Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cooking from the Books with K: Heidi

"I feel like Heidi eating bread and cheese."
Ah, Heidi. I still remember wishing I could live on a mountain, instead of in suburban Connecticut. How wonderful does this sound?
“She started joyfully for the mountain. During the night the wind had blown away all the clouds; the dark blue sky was spreading overhead, and in its midst was the bright sun shining down on the green slopes of the mountain, where the flowers opened their little blue and yellow cups, and looked up to him smiling. Heidi went running hither and thither and shouting with delight, for here were whole patches of delicate red primroses, and there the blue gleam of the lovely gentian, while above them all laughed and nodded the tender-leaved golden cistus. Enchanted with all this waving field of brightly-colored flowers, Heidi forgot even Peter and the goats. She ran on in front and then off to the side, tempted first one way and then the other, as she caught sight of some bright spot of glowing red or yellow. And all the while she was plucking whole handfuls of the flowers which she put into her little apron, for she wanted to take them all home and stick them in the hay, so that she might make her bedroom look just like the meadows outside. Peter had therefore to be on the alert, and his round eyes, which did not move very quickly, had more work than they could well manage, for the goats were as lively as Heidi; they ran in all directions, and Peter had to follow whistling and calling and swinging his stick to get all the runaways together again.”

K says that Heidi "is about a girl who goes to live with her grandfather on the mountain. Everyone thinks her grandfather is mean and should not be allowed to take care of her. But, he's nice to Heidi. There are friends, a boy and his family and a girl. The girl is in a wheelchair and the boy is really poor. She meets the boy while he is herding goats. She meets the girl when she has to go to the city for some reason. The girl is really nice. Someone gives Heidi kittens. The kittens get into trouble. Heidi comes back and later the girl comes to visit and the boy, Peter, pushes her wheelchair off a hill and the girl, Klara, learns to walk. That is most of the story.
I thought the story was awesome. Because it is a good book and the characters seem like real people. I read this when I was 7 or 8 and I liked that it was a chapter book. It kind of reminded me of the Little House books. "

So how could we not do a Cooking from the Books: Heidi? The obvious dish: fondue. I put this off a bit because not only do I not own a fondue pot, but I had no idea if my cheese-averse child would enjoy it. Unlike most kids, K is rather anti-cheese, except on pizza. But after she learned to eat grilled cheese, albeit with the blandest cheddar possible, I figured it was worth a shot.

First off, I sent a plea out on Facebook for a loaner fondue pot and got two offers. It seems that most people who own fondue pots simply don't use them. As for having never made fondue, well, sometimes opportunity knocks. From our place in the Della Fattoria bread line at the Ferry Plaza Farmers market this past Saturday, we spotted a tub of fondue mix at Andante Cheese. To me, it was a clear sign that this was our weekend for Heidi. Sure enough, Sean Timberlake, of Punk Domestics fame, had a fondue pot we could borrow, mere blocks away. Social media: the modern way to meet your almost neighbors and thus, borrow their cookware. So after a trip to the hardware store for sterno, we were set.
How could I resist an Andante fondue mix?

Our recipe is as simple as it comes and was adapted from the Joy of Cooking. Not wanting to push my luck with K, I skipped the kirsch, though for less picky eaters I highly recommend it.

1 tub Andante Fondue Mix (about 8 oz. grated cheese)
1 cup white wine (from the Savoie in this case)
As much nutmeg as K felt like grating
1 teaspoon corn starch

Heat wine over a medium-high heat until it begins to foam but does not boil. Add cheese gradually, stirring all the while. Grate in nutmeg and continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken slightly. Add cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens enough to coat your dipping items. Pour into a fondue pot and place over sterno to keep warm.
We dipped Della Fattoria semolina bread, apples slices, salami and mystery box purple cauliflower.

Purple cauliflower, apple slices, Boccalone salami and bread for dipping.

To my delight, it was a hit. K reports that "the fondue was awesome. It made me kind of feel like Heidi because I was eating bread and cheese. It was fun to dip the bread and the apples. I want to try chocolate fondue next!"

"The apples are good!"


  1. I have to hand it to Andante, fondue mix is a pretty brilliant idea. If only we could replace all the fat free shredded Mexican blends in the world with that.

  2. I loved Heidi and pretended I was her when I was hiking in our Alps, the Sierras, my love of cheese also started young! So glad K likes too! Baby boiled potatoes are a classic accompaniment also.