Gooey, cheesy, maybe even chocolaty. Those are some words to describe fondue.
Fondue is cooking over fire in a pot. Cheese fondue is one of the more known fondue dishes and it's one that my family does the most, but you can even cook meat and vegetables in pots of broth or oil.
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I like cheese fondue, because you can use whatever cheese your palate likes: sharp like blue cheese or mellow like mozzarella.
My brother is one of the pickiest eaters you'll ever meet but one of the things he likes is cheddar cheese, especially Cheesy Cheddar Burgers from Wendy's. So I decided to make cheddar cheese and Gouda fondue.
Fondue is versatile because everyone can choose what they want to dip. One of my favorite things to dip into the warm cheese is pretzel bread; it's salty and has nice texture to it. My brother even dipped chicken nuggets in the cheese.
A word from Mom: I tend to break out the fondue pots -- I have three of them! -- around the holidays. To me fondue is as much a dining mindset as it is a type of cuisine. This communal style of dining can be as casual or as elegant as you want.
I've put out traditional Swiss fondue -- cheese and crusty bread -- for a holiday open house, capped Christmas dinner with Chocolate Cheesecake Fondue (from Peggy Fallon's "Great Party Fondues") and celebrated New Year's Eve with a peanut oil-cooked beef and pork and an array of homemade finishing sauces. I prefer my electric fondue pot for cheese and chocolate recipes because it maintains the heat more evenly than my tealight candle and Sterno-style pots.
Jerome's Cheesy Cheddar Fondue works as an appetizer for a holiday party, or as a laid-back midweek meal when you want take a breather from the end-of-year madness and reconnect with your family.
• Jerome Gabriel, a seventh-grader, has been helping in the kitchen since he could hold a spoon. His mom, Deborah Pankey, is the Daily Herald's food editor.