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Holiday Traditions: Fondue, Baby!

Bonjour! Welcome to the holiday season!

I thought it would be fun to spend the next few weeks blogging about holiday traditions. Yours and mine.

Today it’s all about fondue. My family never made fondue because my mother hates cheese, therefore fondue was obsolete at our house. However, when I met my French husband nine years ago, fondue became a big part of my holiday tradition. My husband, David, also known as Bunny, is the master of fondue and we always have fondue during the cold holiday months. I thought it would be fun to share his recipe with all of you! And then, I thought I would share a few other fondue variations… The Barefoot Contessa’s take on fondue, a smoky cheese fondue with garlicky croissants and a twist on the classic chocolate fondue.

Let me tell you something…Bunny can cook. He learned everything from his mother who is a marvelous cook. I have been trying to convince David’s mother for years to let me help her write a cookbook. She has refused unfortunately (probably because she hates me) and will take her recipes to the grave. However, David’s fondue recipe is at least based on his mother’s original recipe… but David took it to a whole new level. Check it out:
This is David and his little boy, David.
Bunny and Bunny Jr.

Bunny’s Fondue
Let’s start with the cheese. I think that the secret to David’s fondue is the three types of cheeses he uses. Equal parts Beaufort, Comte and Gruyere cheese. Next up, David uses a dry sparkling white wine, a Brut Sec. David gets his dry sparkling white wine, Vin d’Ayse, from a little village in the French Alps, his mother’s hometown of Bonneville, but you can use any good dry sparkling white wine. His next little secret is to throw in two girolles clou mushrooms. Cube a delicious loaf of crusty French baguette and put into a couple of different baskets to pass.



Okay, those are the ingredients, now let’s talk about how to make it. Cut up all the cheeses into equal rectangular shaped thin slices and put in a nonstick pot, add enough sparkling white wine to cover the cheese, and start cooking… Medium to high heat for 10 minutes. Do not boil the cheese! A big non, non! Just get the cheese to a liquid consistency. Lower heat to medium and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, throw in the two mushrooms for a pop of earthy flavor. Add salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Pour all of this into your fondue pot and enjoy!

Now, here’s the special part. At the end of the fondue when you are thoroughly stuffed like a French pig and when you have about half an inch left of cheese left in your fondue pot, take an egg and crack it into the fondue pot. Use your fondue fork with a piece of the crusty baguette on it and start stirring the egg and cheese mixture, cooking the egg. At our house, this is everyone’s favorite part because it makes a little cheesy egg omelette on your piece of baguette. Divine!

Okay, now let’s take a look at some other fondue variations:

 The Barefoot Contessa's Baked Fontina Fondue-ish
Click HERE for recipe.
 Smoked 3 Cheese Fondue with Toasted Garlic Buttered Croissants
Click HERE for recipe.

Caramel Fondue
Click HERE for recipe.
What? You don’t have a fondue pot? Have no fear, I’m here to help. David’s favorite fondue pot is from a company called Emile Henry. Click HERE. My favorite fondue pot is from a company called Mauviel, it’s copper and it’s gorgeous. Click HERE.


What are some of your cooking holiday traditions? Leave your thoughts in the comment section! Stephen, we are waiting…

 A toute!



