Q: "I have a lot of recipes from the UK that use fromage frais, which I haven't managed to find in Australia. Is it available here? What could I use as an alternative?"
A: Nutritionist Bronwen King responds:
"Fromage frais is a fresh low-fat curd cheese made from pasteurised cows' milk. It is similar to cottage cheese but processed until the texture is smooth and free of lumps. It is commonly found on supermarket shelves in Europe and is used to add a creamy texture and taste to savoury dishes or in desserts like cheese cake and mousse. It is delicious by itself, with honey or fresh fruit purée, and provides a healthier alternative to sour cream as a topping for jacket potatoes.
My search of three local supermarkets and an online shopping service only revealed 'fruche', a sweetened version of this product. The nearest commercial alternative to the plain version is a product called 'quarg' which is produced by Bouton d'Or. Alternatively, you could use the following:
Equal parts cottage cheese (or Philadelphia extra-light cream cheese) blended with plain yoghurt, until smooth.
A thick, unsweetened Greek yoghurt.
Regular unsweetened yoghurt hung in a muslin-lined sieve, left to drain for several hours.
If using yoghurt-based alternatives in hot dishes, add at the last minute to prevent curdling. As added protection, stir in a little flour or cornflour before using."