Rachel Khoo first won me over when I watched her make her Quiche Lorraine in her (tiny) little Paris kitchen, that spawned a cookbook (and a BBC television series) of the same name. The London transplant would put her own spin on the lessons she learned at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in a space where one practically spin around without lifting a foot and produce something mouth-watering. She also seems like she’s having fun, which made her fun to watch.
(Complete tangent: I can very easily get caught up watching shows like this. Are any of you from the Desperately Seeking Susan-era of Madonna’s career? I know it was supposed to be the scene of domesticity in boring contrast to Madonna’s wild life, but the scene where Rosanna Arquette is trying to bake along with someone on television really stuck with me and always made the practice seem like a romantic notion. This was pre-Cooking Channel, and clearly this isn’t a unique perspective, but I’ve also wanted to actually follow a TV recipe in real time.)
Back to the point: Rachel Khoo just came out with a new cookbook, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Over 100 Delicious Recipes from My Personal Cookbook, and it’s lovely! It takes her out of the french kitchen, and has lots of illustrative photos and drawings. Obviously I haven’t tried everything yet, but what we have tried has been delicious and uncomplicated. I made her Pistachio Pomegranate Cake for our New Year’s Eve party and would definitely make it again. The recipe follows if you’d like to try it, too!
And, better yet, Chronicle Books has agreed to let me give away three copies of three of Rachel’s books—the new book as well as her other titles, Little Paris Kitchen and Little French Kitchen—to three readers. Just leave a comment about your favorite cookbook to enter!
Pistachio and Pomegranate Cake (Recipe by Rachel Khoo, adapted)
For 8-10 servings
1 c. shelled pistachios
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. sunflower (or vegetable) oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. natural (plain) yogurt
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 c. powdered sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp. natural (plain) yogurt
Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter and flour and 8-in cake pan (A springform is recommended, but I found a traditional cake pan to work fine.)
Grind the pistachios to a fine powder using a food processor.
Combine the granulated sugar and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until sugar has dissolved (2 minutes).
Gradually add eggs and vanilla and fold in the yogurt. Gently fold in the baking powder, flour, salt, and ground pistachios. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.
(Note: before inverting, I leveled the cake in the pan.)
While the cake is baking, make your icing: mix sifted confectioner’s sugar with yogurt. And gather your pomegranate seeds. (Here’s my preferred method.)
When cake has cooled, pour icing on top, gently guiding it down the sides.
Rachel opts to color the top icing with pomegranate juice and press the pomegranate seeds into the side of the cake (see photo of book page, above). If you’d like to do the same, you might refrigerate the cake for 10 minutes to make pressing them into the icing easier.)
I opted to top the cake more loosely, but pressing them into the side would ensure there be ample pomegranate seeds with each slice.
We thought the pistachio cake was wonderfully dense and nutty, and could serve as a base for other flavors. If you have a sweet tooth, I’d suggest drizzling some extra icing on each plate (perhaps with some extra pomegranate seeds) to serve. It’s beautiful to boot!
Now, to win…
GIVEAWAY: Three entrants will each win a set of all three of Rachel’s books: Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook, The Little Paris Kitchen, and The Little French Kitchen. To enter, leave a comment below telling me your favorite cookbook before 11:59pm PST, Friday, January 22. I’m sorry: this giveaway is open to US residents only. Good luck!