As you may have noticed recently, the Accidental Locavore has become a big fan of Rachel Khoo. It started completely by accident, watching the Cooking Channel. If you don't know it, Khoo's show is Little Paris Kitchen and she's British, living, working and cooking in a tiny Paris apartment.
Watching what she manages to cook, with just a hot plate, a toaster oven and an old le Creuset green cocotte in a kitchen probably no bigger than a square meter, is amazing enough, but the food looks delicious, uncomplicated and like something you'd probably have most of the ingredients for already.
Just as we were filling up the DVR with episodes, hoping to replicate some of the dishes, she came out with a cookbook based on the show. Since I've been on kind of a no-more-new-cookbooks thing (witness my office overflowing with books), I was trying really hard not to add this to the collection. Then, one of the blogs I follow, Lost in Cheeseland (have to love it for the title alone) had an interview with her and a book give-away. Well, that was a guilt-free way of possibly acquiring the book, so I eagerly commented and days later The Little Paris Kitchen was being fought over by my husband and me.
It's a charming book and the recipes are easy to follow. When she takes liberties with French classics, it's always interesting, rather than "why on earth would you mess with that?" Case in point, her Croque Madame Muffins, which I've made a couple of times already. She has it under "Snacks" (something very un-French) but I've made it for Sunday brunch and it's delicious! Might even inspire me to go out and buy a muffin tin.
The other recipe I've tackled was the Pot au Feu. Since I had some wonderful, local, grass-fed oxtails and beef shanks from Brykill Farms, it seemed like the perfect use for them. I added cabbage and potatoes, which may or may not be authentic, but sure were tasty!
Prep and cooking times are a big help. The photos are lovely, as are her illustrations. There's a guide to her favorite places in Paris at the end. My only complaint about the book is the way it's ordered: Everyday Cooking, Snack Time, Summer Picnics, etc. I still prefer to have things grouped into categories so all the fish dishes are together etc., but that's a small complaint as the index is comprehensive.
I don't know about you, but for me the sign of a good cookbook is wanting (and making) more than one recipe in the book. God only knows why I don't just scan and save the one recipe from the books I have and deaccession the stacks, but I don't (although it's an awfully good idea-stay tuned). There are still a lot of intriguing things to try in The Little Paris Kitchen, one of which is the boeuf bourguignon with dumplings made from baguettes. If this stupid weather doesn't get warmer, it may be on the menu this weekend!
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