Whether you serve up meat and vegetables, cheese and bread, or chocolate and fruit, fondue is a great option if you want to have a fun, interactive meal with loved ones. Here are some features to keep in mind if you’re shopping for a new set.
You can find fondue sets able to accommodate between two and eight people. While you should consider the size of your family — as well as the possibility of sharing a meal with additional guests — keep in mind that it can be harder to maintain fondue at the desired temperature in a larger pot.
One decision you’ll have to make when choosing a fondue set is whether to opt for an electric model or the traditional pot that sits over a burner. The latter has the advantage of working even if there’s a power outage. However, it’s easier to control the temperature of an electric pot, which is practical if you alternate between types of fondue.
Fondue pots come in a variety of materials, each with properties that suit certain needs better than others. For example, cast iron retains heat very well, making it ideal for meat fondue. Stainless steel, however, is lightweight and won’t break. Be sure to opt for a pot with a non-stick coating on the inside to make cleaning easier.
Finally, while most fondue sets include long forks, certain models also come with other practical accessories such as small ramekin dishes and a revolving stand.
If you have young children, look for a fondue set that has non-skid rubber feet and a cool-touch exterior. Keep in mind that electric models are less of a fire hazard than ones with a burner.
Do you want a dish that will keep you warm this winter? If so, treat yourself to this Polish classic.
Start to finish: 55 minutes
• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 2 onions, chopped and divided
• 1.25 pounds cooked beef
• 2 tablespoons beef broth
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup hot water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 slices bacon, chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
• Salt and pepper
1. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook one onion until translucent. Set aside.
2. In a blender, place the cooked beef, cooked onion, beef broth, and spices. Season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and set aside.
3. Add the flour to a large bowl and create a well in the middle. Add a few spoonfuls of warm water and mix. Gradually, add the remaining water and knead the dough until it becomes elastic and malleable.
4. Divide the dough into four equal parts. Roll out one part of the dough into a thin layer. Cut out small circles using a glass.
5. Place a spoonful of meat filling in the middle of each circle. Fold the dough over the filling and press the edges together. Continue until all pierogies are assembled.
6. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pierogies one at a time for about 5 minutes or until they float to the top. Drain and set aside.
7. In the same pan used to fry the onions, fry the bacon and remaining onion until crisp. Add the pierogies to the pan and let them brown on each side for added crunch. Place on a serving plate and garnish with fresh chives.
Bread in a bag: An edible at-home science experiment
If you’re looking for a fun, educational, kid-friendly activity to absorb the kids on a dreary winter afternoon, bread might be the answer. With just a few inexpensive ingredients, kids can learn about the science of baking and pick up a little extra confidence with their newfound bread-baking skills.
You will need 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 package of rapid rise yeast, 1 cup of warm water, 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and a gallon-sized zippered food storage bag.
1. Combine one cup flour with the sugar and yeast in the bag, then add the warm water. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal.
2. Squish the bag with your hands until everything is mixed together.
3. Let it rest for 10 minutes at room temperature. Bubbles will form as the yeast activates.
4. Open the bag and add another cup of flour, oil, and salt.
5. Seal bag again and squish to combine.
6. Add the last cup of flour, seal again and squish some more, until everything is blended.
7. Remove the dough from the bag and place it on a lightly floured surface.
8. Knead for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth. This step develops gluten, the latticework of protein that makes bread chewy and fluffy.
9. Place the dough in a greased loaf pan or divide it in half and use two greased mini loaf pans.
10. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.
11. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Do you love Swedish meatballs? If so, consider making this recipe on a chilly day, so you can enjoy them right in the comfort of your own home.
Start to finish: 55 minutes
• 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
• 6 tablespoons butter, divided
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3/4-pound ground beef
• 3/4-pound ground pork
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 1-1/2 cups hot chicken stock
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Fresh parsley
1. In a dry skillet, brown the breadcrumbs, making sure to stir them regularly. Set aside in a large bowl.
2. In the same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook the onion over medium-high heat until translucent. Season with salt and pepper and add to the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the ground meat, milk, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper again. Form the mixture into about 16 balls and set it aside on a plate.
3. In the same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brown each meatball on all sides. Set meatballs aside on a clean plate.
4. In the same pan, melt the last 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and whisk until a roux is formed. Pour in the chicken broth, whisking constantly until you have a uniformly smooth sauce. Add the remaining Dijon mustard, honey, Worcestershire sauce, and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Return the meatballs to the skillet, incorporating any cooking juices that drained into the pan. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with your favorite side dish.
Warm up with picadillo and fried plantains
Picadillo is a classic comfort food across Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines, and on a cold winter night, a hot bowl of this fragrant beef stew makes a fantastic meal that everyone will enjoy.
