Fashion & Beauty

THE FOOD OF LOVE: Strawberry



The cozy cuddle of crème fraîche mousse.


Love comes is all moods and flavors!

July 4, barbecue; Thanksgiving, turkey; Christmas, ham; Easter, eggs; Valentine’s Day, roses.

Roses? You can’t eat roses! Okay, chocolate. That’s better.

Of course chocolate’s the first choice—the dense, dark, earthy insinuation to the nose and tongue that  defines the ardor of sensuality with the immediacy of love’s arrow.  Nancy Weber has the chocolate beat this Valentine’s Day; see her recipe for chocolate semifreddo.

But love is also funny, quirky, and cute, and smiles with a glow of delight in the newness and surprise of emotion. It is reflected in lace and the lightness of crepes, the coy-under-the-lashes feminine smile of vanilla, the flippant, light acid, cheeky remark of sweet balsamic vinegar, the bright laughter of strawberries, and the cozy cuddle of crème fraîche mousse.

Love comes is all flavors!

Crème Fraîche Mousse Crepes With Vanilla-Balsamic Strawberry Salad

Yield:  Six portions

Equipment: large bowl for crepe batter; large, fine mesh wire whisk; measuring cups and spoons; small bowl; medium bowl; medium-fine mesh whisk; medium rubber spatula; half sheet tray; small sauté pan; metal spatula; medium piping bag with nozzle.

1½ cups flour
4½ tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt

6 large eggs
1½ cups milk
1 lengthwise split, scraped vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons warmed, melted sweet butter
4 – 6 tablespoons clarified butter

2 teaspoons gelatin powder
¾ cup water
2½ teaspoons lemon juice

¾ cup whipped crème fraîche
4½ tablespoons drained yogurt
1½ cups whipped cream

3 egg yolks
4½ tablespoons granulated sugar
3 cups sliced or quartered, stemmed, washed strawberries
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
3 twists freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped basil
2 drops vanilla extract
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Six basil sprigs


For the crepes, combine the dry ingredients and sift them into a medium bowl. Whisk the eggs and add the scrapings from the vanilla bean or the vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet, gently combining the flour into the well from the inside out with a whisk. Slowly add and combine the melted butter. Allow to rest at least two hours or overnight, to allow the gluten, which has been activated by the wet ingredients, to relax.

To make the crepes, heat a small sauté pan and lightly oil it with clarified butter. Add a smidgen of the crepe batter, allowing it to cook and mix it around the pan. This is to introduce the batter to the pan and for tasting and seasoning purposes. Using a small 2-ounce ladle, swirl some batter into the pan, turning as it sets so the batter covers the pan base. Allow it to set for a minute or so over moderate heat till it loosens of its own accord. Lift one edge carefully to check the light golden dappled pattern on the crepe. Flip it over to cook the other side. Remove to a half sheet tray or large plate. Repeat to use all the batter.

For the crème fraîche mousse, sprinkle the gelatin onto the water and lemon juice in a small bowl. Allow to hydrate, or “bloom,” for about five minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl sitting atop a pan of shallow simmering water until light and creamy and thickened to a custard consistency.  Add the bloomed gelatin to the warmed egg yolks and cool.

When cold, fold in the crème fraîche and yogurt. Fold in the whipped cream. Chill to set.

To assemble, lay out the crepes and pipe the crème fraîche mousse along the center. Fold over one side of the crepe and then the other with a dab of mousse to glue the two sides together. Carefully place on a holding plate or tray, seam side down, to set. Repeat until all crepes are assembled. Chill until ready to serve.

Put the cut strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with vinegar, sugar, basil, pepper, vanilla extract and olive oil. Mix to combine.

To serve, place a crepe or two on each plate with a spoonful of berries. Garnish with a basil sprig.

And, to drink with it? A simple, sweet version of Prosecco that could also serve as a toasting wine in case anyone wants to propose . . .

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