Celebrity chef cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best celebrity recipe books to give you culinary inspiration

The Little Paris Kitchen

Rachel Khoo, Penguin Michael Joseph, £20

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Rachel Khoo’s decision to move from Croydon to Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in Paris has proved fruitful. Since completing the three-month pâtisserie course she has worked in a cookery book shop, taught baking workshops, and run an underground restaurant in her house. She is now the star of a current Monday night BBC2 series, plus this accompanying tie-in book.

The latest task Khoo seems to have set herself is to dispel the reputation of French cooking as over-fussy, over-stuffy and over-buttery. The tactics comprise the following: for an impression of ease, restrict recipes to a single page. For an air of sophistication, give them bilingual titles. For a sense of allure, get David Loftus to shoot the sumptuous photographs of idyllic Parisian life.

There is an entire genre of cookery books about classic French cooking, but Khoo’s achievement is to create recipes that add twists into the traditional. A number of predictable but not unwelcome dishes appear: boeuf bourguignon, quenelles lyonnaises, crème brûlée, plus a guide to drawing up a cheese board. The two-stage baking method for madeleines turned out very well when I tried it, and betrays her Cordon Bleu background.

Among the twists, the addition of orange zest to the onion topping of a pissaladière went down very well with my taste testers, even if it might raise a few eyebrows. Other intruiging touches include a Vietnamese-inspired pistou, raw rhubarb in a relish for mackerel tartare, beef stew fajitas, and canard à l’Orangina.

The hazy shots of Parisian shop frontages, balconies and Khoo herself may be offputting for some, and the repertoire of the book is unlikely to tempt those already well-acquainted with French cuisine. But with the oomph of a primetime TV series and a handsome cookery book behind her, Rachel Khoo is likely to gain more than a few followers.

Annie Lund, Time Out London Issue 2171: March 29 - April 4 2011

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