This is just my sort of cookery book. I usually avoid celebrity chefs, but I caught one of her shows on BBC1 by accident a couple of weeks ago and I really admired the simple approach, the emphasis on good quality ingredients and the truly celebrationary results. I though that the book would be a risk because so many of these celebrity chef books focus as much on the chef as on the food, but this turned out to be wonderfully food-orientated.
The recipes are excellent. They are all relatively simple, the ingredients are realistic (none of them either ridiculously expensive or too difficult to find), and there is always some edge to them that gives even the most familiar dishes an unusual touch (like the cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust, which is so much more than cauliflower cheese, the three-coloured shepherd's pie, which is topped with pumpkin, mash and parsley mash, and bbq coq au vin on skewers). Some of the recipes come with a tip for varying it (for example, a Japanese twist to steak tartare).
Most importantly for me, all of the main recipes are accompanied by a good photograph so that you can see what the end result is supposed to look like. The photography is good. The "basics" section of sauces, dressings and stocks does not have photographs, but that doesn't much matter.
Each recipe is given its French title, followed by the English translation. There is a paragraph of chat about the recipe, followed by a list of ingredients and directions for making it up.
The recipes offer a great variety of flavours and ingredients. I can see myself living happily out of this book for quite a long time!
There is an introduction by Rachel Khoo, but it only takes up a page and a half. Throughout the book there are loads of full page photos of Rachel out and about in Paris, which add nothing for me (except weight to the book) but might appeal to those who enjoyed the series.
The contents are as follows: Introduction, Everyday cooking, Snack time, Summer picnics, Aperitifs, Dinner with friends and family, Sweet treats, French basics, Cook's notes, My Paris Addresses, Index. The My Paris Addresses is a list of markets, restaurants and shops that the author uses. The index lists dishes by main ingredient (so if you look up "orange" it will show you orange mousse and citrus fruit cake but doesn't show you the duck with orange recipe). There's a useful set of cook's notes, weights and oven temperatures.
Favourite recipes are: leeks in vinaigrette with poached egg and Bayonne ham; Oeufs en cocotte; Crispy rabbit with Meaux mustard; Trout in a parcel with lemon, fennel and creme fraiche; croque madame muffins; fromage frais; rillettes au porc; Parisian asparagus; prawn and asparagus blancmange; scallop sabayon; fish meuniere; lemon and lavender chicken; chicken and mushrooms in a white wine sauce; boeuf bourgingon with baguette dumplings; duck with fizzy orange; tarte tatin. There are a lot of desserts and cakes, but I'm not keen on desserts so haven't tried any of them except the wonderful tarte tatin.
on 8 April 2013
After cooking off about 40 recipes from the book, here are some of my thoughts:
+ It's a great book for home cooking. DO NOT EXPECT FRENCH CLASSICS. Go get a Julia Child book if you'd like to spend 5 hours to make Coq au vin or things like that. This book is all about everyday (read: simpler, less flamboyant) dishes inspired by French cuisine. And it's for people who don't have or simply don't want to spend hours in the kitchen to cook. Simple, quick and reasonably delicious are the selling point of this book.
+ Most recipes are good. Some are great. I think my favourites are the Lamb stew, eggs in pots and chicken & mushrooms in white wine sauce. The Mac & Cheese is great too (yes, it hardly has anything to do with French cuisine. It's a dish Rachel claimed to have cooked for kids when she was working as a nanny)
- As in every other cookbook, it does have a few disappointing recipes. But I'd say only about 5 out of 40 recipes I've attempted fall into this "I regret making it" category. I think the disappointment was sometimes due to the lack of stock or seasoning (e.g. The Pistou soup and the Quiche Lorraine were quite tasteless...)
- Another problem is, I found that quite a few (about 10) recipes in fact took longer than the suggested baking time. I suspect it might be due to the fact that Rachel's using an oven smaller than most standard ovens here in the UK. I found that a few bloggers using RK's recipes experienced the same issue.
