How to Fondue

Fondue is easy to set up and simple to make, too. Fondue is especially ideal for a teenage girl's party. But it also will work well for adult dinner parties, New Year's Eve parties and for family reunions.

Here's the checklist of how to plan for the upcoming event:

Two Weeks Before the Birthday Party

  • Ask your daughter for the names of her three to five of her favorite friends.
  • Call the parents of her friends, and ask if they have an e-mail address so that you can send an electronic birthday invitation.
  • Visit the Web site and, with your daughter, select a party invitation template to use. The service is free, and this invitation Web site allows your guests to RSVP. It even sends a reminder notice.
  • Remember in the invitation to mention that the luncheon (or dinner) is a dressy affair and that their daughter should dress up in a fun party dress. It's easiest to have the party on a weekend day or night.
  • If you don't own a fondue of your own, ask your friends and neighbors if they have one that you can borrow. Many thrift stores have fondue sets at very reasonable prices. Depending on your fondue apparatus, you may need to buy Sterno, which can be purchased at any grocery store. Some fondue pots are simple microwave-safe containers that sit on a hot plate, so Sterno isn't necessary.
  • Keep a lookout for a sale on cooking oil for the fondue. Peanut and sunflower work best. Plan on about 32 ounces for 4 to 6 people. For a lowfat and inexpensive alternative, consider using a seasoned vegetable broth, also known as bouillabaisse fondue.
  • A Lazy Susan (a serving platter that spins) makes fondue very user-friendly. This is optional, though, because you can accomplish the same thing by using multiple serving dishes on the table, too.

One Week Before the Birthday Party

Learn a little more about fondue. According to the Web site, cheese fondue's Swiss history is explained as follows:

"Each component of a traditional Swiss fondue plays an important role. Most recipes we see for -traditional' Swiss style fondue are a combination of two cheeses, Gruyere and Emmenthaler. These two cheeses are combined because either cheese alone would produce either a mixture that was too sharp or too bland. The cheeses are most commonly melted in a dry white wine, which helps to keep the cheese from the direct heat as it melts as well as to add flavor. The Kirsch (a clear cherry brandy) was added if the cheese itself was too young to produce the desired tartness. The garlic was for additional flavoring while the flour or cornstarch assists in keeping the cheese from separating.

Given Fondue is a -communal' meal there are a few basic guidelines to follow. To eat cheese fondue spear a piece of bread using a fondue fork and dip it into the pot. Twirl the bread cube gently in the cheese to coat it. You'll want to let the bread drip a bit before you put it in your mouth. This will allow the excess to drip back in the pot and also allow time for cooling. When you put the bread in your mouth try not to touch the fork with your lips or tongue because the fork does go back in the pot.

Alternately, you can use a dining fork to slide the bread off the fondue fork then eat it with the second fork. This is probably more cumbersome than necessary.

To eat meat fondue, spear a piece of meat, and plunge it in the hot oil [or broth fondue, which is less expensive]. Allow it to sit until the meat is cooked to your liking. Remove the fork, and place it on your plate. Use your dining fork to slide the meat off the fondue fork. Then use your regular fork to dip the meat in the sauce as desired. Then eat using your regular dining fork."

Although European countries all serve fondue, it originated in Switzerland, and the meals utilized standard ingredients that most homes would have on hand.

Plan the menu with your daughter. Some ideas can include:

  • Appetizer: Cheese fondue with French bread with a small side salad. You can make an inexpensive vinaigrette from scratch.
  • Main Course: Chicken, pork or beef with vegetables, such as mushrooms, green peppers or cherry tomatoes.
  • Dessert: Chocolate fondue with pound cake, strawberries, bananas or marshmallows.
  • Drinks: This can be water with beautifully cut fruit pieces such as orange and lemon slices in the bottom of the decanter. You may also purchase a bottle of sparkling apple cider to use as a toast in elegant glassware.

Once you've planned the menu:

  • Watch the local grocery store circulars for sales on the different cheeses, chicken/pork/beef and vegetables you will use.
  • Research and select cheese fondue recipes, chocolate fondue or desert fondue recipes, and meat fondue recipes.
  • Check your evite invitation to determine how many guests will be attending. For anyone that hasn't responded, have your daughter ask her friend if she is coming or not.

Three Days Before the Birthday Party

  • Ask your daughter to help iron the tablecloth and napkins. Again, if you don't have any, ask your friends or neighbors if you can borrow theirs. It doesn't make sense to buy linens for just one event. The idea is to have a birthday party on a budget.
  • Create seating cards.
  • Choose the candles you will use.
  • Select the plates, flatware, and serving dishes to make the table look great.

One Day Before the Birthday Party

  • Buy the food. The freshest ingredients are always best when serving fondue.
  • Bake the pound cake.
  • Set the table the night before.
  • Ask your daughter to select the music and have it in order for the birthday party.
  • Create a flower centerpiece from your own garden flowers. If you don't have flowers, purchase a bouquet and use a vase you already own.

The Day of the Birthday Party

  • Chop the food into large bite sizes. The fondue forks you use need to have good size food chunks to skewer so that the food doesn't fall off the fork.
  • Place the raw food into serving dishes. Presentation is everything so take your time to make it beautiful.
  • Light the candles and Sterno 10 minutes before the guests arrive.
  • Play the selected music and have your daughter greet her guests.
  • Enjoy!

The presentation of the food, the table, and your home will set the stage for an elegant birthday luncheon. This is also fun for adult birthday parties, too.

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