New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday.

No really, it is.

Or so I thought. Then I started dating my beau. And he noticed a pattern (like he has so many other times since this relationship began).

Our first holiday as a couple was the Fourth of July, which I let him know was my favorite holiday. Then Thanksgiving came around and I told him it was my favorite holiday.

He thought he just misheard me about Fourth of July. Then came Christmas  Eve, which I informed him was my favorite holiday and so on.

Next in line, New Year’s Eve and I exclaimed with much joy how it was my favorite holiday. And Beau knew something was up.

“You know every holiday is your favorite, right?” He said it outright. Steady. A half smile giving him away.

“That’s not true! I love New Year’s Eve, it really is my favorite…”

(silence)

“Actually, I love Thanksgiving too. Oh and Fourth of July and Christmas!!!!” I said less steady, a little worried but still beaming as I thought about all my favorite holidays.

“So, basically any day where there is an excuse for celebration and a joining of friends is your favorite?”

“Um, yes. I guess that’s about right.”

“So, I should just assume that whichever holiday is up and coming is your favorite?”

“Yes. That would be best. But baby, your birthday is my ABSOLUTE favorite. The day you were born :)”

And no, I did not just come up with that. I actually said it. Oh yes I did. Judge me. Now.

Anyway, my favorite holiday is um, today!

If you are planning on having people over or if you need to bring something, I have an extremely easy dish that will be a hit. Everyone will love you. And they’ll ask for the recipe. And love you some more. And all of a sudden you will be a shoe-in for all parties up and coming.

And if you are an introvert maybe this does not sound awesome to you. And I apologize for that.

Enter: Baked Fontina

It is so easy. So simple. It acts as a great appetizer when you have friends or family over but it is just as good for a leisurely lunch.

This recipe comes from Ina Gartin who first made it after having a similar dish at a famous New York City restaurant.

Here are some of the ingredients you will need:

There, now that's not too bad, is it?

There, now that’s not too bad, is it?

Grab your cast iron skillet. Next you will want to cube up 1 1/2 pounds of Fontina cheese. One inch cubes will do and make sure you do not use the rind. Fontina is a very creamy cheese and melts well. I found it at my local grocery store in the cheese aisle.

Add the cubed Fontina to the cast iron skillet. Then mince 1 tablespoon fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary.

Now it’s time for white gold. Garlic that is. This recipe calls for 6 cloves of garlic. Now that’s a recipe you can trust.

Slice the garlic very thinly.

Six cloves of garlic? Don't mind if I do.

Six cloves of garlic? Don’t mind if I do.

And that’s about the extent of your prep work. Look at you go. You’re awesome.

Now we assemble.

Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil all over the cheese.

baked-fontina-olive-oil

Add that beautiful garlic to the cast iron skillet. Just evenly lay it all over the cheese.

Fontina, meet garlic.

Fontina, meet garlic.

Now sprinkle your fresh herbs all over the cheese. Finish it off with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper.

She looks so beautiful and she still has to go into the oven to get all bubbly.

fontina-and-herbs

Now it is time to pop her in the oven. Turn your oven to Broil and make sure your oven rack is just five inches from the broiler.

A tip: if you are making this as an appetizer for people that you are entertaining, wait to pop it in the oven until your guests arrive. It only takes about 6-10 minutes for the cheese to get all bubbly and brown and it is always fun to pull it out when your guests are standing near by! OR, if you are bringing it over to someone’s house just assemble it and wait to pop it in the oven when you get to their house.

This is what you will pull out:

bubbly-baked-fontina

YES! Now, Ina suggests you serve this with a crusty baguette. Which is a very good idea. We like to drizzle our baguette slices with olive oil and pop it into the oven under the broiler once the cheese comes out. It usually only takes about 3 minutes for it to get all golden.

Then when it comes out, rub a smidge bit of raw garlic on it (because this dish doesn’t already have enough garlic).

See? A smidge of garlic.

See? A smidge of garlic.

But we didn’t stop there. My beau arranged an awesome array of veggies to go with this cheese. We used carrots, green apples and broccoli. We have also used grapes, celery, and bell peppers in the past.

With no effort at all your set-up will look like this:

baked-fontina-and-veggies

And when someone dips into the cheese, they’ll experience this:

baked-fontina-garlic-bread

Oh yes they will.

(Note: in my pictures you will notice my cast iron is a mere 5 inches instead of the recommended 12, that’s because I made this for lunch the day after Christmas for just the two of us! It is the perfect size for just two and I got this mini cast iron at World Market for $6.00! World Market, I’m addicted. Enough said.)

Done and done. You need to make this like yesterday. But since that isn’t going to happen, how about make it for your New Year’s Eve party?

Happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s your recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, rind removed and 1-inch-diced
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 crusty French baguette

Directions

Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.

Distribute the cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.

Serve the baked Fontina family-style-right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.

This will easily feed 8-10 people as an appetizer or 4-6 if served for lunch.

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