Sunday 23 December 2012

Book Review: The Little Paris Kitchen By Rachel Khoo

Paris is a place I've never yet had the pleasure of visiting and do you know what? I'm actually glad of this to a point, as I don't think until now I would have best appreciate this exciting City and what it has to offer an afternoon tea lover such as myself. Until now.. and boy oh boy am I desperate to head over there and get nibbling and sipping on fine teas, as well as stronger beverages with my afternoon teas!

A few months ago I stumbled upon Rachel Khoo's new BBC cookery show, based on her book "The Little Paris Kitchen" and she helped me to live the fun and food-based side of Paris that I can only imagine it to be.

This lovely lady is trained at Le Cordon Bleu and as a British Woman (a Londoner in fact ; ) living in the French capital, she is a girl after my own heart with her full fat recipes, no dieters food here... 
She started off as a PR girl in the fashion industry, but once she moved to Paris to follow her love of Pastry, she started working in a cookbook shop called "La Cocotte" where she also ran various cake and cupcake workshops, before writing her first two cookbooks, both written in French and then moving onto this third book of which she wrote in English. 

What I admire the most about this lovely lady is that she moved to Paris not knowing a word of French and she has now written two books in this language and has worked hard to get to this point in her baking career. 
She teaches you to cook the classic French dishes, as well as the more modern takes, 
but she keeps it simple. 
The beauty of having a tiny kitchen, with no space to swing a cat is that she can literally show you the easiest way to prepare the food, as she has had to learn to do so in her miniature cooking space. 
No professional kitchen is used and I like this from a home cooking point of view. 

She also teaches you to make do with what you have, you don't need to go out and purchase a special chef's knife, just a good sharp one will do, no huge expense necessary. 

Not only is she a gorgeous young woman, she has a very creative and exciting outlook on the French way of life. She ran the smallest restaurant in Paris until very recently, a simple 2 seater table in her tiny studio apartment. It's not currently running, which is a real shame for the new food geek in me. 
She has plotted events for Slott Gallery in Paris, VW in Germany, The Loft in London and has even created themed dinners based around the hit show "Madmen" as well as an "Edible Tales" event based around paper and art in Buenos Aires.  

She apparently also enjoys Yoga and jogging in the gorgeous French Parks near to her little kitchen. 
As a weight watcher myself, I do watch Rachel Khoo on the TV and wonder myself sometimes how is she not the size of a house with the amount of good quality ingredients she uses, but of course, it's all down to everything in moderation

"The Little Paris Kitchen" is a must have for any home kitchen and I've tried out many of her 
easy to follow recipes for my own personal indulgence.

My favourite recipes from this book include:

Croque Madame Muffins - Page 72
This is "must try" recipe for anybody who loves the classic Croque Monsieur toasted ham and cheese sandwich. If you put a fried egg on the top, you apparently have a Croque Madame (The egg is meant to resemble a lady's hat ; ) This has a cheeky twist, in that this is made in small individual sized muffin tins (just use a cupcake tin) with the bread acting as a cup to hold your delicious cheese sauce and egg. It's amazing - serve with a side salad for a delicious lazy lunch!

Madeleines a La Creme au Citron - Page 88
This recipe is from one of Rachel's fellow Cordon Bleu friends and it's a very delicious twist on the traditional French Madeleine recipe, filled with Lemon Curd and a Fresh Raspberry, it's a cunning recipe that works so well as an afternoon tea treat. The Madeleine batter can be made in advance and chilled in the fridge until needed, so it's great if you need a simple recipe with a wow factor. These are best served fresh, warm from the oven with a good strong cuppa. 

Quiche Lorraine - Page 100
A bacon & egg tart to you and me, although sounds a little boring perhaps in todays baking world, trust me when I say, it isn't at all. As Rachel notes in her book, a Quiche Lorraine should only be pastry, cream, eggs & bacon and these simple ingredients make the most delicious lunchtime or picnic treat. 
I baked this for my family for a quick summer lunchtime treat in a rush and I actually added red onion relish to my base for a little sweetness. Rachel does actually state that you can add whatever filling you wish and you'll have a "Quiche a la... Miss Sue Flay" (in this instance anyway ; ) 

Mini Cheureuil en Croute  - Page 196
These are Mini Venison Wellington, which is along the similar lines to a Boeuf en Croute with a Mushroom filling, however, this is made with red onions & Armagnac which works perfectly in it's place.
This was so easy to make ahead, I kept the red onion mix in the fridge once cooked, until I was ready later in the day to make it then prepared this as a birthday treat for the mister. I actually served this with Rosemary Potatoes and Green Beans and it was the best meal we have had in a long time. 

Mousse aux Eclats de Chocolat - Page 222
This is a chocolate mousse with cocoa nibs, of which I couldn't actually find, so I improvised and grabbed a pack of the best chocolate I could find (Green & Blacks 75% cocoa in fact) and chipped away tiny little *nibs* instead. It worked perfectly for this and it was such an elegant dessert, but very rich. It's very silky, made with chocolate pastry cream, meringue & whipped cream. So naughty, but oh so nice!
It truly is the ultimate chocolate mousse.. it takes time to make and a lot of bowls (a lot of washing up had to be done with this, which surprised me) but it was worth it. 

                                                                    Crème Patissière - Page 274

I've made many variations of this delicious pastry cream filling from different sources, but this is by far the most fool proof and tastiest of them all. You can even follow Rachel's advice and make it into different flavours such as Lavender, Tea, Mocha or Citrus, according to your taste. 
I can't promise you that you won't want to just eat this on its own by the spoonful, however, if you can bear to wait, it's a fabulous filling for choux buns as a simple, but i
impressive dessert or afternoon tea treat. 

If you need a gift idea for a food or baking lover or inspiration to treat yourself to a great food book, this book is the perfect choice.
Rachel makes sure she imparts her knowledge and wisdom, whilst not making you feel like an idiot. She makes French baking and cooking accessible within a huge book packed with gorgeous photography, pictures and stories of her experiences and thoughts. 

Not only baking, but she offer lots of fish and meat dishes, food perfect for everyday cooking, be it just for yourself or for entertaining. She is a picnic lover (everybody should be in my opinion!) and offers lots of delicious treats perfect for a pack up. It's one of those books that has something for every occasion, be it for inspiration on breakfast, lunch, dinner, entertaining or a quick sweet treat. 

Perhaps you have cooked from this book yourself? 
What's your favourite recipes from it?

If you don't have this gorgeous book, buy it now! 
- There is a link to the left of this blog with my suggested reads, 
so just click the pic of this title for an easy way to purchase it quickly - Hurrah!

                                                                                  Bon Appétit...

Miss Sue Flay 


Please Note - I'm not paid or bribed to say these things, I review places of interest and items of my own accord, because I'm simply THAT geeky about tea and cake and all things in between. I pay for my own food, drink, services & products, I don't tell the establishment or suppliers what I'm doing, unless I enjoy it so much that I want to blog about it. I then simply ask their permission to do so and I chat to them about my experience to make them aware that I (and others) have enjoyed it : )
If you would like to discuss an independent review or blog write up on any of the subjects on my blog, please do email Miss Sue Flay: for a chat.

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