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FOOD FUN: Meatball Fonduta

Fonduta With Meatballs
[1] Food fun: fonduta and meatballs (photo courtesy Flavor & The Menu).

Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta
[2] How about a smoked mozzarella fondue? Here’s the recipe from Center Cut Cook.

[3] Serve fonduta with classic dippers, with or without the fondue pot (photo courtesy Equatorial Sky | Wikipedia).


Who needs spaghetti or lasagna?

This fun dish from Flavor & The Menu plops meatballs into a fonduta, an Italian variation of Swiss fondue.

Even richer than fondue, fonduta adds eggs, milk and butter to the melted cheese. The recipe is below.

The original recipe was created in the Valle d’Aosta region of northwest Italy, an area of the Alps bordered by France and Switzerland. Fondue likely jumped the border from Switzerland to Italy.

In the Valle d’Aosta, cooks enriched the local fontina cheese (Swiss fondue is based on gruyère) and served it as a dip for bread and crudités, or as a sauce for cooked vegetables.

Here’s the history of fondue, which dates to the 17th century.

While the classic cheese for fonduta is fontina, you can use any semihard cheese. Just avoid crumbly aged cheeses.

Plan ahead: In this recipe, the cheese and milk must meld overnight. Also plan that when the fonduta comes off the stove, it’s ready to eat. No one wants cold fonduta!

If you have a fondue pot with a heat source, or a brazier, use them.

Or even better, make your fonduta in individual dishes instead of one serving dish. With a large serving dish, it’s messier to scoop-and-serve.

If you prefer an all-mozzarella fonduta, follow the directions for the smoked mozzarella fonduta (substitute regular mozzarella as you wish) in photo #2.


  • 10 ounces fontina or its cousin, fontal, rind trimmed, and cut into a small dice
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Optional garnish*: minced chives or parsley
  • Dippers of choice (see our list)
    To Serve With Meatballs

  • Meatballs of choice, cooked
  • Marinara or red sauce of choice, heated
  • Thinly-sliced mozzarella
  • Baguette slices, toasted

    1. PLACE the cheese and milk in a small bowl, ensuring that the milk just covers the cheese (add more milk as needed). Cover and set aside overnight. When you’re ready to cook:

    2. PREPARE a double boiler. Add water to the bottom half and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Then place the butter into top half. When melted, stir in the cheese and milk mixture until the cheese has melted.

    3. ADD the egg yolks one at a time to the cheese mixture, whisking constantly until the fonduta is smooth, thick and glossy (about 10 minutes). Pour it into a warm serving dish (heat it for 20 or more seconds in the microwave) and serve immediately.

    For The Meatball Fonduta

    1. HEAT the marinara before creating the fonduta, and keep warm. When the fonduta is hot and ready to pour…

    2. COVER the bottom of the serving dish with the sauce, then add the fonduta. Top with the meatballs and mozzarella. Heat briefly in the microwave to melt the mozzarella. Garnish with herbs and serve immediately with the toasts for dipping.

    NOTE: This dish is easier to eat with a soup spoon, rather than a fork.

    *Herb garnish is not traditional with fonduta or fondue, but we like the subtle flavor it adds.


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    RECIPE: Mexican Chicken “Lasagna”

    Here’s a fusion recipe for Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Chicken Lasagna. It substitutes tortillas for lasagna noodles, enchilada sauce for pasta sauce, Monterey Jack for mozzarella.

    It’s lots of fun.

    Thanks to Pampered Chef for the recipe.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz/250 g)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided (8 oz/250 g)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup/150 mL)
  • 1 can (28 oz/825 mL) enchilada sauce*
  • 12 six-inch corn tortillas
  • 3 cups (750 mL) diced or shredded cooked chicken
  • Optional garnish: additional chopped fresh cilantro leaves

    1. PLACE the cream cheese in a bowl and microwave on HIGH for 30-45 seconds or until very soft. Add the cilantro and 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) of the Monterey Jack cheese; mix well.

    2. CHOP the onion and set aside. Spread 2/3 cup (150 mL) of the enchilada sauce over bottom of baking pan. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce into a mixing bowl andset aside.

    3. ASSEMBLE the lasagna. Dip four of the tortillas into the enchilada sauce in mixing bowl using tongs, and arrange over sauce in the baking pan, overlapping as necessary. Scoop half of the cream cheese mixture over the tortillas, and spread.


    Mexican Lasagna
    [1] It looks like a classic lasagna, but it’s a Mexican twist (photo courtesy Pampered Chef).

    Fresh Cilantro
    [2] If you’re not a cilantro lover, substitute basil or oregano (photo courtesy Good Eggs).


    4. TOP with 1 cup (250 mL) of the chicken and one-third of the onion. Repeat the layers one time. Dip the remaining tortillas into sauce and arrange over second layer. Top with the remaining chicken and onion. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over lasagna and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) Monterey Jack cheese.

    5. MICROWAVE, covered, on HIGH for 12-15 minutes or until the center is hot. Let stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro. Cut into squares and serve using a spatula.


