Everything tastes better when dipped. My favorite dippy food was once fondue. But, I haven’t eaten fondue since I lived in the Bavarian theme town of Leavenworth, Washington; when I still ate dairy. How I have missed it!
Every Thursday after work, we would gather at Uncle Uli’s Pub for dinner before the influx of tourists descended upon the village for the weekend. And Uncle Uli’s served a very tasty cheese fondue with marbled rye bread for dipping. And bonus, Uncle Uli’s carried Oktoberfest on tap all year, not just during the three week Oktoberfest celebration.
But, I can’t let a little thing like giving up all dairy interfere with my love of fondue. Commercial vegan cheese has improved drastically over the last few years and the variety of cheeses that are widely available has made this former cheese junkie very happy indeed! Years ago, I read a magazine article (I think it was Sunset) about gourmet cheeses, and more specifically, fondue. I scribbled down the author’s basic cheese ratio for a traditional fondue and I saved it for some future day when I would attempt to create a vegan fondue. That day has finally arrived!
J and I both thought this fondue was ooey-gooey delicious, and it was simply made with regular vegan cheese that we had on hand. Our readers are fully aware by now (I have whined about it enough!) that we are in the midst of an out-of-state move and, therefore, we are planning our meals around our mission to clean out the refrigerator(s) and the freezer(s). Just imagine how a blend of gourmet vegan cheeses could improve this basic recipe; and you can bet that we will be doing just that while we are living in snowy Lake Tahoe. Fondue is the perfect (and quick, too) meal after skiing and snowshoeing (and dog walking)!
An obvious tip: this fondue would have been better served in a fondue pot and kept warm throughout the dinner. But, I can’t find my fondue pot or fondue forks (that moving thing again!) that were passed down to me from my mother’s friend when I moved into my first apartment. It looks like the fondue pot pictured below, and it can only be described as “groovy”!
1 generous Tablespoon of potato flour
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1-1/2 cups white wine (plus more to thin the fondue, if necessary)
1 to 3 Tablespoons Kirsch or Kirschwasser (it depends on the cheese blend; but for this cheese blend I think I would have preferred just extra wine)
Toss the cheeses, the potato flour and the white pepper together in a medium bowl; set aside.
Gently press the garlic cloves between the blade of a knife and a cutting board. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the slightly mashed garlic cloves and then add the cloves to the pot.
Add the wine to the pot and heat over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Reduce the heat to medium-low and begin adding the cheese/potato flour mixture, a little at a time, stirring constantly.
Once the cheese is thoroughly melted, add the Kirsch and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve hot with chunks of good, artisan bread and/or cut up vegetables.
Note (a good ratio for fondue using one pound of cheese):
2/3 of the pound (~10.5 ounces) of cheese should be a mild swiss “cheese” (such as the non-dairy equivalent of Gruyere or Emmentaler).
1/3 of the pound (~5.5 ounces) of cheese should be an aromatic “cheese” (such as the non-dairy flavor equivalent of Fontina or Appenzeller).
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And for dessert, more dippy deliciousness! We used up the last bit of Irish cream from The Vegan Baileys Project (and the Irish Cream Cheesecake experimentation, too) to make Irish cream dip with fruit. We enjoyed this dip with sliced kiwi fruit, nectarines, blood oranges and strawberries.
The basic recipe is 1/4 cup soy yogurt whisked together with 1/4 cup Irish cream. I used plain homemade yogurt that I strained several hours for a thicker consistency and the vegalicious recipe for Irish cream that was left over from making way too many Irish cream cheesecakes!
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Question: what to do with the leftover cheese fondue? Answer: a quick and easy mac and cheese lunch for the man! I re-heated the fondue in a saucepan over low heat and gradually added plain soy milk to thin it, along with a generous pinch of dried red chili pepper flakes. When the cheese mixture is the desired consistency, fold in whole wheat elbow macaroni, cooked al dente, and stir gently to combine. Serve hot and enjoy!