Category Archives: French

Ratatouille Tian

They are so many food blogs I love on the intertubes but one of my favorites is from Clotilde Dusoulier (I also love her name) of Chocolate & Zucchini. From the recipes to the photography and her writing, I am so inspired by what she does and now she has a cookbook! I can’t wait for it to arrive at our house and I didn’t have to wait to try one of her recipes since Daily Candy had a sneak peek of a few of them, including her delectable Ratatouille Tian.

This dish, made famous by the Pixar movie Ratatouille, has been one of my favorites for a long time. I love the blend of zucchini, tomatoes, onions and eggplant. Yes, even eggplant, the one veggie that I really don’t dig, but in ratatouille, I can do it (so can David since he hates eggplant too). Also, I didn’t know that Tian translated into any kind of casserole-style baked dish, thank you Yumsugar.

I will say this dish took a long time. From cutting the vegetables on the mandolin to roasting for a good hour and a half. Speaking of, have you ever cut yourself on a mandolin? YOWZA. I did one time and from then have worn safety gloves after one small cut. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain and the cut was deep. Sorry, I went on a mandolin rampage but it seriously hurt so bad. This is my PSA for you to be careful with those things, OK?

So, after cutting all the veggies, and layering and roasting and more roasting, I thought my love for this dish might be slowly dwindling, but we took one bite and it really was like the scene from Ratatouille when Anton Ego takes one bite and is shot back to his childhood memory of him having a rough day and his mama making this dish for him. Happiness wells up inside him and tears begin to flow. Well, I’m from East Texas and definitely don’t have that memory, but I was shocked at how delicious it was and happiness did well up! It was perfectly balanced, cooked to perfection and so deliciously satisfying, just as this dish should be.

Tasting the ratatouille
Anton Ego taking the first bite of ratatouille from Pixar’s film, Ratatouille

This can be a bit of work but it definitely is worth the prep and time. Lovely, lovely, lovely, Coltide. I can’t wait to try more of your delicious work.

Food & Wine Week!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved recipes from Food & Wine magazine but I’ve noticed as of late that they have really inspired me to want to cook. Like these whimsical Garlic Bread “Fries” with Marinara “Ketchup” or the three bomb diggity dishes I made the past two days.

Lila just started daycare and while she’s fine, I’m the one losing it with worry and well, missing the heck out of her. So, while I was waiting for her and David to get home, I did what I know will help calm me down and keep my mind off of things…COOK! What better way than to honor the Chef who found sheer joy in cooking than the one and only Julia Childs. I tried this Julia’s Favorite Roast Chicken recipe from Food & Wine and to start, it was divine! Roasted chicken always sounds so simple but to nail it, it takes great timing, and a few simple ingredients to really make it shine and shine this one did. I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot to this but I didn’t mind the effort given the return when it was done. We both raved about this and I followed the instructions to a “T” to ensure I honored Miss Julia. As recommended, I paired it with the Bread Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts.  This was bonkers good and perfect with the roasted chicken. I would recommend a smidge more dressing than it calls for since I felt it needed it at then end to dress it up and add a little more flavor. Otherwise, perfect.

For tonight’s State of the Union speech we made this Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini and Green-Olive Tapenade from another icon of women chefs, Nancy Silverton. Simple should be this recipes middle name and out-of-this-world delicious would be its last. YUM. We snarfed this down in no time, and while I was hoping for leftovers the next day for lunch that was just not the case. The only thing I added was toasted bread to add a bit more crunch and texture to the salad.

I’ve got to say that roast chicken recipe was probably my favorite. It’s lengthy and a bit more of a food workout than normal but worth it! As Julia would say, Bon Appetit!

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini and Green-Olive Tapenade

© John Kernick

French Onion Soup – Grandpa Jacques Style

I’ll paint a little picture of a young Emily for a moment. I grew up loving PBS (I’ve always been a public television and radio junkie) and Julia Childs and Jacques Pepin were two of my favorites. I would sit in front of the TV with my head perched in my hands and a smile plastered on my face as I watched these chefs stir up their magic. Between this and my Mom teaching my all the southern ways of cooking, I didn’t stand a chance to not be in the kitchen did I? With Jacques Pepin I always felt like I was learning to cook from an awesome French grandfather and as I got older and started cooking in the kitchen, I realized just how much I loved his recipes too. Fast forward to now, where I’m cooking each night for my wonderful husband in our own cozy little house…ah, life huh? After a few weeks of random dental surgery, we needed soups, stews or anything soft and palatable for a week. I found Jacque’s French Onion Soup and knew this would be a winner for tender mouths and hungry stomachs.

