La Cuisine – In the Kitchen
The French kitchen is the soul of the home. It’s here that pâtés and terrines are made, and where the cooking is accomplished. Herbs, garlic and onions are close at hand, and the pantry is kept full. It’s also around the kitchen table that simple meals are shared. I remember sitting with my neighbor and her family at lunch in Provence. Her husband, a farmer, would bring up a cured ham from the cave and slice off pieces for us to eat with chunks of fresh baguette slathered with butter before the rest of meal – vegetables sautéed with thyme and rosemary, rabbit or chicken braised with tomatoes and garlic – cheese, and fresh fruit were common fare. Sara Remington’s photo above of Roast Chicken & Potatoes with Drippings from the book, La Vie Rustic -Cooking and Living in the French Style, is of the kind of dish that is the essence of the French kitchen. Here, in the kitchen section of our site, we offer some products to help you create the essence of that French kitchen, with charcuterie sets, special sea salts, herbs, and cutting boards, gratin dishes and more
VINTAGE FRENCH ESCARGOT POTS
Escargots just don’t go out of fashion. They are on menus all over France(and elsewhere) from modest bistros to Michelin starred restaurants. There are dozens of preparations from fritters to soups, but the classic Escargots a la Bourguignonne, snails stuffed with garlicky parsley butter that bubbles and melts in the oven is a favorite. There’s something about escargots that just shout French and sophistication, even though snails are the humblest of foods. These vintage French stoneware escargot pots are just right for a single snail with room left for the all-important garlic/parsley butter. Each pot is a little bit different, as you can see, which adds to the charm.The set of 12 pots comes snugly packed in a Kraft box with a 4 color recipe card for Escargots a la Bourguignonne. Handwashing recommended.
FEATURED IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 2017 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
FRENCH VINTAGE TETE A TETE SET
Set an intimate table for two, French-style with vintage transfer-ware dishes, forks and knives, plus oversize linen or damask napkins, some with embroidered monograms or fretwork. All have been collected in France and each set put together here at La Vie Rustic is unique and individual. We’ll choose your set from our collection, box it prettily in a Kraft box with a label and and an indigo satin ribbon.
Combine your Tete a Tete set with some favorite champagne glasses, a bouquet of fresh flowers and you’re ready for an intimate French-style dinner or lunch for two – or breakfast or picnic.
Set includes: 2 French vintage dinner plates, 2 vintage forks, 2 vintage knives, and 2 oversized vintage napkins
Note: individual pieces may vary from the photo
Mini-Pistachio Wood Serving Board with Vintage French Knife
These little serving boards/cutting boards are richly grained in shades of dark to light brown, caramel, even darkish almost green, and pairing them with a vintage French knife makes a perfect presentation for a special cheese. The grain and color of each board varies, making them truly one of a kind. And the small, but useful size makes the board and its knife easy, but special, to tuck into a picnic basket or backpack.Includes an information card about the wood and how to care for the board. Harvested and milled in northern California and hand-crafted for La Vie Rustic.
The board measures 11 1/2 inches by 5 Inches by 1/2 inch. Photo by Frankie Frankeny
HERBS AND ARTISAN FRUIT SALTS
The always present scent of the French kitchen is herbs, and nowhere is it more evocative than in Provence. Rosemary, thyme, sarriette (winter savory), sage, lavender, and marjoram all grow wild on the hillsides and forest edges, where locals gather them and bring them home. Sometimes the fresh herbs are tied in bunches and hung from a nail in the rafters to dry, sometimes they are simply kept in an open basket where they gradually dry as well. First they are used fresh, and as time passes, dried.
