Tag: wine

How To Host a Fondue Party

I love Fondue! Five years ago my husband and I ate fondue in Switzerland. Ever since, I thought it would be fun to host a fondue party. One of the best things about fondue is you can have everything prepped before hand. When guests arrive all you have to do is get your fondue on! I’m going to show you how easy it is to make and host your own fondue party. I literally came up with this idea and threw it together that day.

Fondue Party Ingredients for six people

Cheese Fondue

  • 2 1/4 cups of Chardonnay
  • 1 lb. Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. Swiss Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tsp. Dry ground mustard
  • Kirschwasser (cherry flavored brandy)
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 4Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Dippers 

  • 4 Filet Mignons cubed (to prepare steak later: worcestershire, salt, pepper, olive oil)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green seedless grapes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Mushrooms (bought sliced, saves time)
  • 2 Baguettes cubed

Things to do before guests arrive:

  1. Get all your ingredients and supplies out and ready.
  2. Prepare two trays with your dippers, excluding steak. Keep cold dippers covered and sealed in the refrigerator.
  3. Shred cheese ahead of time and keep sealed in refrigerator until ready to melt it.
  4. Cube baguettes and store in Ziploc.
  5. Cube your steak and store in refrigerator until ready.

Note: I used two platters for cold dippers, two platters for cubed bread, and two bowls for the steak. That way you could have dippers on each side of fondue pot so everyone could have easy access.

We chose to have our party outside because it was a beautiful day and the children could play in the yard while we socialized.

Decorating Your Table: This was my table before:

This was mid way through.

What I Used To Decorate Table:

  1. I used heavy weight, neutral color, matte finish wrapping paper that I had on hand to cover the table. This is pretty much like brown craft paper.  I did this for two reasons: First, when people dripped and dropped it wouldn’t matter. Second, I could poke a hole in the paper for my cord to go through for my electric fondue maker. 
  2. I had to overlap the paper to cover the table. I taped sides and ends to the underneath of table with scotch tape.
  3. I chose to use ribbon to cover seams where I overlapped the paper. I attached each end of ribbon underneath with scotch tape.
  4. I dressed up the table with metallic brown chargers.
  5. The napkins I used came with a fabric napkin ring. I tucked a fondue fork into each napkin ring. Everyone liked that little touch. I could have also used ribbon or raffia to tie around the napkin to hold the fondue fork.

Guests Have Arrived, Time To Start Fondue:

  1. Roll steak in Worcestershire sauce to cover and season with salt and pepper. In a pan with olive oil, cook to desired doneness.
  2. Peel garlic and cut in half. Rub the halves of garlic on the bottom and sides of fondue pot.
  3. Add wine to pot and set heat at 4 or 4.5. Bring to a simmer only. If it starts to boil, turn heat down a little.
  4. Once wine is simmering, reduce temperature to 3.5. Add cheese 1/4 cup at a time and stir with a silicone whisk. After each addition stir until fully melted and repeat. I stir continuously the whole time so the cheese gets smooth.
  5. Once all cheese is added, stir in dry mustard, lemon juice, and Kirsch until combined and smooth.

Cheese fondue has to be monitored as you eat it. I keep the whisk close by and stir it every once in awhile. If it starts to get a little thick on you, add a little more of the Kirsch and stir to combine. As you eat the cheese down you may have to adjust both the temperature and the addition of Kirsch. 

Our friends kept saying how much they loved this fondue party! So have some fun and get your fondue on!

Woot Woot! I was Featured for this Fondue Party! Thanks so much!

