Cookbook: Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes
Author: Rachel Khoo
Photographs by: David Loftus
Illustrations by: Rachel Khoo
Number of Recipes for Singles: 2
Vintage photography, watercolor illustrations and a Parisian appeal lend a nostalgic air to this classic collection of French recettes. My original pass through the pages of this cookbook left me wanting a more well rounded modern selection of recipes. I measured its educational value the same way I rate all cookbooks, by comparing the number of recipes against the number of recipes I would actually make. If the count is less than 50%, I send it back. But there was something about Rachel’s story that kept me enchanted, wondering what I could glean from the recipes I would make. What lessons I would miss from the recipes I skipped.
Working in her tiny kitchen “with just a mini oven and two gas rings,” Rachel opened what she terms Paris’ smallest restaurant – a 2-4 top spread resulting in an intimate dinner among friends. Having lived in Europe for 3+ years, my mind often wonders back to the adventurous freedoms of life abroad. The idea for this website was actually born on a small electric hob in a shared Sheffield kitchen. Our floor housed over 30 students, but I was the only one who cooked. Every Sunday, I would make a batch of meals for the week, an effort to keep myself from grabbing something on the go, only to find my food quickly disappearing from the small dorm refrigerator shared by the floor (30 people sharing a dorm fridge….can you imagine?!?) I loved it. I loved that people would steal my food and find it memorable enough to knock on my door and thank me for dinner. Thus are the tales dreams are made of.
The pages of this cookbook are filled with similar tales, the challenges of working in a small space, the desire to try old-fashioned recipes, the joy of people stealing your food and loving to tell on their own tails! These recipes are indeed, classic, vintage, recherché, and above all, traditional. Headings are presented in French with English subtitles. The font is a light-handed, sweeping Parisian script which instantly sweeps you off to France. The photography places you in the middle of the action as you take a culinary stroll through the classic dishes of France’s most memorable menus.
To date I have cooked a handful of recipes found within pages of this book, including Nids de Tartiflettes and Lemon Lavender Chicken. Both recipes called for traditional French ingredients (think Reblochon cheese and dried lavender). Sometimes, I had to make the sacrifice of substitution in my Oklahoma kitchen, but these gustatory revelations were worth the effort. Delicious, simple, classically French and in most cases, surprisingly easy to prepare.
Rachel Khoo has since filmed a television show based on 2012’s Little Paris Kitchen, published a followup cookbook (2013’s Little French Kitchen) and is currently filming and working on her next culinary effort Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook, which I have already preordered. I guess I’d say I’m a fan.