La Vie Rustic Herbes de Provence
There are as many mixtures of Herbes de Provence as there are ways to use it. Ours is a purist mixture, incorporating only the woody herbs that can be wild-gathered in Provence and it is the mixture I learned from my neighbors there. Use this mixture to sprinkle over fresh goat cheese drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, to rub densely over a leg of lamb or pork chops, and to season vegetables of all kinds. In fact, use it anytime you want a taste of Provence.Contents: Thyme, winter savory, sage, rosemary and lavender, 24 grams
La Vie Rustic Sel de Lavande
Take some lavender in your hand and crush it. You’ll notice that it exudes a spicy, almost peppery fragrance, akin to rosemary. It’s not surprising then, that lavender is a component in Herbes de Provence, but it is perhaps surprising that it brings its savory flavor to soups, meats, cheeses, vegetable dishes, and desserts, like flan, (pictured left, photograph by Thomas Kuoh), ice cream, and chocolate of all kinds. La Vie Rustic has taken lavender’s savory character a bit further and combined it with grey sea salt from the Guèrande salt ponds of Brittany. Use this salt as you would any other, for seasoning, but when you want an added bit of something mysterious. Add it to a chilled melon soup, for example, or inside the cavity and on the skin of a plump chicken. For a finer grind, grind it down in a mortar with a pestle. Contents: Coarse Sel de Guèrande and French lavender, 90 grams. ORIGIN: France and California
La Vie Rustic Sel de Sarriette
Sarriette, or winter savory, is a perennial herb that grows wild in Provence. It is an essential ingredient in Herbes de Provence, and fresh sprigs are used to top fresh, artisinal goat cheese, the kind that La Vie Rustic’s owner used to make. Read the story in her memoir, A Pig in Provence, available on Amazon. Sarriette, along with bay leaves are the classic seasoning for dried beans, like the Royal Corona beans from Rancho Gordo, pictured at left. When your bean recipe calls for salt, use Sel de Sarriette. It is also an excellent seasoning for grilled or roasted vegetables.
LA VIE RUSTIC SWEET BAY LAUREL, FRESH
Our fresh sweet bay laurel, Lauris nobilis, on branches 6- 8 inches long, is cut to order, gathered into a bunch and wrapped with twine, is shipped within 24 hours or less of cutting. Once you receive it, you can hang it or keep it in a basket in your kitchen or pantry. The leaves will gradually dry. When a recipe calls for 1 bay leaf, double the amount if using a fresh bay leaf. Best of all, use fresh bay leaves in quantity on skewers with pork or lamb or to make an aromatic bed for a potato and onion gratins, or 2 leaves per pot of dried beans.
Contents: Five 6- 8 inch long branches of fresh sweet bay laurel and an information and care card.
Les Sels de Fruits – artisan fruit salts
La Vie Rustic has created several mixtures of California-grown fruits combined with the inimitable grey sea salt from the ancient salt ponds of of Guèrande in Brittany, France. The dried fruits infuse the salt providing a ready-to use seasoning form everything from salad dressings to rubs and even cocktails.
LA VIE RUSTIC SEL D’AGRUME
Our Sel d’Agrume, Citrus Salt, is made using the zest of the intensely aromatic Blood oranges or Navel oranges and Meyer Lemons. The trees grow on my small farm here in Northern California (see blog piece on this site, The Season of Citrus) and are in full season in winter, when the fruit is harvested.The salt is from the ancient salt ponds of Guèrande in Brittany, and together, create a citrus flavored salt that is ideal to use in making vinaigrette, to use in baking, and to season poultry. If you’d like to use it to rim a drink, say a Margarita, crush it up a little first using a mortar and pestle.
Contents: Coarse Sel de Guèrande and Dried Blood Orange or Navel Orange and Meyer Lemon Zest
90 grams, ORIGIN: France and California
LA VIE RUSTIC SEL DE FIGUE
There’s something about the ability of figs to go both sweet and savory – think fresh figs stuffed with jambon cru (French style-prosciutto) or a fresh fig and arugula salad with feta cheese and honey –that makes this fig and sea salt combination a handy pantry item. Use it to season duck, wild game, or pork. Instead of regular salt use Sel de Figue in making vinaigrette. Sprinkle a smidgen of it over freshly baked brownies or chocolate ice cream. Stuff a pork loin with figs and season the roast with Sel de Figue. The uses are many. The salt is from the ancient salt ponds of Guèrande in Brittany, France and the figs are California Mission figs, grown on a neighboring farm.
