Crème fraîche and other words with funny punctuation [PLUS: Creamy Lemon Risotto]

Should you have read the post below this first, you will know that on Saturday I visited the farmer’s market–specifically, the Ronnybrook stand–where I procured a jar of milk and a small tub of crème fraîche:

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Believe it or not, this would be my first crème fraîche ever. (Pronounced, I recently learned the hard way, “krem fresh” not “creeeem frayshe.”)

Food writing abounds with references to crème fraîche. “Serve with a small dollop of crème fraîche” or “My wife and I adored the turkey with crème fraîche” or “crème fraîche killed my puppy.”

I felt like Jan Brady: “crème fraîche! crème fraîche! crème fraîche!” You know, because crème fraîche was getting all the attention.

Well, when I got home with my small tub I decided to find a recipe that would require no additional food shopping. The first place I looked was a book that I remembered making several crème fraîche references: Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking For Mr. Latte.”

Sure enough, in the index, I found the perfect crème fraîche incorporating recipe: Creamy Lemon Risotto.

You make it like this (and this is all from my head, but I’m pretty sure I’m right):

Get a few cups of chicken stock simmering.

Combine one Tbs of olive oil and one Tbs butter in a pot and heat up until the foam subsides, then add 1 cup of Arborio rice.

Let that toast a few minutes and then begin ladling in the stock, a little at a time, and stirring constantly. This is the long risotto absorption process–but I did it at a high medium heat so it didn’t take forever.

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When half the stock has been incorporated, grate half a lemon’s zest into the mix. Stir it around. Continue adding stock and stirring until the risotto is al dente.

At that point, you add 1/4 cup of freshly grated paremsan, the rest of the lemon, sea salt and–(theme music)–half a cup of crème fraîche. You stir that all in and then present in a bowl like so:

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Whoah: that’s lemony, that’s creamy, and just the tiniest bit tangy. It felt so indulgent I expected Kristie Alley to swing through my window chanting “Jenny Craig! Jenny Craig!” Instead, I chanted: “crème fraîche! crème fraîche!” because the crème fraîche made the risotto so wonderfully decadent.

Will I buy crème fraîche on a weekly basis now? No way! That stuff is like pure fat–I can’t keep that lying around. But should a recipe call for it or a small dollop, I’ll now be aware of the wonders that crème fraîche can bestow on to a dish. And then I’ll run around pronouncing it correctly, impressing everyone I meet.

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