My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
|My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's very French in the best possible way. These are not local dishes which have been gently Anglicised to make them more acceptable. They're the real thing!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: October 2013|
|Publisher: Michael Joseph|
|External links: Author's website|
France is Rachel Khoo's adopted country. She lives in Paris and to write this book she travelled to the four corners of the country to sample the local dishes and special ingredients to be found there. It's a look at local markets, shops, villages and towns, farms and homes - and the local customs and quirks to be found in each area. You get over a hundred recipes and plenty of images which set the scene or illustrate the finished dish. In more complicated dishes you even get a series of pictures to help you understand what you're doing - and all the pictures are of excellent quality. It's not just a coffee table book - if you've an interest in French cooking then you're going to get it sauce splattered.
We start in Brittany with a short introduction to the area (this applies to each region visited - they all just a couple of pages with plenty to interest). Names of the dishes are given in French and then in English. I was definitely taken by the idea of grilled oysters with parsley crumbs, but one I'm definitely going to be trying is tomato and lentil millefeuilles - which looks light but substantial, if that's not a contradiction in terms. I was far too tempted by the salted butter caramel and it was only the lack of a kitchen thermometer which stopped me making some.
The we move down the coast to Bordeaux and the more full-bodied wines come into use, but Khoo is careful not to lean too much towards the meaty dishes. I loved her white asparagus in blankets and at the other end of the gastronomic scale, the fishfinger and mushy pea baguette. The favourite though has to be the chicken in a pot with crispy garlic rice.
There's an obvious Spanish influence in the Basque region along with quite a few words which are going to give the English tongue a good workout. Piquillos peppers stuffed with cod make a good - and very fast - main course but if you can accommodate a longer cooking time, try pork and clams with cider and butter beans. For an unusual starter try spicy aubergine chips with couscous.
Coming into the south of France we sample the cuisine of Provence with its emphasis on the olive. I'm very tempted by vegetables stuffed with red rice and herbes de Provence with preparation time coming in at only fifteen minutes. The ingredients would be readily available in the UK particularly in the summer months, when you might even get them from your own garden. There's a delightful ratatouille and some ravioli which are pan-fried.
Moving over to Lyon, on the Swiss and Italian borders with France we discover some savoury semolina dumplings (they could be ready in fifteen minutes) and a gloriously fresh Lyonnaise salad with the unusual combination of Granny Smith apple and smoked haddock. For a novel twist try the baby brioche hot dogs. The final area we visit is Alsace with its German influence. Try button dumplings with Munster cheese and onion petals or vegetable pastry puffs. They'd normally contain meat but here they're vegetable based although you could add some roast chicken. If you've time for the cooking, try beer-doused ham hock.
Instructions are all clear and there's not too much equipment required (bar that pesky thermometer!) - Khoo cooks on a couple of hobs and a tiny oven to prove the point.
If this book appeals then we think that you'll also enjoy Simon Hopkinson Cooks by Simon Hopkinson.
You can read more book reviews or buy My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo at Amazon.com.
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