A family recipe for success
Having grown up in a family of male Michelin-starred chefs, Emily Roux almost inevitably fell into the family trade. But in a new cookbook, written with her mother, the chef explores the family favourites and new foodie adventures that the pair enjoy together
New French Table by Giselle and Emily Roux tells the story, via carefully chosen recipes, of a mother and daughter’s culinary lives and it reflects how their food has evolved over the years.
The journey starts with soups and salads, takes in the southern French food that Giselle ate as a child and later cooked for her family and friends, and also features new dishes and techniques that Emily has introduced to her mother, gleaned from her travels and her experiences in restaurant kitchens worldwide.
Emily spoke to Connexion about her work and the book and chooses three simple recipes.
You come from rich culinary stock – was it inevitable that you would join the family trade?
I have always been surrounded by food and have a voracious appetite; so joining the family business came quite naturally.
What are the pressures associated with being a Roux in the kitchen?
Everyone will scrutinise your every move and you will often be judged.
You trained in France – a deliberate ploy to escape French kitchens in England or just because the training is better?
First of all because I loved the catering facilities at “L’institut Paul Bocuse” in Lyon; but also because I wanted to escape from the pressures of the name here in the UK. In France, Roux is an extremely common name, so I could work incognito.
A mother-daughter cookbook is a lovely idea. How influential has your Mum’s cooking been on you?
Incredibly influential! Growing up my father was never at home for evening meals (he was working at Le Gavroche); so, my mother and I always prepared and cooked together. I loved her simple and delicious soups and salads.
Apart from in your case, do you think the mother-daughter ‘culinary chain’ is less strong than it once was?
Not necessarily, I think recipes may be changing (more cakes and sweets) but the mother-daughter bonding and culinary chain is still there.
When you were growing up, presumably the food you ate at home was much simpler compared to what your professional chef relatives were doing?
Yes and no. My mother is a very talented home cook so I was always well fed! Maybe the dishes were not as fancy looking as what my father and grandfather would produce in their restaurant; but delicious nevertheless!
You had the best of both worlds?
I suppose I did. A very lucky girl.
How do you think French home cooking habits have altered since your mother was your age?
My mum grew up with a massive fruit and vegetable garden. She also had chickens, rabbits and a river at the bottom of her garden. So fishing and butchery were a family thing! I’m not sure all kids are lucky enough to grow up in such an environment today.
What would your mother say is your worst kitchen habit?!
Pinching food from the pan, before serving.
What five ingredients could you not live without?
Salt, pepper, olive oil, dried pasta and parmesan.
What is your favourite dish made by Michel Roux Jr and Albert Roux, your father and grandfather?
From my grandfather, his classic tarte Tatin (which he loves serving with gallons of cream).
From my father, a pithivier with braised ham and comté cheese. Heavenly!
The Roux clan is coming round for Sunday lunch. What is your go-to dish to keep everyone happy?
Braised beef cheeks with a silky smooth mash. Well-seasoned salad and good cheese.
Your book is billed as ‘classic with a twist’ – how has French restaurant cuisine changed in recent years, and where do you see it going in the next ten?
French cooking has definitely modernised with the help of young talented chefs that have travelled the world; bringing ingredients from all over.
I think simplistic, seasonal and local produce will be the next “trend” as customers are more and more knowledgeable about what they are eating.
What is your current favourite restaurant in France, and your favourite culinary region?
Restaurant H in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. Favourite city in France is Lyon; the “bistrots Lyonnais” are amazing!
Would you be happy for your own children to become chefs?
Of course! As long as they are passionate about food and willing to put in the hours.
Lapin à la Moutarde – Rabbit with mustard
This is a traditional braised rabbit recipe that is enjoyed by families all over France. The sauce is deliciously rich and creamy but is given a fiery punch by the combination of mustards used. Serves 4.