  1. Oh my god first of all what a delight to see this as I'm having "a day". And I swear I was going to ask you about fondue. I'm making vats of it for Christmas Eve dinner this year! I've never made it! So the timing couldn't have been better.
    Well, holiday traditions barely existed before I assumed dictatorship of my family. Or good ones anyway. Except the one year we ate at a strip club on Christmas Eve on accident. No one cooked before I did, so as a joke and nod and because everyone loved it, my childhood Christmases were KFC. I swear. My GG "may or may not have" had an affair with Colonel Sanders, so KFC is woven into our family fabric. They "may or may not have" met at the Cincinnati Boat Club-which is most definitely not the Yacht Club--and became acquainted as her last name at the time was also Sanders.
    now there was some traditional WASP soulfood homemade by my grandparents-Boston baked beans and macaroni salad, but yeah, mostly KFC. I can't imagine at that time they were even open on Christmas Day, so someone probably got it the day before. And knowing my family, left it in their passenger seat until the next morning.
    But then when I was about twelve, I began cooking and taking over bit by bit. When I was maybe 14, I implemented a tradition of making a croquembouche. My first croquembouche was so ugly and janky and the caramel was rock hard; so the creampuffs had to be chiseled out. I still always make one, but it's usually small and has no caramel glue. Therefore making it a creampuff mound and not a real croquembouche, but I can live with that. I've had many emotional meltdowns regarding creampuffs and caramel, usually occurring around 4AM Christmas morning. Most infamously when I called my friend K at 4:30 Christmas morning and needed more eggs because my fucking pastry cream had curdled. So now, the creampuffs filled with stabilized whipped cream are much, much easier and more enjoyable.
    I'm making ham this year, which I hate and think is stupid. Can't we all just drink some salty, sugary water and pardon the pig? I asked if everyone was okay with me making pork tenderloin instead and glazing it like ham? My sister: "just heat up a goddamned honey baked ham". I think I'm going to blackmail her for a cherry Goose Pot to make the ham in. I have a blue one, but I'm using a lot of Stewart tartan and blue doesn't really have a place on that buffet, now does it?
    I'm going to practice Bunny David's fondue this weekend.

    1. Very interested to see your pork tenderloin and your version of ham handling.

      I pray that one day you will stop being Hairdresser to the Stars (in Ohio) and start hosting your own tv show x

  2. Oh I cannot wait to make it and the bubbly will make it so extra special. Fondue is so decadent and fun, just fun at a Holiday Gathering. Thanks Ellie for writing about this yummy delight!! I think I will do some little crab puffs as well!

    The Arts by Karena
    Books for the Holidays!

  3. Green corn tamales. All the way baby.

  4. First, Ellie and Stephen may have been separated at birth. Second, my one and only experience with fondue was on Easter Sunday a few years ago. It was one of those holidays when my daughter and I were both crazed at work and failed to adequately plan for Easter dinner, and ended up driving down the main street looking for ANY open restaurant, the only one available being a Swiss fondue place. The last 'course' was chocolate fondue with marshmallows. Perfect. And hilarious.

    XOXO / Nancy

  5. I can't believe it! Two things: I can't believe Stephen Andrew had to eat KFC on Christmas Day, and I can't believe you posted your Bunny's fondue recipe because just today I was packing up our truck to go to our ski chalet (my Green Acres), and I found my fondue pot in amongst my Ski House things. And I thought, too bad I don't know how to make a good fondue. Well you saved me! I'll also be practicing Bunny David's fondue recipe this weekend, those mushrooms added, that's genius, and the egg trick, that is SO French!
    I have a Le Creuset fondue pot and it's orange, Stephen Andrew would love it.
    We had turkey on Christmas when I was a kid though if my mother had her way it would have been KFC which she loved, oh I shudder to think of it. The thing I remember was the cheese ball with crackers, and Santa left me a jar of green pimento-stuffed olives which was the only time olives were ever in our house, otherwise I would eat them all. Not a lie, I would eat the whole jar Christmas morning.
    The 24th is the big night for my husband's family, we have a big dinner with beef, fish, lots of vegetables and Austrian cookies for dessert.
    SO excited to try this fondue it will be perfect at the ski chalet and please tell Bunny David thank you for sharing his recipe XOX

  6. I will be cooking from YOUR CHRISTMAS COOKBOOK!I haven't opened it as of yet..........SO the menu isNOT SET in GOLD.Gotta get through this weekend FIRST!

  7. Ha! Stephen Andrew, you became "dictator" and savior of the family feast just in the nick of time. And I've NEVER before heard of ANY 14 year old boy who attempted croquembouche. Bravo! (regardless of the outcome)

  8. Oh my, Ellie! Your David is a keeper, sans doute. All you've shared about him PLUS he cooks. Be still my heart. BTW, at 3 a.m. the other night I downloaded your Christmas book and read the entire thing. I look forward to trying some of those great recipes. I laughed and laughed over your comments about what your family will and will not do - exactly like my family. I think about you every day and send positive thoughts and prayers your way. David isn't the only amazing person in your household.

