Yeah! Summer’s here (right? right? FINALLY!) and that can only mean one thing. Well, maybe two: #roseallday and #lheuredelapéro ! You’ll all know I am a huge fan of l’heure de l’apéro (though I am more likely to serve interesting French chips, cherry tomatoes and mixed nuts than make many items from scratch other than gougères… So Marie Asselin’s latest book, French Appetizers is a nice boost of inspiration for the upcoming apéro season!
Marie says: “I believe l’apéro is the best way to host friends and family, and my goal is to convince you of its merits. [The book is filled with] tips to get you started, menu ideas from the simplest to the most elegant, lots of French-inspired appetizer recipes to help you assemble inspiring meals. […] Whatever time you have on your hands, whatever the occasion you want to celebrate, I hope you’ll have friends over for l’apéro.”
From the publisher:
Enjoy the French ritual of l’apéro by bringing a little bit of France into your home and taking time to savor the good things in life by living, eating, and drinking well—bon appétit!
L’apéro consists of before dinner drinks served with finger foods and small bites. This collection of French appetizers is perfect to serve for l’apéro, happy hour, or to give a lunch box or picnic basket that “something extra-special.” Fresh, modern, and versatile French-inspired appetizers and small servings, from basic tapenades and hummus, to savory cakes, quiches, tartlets, mini sandwiches, soups, skewers, and sweet treats are perfect as a prelude to dinner, or even in place of an evening meal. Many recipes include simple formulas to make several versions of a single recipe so that you are only limited by your own taste buds and creativity.
Marie’s included tips for planning a stress-free apéro with ideas for foods to keep on hand in your freezer, fridge and pantry to help your menu planning come together even on a whim and there are also Menu Ideas to help get your creative juices flowing. From Quick and Easy to a Vegan or Dairy-Free menu, Marie’s thought of everything. Chapters cover Basics and Condiments, Small Bites, Savoury Cakes and Tarts (my Petits Chefs made a version of one of these with great success), Breads, Sandwiches and Toasts, Verrines, Sweet Bites and Drinks so if you’re an apéro novice, there are a ton of ideas to get you started.
I appreciate that she makes use of some pre-prepared ingredients like rolls of frozen puff pastry (these are your secret ingredient for l’apéro par excellence) or store-bought pesto to make the recipes accessible and no-fuss, though she does offer from-scratch alternatives if you have the time or inclination. She often offers variations on a theme (so, three different types of Palmiers) – blank canvases, if you will, so that you’re only limited by your ingredients and imagination. I recognise a lot of the recipes from traiteurs (stores selling prepared foods like pâtés, dips, olives as well as heat and serve meals) in France – most French people wouldn’t make their own apéro snacks, rather they would by them pre-prepared – which is a lovely trip down memory lane for me – when I was living in Paris in my 20s, I’d host friends often and we’d always splurge a little on fancy traiteur items and Marinated Mushrooms, which Marie’s got a great recipe for, were always on my list. These recipes, although simple, will fancy up your apéro hour with very little effort on your part!
French Appetizers is a gorgeous book full of all sorts of interesting recipes (including sweet recipes which I have never thought to serve for l’apéro) and I’ve pored over it, marking recipes to make for my own heures de l’apéro this summer.It’s like a little trip to France via your kitchen. Perfect if you can’t get to France this summer. Just add rosé (or bubbles!).
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Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of French Appetizers by the publisher. I was not asked to write about this book and am not being compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own.