Cooking Light suggests you can use store-bought broth but I followed their recommendation and made my own. Patting myself on the back for that one. Sure, it’s more work and more groceries but you cannot beat this version with any store-bought brand. I felt so Chef-y as I was ladling my from-scratch made soup into the bowls to boil the cheese and bread. It doesn’t take much lambs, obviously.  I’ve made plenty of French Onion Soups in my lifetime and never have I ever gone “MMMMMMMMMMM!!!! OMG!” and pointed at my soup bowl like a 4-year old who’s learned to tie her shoes. That should tell you enough to make this if you are craving some seriously good French Onion Soup.

Tonight we are making David Chang’s Pork Butt (Bo Ssam) with Ginger Scallion Noodles. If you haven’t read the post here you go, and if you haven’t made this dish, please let my husband requesting it once a week inspire you to do so now:

Elizabeth Street Cafe

On Saturday, we had a few hours to kill before a friend’s birthday party and finally had the chance to nom, nom, nom some killer Bahn Mi at Austin’s new French Vietnemese restaurant Elizabeth Street Cafe. Founded by Chef Larry McGuire who is slowly taking over Austin’s food scene one restaurant at a time (seriously, the guy has Lambert’s; Perla’s; Jeffrey’s and a new restaurant concept, Fresas opening next year). You can definitely tell this has Larry and Liz Lambert’s, what is now, signature touches to it. The curved seating, clean, bright colors, and a blend of Austin funkiness – mismatched wood chairs, eclectic artwork –  to round it out.

Now let’s get to the food. The French influence on Vietnemese food is evident in one item: the Bahn Mi. A French baguette stuffed with the flavors of Vietnam – cucumber, cilantro, carrots, jalapeño,  daikon, fish sauce and yummy pork or pate. We started with the Niman Ranch Pork Belly Steamed Buns with cucumber, scallion and hoisin sauce. Ohh, delightfully good. The buns were steamed to that just perfect pillow-soft texture and with the delicious juicy, soft pork belly it was an A+ bite of food. Exellent way to start the meal Chef McGuire.


We saw a lot of things we wanted to try on the menu but we knew our first visit to the restaurant would have to be all about the Bahn Mi. David ordered the House Specialty of Chicken Liver Mousse, Pork Pâté, Roasted Pork and I got the marinated pork. I’ve made my own Bahn Mi at home and had some at eateries here and there, but this by far was my favorite. The baguette was crispy outside (without crumbs falling all over the place), chewy on the inside with some super fresh and crunchy daikon, cucumber, carrot, jalapeño and topped with cilantro, sambal and mayonnaise with the perfectly marinated pork. In fact, they were so good, we ordered a third one to split! The housemade spicy pork meatball to be exact and yes, we snorted it. Total fat kids I know, but completely worth it.

To finish out our meal I had to get what’s being deemed as the new cupcake (honestly, I really don’t think anything is going to be the new cupcake), the canelle.  Given the fantastic house made bread (seriously, amazing stuff) I was super excited about the canelle and it had a nice moist interior with a crunchy caramel crust – it was a perfect sweet bite to end our meal. I’m happy that (a) I work down the street from this place (b) that our home is right not too far either since it’s a perfect grab-and-go restaurant for a quick Vietnamese coffee and pastry or a nice little spot to sit down and eat 85 Bahn Mi. :)



Niman Ranch Pork Belly Steamed Buns
Marinated Pork Bahn MI
Marinated Pork Bahn Mi





Sautéed Chicken and Radishes with Mustard and Tarragon

To the Bon Appetit test kitchen or actually, the new team in charge, please give a big, fat raise to your staff because the peeps in charge of the At The Market section have nailed it yet again. Y’all are batting a thousand in our household let me tell you.

