Let me just get this out of the way right up front: I definitely used Switzerland week to have a girls’ night with cheese fondue. I do not apologize and there are probably many other options to be had, but I really wanted cheese fondue. However, there are few things sadder than polishing off a pot of cheese fondue by yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I can do it, I just felt better about inviting a couple girls over and making a night of it.
Käsefondue, as they say in Switzerland, is pretty well known as a popular part of Swiss cuisine. Because Switzerland is right smack in the middle of France, Germany, and Italy, it has many region influences and a wide variety of foods that can be considered Swiss. The great thing about fondue, is that it is very simple and you can dip all kinds of different foods in it depending on what you feel like eating. You should always have bread, in my opinion and I read an interesting tidbit that in Switzerland, if you are eating fondue and your bread falls off your fork into the cheese, you are required to perform some sort of forfeit. I read a lot of suggested penalties for losing your bread in the cheese that included taking shots, buying a round of drinks, kissing your neighbors, running around the house barefoot in the snow, etc. There are also other rules of etiquette associated with eating fondue which ranges from what you should drink with it (white wine vs black tea) to the fact that your fondue fork is only meant to dip the food once and transfer the bite to your plate, never eating directly off the dipping fork. We were pretty informal so while we didn’t double dip, we did eat off the forks and if some fell off the fork into the cheese, we just fished it out with a spoon onto our plates. We also opted for prosecco as our drink accompaniment.
To get the best tasting cheese fondue, you should rub the inside of your fondue pot with garlic. Once that is done, in a small saucepan, combine white wine and lemon juice over a medium heat until it starts to simmer. Then you add some cornstarch, making sure to stir constantly so that it doesn’t form lumps, then some nutmeg and dry mustard powder. You can also add cherry brandy or other flavors to your liking at this point. For the cheese I used swiss cheese and butterkäse cheese, which I cubed and put into the fondue pot after turning on the heat, but other options could be Gruyère, gouda, chedder cheese or even blue cheese.
Once my wine mixture was done I poured that over the top, added salt and pepper, and put the lid on the fondue pot to allow it to melt.
I also made rösti, which are basically potato cakes. I figured it would be a nice compliment to the cheese and fried potatoes are just so damn delicious. I use a large grater to grate the potatoes and then drained as much of the liquid out as I could. You should even press down and squeeze out any excess liquid in the potatoes if you have them in a collender or something similar. Once that was done, I mixed in sliced onion, scallions, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Heat up a large pan on medium-high heat and melt some butter after it gets nice and hot. Form the potato mixture into patties and cook them until they are brown and crispy, then flip and repeat. Try not to flip them too early or often, since the less time they cook the more likely it is that they will fall apart.
I also saw a lot of apples in the recipes I found for Swiss foods, so for dessert I made apple tarts. I kept it very basic but slicing the apples and coating them with a vanilla/cinnamon mixture and then lay them out on sheets of puff pastry.
I added small pats of butter to the top before baking and cooked them based on the directions I found on the frozen puff pastry box.
Basically just cook them until the pastry has browned at the edges.
Finally, for our dipping pleasure, I cut up some bread, blanched some broccoli heads, and put out baby carrots. Give the cheese a nice stir to make sure there are no lumps, and then enjoy.
Also, just for fun, since I had extra apples slices, I also made us milkshakes made with pinnacle whipped vodka and coffee ice cream, which I garnished with said apple slices. It was in no way a reflection of Swiss cuisine, but I didn’t care. Yum!
As I keep moving geographically around the world, I am going to skip over Italy for now and come back to it in a week or two since I really want to make a big meal for that one and due to my schedule right now, I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. But have no fear, for Croatia is near!