Apero time is a very serious time of day in France! This can be taken at midday just before lunch and/or at the end of the afternoon before dinner – cocktail hour to some.
Apero being an abbreviation for aperitif! This is a time of day that I have found very easy to embrace in my adopted home in France. It is a great sociable relaxing time. Early evening drinks with friends, neighbours or acquaintances either at home, or on a restaurant terrace, the beach, beside the lake in fact where ever you find yourself at that magical hour!
The ‘apero’ comes in many guises depending on which part of Europe you are in. There is the Kir and Kir Royal in France either white wine or champagne mixed with a fruit liqueur. Alternatively further south in France is Pastis or Ricard a liquorice/aniseed flavoured clear liqueur which turns cloudy when served with ice and water. Another summer favourite is the Piscine – some traditions say this is rosé served over ice, others say it is champagne with a rose syrup and sparkling water served over ice – which I can confirm is absolutely delicious and slips down a treat! In Spain the jugs of Sangria flow at apero hour and in Italy the beautiful coloured Aperol is a firm favourite – which is a dry orange flavoured liqueur served with Prosecco, sparkling water and ice – another very tasty summer favourite! In the winter in the french alps a very popular apero is the ‘vin chaud’ which in Germany/ Austria and parts of Switzerland would be a gluwein – a deliciously spicy warm mulled wine. Try the recipe on my blog for Vin Chaud. Further afield the apero tradition is firmly in place but more commonly known as cocktail hour across the pond and in South America pre-dinner drinks like the Pisco sour and mojitos are regular favourites and have gained popularity in Europe too.
Obviously the apero needs to be washed down with a little savoury snack! So what better than an apero cake! Here is a great version of a savoury cake that has proved very popular ‘chez nous’ at apero time!
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes
125g soft butter
1 rounded tablespoon of pesto*
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
200 g flour
2 tsp baking powder
180 g peeled broad beans – available frozen
40g freshly grated parmesan 50ml milk
Preheat the oven to 180 ° C
Thaw the broad beans. In a bowl, mix together the softened butter, eggs and pesto. Add the sieved flour, baking powder and mix together. Then add the Parmesan cheese and milk and mix until the dough is smooth. Stir in the broad beans. Pour this mixture into a buttered loaf tin Smooth the surface and bake the cake Bake for 15 minutes at 180 ° C and then about 30 minutes at 150 ° C A skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf should come out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, turn out onto a rack and enjoy at room temperature
This apero loaf can be adapted to other vegetables too, try fresh peas, or grated courgettes for a change.
*You can use store bought pesto or try making my wild garlic pesto – click here for recipe on my blog
Here is an apero cake from Rachel Khoo which appeared in her column in the Evening Standard in London in spring this year which is also very tasty.
Savoury apéritif cake
3 medium eggs
25g caster sugar
250g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
150ml olive oil
100g sun-dried tomatoes
80g pitted black olives
1 medium courgette (approx 130g)
100g soft goat’s cheese
Preheat the oven to 180C (fan assisted)/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper. Beat the eggs with the caster sugar. Measure out the flour, sea salt, baking powder and paprika in a separate bowl, then fold into the eggs, followed by the buttermilk and olive oil. Roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes, olives and hazelnuts and add to the batter. Grate the courgette on the coarse side of a box grater and add. Crumble in the goat’s cheese in bite-sized chunks.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. You want it to have a lovely golden crust. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then turn out. Serve in small pieces as an apéritif nibble or in large slices at a picnic.
Santé et Bon Appétit!
All photos ©Copyright Caro Blackwell