Every other week we get an email or two with foks asking about equipment for their 'French' Kitchen. There are endless blog posts and resources on this topic, but here are just a few items that we tend to suggest you may want to have on hand - especially if your resolution is to fancy up your armory:
A Scale : Please 'cups' users, this is the year to 'upscale'. Those that have joined us for Zoom classes have heard our every attempt to encourage investing in a scale. Like : How many cups are you? You probably don't know, but I bet you know what you weigh...We tend to suggest OXO* because you can easily convert from lbs to grams right on the face! Using a scale will really open up a world of recipes.
A Torchon : Torchons are a serious matter here in France, and a good one is coveted. Natural fibers are preferred - and of course every chef has it either in the string of their apron, or hanging on their shoulder easy to hand.
A Rolling Pin : With rounded ends rather than handles. These rounded ends come in real handy when you are wanting to smooth out a small area.
A Silpat : It's the perfect all-purpose baking tool. Parchment paper has it's merits, but Silpat are well worth the investment! Like your baking sheets, you'll want to be careful using sharp utensils on them.
Piping Bags : They really come in handy for so many things in the kitchen - not just pastry related! Handy tip : they are great to use for storing ganache and other things until you are ready to use them!
A salt cellar : These do come in modern versions, but we do love to get our hands on a lovingly used antique version. A neighborhood 'Vide Grenier' is great place to find them, and if you are looking for one that is going to in excellent condition, you may want to check in an Antique/Brochant (these will be priced accordingly).
A Tire Bouchon : Wine Bottle opener. No surprise, every kitchen will have one. Just so you know a bit of fun French lingo, there are two common types of Tire Bouchon, one is referred to as the 'limonadier' the other common tire bouchon you will find is affectionately called 'De Gaulle' ! Hopefully the photo from Le Bon Tire-Bouchon Blog will give you a good sense as to where it got its name, they did a fabulous historical piece with all the details on how it was eventually nicknamed (in french, but you can still enjoy the photos!)
Piment d’Espelette : Given it is the only spice made in France, it is probably on top of our list of specialty items. Bright orangish-red, it is a multiple purpose spice from the Basque region of France – think of it as a lovely combination of cayenne and paprika with a ‘warm’ rather than ‘piquante’ flair. It’s a staple in the average French pantry.
Fleur de Sel : again, another wonderful item to return with, it is the 'creme de la creme' when it comes to the salt world. Carefully harvested from the top of the sea bed along the coast of Brittany and Normandy, this salt is best as a finishing salt - a little sprinkle atop your favorite dish and you will get that delicate salty crunch you are looking for.
Bouquet Garni : A staple in the French Kitchen and you can find them dry or fresh! The two basic herbs are Thym (Thym) and Laurier (Bay Leaf). It's not uncommon to see people asking a vendor at the market to make one -which they will quicky do with a bit of kitchen string!
French Mustard : There is no french kitchen in the world that is vide of mustard. We have a love for a simple jar of Amora. If you are a mustard fan in general and want to have ideas of what to do with it when you get back home, we did a little piece that you might enjoy, take a look here.
Vinegar de (vin rouge, vin blanc, xérès) : what ever the sort, every french kitchen will have a fine quality vinegar. Why? If you are thinking Vinaigrette, you are completely right!
Pot à vinaigre : Typically something you'll find in the country side rather than a big city where kitchen space is limited, but most French people make their own vinegar! With left overwine and a well loved 'Mother', these are a staple. This gorgeous one is made by Manufacture de Dignon