Friday, 12 December 2014

4: Rachel Khoo–My Little French Kitchen–Cooking the Books


Starter:      Croquettes

Main:         Poulet Roti au Vin Rouge

Dessert:     Bisous Chaumontais

Since Rachel Khoo appeared on our TV in her Little Paris Kitchen, I’ve been hooked: Not only to the recipes, which always look so glamorous, but the whole styling of the programme. Some say that many food programmes these day are over-produced, but, I have to admit, I’m a fan of all the quirky, arty little graphics and gorgeous ‘set’ kitchens. In My little French Kitchen, Rachel works her way round various regions in France, putting her own spin on some familiar, and some less familiar recipes. Some of these are a bit fiddly, but all are typically French.

I left my homework really late this week, only completing two of the tasks on Thursday night and Friday evening. So, after work on Thursday, then picking up F, playing, bathing, bedtiming her, I eventually got round to cooking our dinner, plus the croquettes recipe. I was all out to do the Bisous then as well but since the OH didn’t get back from work until after nine, and I needed to keep the veg. warm for dinner and finish the croquettes in a high oven, and the fact the meringues needed two hours oven use at a low temperature, it just didn’t happen! So they were begun early Friday morning and completed early evening. Just about made my Friday deadline this week. Hopefully, next week’s will be a bit more manageable.

Starter: Croquettes

Easiness: 7/10 higher still if you use leftovers

Taste: 6/10

Make again: 6/10

Cheats & Changes: none, although I combined many of the ingredients when she suggested I use just one.

Now, these aren’t the BirdsEye ones you’re used to, or indeed the ones served with fish fingers for school dinners. They’re a much more presentable little snack which would be perfect if rolled into small spheres and served as a Christmas canapé.

Mash all your leftover veg together any will really do though I used potatoes, carrots, parsnips and some grated cheese. Form into little cylinders, roll each one into flour, then egg white, then bread crumbs. Bake in a hot oven drizzled with oil for around 15 minutes, through cooking a little longer won’t hurt.


These really could do with some seasoning – lots of pepper and salt in with the veg and also, season the breadcrumb mixture. Serve with a sweet chilli jam to dip if serving as aperos, or use instead of potatoes with a roast. They were ok, nothing special, but a change from the usual. Too phaffy for everyday though – just the thought of getting the flour, egg and breadcrumb saucers ready and taking up all that surface space is enough to put me off!

Main: Poulet Roti au Vin Rouge

Easiness: 6/10

Taste: 6/10

Make again: 5/10

Cheats & Changes: None


This Poulet Roti is very similar to a Jamie sticky chicken thighs recipe, and I would say not as quick and easy, or, in fact, tasty. Use a whole chicken and cut into pieces yourself for the cheapest option…

Marinate in a plastic bag with red wine, tomato paste, herbs and red wine vinegar. Leave overnight if you can.


Season too. Put your veg (potatoes, onion, carrots,) in a baking dish, pour over some water, pop the chicken pieces on top, over and roast for 30 mins. Roast uncovered for another 15 minutes.



Dessert: Bisous Chaumontais

Easiness: 4/10

Taste: 7/10

Make again: 5/10, but I would for a special present.

Cheats & Changes: 0


This recipe combines two things I’ve never mastered in the kitchen. The first is meringue…I think I’ve only ever managed to get my egg whites to the ‘stiff peak’ stage once. Maybe I add the sugar too quickly before getting enough air into them? I don’t know but somehow, they’re never quite right. The other thing for which I have no patience is sugar work, of any kind. I just about manage to add it to jams, jellies and chutneys but that’s about it. I always end up crystallising it and this time was no exception. Although it doesn’t impede the flavour, the texture is never quite right.

First make the praline. Toast 50g hazelnuts in a dry pan then remove. Add 75g and 2 tbs water, but make sure the pan has cooled first and is on a gentle heat otherwise you’ll crystallise the sugar as I did. Wait for the sugar to melt – do not stir, then turn up the heat and bubble until a dark caramel colour. Remove from the heat, quickly stir in the hazelnuts and pour onto a baking sheet in one layer. Allow to cool, then blitz in a food processor to make crumbs.

Turn the oven to low, 80 degrees C. Whisk two eggs whites until fluffy. Add a few drops of lemon juice and continue to whisk. As you whisk, gradually pour in 100g sugar and stop when the sugar is combined and egg whites form stiff peaks – never, in my case, but there you go! Pipe or spoon little blobs onto a baking sheet, sprinkle a little of the praline mixture over the top and bake for 1.5 hrs. Then turn oven off and leave them in the oven for a further half an hour with the door open. Remove to cool completely.


Whip 100g butter until pale and fluffy then mix with the praline, retaining 2 heaped tablespoons of praline). Sandwich the meringue kisses together with the praline butter mix, then roll in the remaining praline and serve.


These were delicious, but even I could only manage one little ‘kiss’ as they are super-super sweet. In the end, the meringue turned out ok, if a little sticky in the middle, but I quite like them like that anyway.

So, all in all, I think I’ll keep this one as a food porn bedtime book rather than cook from it as the pictures are beautiful. 

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Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Merlotti x

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