texted hubby - "I'm so 'fondue' of you. You're invited to a romantic fondue for two tonight." Cheesy but cute.

I wanted to have an intimate romantic atmosphere, so I set up this floor seating arrangement by using things I found around the house. I set up the fondue station on our low coffee table, which I covered with a white curtain and red scarf as the table cloths. I used red cushions, candles, and fake flowers as decor. Then to serve the fondue, I used a set of two porcelain serving dishes that came with a stand to hold tea light candles as warmers. I served the dippers on a lazy susan. 

All you really need to make this work is a way to keep the fondue warm while you're eating, or else it will solidify as it cools. 

On to the menu - I wanted the fondue to be our entire meal so I made a cheese fondue for the main and a chocolate fondue for dessert. For savory dippers, I used french bread, tater tots, and baby carrots. For sweet dippers, I had marshmallows, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, and pound cake. I used this recipe for my chocolate fondue, and though it was delicious, I would not use it again. It turned out to be thicker and less smooth than I would've liked. For a non-alcoholic cheese fondue, I used this recipe here. Here are my adaptations. 

This is the only picture I have of the fondues, haha.
Non-alcoholic Swiss Cheese Fondue
(serves 2)

8 oz Swiss or Gruyere or any combination of both (I used 4 oz each and I bought a smoked Gruyere cheese, absolutely delicious)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp all purpose flour, divided 
1 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 loaf French bread
Baby carrots
Tater tots or boiled potatoes

To do in advance - cut French bread into about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch pieces and arrange on your platter with baby carrots. 20 minutes before serving, place tater tots in oven and cook according to package instructions. 

For fondue-
Peel garlic and slice the cloves in half the long way so the most inner surface is showing. Rub a heavy saucepan with two halves of the garlic for flavoring. Rub the serving bowl with the other two garlic halves.

Grate the cheese and mix with 1 tbsp of the flour. Melt the butter in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add rest of flour. Stir well till smooth.

Add about ½ cup of milk and stir till smooth. Slowly add the rest of the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to about the consistency of light cream.

Add a handful of cheese and keep stirring. Let the cheese melt and then add another handful and stir until it melts. Repeat the process until all the cheese is melted.

Once all the cheese has been added and the mixture is smooth, you can stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Finally, add the lemon juice. Stir well till the mixture is smooth once again.

Light the tea light candles and add cheese mixture to your makeshift fondue pot. Eat immediately! Spear bread and dunk in fondue and enjoy. Scrape the bottom of the pot with whatever you’re dipping from time to time to keep it from burning.

For the chocolate fondue- Cut pound cake into 1 inch cubes. Cut the tops of the strawberries off and slice the bananas into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Cut 3 pineapple rings into 4 pieces each. Arrange marshmallows, cake, and fruit onto your serving platter. Use your recipe of choice to make the chocolate fondue and transfer it to the serving bowl with a tea light candle under. 

For drinks, I would suggest a sparkling grape juice or cider but I opted for water since I didn't have anything sparkly on hand and I knew the fondue was heavy enough on its own.

Then, all that's left to do is get dressed- I put on a nice dress and dressed baby, our third wheel, in a tuxedo onesie - light the candles, and welcome your date.

Verdict - We had a blast! We enjoyed our savory fondue and every single dipper seemed like it paired perfectly with the cheese fondue. The smoked Gruyere was a nice touch and gave an absolutely delicious nutty smoky bbq feel. Baby sat with us and sucked on pieces of bread and carrots. Nights are a bad time for Baby, so after a little while and a lot of fussiness, I went to put the baby to sleep. And that's why we do date night at home, at our own pace. After baby was asleep, we ate dessert, the chocolate fondue. Again, absolutely delicious, and we loved every dipper. Our favorites were definitely the pound cake and marshmallows and least favorite was the pineapple. Overall, it was a great experience and something new for both us.

So I say, give it a try! If you don't want to make this a date, make it a family experience. Just do it. I guarantee you'll love it!
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Unknown said...

Wow everything looks just perfect there nothing else to say. Have you tried Pakistani Cooking Recipes I love all Pakistani Recipes and mostly the appetizers by zarnak sidhwa recipes

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