Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook

Spatzle (not mushy peas)
By all accounts I've been pronouncing "spatzle" wrong. Rather than honing in with a guttural "Spats-SALL" like Debbie from Basildon, it should be said in a Sean Connery-esque manner with a  Germanic shush-shush-shush sound, ending in delicate and lilting "-leh". A bit like this in other words. I was told this by none other than Rachel Khoo, Paris based pixie and Queen of the plug-in double electric hob. Which is fine and dandy, I don't mind standing corrected but it can be a tough call when you return home and get accused of being fish paste.

"So, what did you make with Rachel then?"

"Oh, we made some sshhhpppatshzhllleh."

"You what?"


"Are you drunk?"


"What else did you do?"

"Ah, we also made some sccccchhhhmorgastartartatartaatta.....tatata..."

"You are drunk aren't you, you've been getting drunk with some pretty girl off the telly haven't you."

OK, I might have been a little bit tipsy. And Ms Khoo is attractive yes (although hats off to Rachel for her recent opinion on the cult of 'sexy' regarding food telly). But having attended a cook-a-long on Thursday night, to promote her new show 'Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook' on the Good Food Channel, it was refreshing to pick up some new tips, tricks and some um...proper pronunciation. It was also refreshing to discover that Rachel doesn't always get things right herself. Her demonstration was peppered with a couple of gaffs and ohbuggerIforgot's yet her warm, honest charisma carried her through and you could tell that she had a fierce love of food, tied by a strong heartfelt family connection.

The dishes that we made were of course using recipes from the forthcoming series and both worked well. To start Rachel showed us how to elevate the workhorse onion by making it the star of the aforementioned spatzle. I think I cooked my little sparrows a bit too much though. Instead of presenting a plate of herby, fluffy dumplings of joy, my attempt looked like a bowl of mushy peas. Delicious mushy peas mind.

And it was great to encounter smörgåstårta for the first time. Originating from Sweden and described as a 'sandwich-cake', a slightly bizarre idea in itself, this dish was a very pleasant surprise when it came to eating. I do love a sandwich but I wasn't sure where this concoction of layered bread, whipped cream, horseradish. lightly cured salmon, beetroot and cucumber balls was going to take us.

However, it tasted very good and was very light and very fresh. Not an entirely useful description I know. It was a cake that wasn't quite a cake, in a sort of cakey, bready kind of way. With crisp balls. Is that better? Well when we all sat at the table together afterwards, I could have eaten my effort in one fell swoop but mindful of still loaded plates, curiously pushed to the side, I left some of mine too. If I had guts'd it all down, everyone would have known there was a token man in the room.

The whole shebang was filmed throughout and during the meal, we were invited to ask Rachel some hard hitting questions, so do have a goosy-gander at the video below. I am sure you will agree that my line of interrogation has me singled out as a future Michael Parkinson. Or possibly another chatty man.

Not wanting to take anything away from Rachel, the one thing that particularly thrilled me when visiting Cactus Kitchens was discovering that this Tardis-like venue houses the set of Saturday Kitchen. You know, that telly show that goes on at the weekend with James "I'm from Yorkshire" Martin presenting, with mostly male chefs and bewildered guests plugging their book/album/new range of y-fronts. It was a hell of lot smaller than I expected it to be and I did wonder how they fitted all those poor home economists in. You know, the ones that do all the real work. On my way out, I took a moment to pause, look around and wonder in awe and then hastily scribbled a tender love note for James and stuck it under the counter with some chewing gum. I hope he found it yesterday

Anyway, back to the magnificent Rachel Khoo and her new show, which airs tomorrow on Monday on the Good Food Channel at 9PM. I shall be keeping my eyes peeled as she takes in some of her go-to foodie spots in London and explores some of her favourite European cities and towns. Although if Rachel hits Dalston and if I spot one beard, I may very well throw a brick at the screen. I had enough of those blokes on the recent Big Allotment Challenge.

Bloody beards on my telly.....*tuts*

Rachel Khoo shows the Food Urchin how to count using fingers
Apparently my 'prep' was very organised and very 'Swedish' according to Rachel  *punches air and shouts "BORK BORK BORK"*
Rachel explaining the brining ingredients for the cure. Salt, sugar and um some peppercorns......I think.
My smörgåstårta (Rene Redzepi would be proud)
Plonker holding his smörgåstårta
A plethora of smörgåstårta's for Rachel to choose from.


Alicia Foodycat said…
We pronounce it schpatzleh in Schweizerdeutsch. They are bloody tricky to make - my aunt gave me a masterclass last summer but I haven't got around to doing it by myself yet.
Anonymous said…
I can confirm that Rachel's (generic German) pronunciation is correct. :)

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