  9. I love Comte and that recipe looks delicious. There is nothing more comforting than fondue.

  10. Your fondue recipe is unlike any other. The last time I attempted fondue, I simply melted cheese in my copper fondue pot. Not very good. Your recipe is more than a magnitude better. Thank you. As for traditions, my mother did not like to cook. As a matter of fact she often said she wished she could give everybody a vitamin and this would equal a meal! Carnation instant breakfast was her favorite for family breakfast. Holiday dinners were very matter-of-fact and ordinary. I have taken over the holiday dinner prep and hosting. I am not an outstanding cook but I love the holidays, setting a wonderful table, decorating and making sure everybody has a good time. Stephen's KFC story is hilarious. No more KFC holiday dinners with Stephen in charge. One lucky family! Susan.

  11. Ellie, Bunny's fondue has me drooling, and I just finished dinner! Now I'm going to have to go and buy a fondue pot. But what a great and easy meal for a bunch of friends on a winter night.
    Our most important Christmas cooking tradition? Christmas bacon. When I tell my friends I'm busy making Christmas bacon, they think I'm being lazy and meaning "Christmas baking". But no, it's bacon. Candied bacon. It's labour intensive and I only ever make it for Christmas. When we have our multi-denominational Christmas breakfast, which includes a lot of mixed Jewish/Christian families it's the Jews who make a beeline for the bacon! Can't blame them, it is decadently delicious! Crunchy, salty, fattty and sweet. The essential food groups.

  12. These sound great recipes! Must try!
    Many years ago when my son was small I copied down a cheese fondue recipe from a TV chef. Had made it once before and it was yummy so decided to make it for a girls' lunch with salad and crusty bread. Had also made a pavlova for dessert. But son was annoyed by all the time I was spending in the kitchen (he was under 3 at the time) and somehow grabbed the piece of paper with the recipe that I was carefully studying and ran away with it. When I followed him more slowly up the corridor I found he'd flushed it down the toilet. As I had four women coming in about an hour I was gobsmacked and couldn't remember how much of anything should be used (seem to remember it included white wine, two cheeses, garlic et al). In the end in desperation I called the TV station and asked if they could give me the recipe. Lucky me, the chef himself was there and they put him on. So nice. He thought it was hilarious and patiently ran through what I should do. It was a great success! Pammie

  13. David's recipe for fondue clicks all the bells and whistles that I have heard about making a great fondue since living here (do you remember the "friend" who wanted to take me to Venice? He used to have his cheese flown in from Switzerland) EXCEPT I have never done the egg thing and feel sorely cheated. Is it wrong that I want fondue for breakfast right this very minute (and no snarky comments about what time it is, thank you)?

    At our house Christmas was usually a Honey-baked ham, although my Mom usually did the honey baking herself at least - and ps. Remi loooooved it when he had it. ;) But the most important tradition is waking up to mimosas (for those of age) and chocolate Entemann's donuts while doing the stockings, straight on through the opening of the presents! It makes for an especially merry Christmas morning...

    Sending much Love and Strength to you from just north of Ghetto Town,

    1. Is Ghetto Town anywhere near Funky Town?

  14. It's years since I had fondue....but I think I got three fondue pots as wedding gifts in 1978 (they were all the rage at the time:-) as well as three irons and two ironing boards, but that's another, obviously sad, story.

    Bunny is a renaissance man. Little bunny is adorable.

    Stephen Andrew has started my day off right. I'm still laughing at his description of ham.....a man after my own heart! Bwahaha!

  15. You are the only go-to in my inbox! Cheers to you and your supportive gang for bringing such a great addition to my daily grind. Many thanks. And will porcini mushrooms be a good substitute?

