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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Am I Blue?

Hosting gatherings on Friday nights after working a full day is always a challenge, even when it's a small group of friends.

Last night I hosted a book group in which I've been participating for about two years.  It's a great group of women, an interesting combination of lawyers, social workers and educators.  This month we were reading a book by an Alaskan author, My Name Is Not Easy, a young adult novel about Alaska Native students at one of the boarding schools that were once ubiquitous around the state when remote villages didn't have their own high schools.

The subject matter is fascinating and important--Alaska Native teenagers removed from their homes and transported hundreds of miles away to be educated to values that weren't necessarily their own--but the book is just so-so, mostly due to the bland writing.

I knew that I wanted to make a cake and set out some finger foods, but since we meet at seven I was going to make fondue.

Now, my love of fondue is well known.  However, I wanted to do something a little different if I was going to serve up a big pot o' cheese again so soon.  I modified the recipe I used previously to incorporate sassy, stinky Gorgonzola cheese.  It gives the fondue a slightly funky flavor that is a nice counterpoint to the creaminess of the texture.

An all-blue fondue would just be too much--apparently it turns gray and unappetizing--but the proportions I used were just right.  There's something wonderfully communal about sitting around talking about a book while everyone is dipping their forks into the same pot.

Blue Cheese Fondue
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
6 oz. Gruyere cheese, finely shredded
6 oz. Emmethaler cheese, finely shredded
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup dry white wine*
1 cup water
1.5 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in water

Cubes of French bread, baby carrots and grapes for dipping

Combine the wine, water and garlic in a fondue pot or other small saucepan on the stove.  Bring to a rolling boil.

Add the cheese in two installments, whisking constantly.  Do not let the cheese mixture boil.

Add the cornstarch slurry and continue whisking until the mixture is thickening.  Remove the pot from the stove and place over its burner, if you are using an actual fondue pot.  The mixture will continue to cook down slightly over the heat.

Serve with cubes of bread, baby carrots and grapes for dipping.  Easily serves six people.

*I used an unoaked California chardonnay, which worked well.  Avoid oaky Chardonnays, as they will clash with the blue cheese flavor.


  1. Oh my - I think I need this in my life. I am a fondue lover - who doesn't love melted cheese? The book sounds fascinating though - reminiscent of the schools that took young Native Americans off the reservation and refused to let them speak their language.

  2. Great recipe.Love fondues!Looks super yummy!!

  3. I am going to get my fondue on New Years Eve... I can't wait. Your fondue has totally inspired me. :) I think it's so nice you have a book group. I need to do more "interesting" things like read more beautiful books like you described.. not just cookbooks. :)

  4. You have me wanting to make fondue! this sounds wonderful, especially for winter!

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  6. Lovely story, lovely recipe. Must try this during the cold winter months...thanks!

  7. This sounds amazing! I love bleu cheese and really, is there such a thing as a bad melted cheese? Hehehe.

    I'm going to have to look and see if I can get that book on my Kindle. It sounds pretty interesting

  8. I too love fondue...and stinky cheeses. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I am not sure whether I have tried this fondue before but why not for cheese is one of those I really fancy.

  10. Sounds like fondue is going to be on my to buy list. =P I like the red one you have - so cute! After kids grow up, I want to have a book club or some kind of gathering with only adults.... sounds so much fun. I'm spending my whole day with the kids and it's nice to have a conversation with adults sometimes. lol.

  11. I'm been obsessed with fondue recently. I like the idea of the blue cheese in this to give it some depth. Delicious.

  12. I say YES to blue cheese fondue.
    At what time is dinner? :)

  13. I'm surely saying yes to a blue cheese fondue! It sounds perfect for some weekend indulgence.

  14. You did a wonderful job on the blending! That blue hue is something that is to be feared-not pretty. Your picture of the fondue does look delicious. Good food and friends gathered around discussing a good book does sound like fun-especially if you are the host! Great post of a tasty recipe-thanks

  15. We always try to do fondue at least once over the holidays. I will try this. The book sounds interesting. So many native students were put in boarding schools here in Oklahoma as well. What a travesty.

  16. That fondue sounds delicious. I have only had Swiss and Cheddar based fondues. Bleu sounds wonderful.

  17. What a fun idea for book club!!! I usually make treats that reflect the setting of the book, but I'm certain I'll be able to work in fondue on one of my hosting nights. It sounds wonderful!

  18. What a GREAT fondue! I belonged to a book club years ago and loved it! I moved away and couldn't take them with me, but what fun!

  19. Oooh... I've had cheese fondue (and it got a bit overwhelming), but not with blue cheese. Sounds fantastic, and like it would hold my attention & appetite much longer!