Contents: Coarse Sel de Guerande and Dried Mission Figs, 90 grams
ORIGIN: France and California
LA VIE RUSTIC SEL D’ABRICOT
Apricots, whose origins are in China, are notable for their tart, sweet flavor. They are at their tastiest when they are absolutely ripe. The finest of all apricots is the Blenheim, sometimes called Royal Blenheim. It is only moderately-sized, with deep orange flesh, and soft golden orange skin, sometimes freckled or lightly blushed pink.
La Vie Rustic’s Sel d’Abricot (pictured above, photograph by Thomas Kuoh) is made with dried Blenheim apricots grown on in California’s Great Central Valley and Sel de Guèrande, sea salt from Brittany. (see Sel de Guèrande blog on this site). Use it when ever you want a hint of that tart-sweet apricot flavor. I like to stuff a pork loin with dried apricots and then rub the roast all over with a little sage and Sel d’Abricot. Use it on pork ribs, on duck, to add to a salad dressing, to add to an apricot pie or crumble, fresh or dried, and experiment with it in cocktails.
Contents: Coarse Sel de Guèrande and Dried Blenheim Apricots, 90 grams
ORIGIN: France and California
La Vie Rustic’s White Bean and Winter Savory Soup Set
La Vie Rustic’s White Bean and Winter Savory Soup Set, is a cold weather and holiday favorite. In the set you’ll find the essentials for making this white bean soup from scratch. If you’ve never cooked with dry beans, this is an easy, step by step way to begin. And, if you are a dry bean fan, you’ll discover one more way to enjoy them. Take good quality beans, like the giant Royal Coronas here from Rancho Gordo, season them with La Vie Rustic’s sweet true bay, winter savory sea salt, and Herbes de Provence, and and you’ll have an exceptionally satisfying soup, one in which the rich broth is as good as the beans. Winter savory, which grows wild in Provence, is reminiscent of both thyme and rosemary, but earthier. It is an essential ingredient in Herbes de Provence, is used to season goat cheese, and it is a favorite for seasoning beans. By cooking the optional ham hocks on their own rather than with the beans, the character of the beans and the savory broth is preserved, and the meat, added at the end, serves as an additional seasoning.
1 pound Rancho Gordo Royal Corona Beans, a wintertime jar of La Vie Rustic Sel de Sarriette (winter savory), jar of Herbes de Provence, fresh sweet bay laurel leaves, full color recipe card, and information card about sweet bay laurel
La Vie Rustic’s Cranberry and Herbes de Provence Soup Set
In La Vie Rustic’s Cranberry Bean and Herbes de Provence Soup Set, you’ll find the essentials for making this soup from scratch. If you’ve never cooked with dry beans, this is an easy, step by step way to begin. And, if you are a dry bean fan, you’ll discover one more way to enjoy them. Take good quality cranberry beans like these from Rancho Gordo, known as Coco Rouge in France, season them with sweet true bay, Herbes de Provence, and Sel de Thyme, and you’ll have an exceptionally satisfying soup, one in which the rich broth is as good as the beans. The distinctly earthy flavor and creamy texture of cranberry beans are enhanced by Herbes de Provence and Sel de Thyme, thyme-laden sea salt. By cooking the optional sausages on their own rather than with the beans, the character of the beans and the savory broth is preserved, and the sausage, added at the end, serves as an additional seasoning.
1 pound Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans, jar of La Vie Rustic Herbes de Provence, jar of La Vie Rustic Sel de Thyme, fresh sweet bay laurel leaves, full color recipe card, and information card about sweet bay laurel