I made the appetizer, main course and side last night–cheese fondue, crispy pork cutlets and sautéed egg noodles, with Brussels sprouts leaves, capers, and lemon zest.
The fondue: Fondue seems more like a meal than an appetizer, especially considering the heaviness of the meal, but The Husband was game to try it as a starter, so I made a partial batch. The recipe calls for gouda and apenzeller cheese, which is a hard cow’s-milk cheese from the Apenzell region of Switzerland. An herbal brine is applied while the cheese cures, which can lend a floral or nutty flavor. This one, which I found at Whole Foods, had a wonderful nutty flavor. I highly recommend it! The recipe says you can substitute Gruyère and Edam.
To make the fondue, the cheese is cubed and tossed in flour with pinches of white pepper and cayenne. Some white wine, like a gewurztraminer or dry Riesling, is simmered in a pot, then the cheese is added. Once the cheese melted, I added a bit of Kirsh(waller), a cherry brandy, which was optional.
The recipe says to use cubed rustic bread, cornichons, and cocktail onions as the dippers. (We happened to have some leftover cornichons in the refrigerator, so we used those but I wouldn’t have made a special purchase just for this.) The cornichon tasted horrific with the fondue. I couldn’t taste the kirsch until we tried the cornichon, but here’s an FYI: pickles + cherry=yuck!!! Actually, the fondue was overall too boozy, especially once it cooled off a bit, even with the bread. We only had a couple bites, and threw the rest out. So sad to see the cheese in the trash, but at least I made a small batch. We still have some of both cheeses left, so I may try this recipe, from the official Appenzell website. Note it includes cider instead of wine.
The noodles: Let me tell you how ridiculous this noodle recipe is: you have to slice a pound of Brussels sprouts in half, coring each one, then remove its leaves. As you can imagine, this was an extremely tedious job; much worse then rolling hot spinach into logs. At the end I was left with a bunch of sprout cores going to waste. Poor things. Also, I didn’t start this recipe until 7:30 pm, after working all day and walking Miss Pooch for an hour. Mistake.
Anyway, I boiled the egg noodles, which were done about three days before I finished prepping the Brussels sprouts , drained them, and drizzled them with olive oil. I sauteed a clove of garlic in some more oil, then added some of the pasta water and the leaves, and cooked them until they were tender. Normally the cookbook overstimates the burner strength, but this time she said to cook it on med-high, which resulted in me having to add more water several times and it still stuck, even after lowering the heat. The noodles were added to the skillet with the leaves and oil, and then I was suppoed to add a half a stick of butter. Gah! The noodles already have two layers of oil, why put that much butter on them? I added about two tablespoons, which was more than enough. After the buttter melted, I added some capers, grated lemon zest and lemon juice. Look how it glistens:
The cutlets: The meat was pretty simple: coat pork cutlets in flour, egg, and panko crumbs, and season with salt and pepper. I made some chicken cutlets, too, because Mr. Squeaky Peanut won’t eat pork (unless it’s cured/smoked). For a pound of meat, Martha said to use 1 c flour, 3 eggs, and 3 cups crumbs. That is just an insane amount. I didn’t use even half of the flour, used just two eggs, half of which was still left on the plate, and only needed a third as much panko. More madness and waste!
The cutlets were to be fried in two batches, using a cup of oil. I didn’t use that much oil, and a good deal was left over in the pan. The recipe also called for making a dipping sauce out of sour cream, brown mustard and caraway seeds. This is where I had to put my foot down–I hate caraway seeds and rye bread. HATE. I am not willing to eat it, much less spend $5 for a bottle of herbs (spice?) I will never, ever use again.
OVERALL: A grease and oil fest! The noodles and Brussels sprouts had a nice flavor, and the meat was ok, but the two together was just too much. We felt pretty gross afterwards. Thankfully we didn’t add the sour cream sauce, pig out on cheese fondue, and follow it all up with ice cream per the menu. Egads.
Fondue C- (Husband gave this a D, which is lower than the grade he gave the liquid pudding and the oyster soup! He really hated it)
Noodles: B (by themselves, with a baked fish and less oil and butter, they’d get a B+)
Meat (by itself, without anything else oily): C+ (needed more seasoning)
Dessert (see previous post) A
Meal as eaten: C-