Would you believe I’m finally getting it together to write a cookbook? I wrote the query this weekend, contacted Andrea, (my co-idea-co-cooking partner), and we’re going to get this baby out by summer’s end.

It made my think of how bad a cook I was in the beginning – basically I had no idea how to do anything. My mother cooked, my little brother and sister even cooked – and I poured cereal into a bowl and ate only the marshmallows. Maybe it was because I was such a picky eater. I hated everything, and until I got to France, I never thought about cooking. No, that’s not true. I was 17, in the British Virgin Islands and a Swedish woman was making a West Indian curry. It was the first time I’d ever liked something new, the first time I ever asked for a recipe, and the first time cooking became interesting. Typically, it was a melting pot of ideas and ingredients – and it was so easy a child could make it (or a teen who’d never cooked anything but rare toast). 

My next recipe was this easy turkey with cream sauce. You can’t ruin it, no matter how hard you try, and with a little imagination you can turn this into an Indian curry recipe, a French “Normandy style” dish, or add some mustard to the cream sauce. Important – you have to use crème fraiche* or heavy cream, not sour cream for this, because as it simmers, sour cream may curdle.

4 Boneless, skinless turkey breasts, about half an inch thick. (6 oz each)
Two teaspoons of butter and one teaspoon of oil
¾ cup crème fraiche*
For Normandy style: 1 cup fresh or canned sliced mushrooms
For Indian style: ½ cup diced apple, ½ diced onion, 2 teaspoons curry powder
For mustard cream: 2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the butter in the teaspoon of oil until it stops foaming. Season the turkey breasts with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until golden on both sides.
If you’re adding the mushrooms, or apples, onions & curry, add them now and cook two or three minutes more. Do not brown!
Move the turkey breasts to one side of the pan. Add the cream and stir with a wooden spoon. Move the turkey breasts back into the cream and cook a few minutes more until the turkey is well done and not a bit pink inside. Serve with rice and a green salad.
Serves 4.

*Easy homemade Crème Fraîche
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Stir the buttermilk into heavy cream in a non-reactive container (a glass jar for example) with a lid. Leave the container partially covered and let it sit at room temperature until it thickens – anywhere between 6 hours and a day. Stir the contents and refrigerate. Will keep for up to two weeks.

This is your basic cream sauce recipe. You can innovate with whatever is in your pantry. You can add garlic and a quarter cup of white wine before the cream, scrape up the browned bits, then add the cream and cook until thickened. You can add tarragon or dill, serve with lemon wedges, replace the white wine with brandy or whiskey – it’s incredibly versatile and once you master this it’s easy to go to the next step – butter cream sauce – but that’s another recipe!