16 September 2008

The Well-Stocked French Kitchen

The first thing we will do at Chez Bateau is check the larder, and then drive down the south side of the causse to the nearest supermarche for provisions.

Chez Bateau's sunny little kitchen is well-stocked and we will likely find staples like pasta, rice, coffee, tomato sauce and olive oil. We will also find a cupboard that is completely stocked with essential kitchen tools and utensils. We will take our time cooking, and if the weather is fine, dine out by the pool overlooking the vineyards.

In Paris last year, we made do with a few cutting boards, a bread knife, a steak knife, a colander, skillet and sauce pan. Not so at Chez Bateau!

"How would you stock a French kitchen?" a reader asked me last winter. I thought about that for a while, then came up with my list of French kitchen essentials. These few items would do, I think, and keep my kitchen from becoming too cluttered

Pots and pans: A skillet, a sauté pan, sauce pan, roasting pan and stock pot.

Utensils: A good set of knives, a large whip, a small whip, a strainer.

Tools: Corkscrew, herb scissors, mortar and pestle, pastry bag, pie weights.

Miscellaneous containers: Large bread bowl, two smaller bowls, colander, souffle dish, tarte pan or pie plate.

Nice to have: A banneton, a French bread pan, an egg basket, a copper bowl for egg whites.

There are many, many other "essential tools," but these are the ones I have found to be the most useful and have collected over the past several years. Each time I go to Paris, I vow to find a mortar and pestle, which is the only item missing from my list.

With these tools, I can prepare the soups, salads, soufflés and stews that remain my favorite French dishes. And I can make baguettes and boules when the baking urge strikes. Did I mention tarte tatin?

What's missing from the list? I want to hear from you!

7 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

This reminds me of Laurie Colwin's batterie de cuisine, a wonderful essay about the true essentials. Her theory? Two of everything: two pots, two knives, etc. Your list seems quite complete to me.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Ah, yes, Lydia I do recall that you are a fan of the late Laurie Colwin. I think she was the one who interested me in food writing - for some reason I think of her when I set out woven placements and pottery bowls. She must have written about them. I must read that essay!

katiez said...

A pressure cooker.
If you go into the big box stores around here there is a huge section of pressure cookers. I think that's the French answer to fast food.
On a smaller note, a mustard jar...
Mimi, I do so hope you have good weather. We have had such an abysmal summer but it has been a bit better further to the south. Our new/old house should be in a better area... I hope!

Alain said...

Mimi,
I agree with Katiez that every "serious" French kitchen would have a pressure cooker.
Personally, I use mine a lot. But the other essential thing that I would say is missing from your list is a cocotte Le Creuset made of enameled iron. I could not cook any real French "comfort" food, like rabbit, boeuf bourguignon, veau Marengo, sauté d'agneau, or duck legs, without it.
And a large cutting board is also a must.

Have a fantastic trip. And drink some good Cahors.

Alain
( French Virtual Cafe)

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Katie, my grandma Annie used a pressure cooker, but frankly, I am afraid of them!

I don't think there is one in the kitchen at Chez Bateau.

So far, the 10-day forecast looks good.

Alain, there will be a bottle of two of Cahors waiting for us at the house. I plan to buy some Poilane bread or perhaps some pain traditien in Paris. I will toast to you, KatieZ and everyone else who visits me.

BTW, I love the little breakfast you get on the train...

Eileen said...

I would have to have my French rolling pin! and possibly a grater for citrus.

prolix said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

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