  16. Christmas dinner is always a shared experience at our house. Everyone takes on a dish. The house hostess (we rotate between my Mother, Sister and Brother) roasts a turkey and usually my Mother or Sister also cooks a roast beef. Since most of the family likes to cook, the meal is fabulous. Mom turned 90 this year so I think she will be opting out of hosting Christmas.
    I love fondu and received a fondu pot for a wedding gift. However, it hasn't been out for several years. I used several cheeses, what ever Julia said to use, but I think I only used a dry white wine. I will make one very soon because I can't wait to try the egg at the end. Thank you for the new recipe.

  17. Elle, I enjoy the "comments" almost as much as I enjoy your delightful style of writing. Thank you and thanks to all of your "commenters". There are several I feel I have gotten to know, not the least of whom is SAJ! I have the same opinion of ham as he, but I never could have expressed it so eloquently!

  18. Wow Bunny's cheese fondue looks delish! I make a quick chocolate fondue for two regularly.
    My mom is a terrific cook, and she always roasted a locally raised, fresh capon for Christmas dinner. She often made a buche de Noel too. Fond memories. By popular request, I cook prime rib for Christmas dinner. I like chicken 100 x more than beef, but I am outnumbered. However, last Christmas I went rogue and cooked the closest thing I could find to a capon - a big chicken. I made Ina's roasted chicken recipe, and it was nostalgically delicious as always. But my kids were not happy and asked me to please never prepare that pedestrian bird for Christmas again. :(

  19. More yummy recipes to try! Between yours and Stephen Andrew's, I am going to to look like Arnold the pig before the holidays are over, and will be in dire need of a stay at someplace like Canyon Ranch or the Golden Door (though that would definitely require a lottery win or bank robbery). I've never made fondue, and my minimalist self will not be purchasing a fondue pot, but I love that Ina's is made in a cast iron skillet - I have plenty of those!
    Our Christmas dinners alternated between turkey one year, ham the next - but my mother always pushed for ham every year because it meant less time in the kitchen. However, an absolute must for both Thanksgiving and Christmas on the hors d'oeuvres tray is a Smithfield ham spread from a local family owned grocery. It's their secret recipe, everyone in our family loves it, and most would forgive any menu changes or substitutions except for the ham spread.

  20. Such sad news for your good friend and lovely woman, Yolanda. You most definitely got the ''good David''.

  21. There’s good reason I haven't touched a cheese fondue since visiting Paris in the late 70's. Hubby and I were wandering around Montmartre one night and happened upon a quaint looking restaurant (line out the door) filled with young people sitting around a long communal table eating fondue and drinking wine out of…Baby Bottles!! (It sucks but somebody’s got to do it) Long story short, we made it back to Le Meurice in a decorous manner but then everything went downhill fast. I’d say it was the equivalent of your visit to the Farmer’s Market in Mallorca – Jambon? ;) In any case I must be cured because I totally want to make David’s recipe AND purchase a fondue pot…I’m #TeamBunny. For anyone TeamEllie, there’s a copper Mauviel for sale on eBay, $400 NIB.

    p.s. I was half surprised to hear of Yolanda’s divorce on Watch What Happens Live (thanks to your Y.H. comment) but totally surprised to hear about Bravo's new, upcoming RHOP #WhereIsPotomac? Hope it helps the real estate values!

  22. Oh My Gosh, A Bunny and Bunny Jr., to clone them.....LOL....loving the
    recipe.....sounds scrumptious....know it is ! XOXO....SO FUNNY, I have no fondue pot and that
    last paragraph was adorable.....Merci ~ 2 good choices !!!!

  23. Filet of beef with bernaise sauce and potatoes au gratin ( among other things) Christmas Eve and my famous coffee cake Christmas morning from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum- the best coffee cake ever!!

  24. We are making Italian food this year, with our son-in-law making two different kinds of ravioli, and rustic bread loaves. I'm in charge of the antipasto platter, though I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to have on that. I'm buying assorted Italian pastries for dessert. We have done Mexican, French and Italian themes before, including homemade Mexican Chocolate ice cream. I would try making spumoni this year, but it seems like too much work.
    Your family is so beautiful. Wishing all of you a peaceful and joyous holiday season.

