Apéro Time I
In France the pre-dinner drink known as apéritif or apéro for short is an institution. It's a convivial get-together of family, friends and neighbours and can be a less formal way of inviting people. All kinds of nibbles are offered alongside the drinks, from the simplest bowls of olives, peanuts and crisps to a more sophisticated selection of home-made dishes such as rillettes with bread, dips, breadsticks and savoury cookies. The whole thing can turn into an improvised meal called an apéro dinatoire (nearly dinner). I'd like to introduce you to a peculiarly French idea, which they call "un cake salé", or a savoury cake. It's a simple batter cooked in a loaf tin or individual cup cake moulds, combined with a multitude of savoury ingredients, such as meats, cheeses, ratatouille. The varieties are endless and you can invent your own version. Here's one that's always a hit chez nous.
Cake with Fresh Goat's Cheese, Mint and Pine Kernels
2 eggs, 120g flour, 1/2 sachet baking powder, 50ml milk, 50ml olive oil, 125g fresh goat's cheese, a bunch of fresh mint, 40g pine kernels, salt and pepper, butter for the mould
Heat the oven to 180C. In a bowl beat the eggs and add the flour and baking powder. Mix well. Now energetically mix the milk and olive oil, then add the soft goat's cheese leaving it in little lumps; mix all everything with a wooden spoon.
Finely chop the mint leaves and reserve. Gently dry-toast the pine kernels in a pan and add to the mixture along with the chopped mint. Butter a loaf tin, line with baking parchment and pour into the mould (or you can use a silicone mould, no paper needed). Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, let it cool and enjoy it with your chilled glass of rosé or whatever apéro you fancy.