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Fondue -- From Cheese To Chocolate

When the weather gets cold we crave something warm, such as soups or stews.

But what about fondue?

On The Early Show Thursday, cookbook author and cooking teacher Tori Ritchie offered pointers to help you with a holiday fondue party -- one that starts with cheese fondue and ends with a chocolate variety.

And you don't even need them both: you can enjoy either fondue as a stand-alone dish anytime.

Ritchie was in the flagship store in Manhattan of specialty home furnishings retailer and Early Show partner Williams-Sonoma.

In order to make fondue, she pointed out, you need the right pot. Classic fondue pots come with forks. If the insert isn't stovetop safe, make fondue in a very heavy pot on low heat on the stove, then transfer it to the insert.

RECIPES: Fireside Fondue

Classic Cheese Fondue
Mesclun Salad with Radishes, Avocado & Blood Oranges
Chocolate Fondue

Classic Cheese Fondue

Cheeses have different fat and moisture contents, so they react differently to heat. The secret to making cheese fondue is to select cheeses that melt well and yield a smooth, creamy consistency. Ritchie used a classic blend of Swiss Emmentaler and Gruyere.

1 garlic clove, halved
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
10 oz. Emmentaler cheese, grated
10 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
1 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. kirsch
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of paprika
1-lb. loaf French bread, cubed

Rub the inside of a saucepan with the garlic halves; discard the garlic. Pour the wine and lemon juice into the pan, set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the cheeses, stirring in a figure-eight motion, until the cheeses are combined, 3 to 4 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and kirsch until blended. As soon as the cheese mixture begins to bubble, add the cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook gently, 2 to 3 minutes more, then stir in the white pepper, nutmeg and paprika. Reduce the heat to low and keep the fondue warm, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, assemble the fondue pot, add the cheese fondue to the pot and keep warm according to the manufacturer's instructions. Set the fondue on the table and serve with bread cubes and individually marked fondue forks for dipping. Serves 6.

Adapted from "The Fondue Cookbook" (Hamlyn, 1999)

Mesclun Salad with Radishes, Avocado & Blood Oranges

The mix of gourmet salad greens called mesclun may include oakleaf lettuce, arugula, frisee, mizuna, mache, radicchio and sorrel. Ritchie brightened it with the red flesh of blood oranges.
You could have Mesclun Salad alongside in a big salad bowl -- it's good to have a tart salad to cut the richness.

2 small blood oranges or other oranges
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
6 cups mesclun or mixed young salad greens
4 red radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1/2 small avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbs. crumbled blue cheese

Working with 1 orange at a time, cut a thin slice off the top and the bottom, exposing the flesh. Stand the orange upright and, using a sharp knife, thickly cut off the peel, following the contour of the fruit and removing all the white pith and membrane. Holding the orange over a small bowl, carefully cut along both sides of each section to free it from the membrane. As you work, discard any seeds and let the sections and any juice fall into the bowl. Repeat with the second orange. When both oranges are sectioned, squeeze the membranes into the bowl to extract all of the juice.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbs. of the captured blood orange juice, the vinegar and mustard. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Reserve any remaining orange juice for another use.

In a large bowl, combine the mesclun, radishes and orange sections. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to mix well and coat evenly.

To serve, divide the salad among individual plates. Top each portion with slices of avocado and sprinkle with the cheese. Serves 6.

Adapted from "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook," by Cheryl Forberg, R.D., and Maureen Callahan, R.D. (Oxmoor House, 2004)

For Ritchie's recipe for chocolate fondue, go to Page 2.

Chocolate Fondue

It's important to maintain moderately low heat (no more than 120°F) under your fondue pot so the chocolate doesn't "break" or separate -- stays melted and just warm to the touch. Too much heat can ruin the chocolate.

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pound cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 pints strawberries, rinsed and hulled

Fill the fondue pot with 2 cups warm water and place the pot on the stand. Fill the fuel burner with oil according to the manufacturer's instructions and set it on the stand.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the cream until steam begins to rise, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted, smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and stir until blended. Pour the chocolate sauce into the porcelain insert and place the insert in the fondue pot. Set the splatter guard on the top.

Set the fondue pot on the table and light the fuel burner, following the manufacturer's instructions. Serve with pound cake, strawberries and individually marked fondue forks for dipping. Serves 6.

Adapted from "The Fondue Cookbook" (Hamlyn, 1999)
Chocolate Fondue: the key to making chocolate fondue is to melt it over very low heat so the chocolate doesn't "break" or separate