This dish is super French inspired and contains delicious butter, so naturally I was doing my best Julia Child (in my head) while making this dish. Let me backtrack by saying we had what was an incredibly great but busy day for the little pie company that could, and I was super wiped out when I got home. It was bad y’all, I suggested ordering a pizza…Somehow, I think with a little vino encouragement, I got up and carried on *fist shake*!  “Carried on” may not be the correct term (I’m so dramatic :)), as this took no time to make. I didn’t have white wine (that’s odd for this house) so I deglazed with a bit of lemon juice and sherry vinegar. I LOVED this. That sauce. Gosh, that sauce. With the bitter tarragon, mustard, butter and broth it just sung on top of the sauteed chicken and radishes that had turned a little sweet from being sauteed as well.

I served this with a side of Carrots with Caramelized Ginger. This is a super simple side that worked beautifully with the chicken dish! I think I might make this my go-to side dish if I’m stumped and need something quick. Delicious!

Pull out the apron, have a glass of French wine, wield your stick of butter and channel your best Julia Child – you are going to love this for sure.


Carrots with Caramelized Ginger (Photo by Nigel Cox)

That is one hot salad….

Here’s my pretend conversation with Gwyneth Paltrow about her dish, Hot Niçoise Salad.

Emily: So, let me get this straight. You are smart, funny, a great actress, gorgeous, married to Chris Martin from Coldplay, have two beautiful kids, an Oscar, a blogtravelled Spain with Mario Batali and Mark Bittman and now the most amazing thing you’ve accomplished (I kid, I kid) was the creation of this Hot Niçoise Salad. You’re an alien aren’t you?

Gwyneth: You’ll have to speak to my publicist.

Emily: Well, regardless this was absolutely incredible, something I’m going to add to my weekly diet, full of delicious flavors, simple to make, David and I might have snorted it in five seconds and it turned out to be a staff favorite at Food & Wine. I mean really, only an alien could create this amongst EVERYTHING ELSE you do. Hugs, sparkles and unicorn horns. XOXO.

Hot Niçoise Salad
P.S. I loved you in Sliding Doors.

I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

Last night we had a BIG Oscar party in our house and I was a little nervous since it was the first big shindig in our casa, well that and I chose to make a flotilla of food. I simply adore our gentle friends and one thing I know about our group is we love to eat. With that in mind I was going to make darn sure everyone had enough to nibble on during the three hour show. 

The Obligatory Picture of Colin Firth

Epicurious assembled menu plans based on the Best Picture nominees and the one that stood out to us was the Inception option. It’s very French inspired since part of the movie takes place in Paris – the scene with the city folding on top of itself is still incredible every time I see it.  Although I liked the recipes they suggested, I decided to stick wtih French fare but do it my way. And the award goes to…. 

 To get real nerdy about it I made an “Execution Plan” to ensure everything was done by 6:00 p.m. so we could watch arrivals and snarkily judge away. 

  • 2:00 p.m. Prep and mis en place
  • 3:00 p.m. Make compote for Brie, while compote cooks, make pots de creme, refrigerate
  • 3:30 p.m. Make soup
  • 4:00 p.m.  Make green beans, assemble and bake Brie rounds
  • 5:00 p.m. Make sandwiches
  • 5:40 p.m. Fire steaks, let rest and slice, make fries
  • 6:00 p.m. Guests arrive

Everything pretty much went according to plan and let me tell you, the soup, green beans, sandwiches and brie rounds with that stellar compote were delicious. For the steak frites I kept it very simple. David (the super poodle) ran to the store and bought a Weber charcoal grill so he could grill them properly. Little salt and pepper on the steaks, grill and you are done.  I took  frozen fries and mixed with salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme leaves and baked until crispy. Thanks to my lovely and talented niece Alex who is a bomb chef for coming up with that tasty concoction.  

I’m giggling at the thought of the Pots de Creme because the flavor was amazing but I didn’t have enough glasses to properly make individual servings, so I decided to place the whole shebang in a large ramekin. Yeah, don’t do that. We had to put it in the freezer so it would set up, but a few minutes on the table and it was like ice cream. Of course, no one cared and it was gone by the end of the night but I highly suggest not being an idiot like moi and scratch the idea if you can’t do it individually. 

