Sunday, June 29, 2008

Aperitif for Dinner

I know, I've been complaining about Texas heat way too much, but I've found it hard lately to cook anything that requires the use of the stove or the oven.

When my brother David visited us a few weeks ago, we made a dinner out of dips, raw veggies and bread one night. We prepared a tapenade ( a Provençal paste or dip, made from black olives, capers, and anchovies), an anchoiade (a purée of anchovies, crushed garlic, and olive oil) and guacamole.

Tonight was another lazy night. We made a dinner out of our aperitif. Aperitif is very common in France and it's a drink (alcoholic or not) served before a meal, around lunch or dinner time.We typically serve snack food along with it like peanuts, chips, pistachios. But you can serve canapes for example with pâté, or even with butter and saucisson (French sausage). Children usually drink fruit syrup, fruit juice or soda and adults Pastis, Suze, beer, kir, muscat, Pineau des Charentes, and even sometimes, for special occasions, Champagne.

To make tapenade (for 2) you will need:

1/2 cup of black olives (I bought Olives from Provence with herbs, my favorites. Not the tiny Nicoise ones)
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence or dried thyme
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup of olive oil

Pit the olives and put in the food processor or in the mortar. I use the food processor, it's faster. Add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Pulse while you slowly add the olive oil until you have a paste consistency. Season with pepper but NO SALT. Tapenade is a very salty dish!
If you wish, you can add 1 teaspoon of rinsed capers. I'm not a big fan of it.
Serve with toasted baguette, sliced carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes. Tapenade can be made a day ahead.

I also made my tuna mousse last night, which I really enjoy because of its smooth texture and how refreshing it is. Make sure you allow it to cool for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving with sliced bread or toasted bread. For my tuna mousse, you will need (for 2 people):

1 can of good quality tuna
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 pinch of paprika
1/4 cup of thinly chopped chives (I honestly eyeball it)

Puree all the ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Chill for an hour before serving.

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