Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Little Paris Kitchen

Last week I was browsing a local bookstore and stumbled on Rachel Khoo's The Little Paris Kitchen cookbook. After seeing her show on BBC, and now Cooking Channel, I just had to buy it! If you know me, you know I will sit myself down and read an entire cookbook, just like a novel! It reveals the author's perspective on food, entertaining, and cooking style, which I find inspiring! I loved Rachel's charming writing and creative twists on classic dishes. It made me run into the kitchen to try some recipes out! 

I made her "Salade d'hiver avec une mousse au fromage de chevre (Winter salad with a goat's cheese mousse),"

"Poulet au citron et lavande (Lemon and lavender chicken),"

"Asperges a la parisienne (Parisian asparagus),"

"Oeufs en cocotte (Eggs in pots),"

and "Gratin de macaronis au fromage (Mac 'n' cheese)!"

I've been busy!!!

I truly enjoyed the Winter Salad with a Goat's Cheese Mousse! It was so beautiful! I will definitely make it again! I truly loved her recipe for Eggs in Pots! It makes an easy and special breakfast, even just for one! I will definitely make it again! However, I found her Lemon and Lavender Chicken disappointing. The flavors were ho-hum, leaving me disappointed. I expected something more. I will not make it again. The Parisian Asparagus was served with "sauce allemande," a type of veloute sauce (basically a bechamel made with stock rather than milk), which was stated to be "a great alternative to hollandaise." I think not! The sauce was okay, but not even close to the beauty of hollandaise and asparagus. And finally, her Mac 'n' Cheese was nothing to write home about.

In conclusion, I really want this book to become a main staple in my cookbook repertoire. I'm still not sure about that... In Rachel's defense, I haven't tried any of her breads, desserts, etc., in which I'm sure will be fantastic given her patisserie training from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. (I hope!) I'll keep you posted! Until then, try these recipes for Winter Salad with Goat's Cheese Mousse and Eggs in Pots and let me know what you think?

Winter Salad with a Goat's Cheese Mousse (Salade d'hiver avec une mousse au fromage de chevre)

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

For the mousse
7 ounces Selles-sur-Cher cheese, or any other soft goat cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream

For the vinaigrette
4 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

For the salad
4 carrots, roughly chopped
2 small dessert apples, cored and quartered
2 parsnips, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon sunflower oil
3 1/2 ounces lardons or cubes of smoked bacon
1 cooked beet, peeled and very thinly sliced (To cook a beet, boil it whole in water for about 45 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork!)
2 handfuls of salad leaves (I think 4 handfuls is better!)

For the mousse
Beat the cheese with the milk until soft and lump free. Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Add one-quarter of the whipped cream and mix together, then fold in the rest of the cream. Transfer the mousse to a piping bag fitted with a 3/8" plain nozzle and leave in the fridge until needed (it will keep for a couple of days).

For the vinaigrette
Mix together the oil and vinegar and season with salt.

For the salad
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the carrots, apples, and parsnips into a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the sunflower oil and season with salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and golden.

Just as the vegetables finish cooking, toss the lardons into a hot pan and cook until crisp.

To serve, arrange the roasted vegetables and apples, beet, and salad leaves on the plate. Pipe little blobs of mousse randomly all over the plate. Sprinkle the lardons on top. Finally, drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Eggs in Pots (Oeufs en cocotte)

Serves 4 as a starter (to make a single serving, use 2 tablespoons creme fraiche, one egg, etc.)

2/3 cup creme fraiche
Salt and pepper
Handful of chopped dill (or whatever you prefer)
4 eggs
Red lumpfish roe (optional)
Small sprigs of dill (or whatever you're using)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the creme fraiche with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Place a heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche in the bottom of a ramekin, followed by a little dill. Crack an egg on top, add a second tablespoon of creme fraiche, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Repeat with three more ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a baking dish (for a single serving, I put it in a small shallow pot) and pour enough lukewarm water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes or until the egg yolks are set to your liking. (The creme fraiche will be runny, so don't assume the egg whites aren't done when they probably are!)

If you like, finish each serving with a teaspoon of red lumpfish roe and a sprig or two of dill. (For breakfast, I like to serve with toasted bread "sticks" to sop-up the runny yolk! Yum!)

*See Techniques for "How do you easily remove ramekins from a water bath?"

Recipes adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen, by Rachel Khoo.

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