The Little Paris Kitchen – Rachel Khoo Recipes
Rachel Khoo invites you into her Little Paris Kitchen to display her passion and flair for the cuisine of Paris proving simple cooking can produce sensational results
In the opening espiode of The Little Paris Kitchen Rachel displays her passion and flair for the cuisine of Paris as she tries to prove that simple cooking can produce sensational results. In the first episode, she prepares her own take on a croque madame, makes a batch of madeleine cakes, shops in a Moroccan food market, and explores the French capital’s rooftops to find honey created by Parisian bees
Our Little Paris Kitchen pastry chef continues to display her passion and flair for the cuisine of Paris. In this episode, she enlists the expertise of a local baker to help her prepare baguettes, puts her own twist on a traditional boeuf Bourguignon, and creates a chocolate sponge oozing with salted caramel
Episode 3 of The Little Paris Kitchen sees Rachel puts her own twist on the French dish cassoulet, and prepares an unusual cake made from pistachio and goat’s cheese. She also visits an award-winning cheese shop and heads to the world’s largest wholesale food market in Rungis to produce steak tartare for a group of local butchers
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In episode 4 of The Little Paris Kitchen Rachel prepares sticky chicken coated with a lavender and lemon glaze, and bakes a batch of grapefruit and pepper meringue tartlets. She also takes a trip to the seaside town of Trouville, where a local fisherman treats her to succulent scallops in a creamy mustard mayonnaise
In episode 5 of the Little Paris Kitchen Rachel makes iles flottantes, which features delicately poached meringues on a creamy vanilla custard, and prepares gourmet garnishes after sampling Normandy oysters at a stall offering five varieties. Later, she visits a street market, where she buys beetroot from so-called king of vegetables Joel Thiebault, and demonstrates a recipe for lentil and goat’s cheese salad
Rachel Khoo has to be one of the world’s least likely people to have their own TV show devoted to French cooking. In 2006 she left London for Paris not speaking a word of French and had only been to Paris once in her life – and hated it.
HATED PARIS HATED FRENCH FOOD
‘I thought the people were rude; the place wasn’t charming. I didn’t get why people were always raving about Paris. For me, it wasn’t like it was in the movies,’ she confesses, apologetically.
She can’t even say, hand on heart, that she liked French food either.
‘Although I grew up in England, my mum is Austrian and my dad is Malay-Chinese, so I grew up eating Asian food and wiener schnitzel, with the odd roast thrown in. I think Mum may have made a coq au vin once, but that’s about as French as it got.’
But the one thing Rachel really did like about France was its patisseries.
Bored with her London job she decided, on a whim, to move to Paris and train as a pastry chef.
‘My parents thought I was mad,’ she says. ‘My friends did too, although they were more envious. They all said, “I wish I was brave enough to do something like that.”’
She enrolled at the famous Le Cordon Bleu cookery school and funded her lessons (which were’nt cheap) by working as an au pair and then as a perfume tester in a department store.
Her real break came when she got a job in a cookshop with a café attached.
She started trying out her creations on customers, and was soon holding her own classes for chic Parisienne ladies who wanted to learn more about British afternoon teas. At home she was slaving away teaching herself about French cuisine.
‘I just fell in love with the whole thing – Paris, the food, the culture. I started to realise French cuisine had a bad press in Britain. It’s not all about heavy sauces and difficult dishes. I knew there was a niche.’
FIRST COOKERY BOOK
Her skill for self-promotion landed her a 30-minute slot with a publisher in which she had to pitch her idea for a cookery book. She nailed it but then found herself having to come up with 120 recipes. So she set up her own pop-up restaurant venture – trying out new recipes in her tiny Parisian apartment.
‘It wasn’t a proper restaurant, obviously. It was me having a few people round – I could only fit two at a time – so I could test these recipes and cover the cost of the ingredients.’
Now her ‘strange little adventure’, as she puts it, has turned into something rather bigger and you can see exactly why the BBC snapped her up.
THE LITTLE PARIS KITCHEN
Rachel taught herself to cook in an apartment so small there wasn’t room for a decent oven
‘It might just have been the smallest space ever for a cookery programme. My whole apartment is about the size of a double bedroom. I cook with just two rings on the hob, and a small toaster oven. There isn’t even room for a fridge.’
‘The cameraman had to stand on his tiptoes behind me, with the camera over my head. If I moved at all, he’d have to shuffle along too. I certainly couldn’t drop anything because there wasn’t space to bend down to pick it up.’
‘But while it might seem mad, I thought it was important to show that it can be done. You don’t need a huge kitchen to create amazing food. Operating in such a small environment makes you a better cook. You have to be organised and you pare everything down to the basics.’
THE PENTHOUSE PARIS KITCHEN
So what happens if Rachel does now become the new Nigella, with a bank balance to match? Surely it’s only a matter of time before a grand country pile with the Aga beckons?
‘It’s a bit early for that,’ she laughs. ‘My goal at the minute is just to get a big enough apartment that I don’t have to unfold my futon every night in the living room. But if it all works out, who knows? Maybe the next book will have to be called The Penthouse Paris Kitchen.’