Crêpes with Strawberries and Crème Fraîche
Summer has finally arrived in the Upper Midwest. Due to the cold and wet spring, strawberry season has been delayed by three weeks here, making us all the more anxious for the first taste of local strawberries. Some friends gathered for the very first strawberries of the season. Fiona made homemade crème fraîche; I made crêpes, and there was chocolate and whipped cream as well.
Is there anything better than local strawberries, so much softer and sweeter than the sour monstrosities from California? And to wrap those strawberries in a tender, eggy crêpes? But the real revelation was Fiona’s crème fraîche, made with the cream of grass-fed cows and cultured with kefir grains. It was the best crème fraîche I’ve ever had. Nutty and sweet, even without sugar, with the slightest tang; I swear I could taste the grass that the cows ate, the sun, and the land that nourishes them.
Sitting in the sun, sharing crêpes with strawberries and crème fraîche; I wonder if I would be so grateful for all this had I not waited all year for it. Maybe this is the lesson that the seasons teach; experience all that every season has to offer, taste, touch, smell. Gratitude and impermanence can coexist. They must.
The better your cream, the better the crème fraîche will be. Grass-fed, organic and raw is ideal. As I mentioned above, Fiona cultured hers with kefir grains. If you aren’t into making your own kefir, use buttermilk. Be aware, however, that buttermilk enzymes do not digest lactose the way that kefir does. (As a side note, how wonderful it was to have cream without getting a stomach-ache immediately afterwards!)
1 quart heavy cream
1 tbsp. buttermilk
Combine cream and buttermilk. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place 18-24 hours. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
1 1/4 c. milk (I use lactose-free)
1 c. flour
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
Beat eggs until homogenous. Add milk and salt. Mix. Sift flour into egg mixture. Beat again. There will probably be lumps; that’s okay, they will dissolve as the batter sits. Stir in melted butter. Refrigerate overnight. (I have just made the crepes immediately after mixing the batter many times. Aside from the occasional lump, it doesn’t make much difference.)
Heat small (preferably six inch) crepe pan or non-stick pan over high heat. Wipe pan with melted butter or oil. When hot, ladle 1/3 c. batter into pan and swirl to evenly coat bottom of pan. Drip excess batter back into bowl. Cook one minute or until edges of crepe are brown. Flip and cook thirty seconds more.