- I think this is a good collection of quick recipes. You're not going to learn a lot about food chemistry as in Heston Blumenthal's books. You won't know whats the best temperature to mix butter into cake batter. And you would not see a great deal of the personality and characters as in Nigel Slater's writing. But you are promised to get a good collection of easy cooking recipes which have a hint (sometimes faint) of French cooking and mostly delicious.
- Is this the best cookbook I've ever owned? No, but it's among the top 5.
- Will I recommend this book? Yes, I do recommend it thoroughly.
on 11 April 2012
I received this book only yesterday morning, and I have already made three of the recipes. The oeufs en cocotte, the croque madame muffins and the chicken liver and fig salad. All three were extremely simple to make and tasted delicious.
I love french food, but even though I have a pretty large collection of recipe books, I only have 2 other french ones, and haven't really used them other than for cassoulet and confit duck. The moment I opened this book, I was charmed by the design and layout of the book, especially all the little illustrations. The recipes in the book look, for the most part, fairly simple to make, and i have now got post-it markers on pretty much every other page of the book. Another winner for me is that the ingredients for most of the recipes are inexpensive, a definite bonus in the current economic climate.
Cheap, easy-to-make, delicious food, in a lovingly designed book that's fun to read. I will definitely be recommending this to friends!
The first thing that strikes you about this book is that a lot of thought has gone into making it look as good as it possibly can. The food photography is exceptional, the layout of the pages is really good, the typefaces used work really well, the dust jacket (cover) is well designed and there are some neat little drawings of ingredients on the inside covers with their French names attached. I like how every recipe is well laid out, telling you how many people it serves at the top of the page, as well as the preparation and cooking times at the bottom of the page. Having the name of the recipe in French as well as English is a nice touch too. The ingredients are spelled out in a red typeface so that they stand out from the rest of the page. The title on the cover is even a glossy white label that has been attached to the paper dust jacket. There are probably a few too many double page spreads within the book containing photographs of Rachel Khoo, but I suppose it all adds to the overall feel of the book. Clearly the content of a book is much more important than how it looks, but I'm sure that you'll sell more books if they look good.
The content is very good too. There are a wide enough variety of recipes to suit everyone's taste I would think. Not many of them are standard recipes that you'd find in dozens of other books either. When a recipe is a little more complicated, the book does not try to squeeze everything onto one page, and is happy to spill over onto the next one if necessary. There is also an explanation on how to make standard stocks, sauces and pastry cream at the end of the book. I think I've tried about seven sweet recipes and five savoury ones so far and all of them have worked pretty well for me. I think that the desserts are a particular highlight of the book. You don't need to be a skilled chef to make them even though the method may not be immediately obvious to a novice cook beforehand. The chocolate lava cake and grapefruit and pepper meringue tartlets in particular both really impressed me.
I'll keep this book handy and will probably attempt the majority of the remaining recipes over the coming months. I'm often quite underwhelmed by cookbooks and am not easily impressed, but this one has maintained my interest far longer than most and I would recommend it highly.
