Today, I would ordinarily add my two cents to the A la Carte section’s main story. But cooking in my college dorm never engendered much creativity. I never even made it through my first Costco-sized flat of Ramen noodles because I was lucky enough to date a guy who lived off campus and had his own kitchen.
Not that a student’s limited time and even more limited budget leads to many culinary triumphs. In fact, the food I cooked in a real kitchen was uninspiring, save for one recipe in particular — fondue.
My then-boyfriend, upon leaving home, had the good luck of inheriting a fondue pot that his mom likely unearthed from a cache of kitchen equipment mired in dust since the 1970s. We were intrigued by the concept and delighted to find a basic recipe tucked away in the box. That very few ingredients or kitchen utensils were required was excellent news for a pair of college students.
From the first time I tasted the rich, wine-infused cheese mixture with crunchy French bread or — even better — chunks of apple and kielbasa sausage, I was hooked. I thought to share the discovery with my parents who, in a strange anomaly of their generation, apparently had never owned a fondue pot.
But they couldn’t summon the enthusiasm for using their Christmas present that year. So I, too, inherited a fondue pot, albeit a circa-1990s version. This flimsy, metal vessel, however, has since been banished to the realm of chocolate fondues since my husband bought me an enameled, cast-iron pot perfect for sticky cheeses.
As seen in the Sept. 26 A la Carte section, the basic fondue recipe combines 1 cup white wine and about a pound of grated, semi-firm cheese. But don’t stop there. Fondue is perfect for all kinds of adaptations. I’m planning to use hard apple cider and sharp cheddar in my next one.
And while I’m not a huge fan of hot oil or broth fondues for cooking meat, I do love cooking vegetables, particularly mushrooms, in an anchovy-infused mixture of butter and oil known as bagna cauda.
Here’s a recipe for bagna cauda, courtesy of Central Point resident and cooking school instructor Edie Ferrario. The dish is traditional to Italy’s Piedmont region.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oilve oil
4 garlic cloves, mashed
10 anchovy fillets
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
Combine the butter and oil in a heated crock or top half of a double boiler. Add the garlic, anchovies and peppers. Stirring, bring to a boil. Cook mixture for a few minutes until anchovies are dissolved.
Transfer to a heated fondue pot and serve with fresh vegetables or French bread rounds.