Indeed, there is much to admire about the French. I adore their innate sense of style, exemplified by the ability to take a simple scarf and wear it a 101 different ways (how on earth do they do that?!) As well as a certain je ne sais quoi in the style stakes, the French have made significant contributions to fields as diverse as literature, art, cinema, design, medicine and science. And let’s not forget the food. From the hearty fare served in neighbourhood bistros to the gourmet dishes gracing the tables of fancy restaurants, French cooking has long been considered king.
Nowhere are these virtues more tangible than in Paris. An unashamedly romantic city, I think it’s safe to say that many of us—at one time or another—have dreamed of a bohemian existence in the heart of the French capital.
One woman living out this dream for real is Rachel Khoo. Around 5 years ago, Rachel waved goodbye to her old life in London and hopped on the Eurostar to Paris. She soon found herself studying pâtisserie at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu cookery school and later opened the smallest restaurant in the city. Rachel’s cookbook The Little Paris Kitchen hit UK booksellers earlier this year, its publication coinciding with the start of a six-part TV series of the same name. In no time at all, we had all gone a little bit gaga for the charms of Rachel Khoo. Working in the impossibly tiny kitchen of her studio apartment in the Belleville district of Paris, Rachel offers us delightful morsels of French life and French cooking.
Styled by the media as the British Amélie of the kitchen, Rachel’s aim is to “take the fear out of French cooking”. Traditionalists might throw their hands up in horreur at some of Rachel’s “creative twists” on their national dishes (coq au vin skewers?) but her baked goods and desserts look simply delicious. I definitely want to give the recipe for madeleines à la crème au citron a go. Apparently, these tiny tea time treats must be eaten literally the moment they emerge from the oven. And who am I to argue? The tartelettes au pamplemousse et poivre meringuées also look amazing, with a lava of grapefruit curd oozing from their core.
Admittedly, the appeal of Rachel Khoo lies less in her abilities as a cook and more in her winning personality and the fact that we envy her lifestyle. Nonetheless, if you crave a modern and accessible take on classic French cuisine, The Little Paris Kitchen is definitely the cookbook for you.
Have you already tried some of Rachel’s recipes? Why not share your experiences below.
The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo is published in the UK by Michael Joseph (Penguin); the accompanying TV programme was shown on BBC2.
For more about Mademoiselle Khoo: