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5 Things That Will Make Your Kitchen More Parisian

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All week long David Lebovitz -- professional cook, baker, and blogger -- will be sharing recipes from his new book, My Paris Kitchen.

Today: David gives us five easy ways to add a little Paris into our kitchens.

Butter on Food52

1) Switch to salted butter.

Although for most baking projects, unsalted butter lets you control how much salt you’re using in a recipe, salted butter tastes much better on toast and in certain recipes, such as salted butter caramel and even chocolate sauce! I buy butter with crystals of sea salt kneaded in. You can copy it by working a very generous teaspoon or so of crunchy sea salt into a pound of softened butter. 

More: Protect your beurre with a French butter keeper.

2) Keep a jar of Dijon mustard on hand at all times.

No French kitchen is without a pot of Dijon mustard in the refrigerator, which is used as a condiment for steaks, for adding to sauces (like the one in this mustard rabbit), and as a base for a simple vinaigrette. Use it quickly; once opened, mustard loses its zingy flavor after a few weeks.  

Patricia Wells' Lentil Salad on Food52

3) Green lentils are your meilleur ami.

Keeping a box of French green lentils on hand means you can make a quick salad or side dish in less than thirty minutes, whenever you want. Simply boil them up (but don’t overcook them!), then toss the warm lentils in vinaigrette or dress them with hazelnut oil. You can cook some diced carrots and onions with the lentils, or add some crisp-cooked bacon when it’s finished. Other additions could include toasted hazelnuts and a handful of herbs. Green lentils are terrific served warm as a side dish, or at room temperature for a full-course salad, with crumbled goat or blue cheese tossed in just before serving.

4) Invest in “finishing salt,” such as fleur de sel.

You might not be used to paying so much for a small container of salt, but a sprinkle of these crunchy crystals over some steamed vegetables or a chocolate tart right before serving takes the flavor to a whole new level. A small container should last you at least a year. (If not, you’re eating too much salt!) I prefer the French fleur de sel de Guérande, although interestingly, Parisians have taken to Maldon salt from the U.K.  

5) Switch to cloth napkins.

In addition to being more écologique, cloth napkins make any meal feel a little more special. Even your petit déjeuner (which literally means “break the fast” in French) can be improved with a nice swatch of linen next to your bowl of café au lait; or, use it to wipe up baguette crumbs when you’re all finished. 

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: paris, kitchen, my paris kitchen, pantry, staples, david lebovitz

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Comments (10)


11 months ago Karen

Petit dejeuner "literally" means little lunch.


2 months ago Jan Weber

déjeuner itself means literally to 'un-fast', but then just became the common word for 'the first meal of the day' (breakfast), which was then shifted to mean lunch when that became a thing (primarily in France, dîner is still used in many other Francophone places).


over 1 year ago montmartroise

Perhaps Parisians are using Maldon because it's half the price of fleur de sel and the French can be so frugal, but I don't find it as delicious. However, sometimes it looks lovely scattered on a plate as it has a prettier shape.


over 1 year ago montmartroise



over 1 year ago Malcolm Powell

I tend to use Maldon Sea Salt for the majority of seasoning in my dishes where possible, I find I use less salt overall because of it. I maybe slightly biased as I am in the UK, but it really is great to cook with.


over 1 year ago Shana

I would also love to know about the jadeite butter dish!


over 1 year ago Emma

Just wondering, where did the jadeite butter dish come from? It's so pretty!


over 1 year ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking means a small breaking of the fast.

But! As to the advice, I'm sort of already there:

I use both salted and unsalted butter.

I keep several, not one, jar of Dijon, and they are French, not a French label but made in Canada (amazing differences there). But within that, sometimes the labels that are most inexpensive in France are the most flavorful ones in the US.

I always have green lentils--walnut oil is my go-to, even more than hazelnut. I'm not vegetarian, but I think walnut oil on lentils is better than bacon.

Like with the mustard, I keep several finishing salts. Mine are from more places than just France, but I recommend keeping both Atlantic and Mediterranean French. They are pricey, but they last for years. Especially if you have several, like I do.

And yes, cloth napkins! Like several restaurants I've been to more and more in France and the US, I often use tea towels as napkins. Our favorites are the Jacquard ones from Provence. They make for big napkins and have wonderful motifs of pigs, cows, cheeses, olive oils, lavender, and a whole lot more.


over 1 year ago David Lebovitz

Yes, "à jeun" in French, is translated as "on an empty stomach" - similar to breakfast is to "break the fast", in English. Am not sure how "petit" ("little") got in there, but I wrote a story in My Paris Kitchen about how Parisians tend to use the word "petit" to describe a lot of things, so perhaps that's why?


over 1 year ago Andrew

"Petit déjeuner" does not mean "break the fast." It means "little lunch" or "small meal."