It is used in most cakes, like for example chestnut cake, added to the mixture, and put in the oven without delay.
Note: French baking powder is not the same formula as British and is about twice the strength, so if you are using French baking powder in a British recipe, use half the quantity. If using British baking powder in a French recipe, double the quantity.
If you intend to buy: In France baking powder is sold in packets of 10 famous small pink sachets of 10 g. Always keep some in stock, in an airtight tin or box, as it keeps for several months. [Translator's note: British cooks are more used to buying baking powder in tubs, and measuring by the teaspoonful. French recipes often specify it by the sachet.1 sachet = 2 level teaspoonsful, but because it it stronger, this is the equivalent of 4 teaspoonsful of British baking powder!]
If you want to use it: Baking powder is straightforward to use. The only thing it doesn't like is to be kept waiting, once mixed, before being cooked.
You can find more information about it on Wikipédia or on the Comté official website.
If you intend to buy: Because Comté is protected by AOC certification, you can be sure of getting a quality product when you buy it. Furthermore, Comté ages well, and some remarkable cheeses can be found 18 months old, or older.
If you want to use it: Comté is used in many recipes on this site. If unfortunately you're unable to find any, you can use other cheeses of similar type instead, like Gruyère, Emmenthal, etc. (but they will not be as good).
This cream, naturally liquid but which thickens over time, is drawn off the milk and sold as cream. From this basic cream, other kinds are developed:
If they are UHT, these creams (sold in cartons) can be stored out of the fridge until they are opened, .
"Full" cream means without any fat removed, so it's real cream. Beware of all the "light", "reduced fat" or other creams of this type. In order to produce them, manufacturers need to replace the fat they remove with something else to keep the creamy texture, and this other additive is not necessarily good for your health.
If you want to use it: Crème fraiche is the cream of choise for sauces, but this is not an obligation. Fresh pouring cream is perfect for everything like whipped cream or chantilly.
You will surely notice that UHT creams have less flavour than fresh ones, because the sterilisation leaves them bland.
Filo pastry is used for some famous Middle Eastern sweet pastries like baklava.
If you intend to buy: You can find it in packs of 8-10 square sheets.
If you want to use it: Once the pack is opened, be sure to seal it well after use, otherwise remaining sheets will dry out and be unusable.
If you don't have any, you can replace it with a quick glacé icing, made by mixing icing sugar thoroughly with a little water until very thick and syrupy.
Be aware that sometimes you can find it in smaller sheet of 1 gram instead of 2, so you should note that recipes here use full size sheets of 2 grams.
If you want to use it: See this page.
It is different from the classic pumpkin, especially in 2 respects: the skin is edible, and its flavour - which is rather like chestnut - is stronger.
If you intend to buy: See the seasons calendar about it.
Potimarrons weight about 2-3 kilos each, they can be kept several times until they are open or cut.
If you want to use it: See this page.
It's a soft and full-flavoured cheese, sold in a characteristic wood box.
Mont-d'Or in Wikipedia.
If you intend to buy: Mont-d'Or is a seasonal cheese wich can only be made during certain periods of the year, when cow eat hay instead of grass.
You can see this on the calendar of seasons.
If you want to use it: Mont-d'Or can be eaten cold or hot.
When eating a Morteau sausage, you are sure to enjoy a true quality product, made with traditionally produced pork from pigs raised on sub-alpine slopes. In my humble opinion, the best smoked sausage there is...
If you intend to buy: Always choose a sausage that has small slivers of wood along the sides and a green metal label which guarantees you a true product from Franche-Comté.
Each pork butcher has his own way of making sausages, so you will probably find small differences in taste (more or less smoked, salted, spiced) and texture (more or less fat) between different producers.
It is not easy to find good sausages, by good I mean, not too much fat and smoked enough. If your feet ever carry you to Franche-Comté, let me advise you to check this page of good addresses.
You can also find sausages with caraway, a stupid trendy sausage flavour, in complete conflict with the smoked taste...
If you want to use it: Please look at the sausage cooking page.
They are used for decorating cakes and pastries, such as chouquettes, for example.
If you intend to buy: If you can't find any, it's quite easy to make something similar by wrapping sugar cubes in a cloth, then hitting them with a hammer.
For cooking with pepper, it's a bit different because pepper eventually gives a bitter taste during cooking, due to its tannin. Auguste Escoffier (confirmed by Hervé This) says that this happens after about 8 minutes of cooking, so you should so try to avoid cooking pepper more than this, and add it "at the right time...".
Sometimes a fifth spice is added, ginger or chilli.
[Translator's note: this mix is rather hotter and less sweet than British "mixed spice", and in France is often used in savoury dishes. If using British style mixed spice as a substitute in French recipes, you will need to add extra pepper to get the same effect. I use quatre épices in cakes, fruit puddings and mincemeat, and I've got used to it - give it a try, but use with caution at first. The French "mélange sweet" is based on the British mix, but only normally available from professional bakery suppliers.]
If you intend to buy: Quatre-épices can be bought ground in supermarkets or from specialist grocers.
There are two main types of salt:
You can make yourself a special salt with a particular flavour, as you make vanilla sugar. It's possible to make salt with herbs, citrus fruits or chili.
Vanilla can be found in different forms: beans (pods) - the best kind, and in liquid essence or powder extract.
The best vanilla (it is said) comes from the islands of Madagascar and Réunion in the Indian ocean, so called "Bourbon Vanilla ", but many other places in the world produce vanilla.
In particular Tahiti produces a special kind with large and very fragrant beans.
If you intend to buy: Buy pods as thick as possible and supple to the touch, as this is a sign of freshness and quality. See my best addresses on this subject.
If you want to use it: See this page
Vitamine C is in several fruits and vegetables like blackcurrant and lemon, but it can be bought in powder form for use in cooking.
If you intend to buy: You can find it in drugstores or chemist's as "ascorbic acid". Ask for vitamin C for cooking use, and it will be sold to you as a white powder.
If you want to use it: Vitamin C is ideal for keeping the attractive appearance of fruits and vegetables which need to be peeled, cut and/or blended. You need only use a pinch each time.
It should not be confused with baking powder, which is used for raising cakes.
If you intend to buy: Yeast is available in two basic kinds: fresh yeast (ask your baker to sell or give you some, it looks like a greyish paste, which kept in a sealed box in the fridge and should be used within a few days), or dried yeast in 5 g sachets (on left on the photo). Dried yeast will kep for several months without any problem. It can be used like fresh yeast, but only half the quantity is needed (it's a very effective yeast).
Personally, I frequently practice: 1 dried yeast sachet = 10g fresh yeast, and vice versa.Note: For each recipe you can use either fresh or dried yeast, use whichever you have to hand.