It's hip to dip again: Fondue is back

March 06, 2002|By Teresa J. Farney | Teresa J. Farney,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

You don't have to do anything elaborate to make a memorable dinner. Go for something, oh, a little Swiss, like creamy cheeses and foods that are easily gathered together for a meal that you can linger over for hours. In other words, go for fondues.

Fondue is back, even if it involves dusting off your sorry-looking olive-green 1970s set. It won't matter what it looks like once it has Classic Swiss Fondue in it, or a dressed-up recipe from Rick Rodgers' Fondue: Great Food to Dip, Dunk, Savor, and Swirl cookbook. May we suggest the Cheddar, Roast Garlic and Zinfandel Fondue -- "a fondue to share with friends who like food that packs a punch," he says. Or how about his Dutch Gouda and Beer Fondue, which has the soft spiciness of caraway seeds?

If your dinner plans already involve eating at a table, plan a cozy dessert by the crackling fire. Again, Rodgers' cookbook has some dazzling recipes, like the Original Toblerone Fondue and a Sweet and Tart Lemon Fondue. For the chocolate version, he suggests using bite-size cubes of poundcake or angel food cake and fresh fruit as dippers. Have a crystal bowl of strawberries with the stems on for dipping up the lemony fondue.

Fondue sets include a pot, a stand on which to place the pot and, unless they're electric, a container to hold fuel (usually Sterno) to keep the pot's contents hot for cooking.

There are three basic types: metal cookers, ceramic pots and dessert pots. Because metal can withstand very high heat, this type is for fondues that must be cooked in hot oil or broth -- meat fondue, for example.

Ceramic, pottery or earthenware pots should be used for cheesy fondues. They should never be used for a hot-oil fondue because the high heat required would crack the pot.

Dessert fondue pots are the smallest, designed to hold rich mixtures in smaller quantities.

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