Televised and cinematic versions of Johanna Spyri’s classic book Heidi are as far-reaching as Finland, Japan, Greece, and of course American television, but few can outdo the simple charm of the 1937 Shirley Temple movie version directed by Allan Dwan and co-starring Temple picture regulars Arthur Treacher and Marcia Mae Jones.
Orphan Heidi is dumped by an indifferent aunt at her misanthropic Grandfather’s Alpine aerie where she melts his stony heart as easily as raclette by a hot fire. Her first meal at her mountain home is simple cheese, bread, and goat’s milk. Translate that into a Swiss cheese fondue and you have a winter’s dish easy enough for kids to compose and fun for them to eat, dipping and twirling a wide variety of foods in melted cheese.
If you don’t have a fondue pot and forks, melt the cheese in a microwave or in a regular saucepan. Place the saucepan on something heatproof at the table and simply return it to the stovetop if the fondue thickens as it cools. You can use regular forks or bamboo skewers to pierce the dippable. The following recipe is for kids. For adults simply use another saucepan and replace the fruit juice with white wine. You can also liven it up with a teaspoon of mustard or some grated garlic.
- 1 T butter
- 1 cup white grape juice or apple cider
- 1 pound of Swiss, Cheddar, Gouda or a combination of mild cheeses
- Blend and melt over low heat. Transfer to fondue pot or carefully use saucepan to serve to older children.
- Traditionally cubed, crusty bread
- And any or all of the following:
- Lightly blanched cauliflower, broccoli, or rabe florets
- Cherry tomatoes
- Chunked green, red, orange, and yellow peppers ( sliced are harder to dip)
- Cooked sausage chunks, hot dogs pieces or Vienna sausages
- Cooked, cooled tortellini
- Green onions, cocktail onions, gherkins, cornichons, pickles
- Small cooked potatoes, cubes or wedges of potato ( don’t overcook or they won’t hold up to dipping)
- Apple or pear slices
Using bread, vegetables, meat, and fruit makes this a complete winter supper served with a tossed green salad. Serve with juice for the kids and wine for the grown-ups.