So, it won't come as a surprise to many, that I have a little bit of a girl crush on the lovely Ms Rachel Khoo. (Which definitely wasn't helped by a recent Twitter interaction). Now, allow me a minute or two to wax lyrical about why I think she is so fab, and to express my excitement about the release of her new book, this coming Autumn.
For myself, and probably many others, I think the initial fascination stemmed from the picture perfect postcard shots she creates of Paris, tottering down cobbled streets in a pair of Swedish Hasbeens and a vintage dress, with a basket slung on her arm with a baguette and a bunch of sun flowers poking out the top.
Next, it's that tiny little kitchen, in all of is crooked and precariously balanced glory. Not to mention the fact that she can create some of the most sumptuous French recipes on a two-burner camping stove and the tiniest oven I've ever seen in my life. This reminds me of fonder memories from my Uni days, when cooking became a way of unwinding in the evenings. A moment of hankering respite from final year deadlines.
I was restricted to two small cupboards in my student kitchen, one of which housed varying sizes of crockery (only ever one of each piece), as well as several sized roasting pans, frying pans and baking tins all so precariously stashed within that lower shelf of the cupboard, that with one false move the whole lot could come tumbling out. And that was just the preparation equipment.
In the cupboard which housed my ingredients, you would find bottles of garlic and truffle oil, mismatched jars of dried herbs and the odd tin of Cassoulet for emergency hearty dinners when heating up the contents of a can was the only culinary venture I could stretch to. I was never one for buying things in bulk, so often you would find the dregs of a bag of pasta, or a handful of roasted almonds waiting patiently for the day when they would finally have a purpose in one of my dishes.
And so, this is where another fondness for Ms Khoo comes from. Like she, I also studied Fashion at University. It was a long and stressful 3 years, and by the time I graduated I was so sick of looking at pattern pieces and burning the ends of my fingers on industrial irons, that it was a good 6 months after I returned home that I even un-packed my sewing machine. I guess she learned to stick it out a little longer than I did, having worked in the industry for several years before moving to Paris. But, I like to think that her enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu and moving to Paris, was a way of sticking two fingers up at the Fashion Industry and saying “Sod it! I'm gonna do something that makes me happy!”
I also did this, albeit in a slightly more meagre way, deciding to move back to Wales and set up home with my, then boyfriend (now fiance) and began a job in retail (this being seen as the ultimate short straw amongst fashion industry types).
I like to think I'm not quite there yet though. My dream is to have written my own cookery book by the time I'm 30. (Just over 5 years to go). And like Ms Khoo, I hope to start with a first book BANG!, and continue the winning streak, going on to capture the heart of others with my recipes. Her unique take on classic French recipes has taught me to be more daring in my ingredient choices, and given me the courage to perfect those essential skills worthy of the patisserie masters. (Chouquette, anyone?!)
Like many others, I'm sure, I am highly anticipating the release of her new book 'My Little French Kitchen'. I can't wait to see how she's branched out, exploring the various regions of France and bringing them to my own kitchen table. I'm particularly looking forward to impressing my family and friends, with recipes that will make them think I've been slaving in the kitchen all afternoon, when it actually took less than an hour to rustle up.
Thanks Rachel. You truly are a life saver!