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.

 

Sopa de Ajo (Bread Soup with Garlic)

Lately I told you that I was making a lot of homemade bread lately.  It was a process that kept me occupied while I fought my time with cancer. I was probably making it so much that my kids were getting slightly bored with the fact that there would be a fresh loaf of bread waiting for them when they got home. Sure, everyone would tear off, or cut off a piece of the bread, swipe it in some softened butter and move along their way, but there were a few times where I was left with too much bread. That’s when the lightbulb went off in my head to use the leftover bread and make a Spanish style soup called sopa de ajo. This is not only a great and tasty soup loaded with flavor, but it is a great use of day old bread!

Sopa de Ajo Recipe
Sopa de Ajo Recipe

I’ll admit that it is not the prettiest of soups but the flavor and simplicity make up for it.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 loaf of day old French or country bread, torn into 1 inch pieces, lightly toasted
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of pinot grigio or some version of dry white wine
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
What is not to love about this, right?
Start by heating up your soup pot on medium heat. Add in the oil, then add in the garlic, cooking for a couple of minutes. After a couple of minutes, add in the Spanish paprika and give it a good stir. Add in the bread and give another good stir. Keep stirring the bread until it begins to get a little bit of crust on the bread. The day old bread should already be a bit hard but trying to get a little color on it works.
After a few minutes, of cooking that bread, add in the wine, and give that a good stir. Cook for a few minutes to get rid of some of that alcohol, then add in the stock.
Sopa de Ajo Ingredients
Sopa de Ajo Ingredients

Bring the stock to a boil, then drizzle in the beaten eggs, stirring along the way. Cook for a few more minutes, then season with about 1 teaspoon of salt, and a few cracks of black pepper. Taste and season with more salt and pepper should you desire.

Ladle into a soup bowl, and dig in. This sopa de ajo is so comforting. Yes, it’s way too simple, but it is super hearty and a great use of that leftover bread. If you are looking for a great and easy soup, and one that is perfect during these rainy and cold fall days then give this one a shot. Hope you enjoy!

Salmon Crostini

Lately, we have been trying to incorporate fish into our diet at least once a week. We seem to default on baked salmon as it is something that everyone seems to enjoy. Typically this salmon is a pretty big slab of fish, so there is plenty of leftovers for my wife to bag up for lunches throughout the week, or for me to make a quick brunch snack, or light lunch. So as I had both leftover baked salmon, and some leftover day old rustic bread, I decided to make a great salmon crostini.

Salmon Crostini Recipe
Salmon Crostini Recipe

I thought this would be a great use of my leftovers as well as being able to use up some dill from the garden. These salmon crostini were not only super easy to put together, but whoa were they ever delicious.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • Roughly 1/4 cup of baked flaked salmon, per crostini
  • 1/4 inch thick slice of your favorite rustic bread, lighty toasted
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp thinly sliced red onion, per crostini
  • 2 tbsp Chive and Onion cream cheese, per crostini
  • Fresh dill, to your liking

Once your bread is lightly toasted, rub the clove of garlic on the bread to infuse that garlic onto the toast.

Once you are done with that, spread on the cream cheese. Top with the flaked salmon, then add the red onions, and fresh dill.

Salmon Crostini Ingredients
Salmon Crostini Ingredients

Now you are ready to serve. I thought I was just going to eat one of these, but it was so good I decided to make one more. The lightly garlic toast coated with that cream cheese (which I never really buy), and topped with that salmon, along with the red onion and dill?! C’mon, it’s an awesome bite and would be a perfect holiday appetizer or game day snack. I hope you enjoy!

Salmon Crostini
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: N/A
 
Ingredients
  • Roughly ¼ cup of baked flaked salmon, per crostini
  • ¼ inch thick slice of your favorite rustic bread, lighty toasted
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp thinly sliced red onion, per crostini
  • 2 tbsp Chive and Onion cream cheese, per crostini
  • Fresh dill, to your liking
Instructions
  1. Once your bread is lightly toasted, rub the clove of garlic on the bread to infuse that garlic onto the toast.
  2. Once you are done with that, spread on the cream cheese. Top with the flaked salmon, then add the red onions, and fresh dill.
  3. Serve.

 

Rustic Daily Bread with Cheese

Nothing beats a chunk of bread with some lightly salted butter. It’s one of those things that our entire family loves. Since being laid up with cancer, I set out on a mission to master a great loaf of bread, and one that would not be labor intensive. Sure, I’ve nailed Lahey’s stecca recipe and for the most part they turn out really great, but I wanted to make something a bit more substantial, and something that would last a couple of days. Yes, my kids will take down a boule in a sitting if I let them. That’s what I love about this daily bread. Not only is it simple, but there is something about how rustic to it. This bread is great for sandwiches, tearing off chunks, and probably goes great with a glass of wine.

Rustic Daily Bread Recipe
Rustic Daily Bread Recipe

I’ve never been one to measure, but when it comes to baking, it is something that I think is a must. I use a digital scale for measuring things about, but like pizza dough and bread, I think there are factors that can impact the outcome. Temperature, flours, rise, etc. Don’t get frustrated if your first batch doesn’t work out, and keep trying.

Let’s get started.

  • 1000 g bread flour, or all-purpose
  • 720 g water, roughly 92 degree F
  • 21 g of salt (I like to use kosher)
  • 4 g active dry yeast

Four simple ingredients yields to boules and you will want to make another batch in a couple more days!

To a large mixing bowl, and I mean large as this is going to rise and double, if not more, in size. Add in the flour, and the water. Mix with your hands until the water is incorporated. Cover and set aside for about 30 minutes.

Next top the mixture with the salt and the yeast. Wet your hands slightly, and mix well, making sure all of that flour mixture eats up the salt and yeast.

Cover and place in a warm spot (I set my container on my kitchen table where the sun comes in). After 30 minutes, it’s time to fold the dough Take an edge and fold over the top of the dough. Repeat this process roughly four times. Cover, and place back onto the warm spot. About 40 minutes into that rest, fold again. The hard part is over! Cover, and let this rise for about 4-6 hours.

I start this process when I wake up, this way I have warm bread later that day.

Rustic Day Bread Ingredients
Rustic Day Bread Ingredients

Once the dough has risen, lay out flour on a work surface. I use a big old bread board. Plop the dough onto the floured surface, then divide the dough into two portions. Flour the top of each dough ball, then cover to let rest for about 30 minutes.

During this time, preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Yep, ripping hot. If you have a dutch oven, preheat that as well.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover with cheese (if using), then fold and reshape into a ball, turning it over seam side down.

Remove the dutch oven from the oven with your kitchen mits, and carefully place the dough, seam side down into the dutch oven. Cover, place back into the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the lid, and cook another 15-20 minutes.

Remove onto a wire rack to let cool, then repeat with your second loaf.

Slice into that bad boy and enjoy!