Tag Archive for the dirty apron

Christmas Eve Fondue

I’m sure all of you have your own family-centric holiday traditions. Well, one of mine is a Christmas Eve fondue. I do love to fondue… I mean, c’mon, what’s not to like? Lovely, soft pieces of bread, dipped into warm, gooey cheese. You really can’t go wrong. Just add a glass of wine and The Grinch (classic animated version, please!) for me, and hot chocolate and Charlie Brown Christmas for the sprout, and you have a perfect Christmas Eve.

Last year's Christmas Eve fondue.

Last year’s Christmas Eve fondue. Don’t you love my “vintage” 1970’s fondue pot?

We usually wrap up the evening with a chocolate fondue. Because, really, the only thing that can make a fondue better is another fondue. Made of chocolate.

This year’s recipe comes from Chef David Robertson, owner of The Dirty Apron. You’ll remember I just got his cookbook recently. This recipe, however, is not in the Dirty Apron Cookbook. He developed this one in association with Jackson-Triggs, and the recommended pairing with this fondue is the 2010 Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Valley ENTOURAGE Grand Reserve Sparkling Brut. Could you serve Prosecco with it? For sure. But the JT is a more local choice. By the way, if you have any left over (HA!!) you can make this sparkling cocktail to have with your Christmas Brunch tomorrow.

Speaking of local choices, I’d use the Cows Applewood Smoked Cheddar from PEI to make this (Whole Foods). It’s my absolute favourite.

Happy Christmas Eve! Cuddle up with some cheese and wine and The Grinch, and relax.

Applewood Smoked Cheddar & Mascarpone Fondue


  • 1⁄2 lb Apple-Wood Smoked Cheddar, shredded
  • 1⁄2 lb Mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 Garlic Clove, peeled
  • 1 c Dry White Wine
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp Calvados
  • 1⁄2 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1 pinch Nutmeg


  1. In a small bowl, coat the applewood smoked cheddar with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of a ceramic fondue pot with garlic, then discard.
  2. Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir both cheeses into the simmering liquid, melting it until smooth in consistency. Once smooth, stir in the calvados, mustard and nutmeg.
  3. Arrange an assortment of bite-sized dipping foods, such as pieces of French and sourdough breads or blanched vegetables like carrots and asparagus on to a plate. Spear the pieces with fondue forks or wooden skewers, dip and enjoy.

Sticky Toffee Pudding from The Dirty Apron Cookbook

What do you serve at your Christmas dinner for dessert? For many, it’s pie; apple or pumpkin, similar to Thanksgiving. For some, it’s fruitcake. For a large chunk of time, for me, it was a Bailey’s Cheesecake. A more British Christmas tradition is to serve a pudding.

Now, pudding is a misleading word to those of us who don’t live across the big pond. Pudding is basically the British word for dessert, so it could be anything. When it comes to Christmas, however, pudding is steeped in tradition. Normally, it’s made with plums or figs, and other dried fruits (all of which have symbolic significance), steamed, and then dried for months before being doused with brandy and lit on fire as the culmination of the Christmas feast.

sticky toffee pudding

It’s less than two weeks until Christmas. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This dessert, however, could be an excellent stand-in. The cake is incredibly moist, partly due to its being cooked (ie partially steamed) in a bain-marie, and partly because it’s laced with sweet, moist dates. Served still-warm from the oven, smothered in sticky toffee sauce, it’s to die for.

A quick sidebar about The Dirty Apron: here in Vancouver, it’s one of our best cooking schools around. I’ve taken classes there, and it was a real treat. They have a gorgeous kitchen, and fantastic instructors. They also have a wonderful little deli where they sell homemade treats, sandwiches, and also gourmet items.

The man in charge here is David Robertson. For five years, Robertson was the Chef de Cuisine at Chambar, one of the city’s oldest and most respected modern French restaurants. I think every foodie in the city got a little flutter when they found out that The Dirty Apron was publishing a cookbook.

It’s pretty. So, so pretty. Gorgeous photographs. The recipes in this book are not for the beginning cook. Many of the recipes for mains, for example, contain more than a dozen ingredients, and two or three recipes inside recipes. But if you’re someone like me, who as mastered the basics, I think you’ll love this book. I have bookmarked many recipes that I can’t wait to try.

This one was the first one I tried, and it is a winner.

By the way, my friend Marianne is giving away a copy of The Dirty Apron Cookbook. Head over to her blog to enter.

sticky toffee pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

(from Dirty Apron Cookbook: Recipes, Tips and Tricks for Creating Delicious, Foolproof Dishes)

Ingredients for the pudding:

  • 1 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules or 5 drops of LorAnn Oils Coffee flavour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature, plus more for buttering the pans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Ingredients for the sticky toffee sauce:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp liqueur of your choice (Bailey’s is suggested, I used bourbon, anything whiskey-or brandy- based would be fine)


  1. In a small saucepan, bring the dates, water and coffee to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the baking soda, then allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, beat together, in a separate bowl, the butter, sugar and eggs. Add the baking powder and flour, and beat until well combined. Fold in the date mixture.
  3. Butter 4 small ramekins (you could also use a muffin tin), or a larger one if you want to make one big pudding. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the ramekins into a cake pan, and then fill them 1/2 way full. Pull the oven shelf out a bit, and then place the cake pan with the ramekins into your oven. Fill up the cake pan, about halfway, with boiling water, creating a water bath for your ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes at 350, then turn the heat down to 525, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the middle of the pudding comes out just crumbs.
  4. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  5. To make the sticky toffee sauce: melt the butter and brown sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cream and the booze, and allow to boil gently until it thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
  6. To serve: unmould the pudding and place it on a plate. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (if desired) and generously pour over the warm sticky toffee sauce.
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