Crème fraîche

We do pancakes on the weekend and we eat whatever fruit is in season on top.  We've had a lot of blueberries, blackberries, and peaches on our pancakes this summer. Just recently, on the final weekend of summer, we topped them with mixed late-season raspberries and crème fraîche.   All I can say is it's a good thing I didn't think of topping my pancakes like this at the beginning of the summer.  It's not a low fat choice.  But it is fabulous.

I make my own crème fraîche, which is a French-style cultured heavy cream.  A little goes a long way and yes, it's not something you should really eat a lot of if you're trying to keep the fat in your diet to a minimum . . . but don't let that stop you.  It's easy to make, super versatile, and a great ingredient to have around.  The recipe doesn't make a super large quantity, and it keeps well so you don't need to use it up immediately.  If you haven't made it before, I encourage you to give it a try.

How to use it? It's a lovey addition to a special breakfast -- on pancakes or mixed with fresh herbs and dolloped on an omelet.  I also like to add a dollop to a bowl of curried lentils or bean soup.  And I stir it into one of my favorite fall dishes, Poulet à la Fermière, which is a braised vegetable dish, for an instant sauce (the high fat content prevents curdling when used at high temps).  Oh, and the holidays are coming.  I'm certain you can find a use for it on your Thanksgiving table . . . baked leeks . . . pumpkin cheesecake . . . the list is endless.

Crème Fraîche
makes about a pint

2 cups organic heavy cream (homogenized works best)
4 tablespoons cultured buttermilk

Warm the cream slowly in a saucepan over medium-high heat to 85 or 90 degrees (use a candy thermometer in the cream to monitor it).  Transfer the hot cream to a glass container and stir in the buttermilk using a clean metal spoon.  Stir until the buttermilk with well incorporated.  Cover the container with a lid or plate and leave it at room temperature for 12 hours.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  Keeps for two weeks or so.

I use a LeParfait clamp jar for my crème fraîche, and I've let it culture for up to 17 hours without any problem.


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