    *If desired, 1 bottle (22 oz/650 mL) medium salsa combined with 1/2 cup (125 mL) water can be substituted for the enchilada sauce.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Cheese, Truffle Honey & National Truffle Day

    Truffle Cheese
    [1] One of our favorite truffle cheeses: Truffle Tremor from California’s Cypress Grove.

    Truffle Honey
    [2] Truffle honey available from Gourmet Attitude.

    Alba White Truffle
    [3] Alba white truffle—the most expensive in the world at more than $2,000 a pound (photo courtesy Stefania Spadoni | Archivio Ente Turismo Alba Bra Langhe Roero).

    Summer Black Truffles
    [4] Summer black truffles are typically used in truffle cheese and truffle honey (photo courtesy Caviar Russe).


    May 2nd is National Truffle Day. It’s not specific as to the underground truffles a fungus is related to mushrooms, or chocolate ganache bonbons, which are named after the original vegetable truffle, a fungus. We’re going for the fungus.

    May is not a good month for fresh truffles. The best truffles are gone by February, and there’s no inventory until the summer truffles appear.

    Instead, we recommend two truffle-infused products: truffle cheese and truffle honey. Both make delicious Mother’s Day gifts for the gourmet mom.

    Truffle cheese is typically made from mild cheese that has been flavored with bits of truffles and/or truffle oil. The cheese can be made from any type of milk, in any style—from soft cheese like burrata to hard cheeses like mild gouda.

    The cheesemaker will purchase tiny bits of truffle that have fallen off the truffles as they are handled. Sometimes, truffle shavings are used, from truffles that weren’t presentable enough to be sold.

    The cheesemaker blends the truffle bits into the curd, infusing the cheese with earthy truffle flavor. You can see the pieces of truffle in the cheese.

    Here are some examples that you can look for locally, or online at e-tailers like DiBruno, iGourmet and Murray’s.

  • Boschetto al Tartufo: This semisoft Italian cheese, in Italy made from a blend of pasteurized cow’s and sheep’s milks, with shavings of white truffle. It is sold in small rounds, a perfect size for gift-giving.
  • Grafton Truffle Cheddar: This acclaimed Vermont cheesemaker’s classic cow’s milk cheddar is flavored with both truffle shavings and truffle oil.
  • Truffle Gouda: Smooth and buttery gouda is flavored with flecks of Italian black truffles. The young gouda has not yet become sharp, so it makes a fine base for the truffles.
  • Moliterno Black Truffle Pecorino: From a town in southern Italy, this sheep’s milk cheese is aged before black truffle paste is injected into it, forming prominent veins. They make the cheese both delicious and visually stunning.
  • Sottocenere: This creamy cheese is made in Veneto, in northern Italy, from cow’s milk and black truffle slivers. Sottocenere means “under ash,” referring to the layer of ash rubbed onto the wheel.
  • Truffle Tremor: This pasteurized soft goat’s from California is milk cheese is flecked with bits of black truffle. It is made by one of our favorite cheesemakers, Cypress Grove, which specializes in goat cheese.
  • Truffle and Salt Cheddar: Ballard Dairy in Idaho flavors their creamy cheddar with both black truffles and Casina Rossa Truffle & Salt, sea salt with added dried black truffles.
    How To Serve Them

    While you can serve truffle cheese with either red or white wine, still or sparkling, how about a bottle of dessert wine?

    The European custom of serving cheese at the end of a meal, instead of a sweet dessert, makes this a terrific gift for a cheese-loving foodie.

    Other accoutrements you can package with a gift: honey (for a drizzle), Marcona almonds or toasted hazelnuts, and whole grain crackers.

    Truffle honey is made by adding pieces of truffle into plain honey, where the truffles infuse their flavor and aroma.

    The earthiness of the truffles combined with the sweetness of honey is a special combination.

    There are many brands, and some use chemical approximations of truffles instead of the real thing (it’s the same with truffle oil). While they are not bad, they are not the best.

    As you consider the brands available to you, check the reviews or ask your retailer.

    Truffle honey is popularly served with hard cheeses; Italians love it for dessert with Parmigiano Reggiano. We love it on a slice of baguette, plain or toasted.

    We also like to drizzle it in a baked potato. And you can use it as a glaze for chicken, game birds and skirt steak.

    Like to be edgy? Put a dab onto a square of dark chocolate or chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

    Frankly, it is delicious to eat truffle honey from the spoon.

    While Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are on the horizon, don’t forget about Number One (you!).

    A [pretty] comprehensive guide to black and white truffles.


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    RECIPES: Cinco De Mayo Baked Potatoes

    While stuffed baked potatoes may not be authentic Mexican fare, these two winners from blogger Sylvia Fountaine of Feasting at Home.

    They were sent to us by the Idaho Potato Commission are an easy way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

    Serve the baked potatoes along with some grilled steak or fish, and a green salad with lime vinaigrette and some crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese.

