If you can't find crème fraiche, you can use soured cream.
For me, crème fraîche is the number one top of the pops cook’s ingredient in the cream family. Because, by law, milk for cream has to be pasteurised, this has undoubtedly affected the flavour and made it blander than it was in former times. The French (more particularly the Normans, as Normandy is the world’s richest dairy area), not content with this diminished flavour, created a special way of adding a culture to their cream and allowed it to mature and develop the faintly acidic flavour that was lost in pasteurisation.
The best crème fraîche comes from a strictly controlled area of Normandy and has all the rich, luscious flavour that the area is famous for. If you open a pot and look closely at it, you can see the wonderful creamy-yellow colour of the real thing. The reason it is especially loved by cooks is it has a longer shelf life than double cream, so you can take a spoonful here and there, replace the lid and use it again.
Now we can also buy half-fat crème fraîche, which is less rich but still contains all the creamy flavour of the full-fat version.
Finally, the other supreme virtue of crème fraîche is that when you use it in cooking, it never curdles and separates – you can bubble and boil it and never be afraid.
Serves 6 as a starter or 2 as a light lunch
As Delia says, this salad is a good one for winter when the summer saladings are but a distant memory. Apples, cider and Camembert are just brilliant together, and this can be served on its own for lunch or as an accompaniment.
Although this sublime chocolate dessert includes home-made (and very easy!) vanilla ice cream, if time is short you could always cheat and use a good bought one, then just add the hot chocolate sauce and toppings. Easy!
Shelled peas enjoy a brief season in the summer and if you've run out of other ways to use them, try this wonderful summery soup with lettuce, which can be served hot or cold, depending on the weather.
Chicken with a creamy lemon sauce used to be a very popular dish and definitely deserves a revival, as it's an easy way to jazz up a simple roast chicken.
Serves 8-10 (Makes 2½ pints/1.5 litres)
A million times better than anything you can buy, home-made vanilla ice cream is totally addictive! Try Delia's recipe - as she says, it's very easy so no excuses…