No matter how much we try to deny it and refuse to remove our flip-flops from the front closet, the cold weather is heading our way. This is when Canadians, traditionally, begin to enter hibernation mode and stock the kitchen with comfort foods. Comfort foods like onion soup covered in melted cheese or spicy chili or warm croissants or cheese. Baked goods and cheese pretty much cover the basics and I don’t play favourites.
Anyone else remember white shag area rugs and macramé flower holders and fondue nights? They’re back, baby! Check out design magazines and every website on the internet if you don’t believe me. Retro is hot. Or maybe it’s cool. The point is, people are seeking out familiarity and comfort and that often results in resurrecting favourites from our past.
Several times a year we have Raclette evenings, so we’re big fans of oh-so-comforting melted cheese dinner menus where everyone pitches in to prep their own plates. This time around as part of the Kraft Cheesefest Celebration (anything with cheese is a celebration) I chose to pull out the fondue set, do a bit of simple cooking ahead of time by roasting potatoes and steaming broccoli, and then I sat back to let my kids and family make their own dinner while I enjoyed a glass of wine. A plate of cold cuts, a selection of pickles, and a warm baguette rounded out the meal.
Before you start cooking there are two fondue fun-do rules:
I don’t make the rules, I just follow them. Actually, I do make the rules and now you have to follow them, so pucker up.
Let’s get cooking!
Start the potatoes first so they can cook while the rest of the meal is prepped.
Roasted Potatoes Ingredients:
Wash and quarter potatoes and place in a bowl. Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine olive oil, sea salt, fresh pepper, herbs, and garlic and pour over the potatoes. Toss them so that they’re coated with the mixture.
Place a piece of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and spread potatoes into a single layer.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes or until potatoes are slightly browned and crispy.
Cheese Fondue Ingredients:
Once the potatoes have been cooking for 30 minutes, begin the cheese mixture.
Place the cheese into a saucepan at low to medium heat. Add white wine and minced garlic and stir occasionally to make sure all the cheese melts evenly — approximately 15 minutes.
While the cheese is melting steam the broccoli. The broccoli should be tender enough to spear with a fork, but not mushy — approximately 10 minutes over low to medium heat.
Set out a selection of cold cuts and pickles.
Transfer the melted cheese mixture to a ceramic fondue dish and dig in.
Bring on the hibernating!
So now I want to know...what’s your comfort cheese? Check out www.kraftcomfortzone.com for a bit of inspiration and some drool-worthy ideas!
Who wants to dress up to go out when you can create warm comfort at home?
Create these mouthwatering cheese-inspired dishes found at the Kraft Comfort Zone. It’s ooey gooey goodness all in the comfort of your own home.
This past summer was the summer of what the hell and sure I’ll have another piece of pie and now I’m paying for it, friends. The old metabolism isn’t what it used to be and while skipping one or two runs doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of having healthy lungs and a perky tush, skipping several months of running does. Add in a sweet tooth that took over and I’m back to zipping up jeans with a wire coat hanger. You remember those days, right?
Fall is the real New Year, with kids going back to school and many of us recommitting to habits and goals. I did the same and went back to boot camp twice a week in September. Twice weekly workouts are okay, but aren’t going to revolutionize anyone’s health and fitness, and I have no intention of going off the deep end and cutting out cake and cheese because that’s crazy talk and…well…cheese.
Some sanity and balance is called for though and that means lacing up the running shoes for more frequent sessions of boot camp, running, and my favourite — kick boxing. It also means that lunch can no longer be a square of dark chocolate, a handful of carrot sticks scrounged from the back of the fridge, rice crackers, and lukewarm coffee. Time to get back on track with easy-to-make, delicious, and nutritious lunches that provide the energy needed for a full day of work-kids-sports-homework.
My go-to salad is tomatoes, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette, but it’s lacking in enough calories and healthy fats to see anyone through until the next meal, let alone a busy parent. Avocado, escarole — same family as endives, but not as bitter — and a few sunflower seeds to give a nice crunchiness to the salad, takes this recipe from a side to a full meal for two people.
Slice goat cheese into 1/2 centimeter rounds and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil on cheese and bake at 325F for 5 minutes.
Wash, pat dry, and lay out 1/2 a handful of escarole leaves per plate.
Open the avocado, scoop it out, and slice each half into thin wedges. Place one avocado on each plate of escarole leaves.
Slice the tomato and place 1/2 over top of each avocado. Add four rounds of warmed goat cheese and sunflower seeds per serving.
Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle lemon juice and balsamic vinegar over the salad. Serve.
Makes enough for two.
* If you’re bringing this salad to work, pre-warm the goat cheese at home and reheat in a microwave. Alternatively serve with cold goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.
Besides having to reluctantly wear socks again or risk potential frostbite, fall brings all kinds of good things. It’s time for sweaters and boots and crisp, autumn colours and visits to the apple orchard. My local orchard doesn’t boast pony rides or corn mazes; there’s no posing behind farmer cut-outs. It’s an old-school orchard where you pull a makeshift cart past branches so heavy with fruit even the smallest member of your family can reach the apples.
Fall is one of my favourite seasons, in large part because of all the delicious things we can cook up: apple jam, apple pie, apple cake, apple chips, apple and pork chops, everything apple.
This cake is adapted from a recipe my mother developed and published in a 1970s Tupperware cookbook — remember those? — from France. It’s a simple cake and one of my favourite family desserts.
1 14-gram package of yeast*
* If you prefer a traditional, fluffier cake, substitute ¾ teaspoon baking soda and ¾ teaspoon baking powder for the yeast. It will be equally delicious.
Butter a 23 cm spring form pan and preheat oven to 375F.
Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Lightly score the outer side of the apple quarters and set aside.
Combine the flour, sugar, milk, grape seed oil, eggs, sea salt, and yeast. Mix well using a fork until the batter is smooth.
Scoop the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
Press the apples — with scored sides facing up — halfway into the batter. Bake for 25 minutes.
With 5 minutes left in the baking time, prepare the butter caramel topping.
Ingredients For Butter Caramel Topping
Melt the butter slowly over low heat without boiling. Add the sugar and stir slowly.
Once the sugar and butter are completely melted, add the vanilla and combine well.
Quickly stir in the egg and pour the mixture over the partially-baked cake.
Bake another 23-25 minutes so that the butter caramel sets.
Allow cake to cool and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.