A Holiday Fondue Tradition

The Christmas holiday for my family is about celebrating the birth of our Lord and gathering family around the table with food and cheer. It is a joyous occasion, but for those who have recently lost a family member, it can be difficult time.

I lost my parents within 8 months of each other. They were in their early 70’s and healthy, so it was quite a blow to our family. The first Christmas without them was very painful, sitting at the dining room table gazing at the two empty chairs.

The holiday traditions for our families are put in place by our parents. These traditions are  what defines each individual family – it’s the food you prepare, the music you listen to, the services you attend.

Although it was painful that first year, we continued with our traditional pre-midnight mass fondue dinner in front of the fire. It was a way of keeping Mom and Dad with us. In fact, it is a tradition that I continue with my own family.

Here are a few of the recipes from our Clemens’ Christmas Eve Fondue Dinner. We always started with my mom Claire’s Parsley Dip and vegetables. Traditionally, we had a Beef Fondue and a Chicken Fondue, served with my dad’s Béarnaise Sauce and Horseradish Cream Sauce. Over the years, I’ve added to the tradition with a Shrimp and Scallop Fondue with a Curry Sauce. To round out the meal, we have a Mixed Greens Salad with Pomegranate and Orange. Cooked shrimp or scallops on the salad makes a delish addition!


Parsley Dip
This is my mother Claire Clemens’ signature holiday dip!


  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove (can add more per taste)
  • 1 green onion with top
  • 3 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed oil


  1. Blend all ingredients except oil in blender. Then add oil slowly while blender isr running. Refrigerate until ready to serve (dip will thicken).

  2. Serve with crudité vegetables. Also makes a delicious spread for your sandwich or thinned with a little water for a salad dressing.


Phil’s Famous Béarnaise Sauce


  • 4 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbs white wine
  • 1 Tbs shallot, minced
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried Tarragon or 1-2 tsp of fresh, minced
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 8 Tbs butter


Put the vinegar, wine, shallot and pepper in a pan and boil until reduced to 2 TBS. Strain and set aside. Cream egg yolks with 1 TBS of butter and a pinch of salt. Turn off the heat and whisk the yolk mixture into the vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time. Add salt and pepper. Béarnaise sauce can be tricky so if it curdles, just whisk in a tablespoon of cold water. Dad always had a packet of Knorrs’ Béarnaise sauce on hand for back up 🙂


Phil’s Famous Horseradish Cream Sauce


  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish, drained
  • 2 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Just mix together and serve. Keeps in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.


Curry Sauce
This goes nicely with the veggies too!


  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice


Blend together and keep in the refrigerator for 10-14 days. Great as a sandwich spread!


Mixed Greens Salad with Pomegranate and Orange
This refreshing salad celebrates colorful and immune boosting pomegranates and oranges. Add some scallops or shrimp for a complete meal!


  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 4 TBS pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 12 cups (about 6 oz) baby spinach and mixed greens
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1  11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained or 1/2 cup fresh oranges
  • 4 TBS pomegranate seeds  (if out of season, use dried cranberries)
  • ½ cup spiced pecans (if you don’t want to make spiced pecans, use toasted pecans)


In a small bowl, whisk together oil, juices, salt and pepper. Toss greens, onion, oranges and pomegranate seed in a large bowl. Pour dressing over greens and mix well. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Spiced Nuts
This is a great snack to have on hand mixed with dried cranberries, and Kashi Heart-to-Heart cereal


  • 3 cups pecans
  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder *if you don’t have, they will still taste good*
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven 350. Toast nuts for 8 minutes and then remove from oven. Stir spices in a small bowl. Whisk egg whites in large bowl until foamy. Whisk in spice mixture and toss nuts to coat completely. Sprinkle sugar over and toss to coat.

  2. Divide nut mixture between 2 baking sheets and spread in a single layer. Bake another 10 minutes until nuts are toasted and coating is dry, stirring every 5 minutes.

  3. Let cool completely and enjoy!

 Download Recipes Now!

I am blessed with the memory of my parents each time we gather around the fondue pot on Christmas Eve. I’m especially thankful for all the love and traditions that they brought to our family. For those of you who have lost someone this year, I am truly sorry for your pain. For those of us who know of someone who recently lost a loved one, reach out to them with a phone call or card – it will mean more to them then you know.


Wishing the Blessings of Christ to you all!


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1 comment to A Holiday Fondue Tradition

  • Anne Pape

    This is such a lovely tribute to your parents, Denise. You are right, preparing special recipes is a wonderful way to remember our loved ones on Christmas. My father made a sausage/potato/bread stuffing, a Schenden family recipe, which I now make for my boys and husband as part of our celebration. This dish is almost as popular as the turkey!

    Thank you Denise for your lovely Christmas card and note. It meant so much.

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