|Cheese Fondue with Fresh Basil and Sun-Dried|
Tomatoes and Herbed Crostini
It has been a while since I have joined in on Meatless Mondays here on these pages. There is so much to chat about and share. Most often my meals at home are meatless but I could never give up a juicy hamburger entirely. I do not follow a vegetarian life style like my parents or many of my friends but in todays world of carbon copying every one into one category or another I am willing to classify myself as a flexitarian. I seldom chat about my food choices, but, the benefits of choosing a diet high in fresh, seasonal vegetables, heart-healthy fish, with the occasional lean meat thrown in for good measure are substantial. The Meatless Monday campaign began in 2003 but it is not about becoming a vegetarian it's about healthy sustainable eating, having more money in your pocket, and reducing our carbon imprint. Giving up meat one day a week may seem like a small thing but it makes a large impact.
I have embraced Meatless Mondays for these reasons, but, for me Monday is the beginning of the work week, the day when I settle back into my weekly routine. I don't know about you, but often the unhealthy eating habits that have prevailed over the freedom of the weekend can be forgotten and replaced by positive choices. A weekly reminder to jumpstart these healthy habits encourages success.
This fondue is a revamp of one of my family favourites with the addition of garlic, fresh basil and sun dried tomatoes. Understanding the melting properties, flavours and textures of different cheeses can help you select the cheese that's just right in recreating your own rewarding version of this dish. It is important to choose a cheese that melts well. I have had success with Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, Parmesan, Monterey Jack, Edam, Gouda, Tallegio, Fontina and Provolone.
But my favourite cheese to give this fondue a Canadian twist is Oka. If any cheese is native to Canada, it’s Oka which is a type of Port Salut cheese, first made in Brittany, France by the Trappist monks to supplement their income and make their monastary self sustaining. They are backed up by years of experience to perfect their technique. This semi-soft cow's milk cheese that's creamy, nutty and fruity was made by the monks in Oka, Quebec a small village situated on the north shore of the Lake of the Two Mountains, just southwest of Montréal. Oka is traditionally covered with an orange rind that’s washed in brine and aged on cypress wood planks. In 1974, Agropur, Canada’s largest cheese cooperative bought the rights to produce Oka from the monks. Their cheese is made just down the street from the original Trappist Monk's monastery.
All this luscious cheese is scooped up by garlic and herb-flavoured oven-crisped croutons. It was based on a recipe from Nugget Market. This version of fondue was a very special way to start the work week and keep life on track.
**Cheese Fondue with Herbed Crostini**
3-1/2 cups (1 lb/450 g) Gouda, Oka, Emmenthal, Gruyere, or combination, grated
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
¼ cup cornstarch, enough to coat the cheese
1-2 sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
Kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste
Shot of Tabasco
2 tablespoons Kirsch or Sherry
¼ stick butter
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
Fresh herbs of choice (basil, oregano, sage, rosemary)
Smash the garlic cloves and rub inside of heavy saucepan; then discard the garlic.
Put saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat and add the white wine, scraping with a wooden spoon to dissolve the garlic residue. Toss the grated cheese in a small bowl with cornstarch, add the cheese mixture to the saucepan a little at a time unit melted; stir to prevent scorching. When melted, add the sun-dried tomato, basil, Kirsch or Sherry, nutmeg and Tabasco. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with crostini.
Slice baguette into ¼-inch slices. Melt butter, granulated garlic and herbs, then brush or drizzle on the bread slices. Bake at 350°F for approximately 10-15 minutes, turning over once, until golden brown.
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