The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
Have you, perhaps, forgotten how délicieux French food can be? This is Rachel Khoo’s worst fear, and she is determined not to let the situation get out of hand. If your idea of French cuisine is fussy technique and loads of butter, wait until you see her muffin tin croque madames and her chicken dumpling soup. In her tiny Paris apartment with its two-burner stove, Rachel Khoo reminds all of us how truly phenomenal French food can be.
• Who wrote it: Rachel Khoo
• Who published it: Chronicle Books
• Number of recipes: 120
• Recipes for right now: Cauliflower Bake with Hazelnut Crunch Crust, Meatballs in Spicy Sauce with Alsatian Pasta, Quiche Lorraine, Olive Bread, Provencal Fish Stew, Coq au Vin on Skewers, Mini Venison Wellington, Duck with Fizzy Orange, Chocolate Mousse with Cocoa Nibs, Tarte Tatin
• Other highlights: There’s an effortlessness and a grace to Rachel Khoo’s cooking that I admire — and, if I’m being truthful, envy. Partly, I think this is because she has managed to parse down many complicated French classics into a few paragraphs of straightforward and streamlined directions (thank you!). She also puts these recipes in a context — a summer picnic, snack time, a dinner with family — so that it’s easy to envision how the various dishes come together to form both a full meal and a memorable evening.
Honestly, my only wish is that she had pushed her modern take on classic recipes just a little further. I loved seeing a bit of playfulness infused into often-stuffy classics, as in her “Coq au Vin on Skewers” and using dulce de leche in her brioche buns, but I would have liked more of this. I was happy to see old friends like quiche Lorraine and boeuf bourguignon included here, but Khoo sticks close to tradition for these and I didn’t feel like the recipes necessarily gave me anything fresh or new to be excited about.
Bottom-line is that this is a solid collection of recipes that give the French classics a place of their own in our everyday cooking. If you’re just starting to grow your cookbook collection and have been looking for a book on French cuisine, this is one of the most accessible ones I’ve seen come along in a great while.
• Who would enjoy this book? New cooks, cooks who love to entertain, people interested in exploring French cuisine
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
• Visit the author’s website: Rachel Khoo
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(Images: Emma Christensen)