The contents page looks like this:
Everyday cooking 10
Snack time 70
Summer picnics 98
Dinner with friends and family 152
Sweet treats 210
French basics 266
Cook's notes 276
My Paris addresses 278
The full list of recipes (English version; each recipe is written in French as well):
Fig and chicken liver salad
Puy lentil salad with goat's cheese, beetroot and a dill vinaigrette
Warm potato and apple salad with black-pudding crumbs
Winter salad with a goat's cheese mousse
Leeks in vinaigrette with a poached egg and Bayonne ham
Poached eggs in a red wine sauce
Eggs in pots
Soufflé omelette with a Basque pepper relish
Crispy potato bake
Cheese and potato nests
Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust
Mac 'n' cheese
Provençal vegetable stew
Crispy rabbit with Meaux mustard
Mussels with white wine
Smoky fish bake
Trout in a parcel with lemon, fennel and crème fraîche
Mackerel tartare with a rhubarb and cucumber relish
Chicken dumpling soup
Spring lamb stew
Three-colour 'shepherd's pie'
Meatballs in spicy sauce with Alsatian pasta
Bangers 'n' mash with devil's gravy
Cheese, ham and egg sandwich muffins
Pancakes and buckwheat pancakes
Pancakes with a caramel Suzette sauce
Sweet and savoury open-faced sandwiches
Madeleines with lemon curd
Citrus fruit cake
Dulce de leche brioche buns
French toast with cherry and basil compote
Bacon and egg tart
Anchovy, onion and black olive tart
Onion and crème fraîche tart
Cured sausage, pistachio and prune cake
Carrot salad and Celeriac and apple salad
Sweet and savoury clafoutis
Rosemary, lavender and goat's cheese bread
Ice cauliflower and potato soup
Fresh cheese with shallots and red wine
Rabbit liver pâté
Wild mushroom terrine
Coarse pork pâté
Salad Niçoise wraps
Elephant ears and puff pastry twists
Foie gras truffles
Garlic mayonnaise with cruchy raw vegetables
Potato and pear galette with Roquefort
Chicory with ham
Baked Lyon dumplings
Prawn and asparagus blancmange
Alsatian pork, crackling and sausages with a 'speedy' sauerkraut
Cassoulet soup with duck and Toulouse sausage dumplings
Provençal fish stew
Fish with lemon and brown butter sauce
Coq au vin on skewers
Lemon and lavender chicken
Chicken and mushrooms in a white wine sauce
Burgundy beef with bagette dumplings
Mini Venison Wellington
Beef cheek 'pot-on-the-fire'
French beef stew fajitas
Steak and root-vegetable fries
Duck with fizzy orange
Duck breast with an endive and raspberry salad
Chocolate mousse with cocoa nibs
Baked apples with sweet spiced béchamel sauce
Vanilla cream with caramel sauce
Meringue and chestnut-cream mountain
Vacherin 'hotdog' with rosemary rhubarb
Raspberry and almond tartlets
Upside-down apple tart
Chocolate lava cake
Chocolate lava cake with salted caramel filling
Champagne sabayon with strawberries and cherry tomatoes
Beautiful Helen pears
Fontainbleau with a carrot cinnamon coulis
Red rice pudding with almond milk
Grapefruit and pepper meringue tartlets
Cheese selection with cherry tomato and vanilla jam
Cherry tomato and vanilla compote
on 6 May 2012
I searched online for the recipe for Croque Madame muffins that Rachel Khoo did during the television series and I have to say, whilst they aren't exactly low fat, they were yummy!! I even made the white sauce from scratch and I wouldn't normally attempt to do something like this and her instructions are excellent. On that basis, I decided to order the book. I also saw Rachel do a few other recipes during her series that I thought I could cook (the madelines looked amazing - the only problem is that I don't have a madeline tin!)! I am more of a baker than a cook, so the tarts, quiches and sweet dishes caught my eye rather than the meat based dishes (although the lamb stew, classic coq au vin looks yum - I just won't cook it - I'll leave that to the other half!). The book combines good recipes with easy to follow instructions with pictures of the finished recipe (much needed!) and the book is nice and colourful.
On a negative side, there are quite a few pictures of Rachel that I would rather not be there (possibly too many - although to be honest you can just ignore them but it's just a waste of space), and some recipes that just seem like a filler for the book (bread and cheese and another for bread and cheese with a tomato chutney I think) - no idea why you need two recipes taking up at least 3 pages for those, the chutney may be better placed in the back with the technical recipes that are handily included i.e. measurements and basic recipes for creme patisserie etc. I'm also not a huge fan of some of the recipes(i.e. game/rabbit, pate etc) and therefore several of the recipes just don't appeal to me and therefore will never be used. I expect over half of the book falls into this category for me.
