Thursday, December 2, 2010

Creme Fraiche

It seemed a while back that everywhere I went I saw some sort of creme fraiche on menus. The idea behind it is to be able to add some fat, and acid in what is usually garnish form. Not to mention it looks nice on almost anything. To make it is a snap, but there are a few different approaches, and it involves leaving dairy at room temperature for at least a day if not two. Again if you or family members are at risk (older, pregnant, young children, weakened immune systems, or already ill are the high risk groups for food born illness) proceed with caution. Some people will use yogurt or sour cream to help with the consistency, but I think it should be done the original way. You need heavy cream, and buttermilk. Per cup you need 6 oz of heavy cream, and 2 ounces of buttermilk. The buttermilk is highly acidic and will start bacteria that much like a good yogurt, or sourdough starter, will develop a depth of flavor that is impossible to fake. I whisk the cream and buttermilk and usually squeeze a half a lemon to help with the inoculation process. That's it. Let that rest at a warm room temperature in a covered bowl for at least over night but it usually takes about 30 hours or so. The liquid will thicken more and more, and develop more flavor as it goes so it is up to you. I salt it but not until it is done, as the salt will actually inhibit the growth of the bacteria (good bacteria) that you are looking to invite to the party. Once thickened to your desired consistency, cool it and hold it for up to a few weeks.

As far as serving- it goes pretty well with almost anything. Over soups, stews, beans, fish, french toast, etc. I cant think of a dish where it wouldn't belong. I like to cool it and then split it up in a few different bowls and flavor them differently so I am not making it everyday. Any sort of herb addition, more lemon or lime, peppers, hot sauce, etc. are all great directions to go in. I really like it with cilantro and lime as a taco topping that easily replaces the need for sour cream. 

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