Ingredients are easy to find, the prep is simple, it reheats well, and tastes even better the next day. Sweet fried plantain slices are a perfect accompaniment.
About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
2 ounces dried chorizo, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
Pinch ground cloves
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup pitted olives
2 ripe sliced plantains (look for a yellow peel with black spots)
1 cup vegetable oil for frying plantains
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add onions, chorizo, and garlic and saute until the onions have started to soften. Add the ground beef use a fork to crumble the meat while it browns. Add salt and pepper to taste after the meat is cooked. Add tomatoes, vinegar, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, cloves, and nutmeg, stir to combine. Cover the pan and let simmer for about 30 minutes, then add the raisins and olives. Simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, fry plantain slices in hot oil for two to three minutes per side.
Serve stew and plantains over white rice.
Do you love mushrooms? If so, you’ll want to head straight to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for this earthy ravioli dish.
Start to finish: 1 hour
• 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 3.5 ounces dried wild mushrooms
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 large French shallots (or 3 small ones), minced
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 5.5 ounces button mushrooms, finely chopped, divided
• 5.5 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped, divided
• 2 cups very hot water
• 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
• 1-1/2 cups cooking cream
• Leafy greens of your choice, to garnish
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. On a clean work surface, place the flour and form it into the shape of a nest, using your fingers to create a bowl-sized divot in the center. Crack the eggs into the nest, and add the salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Using a fork, gently whisk the eggs, adding a little bit of flour at a time, making sure not to break the nest. As the dough begins to form, use your hands to incorporate all the ingredients. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of warm water. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it’s smooth and shiny. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature.
2. In a small bowl pour the dried mushrooms, and add the 2 cups of water. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute half the shallots until they’re translucent. Add half of the garlic, 3.5 ounces of the button mushrooms, 3.5 ounces of the cremini mushrooms, and half of the thyme leaves. Continue to saute over high heat until all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the skillet with white wine and reduce it until it’s dry. Pour the mushroom mixture into a bowl, let it cool for a few minutes, then add the ricotta cheese. Mix well and adjust the seasoning as needed. Set aside.
4. Drain the dried mushrooms, setting aside 1 cup of water. Place the mushrooms on paper towels or a clean cloth.
5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil and butter. Saute the other half of the shallots until they’re translucent. Add the other half of the garlic, the rest of the button and cremini mushrooms, the remaining thyme leaves, and the rehydrated dried mushrooms. Continue to saute over high heat until all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the skillet with the water from the dried mushrooms and reduce it until it’s dry. Lower the heat, add the cream, and let it simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Blend the sauce in a blender until it has a smooth, uniform texture. Set aside.
6. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about ¼ of an inch thick and separate it into two large sheets. On one sheet of dough place 1 tablespoon of the mushroom filling every 2 inches, and then cover it with the other sheet of dough. Using a round cookie cutter, cut the ravioli into rounds that are about 2 inches in diameter.
7. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the ravioli for 3 minutes. Drain the pasta, and divide it evenly among four serving bowls. Top with the cream sauce, and garnish with a few leafy greens.
Duck à l’orange
Are you tired of serving turkey for the holidays? This Christmas, break up your routine with this perfectly seasoned duck à l’orange. It’s guaranteed to be mouthwatering!
Start to finish: 4 hours (30 minutes active)
• 1 whole duck, about 5.5 pounds
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 French shallots, peeled
• 1 lemon, quartered
• 1 apple, quartered
• A few sprigs of fresh thyme
• 1 cup honey
• 2 tablespoons molasses
• 3 tablespoons orange juice
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons garlic powder
• 2 teaspoons onion powder
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Remove the giblets from the cavity of the duck, if necessary. Pat the skin dry with paper towels and leave uncovered overnight in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Using a knife, score the fat on the breasts, taking care not to cut the flesh. Salt the outside and inside of the duck evenly. Stuff the cavity with garlic, shallots, lemon, apple, and thyme. Close the cavity with butcher’s twine or toothpicks.
3. Place the duck in a baking dish, breast side up, and bake for 1 hour. Turn the duck, breast side down, and bake for another hour. Turn it over one last time and bake for one last hour.
4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the glaze thickens.
5. After it’s cooked for 3 hours, remove the duck from the oven and increase the temperature to 400 F. Brush the duck with the glaze and place it in the oven for 10 minutes. Baste the duck with the glaze again, and bake for another 10 minutes.
6. Let the duck stand for at least 15 minutes, then present it on a large platter garnished with holly leaves, oranges, and other fresh fruit.