  25. Growing up in Mississippi, my family went to a Christmas Eve cocktail party at my mother’s best friend’s house followed by a noisy trip to church at the end of the evening. As the both the hostess and the dwindling church congregation got older, the time of the church service changed and the cocktail party followed. A much safer option for those in living in Yoknapatawpha County! The food, although good, was never the true focus of the evening.
    After 30 years of living in the Northeast, I have concluded that the tables are turned here in the former Connecticut Colony. Fun is not precisely the focus, so it might as well be the food. To this end our family traditions have evolved and they seem to work well. (Somewhat to my regret, as my family now refuses to return to Mississippi for any holiday. Which would probably not be as much fun since the darling people who gave the wonderful parties are now in heaven.) On Christmas Eve we have a small family cocktail party with champagne and blinis served with caviar and smoked salmon with both melted butter and crème fraiche. Nothing else is on the menu, as they are so delicious and satisfying there is no need to try to consume anything else. Next morning there is a wonderful breakfast with special grapefruit from Vero Beach, Florida, baked oysters with bacon, grits with Parmesan and Gruyere cheese, and black Ethiopian coffee.
    I look forward to David’s fondue (intrigued by the mushrooms!) and hope you will share more of his (and his mother’s ) recipes. Loved your two cookbooks sharing your own traditions. May your first Christmas in Provence be filled with love and happiness!

  26. I have just read through the comments and I have to say I love reading what everybody else has for Christmas and their wonderful stories that come with it. I'm with you mother on cheese, I can not stand it and have never liked it. I try it from time to time, but I'm still not a fan at all! Everybody is always surprised when they hear this as from what I gather cheese is universally liked. But not for me or your mother! I live in Norway, so we celebrate Christmas at Christmas Eve. We got to church (even if we never go any time else in the year, but it's tradition) and we go home to my childhood home which is a gorgeous farm where we always celebrate Christmas. On Christmas Eve we wear our traditional gown called "Bunad" which is sort of a folk costume, but there are many types. I have the one called "Telemarksbunad", you have to google it! On Christmas Eve we always have pork franc/pork and for dessert we always have ris a la mande. A very traditional Christmas and very Norwegian. I would love to celebrate an American Christmas and hope to do it soon! My sister lives in Paraguay at the moment with her boyfriend, but she is going to America for Christmas to visit a friend (she studied in Georgia for three years) and I have to admit I'm a little jealous!

    Have a wonderful and peaceful season!

  27. Yum ! Fondue! Yum new Fondue Recipes! Fondue, ham, champagne are our New Year’s Eve dishes,and my fathers famous eggnog with ingredients including California cream sherry and ice-cream. My little brother was in charge of mixing it up for my 21st birthday and had to go take a "nap" after a little too much taste-testing.
    There was the Christmas at my in-laws that we decided to cook and they didn’t cook only used the microwave and coffee maker. The turkey wore underpants that year… you know the white cotton granny panties. They were freshly washed out of the package, the elastic cut off and basted with butter throughout the roasting. The most beautifully browned turkey I ever made. Panties were a secret until later among us in-laws (or was that out-laws) and removed for serving.
    Our family traditions for Christmas Eve rotate between tamales, clam chowder and oyster stew. My favorite memories were tamales at a friend’s house after church. All the tamales, beans, rice and salsa you could eat plus 90 year old grandpa spiking the punch (for all) with Southern Comfort! Miss those days. For Christmas it’s Turkey or Prime Rib. My mother’s English family always ate goose and she cannot stand it or duck. The only holiday meals I won’t repeat is the year of the Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners at Denny’s, which is why there was a year when the turkey wore underpants. I will eat a holiday meal of grilled cheese with canned tomato soup and floppy carrot sticks at home if someone ever asks me to Dennys for the holidays again.