Monday, August 26, 2013

5 Delicious Things to Do with Your Homemade Crème Fraîche

Am trying to find some time to bury my toes in the sand. So please bear with a few reposts for the next couple of weeks. There will be some new material, but ...Happy Summer.

I know, I know. I've been banging the drum about making your own crème fraîche for months now, but honestly it's worth the 10 seconds (minus the sitting-on-the-counter-time) of actual work it takes you to make the glorious stuff. If you somehow missed the super-easy instructions I've posted before, you can find them here. But once you make it, you end up with a jar full, rather than the measly,  expensive little cupful you find in the market. A few of you have asked what you can do with such a bounty.

As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too much crème fraîche, just like you can never have too much chocolate. It's the sophisticated cousin of sour cream, and instead of a  sour tang, it has a nutty, full, more rounded flavor. And unlike one of it's parents, heavy cream, it keeps a long time. Mine will keep well up to a month in the coldest part of my fridge. If it lasts that long without having to start a fresh batch. I always start a fresh batch when I get down to my last half-cup or so.  Remember to keep a quarter cup or so to use as a starter with a bout 2 cups of single pasteurized heavy cream. Every day I can find a reason to dip into the jar of creamy goodness at least once.  God forbid I run out. Here's how I use mine (other than eating it right off a spoon):

Homemade crème fraîche.
For the record I did not eat the whole spoonful.
As a topping for fruit, lightly sweetened or not.  I like it unsweetened, but taste it, and add a bit of sugar , honey, erythritol or stevia to your liking. Nothing is nicer than a bowl of sweet berries or peaches with a big ole spoonful of crème fraîche atop. All those ads showing strawberries with that fake-tasting frozen glop in a tub can't hold a candle to creamy crème fraîche. Or unsweetened as a topping for a baked potato, or better yet, a baked sweet potato. Nothing wrong with adding a sprinkle of blue cheese and some black pepper...

Replace heavy cream with an equal amount of crème fraîche in baked goods. If your baking recipe calls for heavy cream, use your crème fraîche instead. It adds a depth of flavor you can't get from heavy cream. Cream pies, cakes, and ice creams are all seriously improved with crème fraîche.

Whip it. You can whip it, and use it in either savory or sweet dishes. Mine usually whips more easily than regular cream, and if you stir a bit of curry paste into it before whipping it to dab on your crab cakes or spoon into your tomato soup, you won't be disappointed. Surprise your dining mates with savory whipped cream. They'll think you are a genius.

Turn into a sauce or dressing. Just add your favorite seasonings,--- mine are currently Dijon mustard and anchovy paste, whisk in and the resulting sauce is perfect over grilled chicken, or over steamed vegetables like beets or green beans. To make into a dressing, you can do this, or simply mix with lemon juice, salt, pepper and a little minced fresh garlic. Need it lighter, use equal parts crème fraîche and plain fat-free Greek yogurt. A crème fraîche-yogurt salad dressing makes salad days seem a lot less penitential.

Make cultured butter. If you have ever tasted cultured butter, you know why it costs so much over at Whole Paycheck. It's hard to go back to regular butter once you've had it or cooked with it. If you put a couple of cups of crème fraîche into a food processor or beat it with a hand mixer, just turn on the power, and keep going until it curdles up. Just takes a few minutes. Carefully, with a spatula, press out as much whey as you can, drain it off, and then add some cold water with an equal amount of ice to the curds and whirl again. Press out the water again with your spatula, and drain --keep going until it's all butter, and with the spatula, stir in a pinch or to of finely ground salt if you want salted butter. Go get some bread and eat. Don't share, it's that good.

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