My grandparents lived in Paris for seven years before World War II and among the no-doubt vast array of experiences and collections, I most remember my grandmother’s gorgeous Mauviel copper pans. Made all the more beautiful with age, the pots not only shone with beauty but served ideally in exceptional meal preparation. Didn’t hurt that she had a maid to handle the sometimes tedious business of cleaning the copper!
That reminds of a lovely Jacque Pépin show, in which he explained the magic use of the copper bowl in whipping up egg whites for your favorite soufflé or meringue – “The metal interacts with the egg whites to make them more stable, as they take on air.” Hand beating is his preference, when he begins with rapid beating and slows to lift the whites that have begun to set up … without touching the bowl a lot.
Isn’t it the perfect moment to tell you that my favorite chef has a new book out? Mais oui! Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen underscores one of the reasons I am drawn to this special chef. Probably the most important ingredient in his magnificent meal preparation is his love of family and friends and the intimate occasions for sharing special meals together. I have watched him on television with his daughter, granddaughter and a special friend here and there. Without exception, he refers to the delight he takes in the warmth of shared meals.
His new book includes a wide variety of recipes (200 in all), and even shares how to raise a child who will eat almost anything. I can say from experience, my mother accomplished just that with three exceptions: Brussel sprouts, shrimp creole and liver. No thank you. Period.
Time and again, I have given Monsieur Pepin’s lovely cookbooks to friends, daughters and daughters in law; so you can be sure the same will be true this holiday season.
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How could you not be drawn to a company so devoted to excellent craftsmanship that they see themselves as “the Stradivarius of the Kitchen”? That is exactly how Lacanche views the production of their exquisite French stoves, those stunning works of art that combine beautiful decoration with technological precision to elevate the realm of cooking.
A little village in the hills above Beaune is home to Lacanche factories. Bearing the name of that village; the famous Lacanche stoves literally rose from the iron and timber of the land in the 18th century, when artisan skills were devoted to the manufacture of stoves for stately homes and the professional trade. Today those traditional values and exceptional products generate considerable demand from the top chefs and the general public who want authentic stoves. And adding further appeal is the Lancanche owners’ devotion to rural traditions, country life and the value of fine craftsmanship over mass production.
In a similar manner, Herbeau devotes fine craftsmanship to the manufacture of sinks and faucetry for kitchens, bath and powder rooms. Herbeau’s delightful designs range from rustic Provencal to elegant Chateau creations with hand-painted finishes. Started in 1857 by Louis Herbeau, five generations have created beautiful baths and kitchens for great homes and establishments.
Staub applies the same type of exacting standards to the creation of fine enameled cast-iron cookware. For over 40 years, Staub has merged exceptional craftsmanship with attention to performance detail. From tight-fitting lids with self-basting spikes and heatproof nickel-plated steel knobs to the textured cooking surface of matte-black enamel, Staub has elevated kitchenware to unprecedented function and design.
For anyone who appreciates creations that enjoy the “touch of the master’s hand”, these fine products celebrate the French art de vivre and become treasured heirlooms at the heart of your home.
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Julia Child’s kitchen resurrected at the Smithsonian – now THAT’s a famous cuisine!
I have so many Francophile preferences – for windows and light, for colorful textiles and pottery, for old rush-seat chairs and for ‘imperfect’ touches that underscore the real life lived in that lovely kitchen.
We neither need nor want grand décor – though one of those classic French stoves by Lacanche would be perfectly acceptable! I think I’d settle quite well with a nice square kitchen with big windows. Some open shelves could hold old copper and brightly-colored pottery casserole dishes.
As I do now, I’d have space on the counter for my copper basket filled with potatoes; and the coffee-fixin’ area would have everything within easy reach. A colorful Provençal pitcher next to the range would hold my handled kitchen utensils, and a handsome French lamp would shed light over the aged country table and chairs.
Now, doesn’t that sound like the perfect place to fix a lovely French Onion soup….and sweet raspberry and chocolate crepes? There I go back to My French Neighbor for their exceptional Dijon mustard, because savory vinaigrette would be the perfect touch for a salad to go with the soup.
Daydreams are such fun. Enjoy your own today and, who knows? You just might make your way to a bric-a-brac store to find a fresh addition for your kitchen.
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