1 whole rabbit, jointed or unjointed
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
50g (13/4oz) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced into 1cm cubes
100g mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 thyme sprig
300ml (1/2 pint) dry white wine
400ml (14fl oz) chicken stock
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
200ml (7fl oz) double cream
1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. If jointing the rabbit yourself, take the rabbit carcass and lay it on its back. Start by removing the hind legs with a sharp knife, following the hip joint. Next, make an incision between the rib cage and the saddle and dislocate one from the other with your hands. Finally, remove the front legs, slicing through the collar bone. You will be left with six joints.
2. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F), Gas Mark 3.
3. Place the rabbit pieces in a large bowl and smear with 1 tablespoon of the wholegrain mustard. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Place the butter in a large flame proof casserole dish over a medium heat. Once it is melted and bubbling, add the pieces of rabbit and sear until just golden, remove from the pan and set aside.
5. In the same pan, add the onion, carrot, mushrooms, garlic and thyme sprig and cook, stirring continuously, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.
6. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and continue to cook until almost all of the alcohol has evaporated. Add the chicken stock, Dijon mustard and remaining wholegrain mustard, stir to combine, then return the rabbit pieces to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and transfer to the oven to cook for about 25 minutes, until the rabbit is tender.
7. Pour the cream into the sauce, sprinkle over the chopped parsley and season to taste. Remove the pieces of rabbit from the pan and divide between serving plates, spooning over the sauce. Serve hot.
White Winter Soup
This velvety white soup has a beautifully delicate flavour and makes the perfect winter warmer when served with roasted chestnuts. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celeriac (approx. 650g/1lb 7oz), peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
570ml (1 pint) milk
250ml (9fl oz) water
1 sage leaf
1 thyme sprig
200g (7oz) peeled, cooked chestnuts
pinch of freshly grated or ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place one tablespoon of the butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and cook, stirring continuously, for about two minutes until soft and translucent.
2. Add the celeriac to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until it has just started to take on some colour. Add the milk and water to the pan, along with the sage leaf and thyme sprig. Bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until the celeriac is tender.
3. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small pan over a low heat. Once melted, add the chestnuts to the pan and stir to coat in the butter. Cook gently for 2–3 minutes, until the chestnuts are heated through. Set aside and keep warm.
4. Once the celeriac is tender, remove the herbs from the pan and discard. Transfer the soup to a blender (this may need to be done in batches) and blend until completely smooth. Season the soup to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg, then transfer to serving bowls. Serve the soup hot with the chestnuts on top.
Brioche and Butter Pudding
This is a simple recipe that the whole family will enjoy. It is a great way to use up any leftover bread you have in the house and you can substitute the brioche with whatever you have to hand – croissants or panettone work well, but result in a slightly richer pudding. Nutmeg, cinnamon or chopped nuts also make a welcome addition. Serves 4.
30g (1oz) raisins
1 tablespoon dark rum
180ml (61/4fl oz) whole milk
100g (31/2oz) caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
240g (81/2oz) sliced brioche
15g (1/2oz) unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas Mark 5 and grease a round 20cm (8 inch) baking dish with butter.
2. Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour over the rum. Set aside to macerate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
3. Place the milk in a small pan over a low heat. Bring just to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat. Set aside for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.
4. Meanwhile, place the eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large mixing bowl and whisk until pale and frothy. Once the milk has cooled slightly (if it is too hot it will scramble the eggs), gradually pour it into the egg mixture, constantly whisking, until fully combined.
5. Working one slice at a time, dip the brioche into the custard and leave to soak for around a minute. Neatly arrange the soaked brioche in your prepared baking dish, ensuring it is well filled with no gaps.
6. Pour the rum and raisin mixture into the custard and then pour this whole mixture over the top of your arranged brioche. Scatter a little sugar over the pudding and dot the cubes of butter over the top. Transfer to the oven to bake for 40–45 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Serve hot.
New French Table by Emily & Giselle Roux, published by Mitchell Beazley, £25 www.octopusbooks.co.uk
Photos by Helen Cathcart.