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Literary Friday: The Little Paris Kitchen

Friday, June 14, 2013

This week I've been reading and cooking recipes form The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes by Rachel Khoo.  I thought this book might be a little more like My Berlin Kitchen and Apron Anxiety, but it's less of a memoir and more of a recipe book than the two others.

Rachel Khoo was living in London working as a fashion publicist when she decided to move to Paris and earn a degree from the prestigious Cordon Bleu.  In her book, Rachel aims to make French cuisine more accessible to us, and the recipes are simple enough to cook even during a busy work week.  The first three chapters are my favorites:  Everyday Cooking,  Snack Time, and Summer Picnics.  Khoo also includes a very helpful section entitled French Basics where she shares basic recipes, techniques, and pantry items every French Chef Wannabe needs to know.  The photography is fantastic in the book, and I especially liked seeing photos of her tiny little kitchen with only two burners and a small oven.  I think that's part of the point of this book: you don't need the latest (and largest) gadget to cook basic delicious French food.

Rachel's tiny French apartment was only large enough to book two diners for lunch daily.  People from all over the world wanted to eat simple French home cooking while in Paris, and her little apartment "dining room" was a hit with everyone, even Parisians.  I would love for Rachel Khoo to feed me one day!  Sadly, I read on her blog that The Little Paris Kitchen restaurant is no longer open.  I appreciate her love of cooking and her simple approach to French food.  I highly recommend this cookbook, and it is probably the best one I've read (and tested!) in a few years.

I love how Rachel seems to really like red lipstick.  She's adorable!

Rachel has her own BBC-TV show, but I haven't seen it yet.  I'll see if I can find a few episodes on Apple-TV.

I've tried several recipes from the book, and one of the most fun recipes was for Coq au Vin cooked with skewers on the grill.  How much fun is that!?!? Today I want to share Rachel's recipe for pain perdu avec compote de cerises et basilic from the Snack Time chapter.  It was a huge hit for breakfast, although one daughter wanted me to make the recipe without the basil.  I preferred the basil as I thought it complemented the cherries perfectly!  Pain perdu means lost bread.

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Pain Perdu Avec Compote de Cerises et Basilic
(French Toast with Cherry and Basil Compote)

For the compote:
1 pound frozen pitted cherries (I used fresh since they're in season)
1 bunch basil
1 1/4 c confectioner's sugar

To make the compote:
Place all ingredients into a small heavy saucepan and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Stir often to help the sugar dissolve.

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For the toast:
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 T sugar
4 slices of brioche bread (I used Pepperidge Farm's blueberry swirl bread because that's what I already had in the kitchen.)
1 T butter

While the compote is simmering, whisk the egg, milk, and sugar together in a bowl.  Place the mixture in a shallow bowl that will fit the bread pieces.  Soak the bread for one minute on each side in the egg mixture.  Heat the butter in a large frying pan on medium heat.  Add the bread and cook for  2 - 3 minutes per side or until golden.

Remove the basil from the compote.  Serve the pain perdu straight from the pan, with the warm compote spooned over and around it.

Leftover compote can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and can be reheated when you want it.

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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. That was an AWESOME review. Do you think we could convince her to reopen?

  2. That looks deeeeelicious! Thanks so much- I love basil with fruit (or lime...or anything) PLUS it's an aphrodisiac...but I will definitely check out her BBC show and book, thanks!
    She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn, with the bangs and red lips. Yay!

  3. To me cooking at home is like sewing your own clothes.
    It used to be cheap and easy. Now it is so expensive to go out and cook for one person. I am trying to be better about cooking at home but it is so darn expensive and I can't use all the ingredients before they spoil.
    I will always say, If I win the lotto one day I can't wait to hire a personal live in chef.

  4. Oh know even though I've read a bunch of your food book reviews I've never thought of reviewing any of my cookbooks. I am heading to the book store this afternoon so I might just have to pick this one up.

    This week I read Me Before You.

    Have a great weekend.

  5. This looks delicious! I have seen her show once where she even has people come up to eat her at her place. It is very tiny. It sounds like a good book.

  6. I love that idea of a restaurant. So small and intimate. That recipe looks wonderful. Are all the recipes that simple? I may have to grab a copy, I love French food, but hate difficult recipes. :o/

  7. I was at Anthro this week with the daughter....I was so close to buying this and the other one that you reviewed the Vintage Tea Party.... I was good tho... :(

    Maybe I will put them on my wish list from amazon.


  8. What fun! Another cookbook to tempt me, I'm going to have to resort to a cookbook night stand since there is no more shelf or cabinet space :)


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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