Saturday was the perfect day for a drive. Some trees had turned, mostly maples in swamps, the air was clear, warm, but had a fall-like edge to it. Route 7 from Belfast north towards Newport has some of the loveliest vistas around, and Toby and I had a grand time heading for the Newport Cultural Center for a book talk and signing on behalf of my cookbook, Maine Home Cooking.
Some of you readers turned up, and as always, it was such a pleasure talking food, cooking, memories, and hearing what kinds of questions and ideas you all have. Just as in this column where people send their recipes and experiences to share, one of you in the meeting room at the Center would ask, for instance, what else to do with pears, and five others in the room had suggestions. (Pear sauce, pears poached in wine, pear upside down cake, and I forget what else, but they all sounded good.) I had more darn fun and now have some marvelous memories to keep me company at the computer keyboard.
At the end, I missed out on some of the refreshments because I kept talking with people, but I snagged a nice piece of apple tart, and part of a good old molasses donut, saw the lemon squares, but wasn’t fast enough to get one. Drat.
One topic that came up was crème fraiche. There was some discussion of whether you could be sure to find any at the store in Newport, and I said I had a recipe for making it at home and promised to put it in the paper. (See below.) Another discussion was about mascarpone for making homemade tiramisu, and we wondered about making that at home, too. Of course, there are recipes on the internet, but I always prefer to hear from one of you who tried a recipe and can recommend it. I’ve made crème fraiche, but not mascarpone, so I am appending a query in case one of you has had some experience with it.
This recipe is so brainlessly simple that I almost feel embarrassed to include it here, but crème fraiche, which is lovely stuff to use in desserts instead of sweetened whipped cream, can be a tad costly. I have taken to keeping the buttermilk it needs on hand because it is useful for it and so many baking recipes, in ad hoc salad dressings, or in favorites like ranch-style dressing.
Looking for…A homemade mascarpone recipe. This popular cheese is probably perfectly good if homemade, if only we knew how. Maybe one of you has a recipe that you’ve found succeeds. If so, could you share?
Homemade Crème Fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Stir the cream and buttermilk together in a clean bowl. Cover with a clean dishcloth and set it in a warm part of the kitchen. In twelve to sixteen hours, it will be thickened, but pourable. Stir again and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Makes about a cup.