Top positive review
118 people found this helpful
Good food, good fun
on 30 April 2012
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.