I thought I would kick off the New 2014 year by sharing a recipe for one of my favorite things – cheese! In this case, fondue via a Brie and Blue Cheese Fondue Recipe, because melted gooey cheese is wonderful!
Fondue doesn’t just have to be for a romantic party of two (or one… I totally did this on New Year’s day, just fondue and sparkling wine and the Rose Parade on the DVR). A fondue party, whether or not you use this Brie and Blue Cheese Fondue Recipe, is a great party concept. It is a great way to make conversation as everyone was gathered around that table for hours, chatting as you dip each mouthful individually. As we moved around to get access to various fondue pots on the large table, this helped us switch conversation partners.
In this case, there were 5 people responsible for fondue pots, everyone else was asked to bring cut up things to dip (ranging from crusty bread or shrimp or jars of dipping sauces for the broth cooked meat like green goddess sauce or horseradish!) or a bottle of wine to share so it was potluck style. The variety of wine meant everyone got to try different kinds of wines from different vineyards.
It’s just a more naturally active get together than a dinner party. It’s a fun, interactive way to dine together that I always look forward to every December.
For my contribution, this Brie and Blue Cheese Fondue Recipe was bookmarked by me from the blog Geez Louise, who suggested this was a wonderful fondue to pair with Korean Pears. I am a big fan of blue cheese, but I know not everyone is. So when I decided to make a new kind of fondue for the annual fondue/wine party (previous fondue combinations included Irish beer and cheddar, and a smoked gouda), I wanted one that had a hint of blue but not overwhelmingly so.
That’s where the brie comes in, adding buttery creaminess and a nuttiness that relaxes the funk and saltiness of the blue. It’s more brie than blue.
If you think you don’t like blue cheese, I promise you, you will barely detect it here except that there is a bit more complexity to the flavors than just plain melted brie fondue, give it a try! Not all blue cheese is strong- there are milder kinds. I used to think I didn’t like blue cheese either. I have also tricked F into eating blue cheese by cutting out the blue portions so he can enjoy a smoked blue cheese without seeing the “moldy gross” part (just remember it’s not like regular mold- it’s a cousin to Penicillin antibiotic, totally edible! Well, unless you are allergic to Penicillin)- you can also get blue cheese that has less blue.
I doubled this recipe because I served 15 people, which it did handily (there was also a broth fondue, another cheese, and 2 chocolate fondues present). The original portions below should be good for 6-10, depending on what else is on the table.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons organic unbleached flour
- 12 ounces chilled Brie cheese, rind removed. This is basically one of the 13.2 oz or whatever wheels you can get at the store- after you remove the rind it will reduce the weight. To remove the rind, cut the brie while it is still pretty cold, and wet your knife so the cheese doesn’t stick. Cut as close as you can so you don’t lose a lot of the precious creamy brie- if your knife is sharp enough, you may be able to do just a few scrapes on each side after cutting the brie in fourths. The rind is actually edible so if there is a tiny bit left it’s fine. Then cut up the brie into little cubes about 1/2 thick or so.
- 5 ounces chilled crumbled blue cheese (essentially a whole package of the blue cheese in the tub- it may be 4 or 5 ounces, mine was 5 ounces)– divided in half
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
- fresh cracked black pepper
- Serve with bread, precooked fingerling potatoes, veggies like broccoli or cauliflower (I like steaming or roasting it in the oven just a bit to bring out the color but raw is fine too), cut fruit like apples, pears (especially Korean pears), sliced cooked sausages, anything you are willing to dip in cheese cut into slices or wedges
- Heat a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and once hot, add in the shallots. Stir to combine and sweat the shallots until soft and translucent – about 2 minutes.
- Add the white wine to the shallots and stir to combine. You can use any white wine you want- I used a sweet and fruity Risata Moscato d’Asti, and thank drank the rest of the bottle before the first handful of guests filled my house! I made up for it later by opening a bottle of Iron Horse sparkling wine for the group, don’t worry.
- In a mixing bowl bowl toss the cut up brie and half the blue cheese with the flour. Reduce the heat to low and add the flour cheese mixture and chopped thyme into the simmering shallot and wine in batches. Whisk to combine until smooth – about 5-6 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining blue cheese and black pepper to taste.
- Serve warm with your chosen cheese dipping items
You can see a hint of the finished dish in the red fondue pot above. I prepped this an hour beforehand, including already sweating the shallots and adding the wine, and then took it off the heat before adding the cheese (though it was already mixed with flour in the mixing bowl) so that I could quickly heat and melt this together when the party started.
Preparing it on the stove is better than on the fondue pot as you can control the heat more, and once it was ready I poured it into my nonstick (so important!) electric fondue pot just to keep it warm for the next few hours- a slow cooker could work just as handily. And of course, you could just eat by dipping into the pot too, no specialized kitchen equipment necessary!
In the close up shots, it was a test version of the recipe and I happened to have had some tarragon left from another recipe- so you will see a bit of those in the photos, even though the recipe only calls for thyme.
Meanwhile, rather than go out and buy lots of small plates in order to make it easy for cleanup later after the wine and fondue party, I used these beautiful Ver Terra ware appetizer plates, specifically their 4″x4″ square plates. They look sophisticated with their wooden plate look, rather than using paper or plastic. Besides being convenient so I only had to worry about hand washing all the glasses and servingware and fondue pot, I also was able to rest easy about the environmental impact.
First, these plates are made out of only 2 things: gathered fallen palm leaves (so already putting what would be waste into a second use!) and water.
Second, they are chemical free, non-toxic, biodegradable and compostable (they biodegrade in about 2 months after disposal).
Third, the plates are durable if someone decided to pile on several snacks, but are light to carry and don’t transfer heat or bend, which is a plus when you are pulling out hot fondue items or in one hand holding this plate and a stem of a wine glass!
I saw them being utilized during the Feast Portland festival this year, and also at a wedding I attended in September in New York. I was lucky enough to win a sample of VerTerra dinnerware which I used for this event, but I was not asked to write this blog post or advertise for them- I just endorse their product and am always happy to see their dinnerware being used.
What are your thoughts on blue cheese? Love it or leave it?
Happy 2014 to everyone!