Nevertheless, to end on a positive note, to pick at random: Wild mushroom tart, Clafoutis, Rosemary, lavender and goats cheese bread, Chicory with ham, Grapefruit and pepper meringue tartlets, Champagne sabayon, Tarte tatin, Raspberry and almond tartlets, Meringue and chesnut-cream mountain, Creme caramal, Creme brulee, Apple millefeille, Chocolate mousse, Souffles....all do appeal to me and I will try and cook them all and this makes the purchase well worth it!
on 12 May 2012
Rachel Khoo's "Little Paris Kitchen" is my new favourite cooking show so when her cookbook came out I just had to buy it. I love that she makes French cooking accessible to the home cook and that you don't need a big fancy kitchen (although she has some great kitchen gadgets to make it easier). She makes French cooking real. My only complaint about the book is the layout of ingredients - I prefer them in a linear list in the order the recipe uses them - it makes it easier to follow. But I appreciate that might not be as aesthetically pleasing. At the end of the book is a great appendix of sauces and dressings and even how to make your own vinegar. Thank you Rachel for empowering us at home to bring a little more French cuisine into our daily life!
on 25 July 2012
I initially saw the book on Amazon and was wowed by the reviews - I then watched her on Youtube and was captivated by her enthusiasm and her take on Classic French Recipes. The book is certainly worth the price, the writing entertaining and informative, and the recipes easy to follow.
As promised, Rachel does deliver a selection of classic dishes with great ideas on how to simplify and, dare I say, improve on the originals. I certainly intend to try out most and may well buy the book as a gift for friends.
I often mess about with traditional recipes to simplyfy, and occasionally, change them to my taste (you can see mine at [...]) and it was great to see the thinking behind Rachel's modifications - an education by itelf.
So, why only 4 stars: I don't think there are enough recipes. I would really like to have seen a few more of the classic dishes with Rachel's magic worked on them. Yes, I never cook anything like even 1/2 of the recipes in any of my collection of recipe books, but having many gives me more choices to select from. I would, however, pay again to buy a second volume with more recipes, so this is a gripe about quantity and not quality.
If you want to do French Dishes and were too intimidated or couldn't be asked to follow complex instructions ... buy this book, it will change your life!
on 2 December 2012
I recently turned 30, and in that occasion I threw a french themed party, with plenty of french food. The winter salad with goat's cheese mousse, lemon and lavender chicken, pork paté, onion and creme fraîche tart, quiche lorraine and cauliflower bake were among those dishes I served to my guests and they loved them! Recipes are written in a simple language and very concise, yet clear instructions. I also liked the small stories, attached to every recipe, it gave a pinch of amusement while making the food! Many of the recipes have a very modern approach, such as Coq au vin on skewers or Cassoulet soup (never heard of it before!), but I will certainly recommend this book to my other foodie friends.
OK, this is going to sound like an excuse but for me, French Cuisine has always seemed like fancy food that takes forever to prepare and designed more for a dinner party than everyday use. This stereotype was reinforced when you start looking at the whole Michelin Star system and to be blunt, I've always thought that it wasn't for me. Yes I like my French Bread and my Pain Aux Raisins but for me the stereotype has proven to be one that's hard to do away with, especially when you also watch some of the cheffy things on the TV where they start talking big foreign words that you don't have a clue what they mean and the product that they serve is unrecognisable from what comes out from your own Kitchen. (That said, whenever I've been to France I do like to have a rummage around places like the Patisserie or the Chocolatiere as I do like a lot of their sweeter things, but on the whole I've always been intimidated by the whole thing.)
Luckily for me, this title by Rachel Khoo landed and whilst I'm still scared of it, I've found an absolute ton of recipes that are easy to prepare, taste divine and of course give me that "je ne sais quois" when I bring them out. Like Italian Cuisine (my comfort zone) the recipes depend on quality ingredients prepared quickly and served on completion. It can bring families together and it makes eating an experience to cherish. Back that up with food for all types of celebrations (be it a fancy meal or a picnic) and this title will allow you to really give it your all.
All in, it's a wonderful book and this does for French Cuisine what I want, it makes it accessable for anyone who likes to spend time in the kitchen as well as helping to remove the stuffiness alongside fear that the words French Cuisine normally conjures up.
on 12 February 2013
A nice looking book but as I flicked through it I struggled to find anything I wanted to make. I have made the beef bourgignion and the chicken and mushroom vin blanc, which were scrumptious but I could have got those recipes easily elsewhere. I made some pate , which was not great probably because I used cointreau as we did not have any brandy.... !The asparagus dish was disgusting, sort of horrible gravy!
The idea of it is better than the reality