4/30/14

The Little Paris Kitchen

This a really unique French cooking show featuring Rachel Khoo, an English chef living in Paris. After studying at Le Cordon Bleu she opened up her tiny Paris apartment as a small 2-seater restaurant, to try out different recipes for her new cookbook on her willing testers, all of whom seem very pleased (of course).
No joke, her kitchen is tiny, which makes her recipes and techniques extremely innovative, relatable, and impressive. During the show Khoo also takes trips out into the markets, patisseries, and restaurants of Paris to talk to the experts of classic Parisian food, and into the French countryside to discover regional delicacies. She likes to take classic French food and make it accessible and add her own English twist.

The Little Paris Kitchen Book

French cooking with minimal, uncomplicated ingredient lists. Um, YES PLEASE.
Inspired by the BBC television show The Little Paris Kitchen, by Rachel Khoo, this is one of my new favorite cookbooks to consult for weekly dinners. It has a lot of really yummy recipes that are approachable and don't require a lot of weird ingredients you have to take special trips to the store for. I love all of the beautiful pictures and excerpts from the show. Like so:
There's also really adorable pictures with their French descriptions:

4/29/14

Lentil Shepherd's Pie


Today was quite a chilly, dreary day; the kind where it's not raining as much as spitting at you. Not something you'd expect for the end of April. So with finals on, I figured I could take the time to make something rich and filling to fight away the gray. This is about as close as I get to cooking. I got this recipe from one of my guilty TV pleasures, The Delicious Miss Dahl. It looked indulgent, fairly straight forward, and vegetarian to boot. Perfect!

Ingredients
The Base:
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
2 carrots
1 celery stalk
14 oz crushed or cubed plum tomatoes
pinch of paprika
1 bay leaf
sprig of rosemary
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup vegetable stock
splash of tabasco
splash of balsamic
14 oz lentils

The Champ:
3 potatoes
1/4 cup milk
2 spring onions
1 oz butter
pinch of paprika
1 oz cheddar cheese

To make the Base:
1. Heat the olive oil, onion, garlic clove, carrots, and celery that have been finely chopped in a large sauce pan. Allow to cook 7-10 minutes on medium-high heat, till soft but not browned.
2. Add the plum tomatoes, paprika, bay leaf, rosemary, red wine, tabasco, vegetable stock, and balsamic vinegar, and cook for 5 minutes.


3. Stir in lentils, and take the pan off the heat.



















To make the Champ:
4. Boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, till soft.
5. Fry chopped spring onions in butter till soft, add milk and heat for 1-2 minutes.
6. Mash the potatoes into the milk/onion mixture.
 I then put mine in a piping bag, so I could pipe it onto the pie. It didn't just look appealing, but the edging crisped well in the oven.


7. Place the base in a deep pan, then pipe or spoon the potato on top. Dot with cheddar cheese  hunks and dust with a little paprika.
8. In a 400 F oven, bake 25-30 minutes, till the cheese is melted and the champ has browned. Place the pie on a top rack or turn it to 425 F fan to speed up the crisping process.

Hearty, delicious, and one of the few recipes I have with barely any butter in sight. I call that a win. Enjoy!

4/28/14

Iced Easter Cookies

Easter was always one of my favorite holidays growing up. It was the trumpet horn that officially announced spring is here! Plus there were always lovely pastel tulips, chocolate bunnies, and the dyeing of the easter eggs to look forward to. This year was my first Easter away from home, so to keep spirits up I made these festive and delightfully buttery cookies. A super simple, one bowl recipe, they were fun to make and to decorate. I pulled the recipe from Mary Berry's "Iced Easter Biscuits," and adapted it a little to fit the imperial system. These cookies would be great for any occasion, or cut into pretty circles and devoured any old week.

Ingredients                                                                         Bake Time: 10-15 minutes
For the cookies:                                                                  Total Time: 45 mintues
8 oz softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs yolks
1 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2-4 tbsp milk

For the icing:
1-2 tsp lemon juice
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp water (may not need it all)
food coloring
Icing the night away.
To Make the Cookies:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Beat sugar and butter vigorously in a large bowl until light and creamy. 
3) Beat in the egg yolks, then sift the flour and cinnamon in till it forms a soft dough.
4) With your hands, gather the dough into a large ball and knead for a minute or two. You don't want to overwork the dough, but you do want to form some gluten so that the cookies will hold their fun shapes.
5) On a floured surface, roll out 1/2 the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out whatever shapes you like and place on a cookie sheet. Continue with the other half of the dough, until all used up.
6) Sprinkle with a little extra sugar and bake 10-15 minutes. Remove from rack and let cool, while you make the:

Icing:
7) Whisk confectioner's sugar and strained lemon juice (no seeds or pulp!), then add just enough water to form a smooth paste. SLOWLY NOW! You need a very small amount of water, it's way better to add a little water than to keep adding cups and cups of sugar to thicken it.
8) Separate the icing into separate bowls and color to your heart's desire. The icing color will lighten as it dries, so don't worry if it looks super bright immediately (or pump up the color if that's what you're going for).
9) Once the cookies are cool, either pipe the icing or spread with a palate or butter knife onto the cookies. The icing will set quickly, and cookies can be easily stored in a tupperware container or ziplock bags.

 Enjoy!


4/27/14

My Life in France

This is one of the most delightful and engaging autobiographies I've ever read and one of my favorite books, about one of the forerunners of American cuisine. Julia Child was the woman who brought French cooking to America, and this book is a collection of fascinating stories from her years in France. It beautifully describes her experiences in a post-war France, from the life and culture of Paris, to Le Cordon Bleu, to, of course, the wonderful cuisine (reading it can make you hungry). Definitely, definitely check it out. Bon Appetite!

4/25/14

Prune, Goat Cheese, and Pistachio Cake

Bonjour! Feeling very French lately with the spring weather rolling in. There is just something about spring that makes me want to eat all my meals outside, picnic style. So, I've been looking for some delicious French picnic foods to celebrate the season. This is actually a savory cake from Rachel Koo's My Little Paris Kitchen, but don't let that weird you out. It's a delicious quick bread that has a beautiful cheesy aroma, with pops of nuttiness and sweetness throughout. The pistachios and prunes also give it an amazing color. If you're not a fan of goat cheese, any soft, aromatic cheese will do the trick.




Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 oz soft goats cheese
3/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
2/3 cup prunes, also roughly chopped
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
pepper

Bake time: 30-40 min
Total Time: 1 hour

Instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cake tin with parchment paper (I used 2 1/2 by 4, but you can use twice that size).
2) In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, goat cheese, prunes, and pistachios.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs till thick and pale. You can use a stand or hand mixer, then slowly add in the milk, yogurt, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
4) Gradually fold in the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Fold lightly, cause over beating can make a tough cake.
5) Pour batter into pan and bake 30-40 minutes, till golden. You want the batter to come up to as close to the pan as you, it'll puff up a lot so give it lots of space in the oven.




Yum, so good! Now finally a good excuse to have cake for dinner. Thick slices of these are great with sauteed veggies or a light salad. I ate mine through the week for lunch or as a quick snack. Au revoir!

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