This post is about two loves of mine: yogurt and Christine Ferber…
Growing up, we ate a lot, A LOT of yogurt. Mainly plain whole milk yogurt sweetened with fruits, a bit of sugar or honey. Flavored yogurts from Danone (or Dannon as it is known here) were a treat, eaten as dessert. The fun about getting these flavored yogurts were all the “toys” that came with them. I think these must have been the first real marketing techniques applied to food products in Europe and of course, they were targeted to children. My favorite were the sticker albums usually in reference to some cartoon show that was popular at the time. I remember “Maya the Bee” like it was yesterday.
Our other childhood treat was petit suisse. If you grew up in Europe or even walked the yogurt and cheese section of European supermarkets, you have certainly tried or at least seen these little delicacies. Not to be confused with yogurt, petit suisse is an unsalted, unripened, fresh, cow’s milk cheese originally from Normandy but widespread in Europe now. It is sold in six pack mini containers with ridges on the side and the cheese is usually wrapped in a thin piece of paper. Again, this was one of the staple snacks growing up. There were different flavors, strawberry, chocolate, banana… but my favorite was always plain.
I have looked and looked everywhere but I have not been able to find any near me so yes, I will be making my own petits suisse. Stay tuned for that one. The nostalgia for this rich and creamy texture is what inspired me to make some yogurt of my own but instead of milk, I used heavy cream, 40% butterfat to be exact. Thick like Greek yogurt but not as tangy. Sweet without any added sugar.
My second love is Christine Ferber. I learned about her a few years back and in my eyes, she is the quintessential seasonal pastry chef. All her books and recipes are always organized by season and she focuses very much on fruits. Her books “Mes Confitures” and “Mes Tartes” are two of my favorite pastry books on my shelf and I often times go to them for inspiration. I love her rustic, simple and natural approach to food. It resonates with me and how I like to eat. This apple and rhubarb jam I made to go with the creme bulgare is inspired by one of her recipes.
In a saucepan, bring the cream almost to a boil (about 82 degrees Celsius). Remove from heat and let it cool to 42 degrees Celsius. Mix a small amount of the lukewarm milk with the yogurt starter. Add it to the rest of the cream and whisk lightly.
Pour the cream into your yogurt jars and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. A thin layer of fat will rise to the top of the yogurt forming a skin. That’s normal and that is actually the best part in my opinion. Refrigerate once the yogurt is set.
Rhubarb and Apple Jam
makes a medium jar of jam
100 grams rhubarb, small dice
100 grams Granny Smith apples, small dice
200 grams sugar
50 grams apple juice
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Cut the rhubarb in small dice. Peel and core the apples and cut them into small dice. Combine the fruit, sugar, apple juice and lemon juice in a bowl and let it macerated in the refrigerator overnight.
Next day, strain the mixture through a sieve. Bring the leftover syrup to a boil and cook to 221 degrees Farenheit. Add the macerated fruit and bring to a boil again. Skim any impurities, reduce heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes. Pour the jam into jars and let it cool. Serve the creme bulgare with the rhubarb jam.
Candied Rhubarb Strips
75 grams sugar
75 grams water
1 rhubarb stalk
Make a simple syrup by boiling the water and the sugar. Turn heat off once the sugar is dissolved.
Cut thin strips of rhubarb with a vegetable peeler. Dip the rhubarb in the cooled simple syrup and place the strips on a silicon mat. Dry them in a 200F degree oven for about an hour. While they are still warm and pliable, twist them. They will cool quickly and as soon as they cool, they will hold their shape. Store in an air-tight container.
Stay tuned for part II and my attempt to make petits suisse…