The one ingredient you should have in your fridge this Christmas

Italian pasta with seafood and herbs

The festive season is coming up which means that demand for key real estate in your fridge and kitchen cupboards is rising higher than a cake with too much baking powder in it.

You’ll need to think carefully and give priority to certain ingredients based on flavour versatility, size of jar, and outright deliciousness. Brandy butter and various chutneys and jellies will be begging for refrigeration upon opening requiring you to re-house the pickled onions from your last fondue night (how long ago was that?!) and make room for some seasonal must-haves.

When space is tight, we’ve found that having some strategic items in the fridge can be quite useful in spreading themselves across starters, mains and desserts, keeping their square “centimetre-age” extremely well justified. So if you have to choose a few reliable regulars to reside upon the shelves for the season, make sure that Crème Fraiche is one of them.

Fresh homemade mascarpone in a white bowl.

  • The French version of soured cream is a fantastic, versatile ingredient that should always be in your fridge. Just like its name would suggest, it stays fresh in the fridge quite well, longer than cream.
  • It can be used as a richer substitute for yoghurt, soured cream or even mayonnaise.
  • Because of this richness, you can heat it to a higher temperature without it curdling, so it’s great for enriching into pasta sauces etc.
  • It’s great when chilled and goes well with fresh fruits and a variety of desserts.
  • An excellent staple to have in the fridge over the festive period.

Here are 3 recipes featuring crème fraiche to keep up your sleeve for when you’ve got people round and you want to whip up something impressive but you’d rather join the conversation with a glass of wine rather than prepping in the kitchen.

Starter:

Roast beef blinis with crème fraiche and cornichons

cucumber

What you’ll need:

32 blinis
4tbsp crème fraiche
2tsp horseradish or 4 tsp wholegrain mustard
80g cold roast beef, sliced thinly and cut into strips
6 cornichons, thinly sliced

Method:

  • Heat the oven to the lowest temperature and spread the blinis out on a baking tray. Put them in the oven to warm up gently.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the crème fraiche and the mustard.
  • Take the blinis out of the oven and put a spoonful of the mixture on top of each blini.
  • Fold a slice of beef on top and then add a cornichon slice to each.
  • Arrange on a dish and grind some black pepper over and serve.

Slices of freshly prepared roast beef on a plate

Main:

Seafood Linguine

You will need:

150g dried linguine
1 small onion, finely chopped
75ml white wine
100ml crème fraiche
1 tomato, chopped
500g pack of mussels and/or clams (in garlic butter sauce if they have, if not, just finely chop  1-2 cloves of garlic instead)
a handful of parsley
2 tsps dried tarragon (or 1 tbsp freshly chopped)
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (optional)

Italian pasta with seafood and herbs

Tip: you could use king prawns in this as well (or instead of mussels) or even a mixed seafood selection.

Method:

  • Cook the pasta according to packet instructions (keep it nice and al dente!)
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion (and garlic if using). Fry for 8-10 minutes or until it has softened and coloured slightly. Add the tomato and chilli and stir briefly.
  • Pour in the white wine and bring it up to a gentle boil, letting it bubble a bit and reduce by about half.
  • Add your crème fraiche to the pan, then add the mussels/clams and let it simmer over a medium heat for 5-6 mins until the mussels and clams have opened. (get rid of any that haven’t opened). Taste the sauce and season to your liking!
  • Toss your freshly cooked pasta in with your mussel sauce, throw in your parsley and tarragon, mix well and serve immediately!

Dessert:

Lemon and Raspberry baskets

traditional brandy snaps isolated on white background

You will need:

50g dark chocolate
180g lemon curd
200g crème fraiche
150g raspberries
6 brandy snap baskets

Method:

  • Put the lemon curd and crème fraiche in a small bowl and mix together.
  • Lay out the brandy snap baskets on a tray and divide half of the raspberries between them.
  • Spoon over the lemon curd and crème fraiche mixture and top with the rest of the raspberries.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 secs, then stir, and heat again for another 30 secs or until.
  • Take the chocolate out of the microwave and drizzle the chocolate over the fruit baskets.
  • Leave in the fridge to set for 10-15 mins. They can stay up to an hour if necessary!

Homemade lemon curd

So here are our suggestions of creating 3 delicious courses with just 1 super ingredient. Definitely worth having it in your fridge and definitely worth having these simple recipes up your sleeve for when you want to make something special but simple and easy!