Don’t Be Sour About Surplus Sour Cream

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Sour cream-scallion (Photo by Keri White)

After Chanukah, I had a pint of sour cream leftover from our latke party. It’s not something that I routinely buy or use, so it was nudging me every time I opened the fridge.

I dislike waste, so I was determined to find some uses for it. The good news is that I came up with two simple, delicious recipes, and will be ready next winter in the event of another sour cream overstock. But more likely I will make these dishes again and again, and sour cream will become my new best friend/pantry staple.

The first recipe is multipurpose; I used the sauce for fish, but it would easily double as a salad dressing or dip.

The second started off to be a cherry cake — I was going to make cherry pie filling
from dried tart cherries and strew it through and atop the cake. The pie filling was simmering on the stovetop as I mixed this simple cake batter and, in the end, I decided to keep the cake plain.

The batter was so silken and rich, it would have felt like gilding the lily to add anything to it. And, of course, we had the option to top the golden cake with the cherries … or ice cream … or buttercream frosting … or melted chocolate … or caramel … or fruit compote. It really was an ideal tabula rasa (blank slate) cake. Oh, and it’s delicious on its own, too.

Sour Cream-Scallion Sauced Fish

Serves 2

This sauce was the perfect foil for our filleted snapper, but it would also be a lovely dip for crudité, or a tangy, flavorful salad dressing.

  • ¾ pound red snapper fillets (or your favorite fish)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus a bit more for salting the fish
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus a bit for seasoning the fish
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped finely

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the fish in a baking dish, spritz it with the juice of ½ lemon and sprinkle it with a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, salt, pepper, the juice of the remaining half lemon and the chopped scallion.

Spread the sour cream mixture on the fish to coat evenly and bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. When done, the center should be opaque and the fish should flake easily. Serve immediately.

Sour Cream Butter Cake

Sour cream butter cake (Photo by Keri White)

This mimics the flavor and texture of a pound cake, but takes less time to bake. The ingredients are basic and simple and you don’t need an electric mixer — a whisk does the trick just fine. If you don’t have sour cream, you could use buttermilk, yogurt or any type of dairy, nut, coconut or soy milk. The cake will turn out fine, but may lack a bit of that silky richness.

This recipe also offers a wide variety of serving options. It can be the simplest, plain snacky cake to nibble on with a cup of tea or coffee, or it can be an elaborate show-stopping dessert.

Cut it horizontally, fill it and top it with something delicious. Almond paste? Bavarian cream? Chocolate ganache? Lemon curd? Nutella? Jam? Whipped cream? Apple butter? Cream cheese frosting? The possibilities are endless.

  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick butter, melted

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and spray it with oil. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and then add melted butter. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until the cake springs back when touched and the top turns golden brown.

When cool, remove the cake from the pan, peel off the parchment and serve as desired.

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