Leave it to Mark Bittman to take something as decadent as fondue and make a version that feels more reasonable without losing any of that great bread-in-hot-cheese goodness. And leave it to me to discover in the middle of the recipe that we had eaten right through our cheese reserves in the fridge (I have a thing for Cabot’s Seriously Sharp, okay?!) and I only had four ounces left while the recipe called for eight.
I made the recipe for my book club meeting, so of course 15 minutes before I was supposed to be there I was shoving veggies into the oven to roast (because why would I make these things easy on myself by cooking in advance?) and panicking on the discovery of the last of the cheese.
I ended up making up the difference with a bit of shredded parmesan and 3 tablespoons of silken tofu. With a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, the strong flavors of the cheese held up. I grabbed the pot and the platters of veggies and bread I’d roasted and brought it the two blocks over to my friend’s house where the book club meeting was being hosted to finish it on her stove, since it really needs to be poured right away after the cheese melts.
I’m not sure if it was the lesser amount of cheese, the tofu or if I just didn’t keep it cooking long enough, but my sauce never quite turned creamy. And the downside of this dish is that plain white sauce doesn’t look as appetizing poured over food as it does in a beautiful fondue dish, especially when it’s a bit on the thinner side. It still tasted good and cheesy, but didn’t exactly look as lovely as a traditional fondue spread.
The other thing about making this for something like a book group is that it’s invariably going to sit on the table for awhile as people pick at food and chat. Bread that’s sitting in cheese sauce for awhile tends to get this weird combination of stale and dense, so for this setting perhaps a dippable version with the lower-guilt sauce like what Aura did would be better.
Either way, I’m always happy to try out recipes that involve bread, roasted veggies and cheese. Make sure to check out what the rest of the Food Matters Project members did and find the original recipe at Lexi’s blog.