Smile and Say……”R” is for Raclette


Today begins the push to the end of the alphabet – thanks for sticking with me through this cheesy series!

“R” is for RACLETTE

Welcome back to Switzerland! I couldn’t stay away for long.

There are two melted cheese dishes popular in Switzerland – or, perhaps I should say, popular for tourists in Switzerland: fondue and raclette.

Fondue (from the French fondre, literally, “to melt,”) is better known, and if you link back to my “G” post, you can read all about it. Well, raclette comes from the French verb racler, literally, “to scrape.”

Raclette cheese is usually formed into wheels that weigh about 13 lbs. In times past, half the wheel was held, cut side out, to a fire, and when it was melted, the cheese was scraped onto a plate that contained little boiled potatoes, gherkin pickles, and pickled onions. Traditionally, Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around a fire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of bread.

Times have changed. Now, most people use an electric raclette grill like this one from Eiger. You place a slice of raclette cheese into one of the little coupelles, or small pans, and melt the cheese under the grill.

And always remember, the best beverage to drink with melted cheese is something warm, like tea. Room-temperature white wine is acceptable. Cold drinks? Non non non.

Smile and Say……”G” is for GRUYERE



I guess you can figure out my theme for the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. That’s right, it’s cheese!  I hope you enjoy these posts!

“G” is for GRUYERE

Photo by M. Reynolds
Photo by M. Reynolds

Same view, different seasons (and my photo is from 1979).

Now, you may recall that my “G” post last year was similar. Right! Last year, in my “Oh! The Places I’ve Been” theme, I listed the small village of Gruyères as my “G.”

Gruyere cheese is probably my favorite – yes, partly because it’s made in my beloved Switzerland, but its taste is so unique. It’s a good melting cheese, and you shouldn’t make a cheese fondue without using equal amounts of Emmanthaler (“Swiss”) and Gruyere cheeses (that’s known as moitié-moitié – half and half).

gruyere ch


Chocolate Fondue (and a recipe)

The word fondue originates in French, and consists usually of melted cheese in a caquelon where everyone spears cubes of stale bread on long forks and dips said bread into the communal pot of melted cheese. There are variations on fondue, including fondue Bourgignon, where small pieces of meat and vegetables are speared, and instead of cheese, the pot contains boiling oil. Fondue Chinoise uses broth instead of oil. And then there is the pot of warm, melted chocolate…..

“Fondue” is the past tense of the verb “fondre,” which means, quite simply, to melt. If you’ve never had chocolate fondue, I’m including a great recipe from Michael Chiarello. It makes about a cup and a half of fondue, which is perfect for a little dessert among friends.

The title of my next book is also “Chocolate Fondue.” Picking up where “Chocolate for Breakfast” left off, it follows Bernadette Maguire for the rest of her vacation in Switzerland and back home in America, but also focuses on the son she gave up for adoption twenty-three years earlier, the man she’s just seen for the first time at the end of the first book. And there are plenty of new characters, too.  I’ll post more as the publication date is closer. But for now, enjoy this chocolate fondue with someone special!


  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon Cabernet Sauvignon, or other good red wine
  • Pound cake cubes, for dipping
  • Strawberries, cleaned, for dipping (and other fruit if you wish)
  • Biscotti bits, for dipping


In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the sugar, heavy cream, chocolate, and butter together and microwave for 2 minutes.

Take out of microwave and give it a quick whisk. Add wine and whisk again. Transfer to a fondue pot with a flame underneath. Serve with pound cake cubes, strawberries, and biscotti bits on the side, for dipping.