The Oscars were OK this year, a little zzzzzzzzzz at times and it wasn’t as exciting as in years past but I am so happy for The King’s Speech! It’s an excellent, heart warming story and if you haven’t seen it yet, GO. 

Here’s our spread and more posts to come this week…I hope. :) 


YAY I finally made duxelles! I don’t know why I thought this was so cool but I’ve had duxelles in a variety of ways, especially in soups and on toasts. I love that Cooking Light included them in their 3 Little Secrets of Big Flavors section that also includes chicken glace and shrimp butter. These three are French culinary tricks, or astuces, to add depth of flavor to a dish.   Duxelles are super savory and are an awesome little additon to a variety of dishes due to their herbacious and mushroom (read: earthtastic) flavor.

I chose the Artic Char with Duxelles and Leeks because it sounded amazing and I thought it would be fitting since we have an Artic blast hitting Austin right now. Why not celebrate artic cold temperatures with Artic something or other? I went to Whole Foods Market and alas they do not carry Artic Char. Turns out their purveyor couldn’t meet their Quality Standards requirements. Love it, and thank you Whole Foods for having those standards in the first place. I went with salmon which was a tasty equivalent choice and headed home.

Artic Char with Duxelles and Leeks (Photo by David Prince)

The duxelles were amazingly easy to make and oh so delicious even on their own. I also sauteed some Yukon Gold potatoes in olive oil and dashed with salt and red pepper. I placed the duxelles, potatoes, leeks and salmon in a baking dish at 400 degrees and voila! mes amis, dinner was ready. Oh, I did finish the dish off with a dash of a lemon slice (David sliced it up the fancy way) and some more olive oil.

I vageuly remember eating this because I might have inhaled it. Savory, lucious layers of earthy flavor that all worked beautifully together on the plate.  Amore!

P.S. Did I call Auburn or what? 😉

Braised Chicken and Red Potatoes in Tarragon Broth

Talk about an Emily favorite. I have made this soup since it’s debut three years ago in the September 2007 issue of Cooking Light. To me, this is a bowl of comfort that I’ve turned to year after year say when I’ve got a cold, it’s gloomy and gross outside or your favorite team ever (rhymes with Fonghorns) gets dismantled again. Bleeb to the blarb.

The flavors of this soup with the tender braised chicken, soft red potatoes, shallots, and white wine are a perfect combo and the tarragon broth provides the perfect balance to make a beautiful soup. Ahhh, the smell of the broth hooks you before you even begin to eat. Plus it has a short ingredient list and is undeniably easy to make…see why I love it so?

I just ate this for lunch and now I’m all comfy and cozy at my desk.  Now if only I could be in my pajamas with my slippers I would be set…and then I would probably get fired…then I would just have to make more soup to comfort myself. Enjoy this y’all, it’s a good one.

Braised Chicken and Red Potatoes in Tarragon Broth (Photo by Lee Harrelson)

Coq Fight!

(Insert your best ring announcer voice here) In the blue corner we have the Quick Coq Au Vin  AKA “Quick Talons” from Bon Appetit weighing in at 371 calories per serving and a nine ingredient list, and in the red corner we have Easy Coq Au Vin  AKA “The Easy Breezy” from Cooking Light weighing in at 319 calories per serving with an 18 ingredient list.

Quick Coq Au Vin (Photograph by Jose Picayo)

The Easy Breezy comes out swinging with succulent chicken thighs that knocks Quick Talons’ use of chicken breast to the ropes but Quick Talons throws a powerful jab with its better use of bacon and less ingredients. Easy Breezy does a right hook with less calories and more veggie power. Quick Talons stumbles for just a moment and then comes roaring back with its great depth of flavor in the sauce. The jabs keep coming and it looks like folks we are going to a judges decision…who will win?

The judges take a look at both dishes flavor profiles and wish the fighters could combine The Easy Breezy’s chicken thighs with Quick Talons’ sauce but finally decide that…

The Easy Breezy is the winner in this highly contested fight! The crowd goes wild!

Check out Apron Adventure’s review of the same two dishes and see what she thought…great minds huh?