Cheese Fondue

I start by saying I feel blessed by knowing my wife. We met moons ago but to this day my feelings for her have never changed. On a recent anniversary, porcelain was the deal. I think I was laid up sick (not unusual nowadays), but she delivered a couple of things that she knew I would love. Porcelain.  There was a lasagna dish, and a fondue item. I LOVE FONDUE. Many years ago, probably on the start of our marriage, my wife’s friend brought over a fondue kit and that is when it started. Granted I had fondue in prior to that, but the communal experience is one that I totally love(d). So when my wife showed my that love and thought, I was all in and really excited.

Cheese Fondue Recipe
Cheese Fondue Recipe

My kids have never had fondue, or if they did it was at a very young age.

Fondue is special. It’s fun and it is simple once you have everything in place. I believe it is derived from the Swiss, but being in Wisconsin and having great cheese, wine, and everything else, well it does add up to a great cold winter appetizer or dinner.

There are different kinds of fondues. Cheese, chocolate, or oil based pots for communal dipping. This is a simple cheese fondue and I’m certain there are so many different takes on it. Mine was simple. Bread and cheese on a cold winter day.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of fondue cheese, or grate your own Swiss and Gruyere cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • rustic bread, cubed or torn
  • Any vegetables you want (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of cracked black pepper

I know there is probably a more traditional way to fondue using Kirsch, but to be honest who has Kirsch sitting around? I did once and it was consumed immediately. Wisconsin loves its brandy. This is stuff that is easy to get a hold of, and once you start mixing the cheese and keeping it warm, well it is so hard to not hit it every 10 minutes.

Cheese Fondue Ingredients
Cheese Fondue Ingredients

Start by rubbing your fondue pot with the clove of garlic. Don’t be shy. Rub that sucker. Then warm your fondue pot. You can buy the sternos at the store or online. Or if your fondue pot is electric, even better.

Once the pot is warmed, add in the cheese(s), wine, and lemon juice. Stir well. Toss in the pepper and stir some more. Once this begins to melt, keep stirring, and get ready to use your poker. The pokers are color coded. If you have a sicko around, no poker.

If your fondue starts to thicken, add a bit more wine, stir and loosen it up. Keep the heat on low and when eating, poke the break and stir that cheesey awesomeness up.

Dip and go. My wife and I love cheese fondue. The strength of the cheese kind of freaked out my kids, who love cheese, which was just fine because that meant more goodness for us. Go fondue! Hope you enjoy, and hope your new year is off to a great start.

 

Balinese Sambal Matah

Many of you may or may not have heard of sambal. Sambal itself is typically a mixture of chilies and a variety of other ingredients making it one really, really good condiment. Most of us are probably aware of the default Asisan sambal oelek, the red condiment found in Asian markets, or in your ethnic aisle at your grocery store, however there are lots of other varieties. Sambal matah is one of those, and it’s a force to be reckoned with. Simple ingredients make this sambal super addicting.

Sambal Matah Recipe
Sambal Matah Recipe

This is what is known as a raw sambal using fresh ingredients such as chilies, shallots, and lemongrass.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 Thai bird’s eye chilies, thinly sliced
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, tender parts (near the bottom) only, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (Red Boat or 3 Crab brand)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, warmed until a liquid

That’s it, and trust me when this is all mixed it is a powerhouse of flavor.

Once you have done all of your chopping and slicing, mix everything in a bowl. That’s it.

This sambal matah goes great (in my opinion) with pretty much anything. I’ve even caught myself just eating it by the spoonful. If you love the combination of shallots and chilies, then this will be right up your alley. This sambal is sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. Store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long) and serve as a condiment with your favorite dishes throughout the week.

You can find the fish sauce, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves at any of your local Asian markets. Hope you enjoy!

Apple Chips

We were fortunate enough this year to go apple picking at one of our favorite orchards. Not sure if we love apple picking as much as we love their apple pie from the Elegant Farmer.  Regardless, apple picking was something we always loved to do when the kids were growing up. Something about watching them eat a bunch of apples while climbing trees is a quick pleasure. This year we probably bought way too many apples, and as I would walk past the half bushel, I decided that I would come up with something and see if the family would try out the apple chips.

Dehydrated Apple Chips Recipe
Dehydrated Apple Chips Recipe

My wife was gratuitous enough to get me a food dehydrator some time ago.  I’ve done everything from making beef jerky to vegetable chips in the dehydrator and I’ll admit that I love it. So when the apples were in my zone, I decided on batching out some apples and making apple chips. So easy, so good, and a great way to use up some apples.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 of your favorite apples, cored, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • food dehydrator

Yep, that’s it. If you want to jazz them up, you could put some cinnamon and sugar mix onto them once they were cut up, but I went simple and simple was good.

Take your sliced apples and place them onto your dehydrator trays, leaving about 1/2 inch between each one. The goal is to not let them overlap or touch one another.

Apple Picking
Apple Picking – The Squinters

Once you have filled the trays, turn on your dehydrator and let them dry out for about 4-6 hours. It’s ok to feel them, and take them out when they meet your desired crispness.

Dehydrated Apples
Dehydrated Apples

You can store these in a airtight container to keep their crispness, but in our house, they were gone that afternoon. I was a bit startled to say the least to see them go so quickly, but I was actually really glad because I knew that everyone had a great nutritious snack that day. So if you are looking for something delicious and easy, and a great snack to boot, give these dehydrated apple chips a try (and yes you can do these in the oven as well).

Roasted Tomato Crostini Recipe

We are probably not unique this time of year whereas we are sitting on a bunch of tomatoes. I’ll admit that my wife loves tomatoes a lot more than I do, but when they are hanging from the vine or loaded in a bowl on my counter from a recent harvest, well I’m about to do something about it. That’s when I typically think about harvesting the rest of our basil from outdoors and making a fresh sauce to be used on pizzas or lightly tossed with some pasta, but this time around I decided to take a generous handful of tomatoes and slowly roast them. Why? Well, because I had some great day old bread on the counter, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil, and that screamed one thing and one thing only. Roasted tomato crostini.

Roasted Tomato Crostini Recipe
Roasted Tomato Crostini Recipe

This is a super simple recipe to make, can feed a crowd, and is really delicious especially with the roasted tomatoes.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole roma tomatoes, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 loaf day old French bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, lightly torn
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, optional
  • mozzarella balls, optional

Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. To a parchment lined baking sheet, add the sliced tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and place into the preheated oven, cooking for about 45 minutes

During this time, slice the bread. Remove the tomatoes, and let them cool.

Roasted Tomato Crostini
Roasted Tomato Crostini

Add the bread to the oven, and cook just until lightly crisped.

Take the bread out and rub each piece of the bread with the garlic clove.

Chop up the cooled tomatoes, and add to a bowl with the freshly torn basil. Add in the olive oil and gently stir.

Lay out your bread onto a serving tray, and spoon on the tomato and basil mixture.

Roasted Tomato Crostini
Roasted Tomato Crostini

Add the mozzarella balls in between some of the crostini for those that want to add a bit of cheese to their bite.

Dig in and enjoy. That lightly toasted garlic bread topped with fresh basil and roasted tomatoes really make this a perfect bite for any occasion. Hope you enjoy!