    Sylvia bakes her potatoes in an instant pot.

    This baked potato is topped with a south-of-the-border-style corn and black bean relish. It is vegan, gluten free and full of flavor.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 baked Idaho russet potatoes
    For The Corn and Black Bean Relish

  • 1 cup corn kernels, roasted (or purchase frozen roasted corn)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Garnish: hot sauce of choice

    1. MAKE the corn and black bean salsa ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to incorporate. Adjust the salt and lime, adding more if you like.

    2. CUT a slit into the warm baked potatoes and fluff up the flesh with a fork. Divide the corn and black bean relish between the two potatoes. Drizzle with hot sauce or sriracha and serve immediately.

    Crema is Mexican sour cream. It has a slightly different flavor than American sour cream, but you can use them interchangeably.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 can refried beans, Mexican style
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 baked Idaho Russet Potatoes
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • Optional: hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup crema/sour cream, or vegan Avocado-Cilantro sauce
    For The Vegan Avocado Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 medium avocado, ripe
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 2/3 cups water, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  • Optional heat: pinch cayenne or a few slices jalapeño

    1. MAKE the Vegan Avocado-Cilantro sauce. Place the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Set aside.


    Mexican Baked Potato
    [1] Baked potato with roasted corn and black bean relish (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Idaho Potato Commission).

    Mexican Baked Potato
    [2] Baked Potato With Mexican Garnishes.

    Russet Potatoes
    [3] Russet potatoes for baking (photo courtesy Potato Goodness).

    Fresh Jalapenos
    [4] If you’re not sure if everyone likes the heat of jalapenos, pass them around in a dish (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    2. HEAT the refried beans on the stove in a small pot. Season with salt and pepper. Add the hot sauce for extra heat.

    3. SPLIT and fluff the baked potatoes, season with salt and pepper and a small drizzle of olive oil.

    4. TOP the baked potatoes with the warm refried beans. Add the avocado, cilantro and jalapeño. Top with a
    few dollops of crema/sour cream or the cilantro sauce.


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Fine Teas From Steven Smith Teamaker

    Steven Smith Chamomile Tea
    [1] A calming herbal blend (all photos courtesy Steven Smith Teamaker).

    Steven Smith Teas
    [2] The selections of black, green, herbal and white teas will please everyone.

    Steven Smith Lord Bergamot Tea
    [3] Lord Bergamot, the company’s version of Earl Grey, blended to provide substantial bergamot flavor for which Earl Grey is known.


    For a Mother’s Day gift of fine tea, look no further than Steven Smith Teamaker of Portland, Oregon.

    Smith was* tea royalty in the U.S., first as co-founder of Stash, then as founder of Tazo, then as co-founder, with wife Kim, of Steven Smith Teamaker.

    Steve not only had the expertise; he had the commitment to seeking out the best, and the palate to know the best. When he started his eponymous label, his curated teas were noticeably superior to other “superior” tea brands. There’s no brand we like better.

    The company’s staff travels the globe to to personally select the finest small-batch teas and botanicals. They buy from longtime colleagues in the world’s best tea-growing regions in Africa, India, China and Sri Lanka.

    There are boxes of sachets (tea bags) and tins of loose tea in every style. A sampling of some of our personal favorites:

  • Assam is big and malty black tea, blended by Smith with a bit of smoky Keemun.
  • Lord Bergamot is an “upgrade” of Earl Grey tea that combines Ceylon and Assam teas with the bergamot oil from Reggio Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot.
  • Meadow blends chamomile flowers with hyssop, linden flowers, rooibos and rose petals—a memorable herbal infusion.
  • Rose City† Genmaicha, our favorite green tea, grassy with the light, nutty flavor of roasted rice. Here, the unique touch is a bit of rose petal and manuka honey.
    The teas are so flavorful and nuanced that we drink them straight, without milk or sweetener.

    But you don’t have to make a decision here: There are black, green, herbal, oolong, pu-erh and white teas galore on the Smith Tea website, including special blends for iced tea.
    There are wonderful gift sets. Custom-label tins are available for wedding parties, in blends that can be mixed to the couple’s preferences. Steven Smith is an artisan tea blender, to be sure!
    Steven Smith Teamaker teas are all natural, gluten free, GMO free. The bags are compostable.

    Each container has a batch number that you can enter to see the provenance of the ingredients, the date it was packed, and personal notes from the tea blender.

    There’s a specialty blend to take note of, called Nancy And Beth, created by singer-actresses Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt. The name is the title of their latest album.

    An herbal tea, this floral blend begins with rose petals, which are blended with chamomile, cyani (cornflowers), ginger, licorice and osmanthus flowers. Five dollars from every sale will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Find it here.

    If you’re in the Portland area, stop by the tasting room for a cup or two.

    Check out our Tea Glossary.

    *Mr. Smith passed away in 2015.

    †Portland is called the Rose City for its proliferation of rose bushes. The climate is ideal for growing roses outdoors: warm, dry summers, rainy and mild winters, plus heavy clay soils.


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