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:

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.


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:


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.

8 thoughts on “Crème fraîche and other words with funny punctuation [PLUS: Creamy Lemon Risotto]”

  1. Your risotto looks great! In the May edition of “Saveur”, there’s a very appealing recipe for lemon risotto…I’m sure the creme fraiche can only make it better. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Congratulations! That’s a long time to be going to school, but we’re all happy for your graduation! Also, a thousand hurrahs for the return of the food posts. Hurrah!

  3. I made that the other night and had them with Mario’s seared scallops. Yum! I may have added too much of the creme fraiche – the risotto was a bit too rich for me when I tried to eat it for lunch the next day. I love Amanda’s book, especially the recipes.

  4. Have you tried Ronnybrook’s Ginger Creme Brulee ice cream? It is one of my all time favorite flavors!

  5. Dude!!!!!!!!!!

    crème fraîche is SO SIMPLE

    (WHY buy a tub of non-fresh crème faîche thats been on a shelf for how long with what preservatives?)

    whip 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream till firm and fold in 1/2 cup sour cream and add pinch white pepper and salt

  6. I’ve not heard of making crème fraiche the way George describes it, but this is what I have from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything:

    1 c. heavy cream

    1 tsp. buttermilk

    In a small saucepan over very low heat, warm cream to about body temperature (but no higher than 100 degrees F). Stir in buttermilk.

    Keep warm (about 75degrees F) until thickened, 12 to 36 hours. Once thickened, keep in fridge for about a week. Make buttermilk biscuts with the rest of the buttermilk!


  7. You’re right, Adam. You can’t risk keeping creme fraiche around the house. I live in Paris where the stuff is under 2 bucks for a large tub so, naturally, I put it on and in everything. Its great for adding to meat juices for a quick gravy. Its also great for adding pounds and pounds to a person’s hips.

  8. i like to make a very simple dip of creme fraiche, chopped chives, some salt and pepper. Very good with vegetables, kettle chips and those crispy chips from trader joes. I also had wonderful mashed potatoes made with creme fraiche…yummm. They were actually kind of watery so I think it might have been heavy on milk and light on actual potato but very good.

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