Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What to do with cream

I was reading a blog called The Lazy Organizer a couple of months ago and she talked about how she oraganized her fridge. She mentioned that she buys heavy cream in small quantities because it always goes bad before she can use it all. I get that. I used to totally hoard my cream and only buy it for special occasions. These days, however, I buy it by the quart and go through nearly two quarts a month. I thought I would post a few things that I do with it just for fun.

1. There's always fudge, of course. It's nice to have the cream on hand for that at all times. Deserts in general tend to call for heavy cream, if only to just have fresh whipped cream for the top. Surprisingly, I don't use my cream for deserts and candy that often.

2. Alfredo. The only way to do it is with heavy cream. I have two recipes that I use and I choose which one depending on how much time I want to spend on it.

version 1: 6 T heavy cream, 2 T butter, 2/3 c parmesan cheese, 8 oz pasta

cook the pasta and drain. toss with the butter then add the cream and cheese and toss to coat. This is my quick, side dish recipe. I use it when I want dinner on the table fast and I don't want to fuss over it.

version 2: 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 2 T butter, 1/4 t pepper, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/8 t nutmeg (optional) 9 oz pasta

bring 1 c of cream and the butter to a simmer over medium heat. reduce the heat to low ans simmer gently until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup (12-15 minutes.) off the heat, stir in remaining cream, 1/2 t salt, and pepper. while the cream reduces, cook the pasta in salted water until just shy of al dente. reserve 1/4 c pasta water, then drain. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cream mixture, cheese and nutmeg. cook on low heat, tossing the pasta until the cheese is melted, the sauce coats the pasta, and the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta water (this keeps the sauce from congeling.) Serve in a heated bowl. This is the recipe I use when I am doing alfredo as my main dish. It takes a bit more fuss, but not a lot more time. I usually add grilled or pan fried chicken breast to this.

It's important to keep your butter the real thing and the parmesan the grated variety, not the powdered Kraft stuff. You can buy small triangles of Parmesan in the refrigerator case. It's usually right next to the Ricotta. It's not the best, but it's affordable and certainly better than the powder stuff. If you can get and can afford the good stuff, by all means, use it. I'll just sit here and be jealous. Traditionally, alfredo is used on fettuccini noodles. Their broad surface is perfect for the sauce to cling to. I find that bow tie noodles work well with this sauce, too, and they are easier for my little ones to eat.

3. My other favorite thing to do with cream is a pan sauce. Pan fry either pork chops or chicken breast in butter or olive oil (your choice and they each have their own flavor so work with whatever strikes your fancy that day.) remove the meat and set aside. Turn the heat to low. Stir into the pan 2 t flour, and 1/2-1t of your favorite herb (dried. if you have fresh it will be even better.) Oregono, basil, rosemerry, etc, all work very well. When the flour is mixed well with the oils and fat in the pan, add 2/3 c cream. Let the cream simmer up and reduce for a few minutes as you stir in the roux (that fat and flour mix already in the pan.) when it's thickened, pour it over your chicken or pork and serve. This is a very fast dish to make; less than five minutes after you pull the meat from the pan dinner is on the table. You choices of herb and fat change the dish, so you can shake it up and serve something different the next time you make it.

There are a few other things I do with cream, but for the most part, these three things cover it. I know that I don't have a huge readership, but I thought a few of these things might be helpful for someone. Have fun with it and get yourself some cream. ;)


Rosie said...

I love cream. I need to use it more--however, it just seems to stick to my thighs and rear! I loved your jeans purse. How did you make it? I have seen them in stores and thought that it would be fun to make them. Will you share the details?

Mom said...

She didn't learn all this fancy cooking from me!

Kim said...

Amy, I don't read your blog every day, but I do stop in from time to time. I'm glad I stopped in today! I'm going to try your alfredo recipes - thanks for sharing them. As a variation, take 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cream and add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Dried will do in a pinch. Simmer slowly until reduced by a little more than half and serve over tortellini. Aaaaahhhhhhhh!