Crème Fraiche and Sweet Potatoes
When I was cleaning and getting ready for spring a few weeks ago I needed to freshen up my routines and recipes in the kitchen, too. First I added a couple of new made from scratch staples: butter and also creme fraiche, which can become cultured butter or be enjoyed for its creamy texture and sour, cultured flavor.
I also bought a new cookbook, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. The recipes are all vegetarian, loosely categorized by ingredient. The photographs make everything look irresistible and I’ve had fun to trying some new flavors and ways of using vegetables. The recipe for sweet potato wedges with lemongrass creme fraiche made use of one of my new ingredients in a way I hadn’t tried before. Although roasting sweet potatoes seems more of a wintery practice, these wedges would work well at a spring picnic or as part of a cook out along side whatever you are grilling. Local, spring produce is still a little ways off here, so I don’t mind cooking up a batch of root vegetables, especially when they are accompanied by dipping sauce of cultured cream, lemon grass, citrus and ginger which tastes like the sweet surprise of spring.
Making creme fraiche could not be easier. If you’re hesitant to try making yogurt or cheese, here is a homemade dairy product that is fool proof and does all the work for you. Simply pour a cup of best quality heavy cream into a clean glass jar and add a quarter cup of cultured buttermilk. Stir, cover, and let sit for 12 to 48 hours until the cream is much thicker and has separated slightly (there will be a thin watery liquid as well as the thick cream). That’s all there is to it. Now you can make it into cultured butter, strawberry creme fraiche sherbet (can’t wait til strawberries are in season here!), use it in place of sour cream, or make this flavorful dipping sauce.
Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemongrass Creme Fraiche
Adapted from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi
The recipe makes a lot of sauce and since we had some left over, I used it in place of sour cream with some bean and cheese quesadillas. I think it would be good on other kinds of vegetables, too.
For the Sweet Potatoes:
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 fresh jalapeno (or red chile) finely diced (feel free to adjust the amount to your taste)
Preheat the oven to 400′. Wash the potatoes and cut into wedges. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush the paper lightly with olive oil. Place the wedges on the parchment, brush them lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with the coriander and salt. Roast for about 25 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly (or serve at room temperature, they are good this way, too).
For the dipping sauce:
1/2 lemongrass stalk
3/4 cup creme fraiche
grated zest and juice of two limes
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
Using the part of the stalk closer to the root (so it hasn’t dried out), chop the lemongrass very finely. Whisk all of the ingredients together. When you are ready to serve, place the sweet potato wedges on a serving dish and sprinkle the cilantro and jalapeno on top. Serve with the sauce on the side.
Serves about 4 people.