If ever I were to become addicted to a food, this might be it. Crème fraiche is the crack of the dairy case.

I  wrote about crème fraiche several weeks ago after stumbling upon this “how to” from Dash and Bella  singing its culinary praises. I’ve made several batches since then, ultimately doling it out to friends lest I O.D. on all its creamy lusciousness.

Crème fraiche is so easy to make, you ought to give it a try. Pour two cups of heavy cream and one cup of buttermilk into a big jar, put on the lid and give it a hearty shake. Leave the lid open a little and set it in a warm spot in the kitchen for two to three days, shaking it a couple times a day. The liquid will thicken and the cultures of the buttermilk will invade the cream, resulting in a velvety, rich, tangy wonder. You can also do this in a bowl covered loosely with plastic wrap, stirring the cream with a spoon instead of shaking a jar.

Like it’s uncultured cousin, butter, a little goes a long way with crème fraiche. Sweeten it lightly with honey or brown sugar and add just a spoonful to berries for a lovely little dessert. Or give it a savory turn by adding fresh chives, basil, and mint, along with a pinch of salt. Voila, herb crème fraiche.

It was heavenly over these tiny boiled beets from my vegetable garden,

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and underneath summer’s first heirloom tomatoes
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and, of course, slathered onto crispy flatbread along with smoked salmon and sliced cucumbers
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I loved it best, though, served with a platter of grilled vegetables as a main course. When dinner was sizzling on the barbecue, Mr. Mom’s Kitchen and the kids wondered aloud where the rest of their dinner had gone. Was there no garlic-marinated lamb chops or pepper-crusted ribeye to go along with the veggies?

But once the table was laden with all the gorgeous vegetables, a basket of grilled bread, and a green salad, everyone tucked in without a word, polishing off every tender grilled potato and sweet, charred onion, leaving not a trace of the herb crème fraiche behind.

Herb Crème Fraiche with Grilled Vegetables

Yield: About 1/2 cup creme fraiche

Herb Crème Fraiche with Grilled Vegetables

Cook any vegetables you enjoy over a grill and serve them warm with herb creme fraiche and crusty or grilled bread on the side.

Ingredients

  • Heaping 1/2 cup crème fraiche (see Notes)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraiche, chives, basil, mint, olive oil, salt, and a few generous turns of the pepper grinder. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Serve in a small bowl with a spoon alongside vegetables.

Notes

Creme fraiche is sold in the dairy section near the cheese of specialty markets and some supermarkets.