Traditional Cheese Fondue

(8 to 10 servings)

Perhaps the most common fondue-dunked ingredient is cubed French bread. However, any vegetable that will fit on a fondue fork will benefit from the gooey goodness of melted cheese. In the interest of speed and efficiency, most recipes direct you to melt the cheese mixture in a saucepan first and then carefully transfer the mixture to the fondue pot.

This recipe may easily be halved for smaller fondue parties. Serve with a glass of chilled white wine, beer or even kirsch.

For the fondue:

1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

21/2 cups dry white wine

21/2 pounds Gruyere cheese, or a mixture of Gruyere and Emmenthal cheeses, diced

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dash freshly grated nutmeg

2 to 4 tablespoons kirsch, or less to taste

Splash freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the dipping:

Baguette, cut or broken into bite-size pieces

Steamed new potatoes or potato dice

Leaves from steamed artichokes

Warm or chilled steamed vegetables, cut into about 3-inch lengths, such as asparagus broccoli, carrots or green beans

Rub the inside of a large, nonreactive saucepan with the garlic halves, then discard the garlic. (You may want to rub the garlic on the inside of the fondue pot as well.) Add the wine, place the saucepan over medium heat on the stove and bring the wine to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low.

Meanwhile, in a resealable plastic bag or a large bowl, toss the cheese and flour until coated. Gradually add the cheese to the wine in three additions, stirring in a zig-zag or a figure-eight motion until the cheese melts before adding the next addition. Do not boil. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add the kirsch and lemon juice and stir to combine.

Carefully transfer the fondue to a fondue pot and keep warm according to manufacturer's directions. To serve, spear the dipping ingredient with fondue forks and dip in cheese, continuing to stir with forks as you dip.

Per serving: 520 calories, 34 gm protein, 3 gm carbohydrates, 37 gm fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 21 gm saturated fat, 412 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Beef Fondue

(Servings vary)

The fondue pot of choice for beef fondue is made from metal and is narrower at the top than at the bottom. This prevents splattering and helps retain the heat as much as possible since the oil must cook the meat. Heat the oil in the fondue pot so you won't have the risks involved with pouring hot oil from one pan into another.

Cooking more than two pieces of beef simultaneously can cause the oil temperature to drop, so it is advisable to cook -- and eat -- slowly.

Sauce of choice (recipes follow)

About 6 ounces raw sirloin or pork loin, per person, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Clarified butter, canola oil or a combination of both

Prepare the sauce(s) as desired from the following four recipes, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Arrange the beef on a plate; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add enough melted butter or oil or a combination of both to the fondue pot to reach halfway up the sides. Place over medium heat on the stove and heat until oil registers 360 to 375 degrees, or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns evenly in 20 to 30 seconds.

Using pot holders, carefully transfer the fondue pot to the stand and keep hot according to the manufacturer's directions.

To serve, pass the sauce(s) on the side and spoon onto individual plates for dipping.

Spear a piece of beef or pork with a fondue fork, lower it into the oil and gently stir the meat in the hot oil until cooked to the desired degree of doneness for beef (2 to 4 minutes) or until cooked through for pork (about 3 minutes). Remove the beef or pork from the hot fork and transfer it to the plate. Using another fork, dip the meat into the sauce.

Variables make nutritional analysis imprecise.

Green Sauce for Beef or Pork

(Makes about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

2 scallions (white and tender green parts), finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped herbs in any combination, such as tarragon, parsley and/or basil

Salt to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 68 calories, trace protein, trace carbohydrates, 7 gm fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 74 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Mustard Sauce for Beef or Pork

(Makes about 1/2 cups)

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon grated onion

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 73 calories, 1 gm protein, 1 gm carbohydrates, 7 gm fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 55 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Chipotle Sauce for Beef or Pork

(Makes about 11/4 cups)

2 canned chipotle peppers en adobe, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a blender or food processor, puree all of the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 82 calories, trace protein, trace carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 60 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Horseradish Cream for Beef or Pork

(Makes about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Pinch cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the lemon juice, horseradish, cayenne and salt to taste. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 37 calories, trace protein, 1 gm carbohydrates, 4 gm fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 31 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Chocolate Fondue

(6 to 8 servings)

This is the simplest, arguably funnest, fondue of all -- particularly for kids.

You can melt the chocolate in the fondue pot on the stovetop. No fondue pot? No problem. Instead melt the chocolate in a saucepan and then transfer the pan containing the warm chocolate to a hot pad; the fondue remains warm and melted for close to 30 minutes.

For the dipping:

Strawberries

Fresh pineapple chunks

Pear chunks

Banana slices

Orange sections

Kiwi chunks

Chunks of cake, something plain such as angel food or pound cake

Dried apricots

Dried pineapple, cut into chunks

Large marshmallows

For the rolling:

Toasted shredded coconut

Chopped toasted nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts

Crushed Heath bars

Minced dried fruits

Grated white chocolate

For the fondue:

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cognac, rum, whiskey or brandy or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the dipping and rolling: Arrange all of the desired dipping ingredients in shallow bowls or on platters. Place the desired rolling ingredients in shallow bowls. Set aside.

For the fondue: In a saucepan over medium heat on the stove, heat the cream just until bubbles appear around the edge. Do not boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the chocolate and whisk until completely smooth. Add the cognac or vanilla and whisk to combine.

Carefully transfer the chocolate mixture to a fondue pot and keep warm according to the manufacturer's directions. (The fondue will remain warm and dippable, off the heat, for up to 30 minutes.) After dipping the fruit, cake or marshmallows in the fondue, roll them in the desired ingredients.

Per serving (based on 8, chocolate fondue only): 316 calories, 2 gm protein, 28 gm carbohydrates, 24 gm fat, 41 mg cholesterol, 14 gm saturated fat, 16 mg sodium, 3 gm dietary fiber

-- Lisa Cherkasky