Life has been fantastically busy for me in recent weeks. I’m only comforted by the fact that this seems to be commonplace in my social circles at the moment. My diary has been filled up with scribbled times and places and the coming months look even worse. I have resolved to find time to chill out and do very little but I’ve found this rather difficult given my cumbersome schedule to date. I had a moment to reflect on this while I sat on the Tube, zipping from one engagement to another and realised that I’m not actually very good at stopping. I find it difficult to close the door on life and focus on relaxing; it seems like my ‘to do’ list has grown limbs and is incessantly tapping at the door, tapping its foot impatiently.
Anyway, I did find time to sit still for thirty glorious minutes and decided that it would be a good time to watch something. In the mood for some light relief and some culinary inspiration, I watched The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo on BBC iPlayer.
As you know, I’m not the biggest fan of food programmes (am I, Sophie Dahl?) but this was… okay. Better than most, I would say, mainly because she’s cooking in unchartered territory – a real kitchen. A refreshing contrast to the airy loft conversions and country farm kitchens (complete with wood-fired oven) that are the backdrops to most ‘sleb cookery programmes. I’m pretty tired of aspirational kitchens on TV; gimme real any day. Kitchen aside, Khoo is a curvy thirty-something with Hepburn-eque cheekbones who hails from Britain and has since made a name for herself in Paris. She’s likeable and has less of the smug sheen that I’ve come to associate with TV chefs. As a Brit in France, her mission is to simplify French cookery for the masses.
Despite laying it on thick about her tiny kitchen, I feel like the producers could have made more out of the whole cooking in a confined environment concept. It may be no bigger than your average bathroom but Khoo somehow manages to squirrel a vast selection of tins, baking trays, food processors et al away somewhere. I’d love to try her madeleine recipe but I simply don’t have the space for another tin in my shoebox kitchen. Maybe they should have given us an insight into Khoo’s magic powers of storage?
The recipes are a little hit and miss but on the whole, I like them. She’s a trained pastry chef á La Cordon Bleu so needless to say her sweets look glorious. The chocolate mousse looks to die for though not all of the recipes are available on the BBC website; doubtless because they want to flog you the accompanying book to the series. During the episode that I watched, Rachel made a sumptuous looking stock (Fantastic, I thought. Real stock!) for her Bouillon de Cassolet. I found myself bristling -waste martyr that I am - as the cute and bubbly Rachel merrily discarded a huge hunk of back bacon and a handful of sundried tomatoes as they were apparently only for flavour. So they’re good for flavour but not for eating? Surely not.
Anyway, little gripes aside, I quite liked The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo. If nothing else, the transitional clips of beautiful Paris kept me happy.Worth a watch if you like that kind of thing.
If you're curious, check out The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo on BBC iPlayer here or watch it as a chaser to Saturday Kitchen at 11:30am on a Saturday morning.