anticipation

Well, I suppose it’s inevitable. When you’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s only a matter of time before you’re immune system gets fed up and throws in the towel. Which is why both my brother (guilty of the same offense) and I spent Christmas day battling over the kleenex box and discussing the merits of liquid DayQuil versus gel caps. (I prefer the ease of the caps, he finds the liquid soothing on his throat. But we both agree the liquid kicks in faster). Tim had it worse than I did, so I really can’t complain. But still, being even a little sick on Christmas is a drag.

Blame my cold or the NyQuil induced fog, but I’m sad to say my camera barely made it out of my bag this Christmas. Which is too bad, because my family has recently started a tradition of a fonduing for Christmas dinner. Talk about a photo op. As it is though, you’re just going to have to image the piles of bright peppers, the perfectly browned-bubbly Raclette cheese, the itty-bitty zucchinis, the mounds of sausages and shrimp, and the lemon slices daintily bobbing in a silver pot of steaming broth.
This year my mom went all out. She did away with the old avocado green Goodwill fondue pots and upgraded to a cast enamel flame pot for oil, an electric pot for broth, and a fancy Raclette grill for cheese. As we cooked and ate, my mom explained the traditional Swiss method of heating an entire wheel of Raclette cheese and scraping slices directly onto plates of steamed potatoes, cornichons and onions.
The modern-day Raclette setup allows individual slices of cheese to broil underneath a grill of hot vegetables. Each diner gets a handsome little scraper to slide their bubbly cheese onto their plate. Keeping in the true spirit of things, we served our cheese atop fingerling potatoes, onions, and pickles. And let me tell you, the Swiss have this flavor combination figured out! The cornichons in particular we’re such an amazing taste perk. It certainly woke up my cold-ridden taste buds.
As for the standard fondue, we always do a pot of sizzling oil for meats, but we’ve also experimented with a few different broths. We’ve come to favor a ginger infused chicken broth. It’s a lovely cooking medium for broccoli, pea pods, mushrooms, and cauliflower. And my personal favorite is plump sea scallops simmered in the ginger broth with a side of Asian dipping sauce. It’s a combination I look forward to all year. That’s what I love about traditions – the anticipation.
Best wishes to you and yours for a bright new year ahead!
Ginger Fondue Broth

4 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup white wine OR 1/4 cup rice vinegar
4 lemon slices
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 – 4 tablespoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons sugar

Combine stock, wine, lemon slices, garlic ginger and sugar in a saucepan. Just before serving heat to simmer and transfer to a warm fondue pot. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer while fonduing. Wonderful with veggies and seafood.

Spicy Asian Dipping Sauce 

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons grated carrots
1-2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

In small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, soy sauce, salt, fish sauce, ginger and garlic.  Bring to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Pour  into serving dish and add the crushed red pepper flakes.  Allow sauce to cool completely before adding the carrots and cilantro. (For a smoother texture, strain the sauce as you pour it into the bowl.) Makes about 1 cup.

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