I Found It!!

This is one of the stacks of my china from the event clean up this morning.  I though it looked so pretty it needed to be photographed.  We had some friends over last night for an evening of fondue and Holiday Cheer.  We had the event in the library and it was a really fun and intimate space that totally worked for fondue.  I have been cooking like a madwoman these last few days and couldn't be happier.

I found the perfect recipe for cheese fondue!  I have grown up eating fondue and the recipe has never been quite right.  I have always started with a bechamel (white sauce) and added whatever cheese to that.  But the consistency wasn't ever quite right.  Then if I tried to do it in wine and broth, it turned to a clump of cheese without any velvety consistency I wanted.  Last night I tried a recipe that was only a couple of ingredients and it was perfect.  I doubled the cheese in it, which is noted below.  The original was too watery. 

Cheese Fondue

1 1/2 cups Good Dry White Wine
1 Clove garlic
1# Emmentaler Cheese, grated
1# Gruyere Cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
2 teaspoons Kirsch

Rub the garlic along the inside of a heavy 4 quart pot.  Discard garlic.  Add wine to pot and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat.  Stir together Kirsch and cornstarch in a cup and set aside. 

Gradually add cheese to pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zig zag pattern (NOT a circular motion) to prevent cheese from balling up.  This works amazingly well.  I had no idea.  When all of the cheese is incorporated and melted, add cornstarch mixture to pot.  If you do not have Kirsch, use wine.  Bring fondue to simmer and cook until thickened.  Transfer cheese to fondue pot over flame.

I also have been in a cookie making mode for a few days and yesterday Steven and I made a Bourbon Glazed Oatmeal Cookie.  It is your regular Oatmeal Cookie recipe with an easy glaze brushed on at the end.  I soaked the raisins in bourbon and water before adding them.  The recipe for the soak/glaze is below.  Even if you aren't a drinker, the flavor is great and all of the alcohol cooks out in the process.

Bourbon Soak

3/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cups water
1 1/2 cup Raisins

Bring water and bourbon to a boil in a 2 quart pot over medium heat.  Add raisins, simmer, then remove from heat and let sit for about 20-30 minutes.  Remove raisins and add to cookie recipe.  Save liquid.

Bourbon Glaze

To the reserved raisin liquid add
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons Butter

Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until liquid starts to thicken.  Remove from heat.  When cookies come out of the oven, brush glaze over the tops of cookies.  I glazed twice.  Once when they first came out of the oven and again after they cooled from the first glaze.  The depth of flavor is pretty great.

I believe you will all be relieved to know that I found my Christmas Spirit!  It turns out it was hiding under some things like exhaustion, isolation, a lack of kitchen therapy, and the retail monster.  A couple of things had to occur for it to emerge.  One was that I stood in the middle of our Youth Service Center at school on Wednesday and looked at the amazing generosity of our staff in our building to take care of more than 10% of our student population for Christmas in our first ever "Eagle Tree" (think Angel Tree at a local level).  There were packages everywhere and I stood amazed while student "elves" wrapped presents and squealed at the gifts.  I am always overwhelmed at the outpouring of love from the staff at Shawnee to take care of our own and it has always been that way.  I also have been blessed enough to have some beautiful friends and family that have had time to come over for dinner or drinks or just a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie before heading out into the weather again and I am filled with such gratitude at the bounty of amazing souls that I have in my life.  We had a discussion with our great friends last night about "Santa Claus" and their young daughter.  The debate ensued over "to lie or not to lie" and I found myself defending what that spirit really is, what the spirit of Santa represents and why it is so important to keep that alive in our kiddos.  I think I won myself over. And finally my beloved kitchen time that has restored me in creative ways again.  Thank goodness I am finally together again.  I was starting to worry.

Anyway- we are still baking here and will be for a few more days.  I can't help it, I can't get enough.  The weather has been perfectly wintery and a great excuse to be snowed in with the man I love.  I hope the season continues to amaze each of us.   Cheers, friends.  Here's to more great events.

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