POPSUGAR Food

Build Your Own French Pantry

Aug 27 2013 - 4:25am

Never experimented with fleur de sel, herbes de Provence, or French lentils? That's OK, because we're going to share our favorite products to bring that much-needed je nais se quoi to your table. For those not too familiar with French cuisine, it relies heavily on ingredients like butter, fresh fines herbes (translation: fine herbs), and citrus like lemon, but despite the use of predominantly perishable items, there are a number of pantry staples each Francophile should keep in the kitchen. Store the best of France in your cupboard with these 10 essentials.

Traditional Dijon Mustard

Dijon, France, is the origine of Dijon mustard, a peppery blend of mustard, honey, wine, and garlic. Maille Dijon Originale [1] ($10) is one of the most reputable French brands and is commonly found in American grocery stores. Use it in aioli and vinaigrette dressings [2].

French Lentils

Sabarot Green Lentils du Puy [3] ($11) are the authentic, original French lentils grown in the volcanic soil of Puy, France. These lentils hold their texture when cooked and add an earthy element to salads [4] or soups and even work when served as a side dish.

Baking Chocolate

In order to recreate the best French pastries and chocolate bonbons, one needs the right French cocoa products. Valrhona Grand Cru Milk Baking Chocolate Jivara 40 percent [5] ($40) comes in chocolate coins, making it easy to temper for bonbons [6] or melt down for soufflés and chocolate croissant filling.

Herbes de Provence

Herbs of Provence [7] ($20) are made of dried thyme, basil, savory, fennel, and lavender. The flavors combine for a taste of Southern French cuisine that will awaken soups, fish, poultry, lamb, sauces, and even biscuits [8].

Bonne Maman Chestnut Spread or Jam

The French love their spreads in the morning, especially anything Bonne Maman. The sweet, checkered-top jars look like they contain a French grandmother's secret recipe, and their contents are not far off. This Bonne Maman chestnut spread [9] ($7) is lesser known in America but incredibly popular in France. Spread it on toast, dollop atop yogurt or ice cream, bake it in a pound cake [10], or just take a spoon to the jar.

Fleur de Sel

Fleur de Sel de Guérande [11] ($18), or "flower of salt," tastes as its name implies. It's mineral-rich, giving the salt a distinct, delicate flavor and slightly gray color. It's a finishing salt, so save this until you are serving your dish. Sprinkle it on everything from salads to meats to chocolate to amp up the flavor profile.

Cornichons

Every charcuterie platter should contain a few Edmond Fallot cornichons [12] ($8). The French gherkin pickles are spiced with tarragon, mustard seeds, and pearl onions for a truly French aperitif item.

Sardines

In France, Mouettes d'Arvor French Sardines in Olive Oil [13] ($7) are eaten affectionately with fresh slices of baguette, and mustard and red onion for even more pungency. For something lighter, squeeze fresh lemon juice on the sardines and enjoy them in a salad.

Champagne Vinegar

Clovis Champagne Vinegar [14] ($10) of Champagne, France, is a mild vinegar that adds a crisp, aromatic flavor to salad dressings [15] and steamed asparagus or haricot verts.

Black Truffles

Plantin French Black Truffles [16] ($106) might seem expensive for a tiny jar, but the price tag signifies that this is the real black truffle deal. Add a small dollop to cream sauces, mashed potatoes [17], and even French omelets [18] to elevate any food's earthy, umami side.


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