Top Ten things you must stock in your kitchen

  1. Garlic: If I run out of garlic I feel naked in the kitchen. We use garlic in almost everything. Yes, in a pinch, you can use garlic powder but fresh garlic is preferable.
  2. Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper: I know it’s actually two things but I feel they go hand in hand.
  3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is another thing we can’t live without. We cook everything with olive oil. We use it to sauté, make sauces, dressings, and well pretty much everything in our kitchen gets touched with EVOO.
  4. Onion: Ok, I am not a fresh cut onion gal. I am even shocked that I am at the point of including it on this list. If you feel as opposed to onions as I did, really give them a try. When an onion is cooked down in a dish it adds such depth of flavor. I think you can almost do an injustice to some sauces without it.
  5. Broth: Go for the low sodium Chicken or Beef broth. I have substituted one for the other in a pinch. If you were to have just one, go for the chicken broth. If you feel like you have extra time (hahaha) and want to make your own, go right ahead. If I do happen to save chicken stock it gets shoved to the back of the fridge never to be seen or heard from again.
  6. Lemon and lime: Yes, I did it again with two things. I’ll just call this the citrus category. I learned something recently about lemons and through practice have found it to be true. Don’t forget about the zest of the lemon. There is more flavor in that zest than the juice. The zest can really enhance your dish.
  7. Tomatoes: Personally, I love tomatoes. I could eat them like a piece of fruit. There is nothing like a real garden tomato. Tomatoes are great to cook down for spaghetti sauce and stew. I usually have fresh and the no sodium, whole, canned Roma tomatoes.
  8. Wine Ok, maybe this should have been at the top of the list, haha. Red and white go well in quite a few dishes. Anytime I make stews or braised meat I always include red. Sometimes I even throw it into spaghetti sauce. White wine can be used in chicken dishes and some fish dishes as well. Let’s be real, the best part is you get to drink it while you are cooking. Can’t beat that.
  9. Fresh herbs: I was going to put specific ones but I know everyone has their favorite. My three are fresh basil, thyme, and oregano. I can’t live without basil in the summer. I use Oregano in spaghetti sauce and even to sprinkle on a sandwich. Thyme is great with chicken. One thing I did discover about Rosemary recently is that I only prefer it roasted in the oven or sautéed in oil so it gets crunchy. Try this if you think plain rosemary is to overwhelming. Have your favorite on hand.
  10. Cheese: Not the shredded cheese but actual blocks of good cheese. Our new favorite is Parmesagn/Reggiano

Short Ribs

Thin Short Ribs

Snow falling, fire going, and short ribs cooking away in the oven. To me, there is nothing better on a cold day than braised meat or stew. If you’ve never tried short ribs, I highly recommend them! My husband and I love to cook. For me, it’s a much harder task to accomplish with two babies needing attention.

First, I highly suggest a dutch oven. Yes, you can spend a couple hundred dollars and more. I chose to try a cheaper version at Sams club and so far it’s paid off. The use of the dutch oven is a pretty easy way to infuse a lot of flavor into meat or poultry.

So, this is what you need. If you don’t have the exact ingredients it’s OK, I’ve put the alternatives I’ve used.

TIP: I always add red wine to red meat. You can’t go wrong.

Ingredients:

  1. Kosher Salt and ground pepper
  2. 5 diced garlic cloves (depends on size)
  3. Tomatoes (8 Roma or 2 regular, whichever you prefer)
  4. 1/2 to 1 diced yellow onion (up to you)
  5. 2 cups of beef or chicken stock
  6. 1-2 cups of Red Wine (I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon, but I have used others in a pinch)
  7. I also crisped up a little Prosciutto to put on top but it’s not needed

Directions:

    1. Place your rack on the lowest level in oven and preheat to 350.
    2. Season short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover bottom of dutch oven with olive oil.
    3. On medium-high heat sear off short ribs on all sides. Remove to a plate. Put in diced onions and cook down for a couple minutes. Add garlic to the pot and cook for just a minute to infuse the flavor. Pour in a cup of wine…or more! Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown goodness on the bottom of pan. Place in short ribs, tomatoes, and your stock. Cover and place in the oven. For the thin short ribs that I used you can cook for a couple hours. If you use the thick short ribs I’d cook for 2 1/2 hours.

I served the short ribs with mashed potatoes and snap peas. The short ribs were also paired with 337 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.

Yummy!