I have lived with my French man (aka my husband) for nine years. I now understand the nuances of French cooking which I have learned from both my husband and my in-laws, on our many travels to France. French cooking isn't as complicated as most people think. Their dishes incorporate lots of healthy vegetables and stews.
This is why I love Rachel Khoo's new cookbook The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes ($19.88 on Amazon), published by Chronicle Books. First off, who can resist a stylish Brit who sautés while clad in red lipstick looking like she jumped out from an Anthropologie catalog? The Le Cordon Bleu pastry chef grad who has her own BBC cooking show of the same name, cooks her French cuisine in her teeny-tiny Paris kitchen with only a mini oven and two gas rings. It makes you amazed that if this young gal can cook in such a small space with limited equipment, I too can whip up French fare in my "big" (compared to hers) apartment kitchen.
(Photos: Chronicle Books)
Rachel brings in the home-style of French cooking but brings in her own twists which I love. Pot au Feu is an essential soup in our household. We have it a lot in the winter or when someone in the family is sick. Usually by the third day of the big pot of beef soup, we devour it on the first day and by the third day, everyone is over it. Rachel provides some fantastic additional recipes such as sauces and a fajita recipe for the leftover meat and veggies. There is also a classic ratatouille recipe that most will love. For me, it's a great way for me to get my daughter to eat veggies. (I also love how she tries to teach me how to say "ratatouille" in a perfect Parisian French accent.)
Since Rachel is a trained pastry chef, dessert recipes are included in the book, but for me the main entrees and side dishes make this a must have book for everyday cooking. I have read this book cover to cover which I can't say I do for most cookbooks. (The photos of her around Paris are divine!) A lot of the wisdom that Rachel brings in her book, I can hear my father-in-law, Jean-Marie say as well. But I love how Rachel brings her own voice to this with a touch of originality by suggesting or adding other ingredients to create a different twist. My advice to you is to start with some of the stews, seafood and veggie dishes in the cookbook. You definitely won't go wrong. Then work your way up to the more advanced recipes featuring meats and the desserts.
(Photo: EasyLiving UK)
My first recipe I tried from this book was the Spring Lamb Stew (Navarin d'Aagneau Printanier). I know it was delicious because everyone in my family devoured it without saying a word.
The next recipe I am going to try is this Cassoulet Soup. Watch the video above from BBC Food.
I also love what Alexis Watts of Chronicle Books is doing on the Chronicle Books blog. She's trying out recipes from The Little Paris Kitchen over the course of the next few months just like the Julie/Julia project.