Following on from my last post (Poulet aux Herbes), I mentioned that I made my step daughter’s favourite, ‘rillettes de thon’ to have with the aperitif for the meal that there was a mix up on the days, and in fact, she wasn’t in fact coming to lunch for another week!
A word on ‘the aperitif’. Before moving here, I thought an aperitif was something to have on special occasions, or when you had guests, or at Sunday lunch, but it is much more an integral part of a meal, rather than a superfluous addition.
This point was driven home when my partner was checking with me what we had ready for his expected daughter and her boyfriend before he set off to the market to buy the compulsory bread…..’Do we have enough cheese?’ (cheese is also an essential part of any meal) ‘What do with have as dessert’ (perish the thought of serving a meal without a dessert!) ‘What do we have for the aperitif?’
The aperitif is in some respects the most important part of a meal. It is not merely a rushed appendage before the real meal begins. This is where everyone – cook included – sits around and has drinks (either alcoholic drinks such as ‘kir’ port or even whisky, or soft drinks such as fruit juices or cola, and of course on special occasions, Champagne or ‘kir royale’)
This is accompanied by anything ranging from simple little savoury biscuits, crisps, nuts, olives, cherry tomatoes and such like, to crudités with various dips, fois gras, saucison, savory cakes ‘verrines’ (little glass dishes filled with various concoctions – more on verrines to follow at a later date) and elaborate little ready prepared apero nibbles, notably from the excellent ‘Picard’
The apero is a chance for everyone to catch up, unwind and talk in an informal gathering, before the serious business of eating begins.
Rillettes de Thon is a sort of creamy paté made from tuna. I was introduced to this (once again) very simple recipe by a French friend, Veronique, and I use it as a stand-by for an impromptu aperitif, or to take on picnics.
As ‘pique nique’ season will soon be upon us, there is nothing I like more than packing the wicker basket that we keep in the car and setting off to a village or chateau to eat ‘al fresco’ (as we do not have a garden, the countryside and various parcs and chateaux become my garden in summer!)
France invented ‘le pique nique’ so everywhere is geared up for this with trestle tables and benches, even at the roadside, sometimes in the most unexpected places! In fact as this coming Sunday is my birthday – we are crossing our fingers that the weather will be fine enough to head off with our basket full of goodies – watch this space!
1 tin of tuna (I use tuna in olive oil, ass this preserves more of the vitamins from the fish and is more tasty!)
1 tablespoon of crème fraiche
1 teaspoon of English mustard (less vinegary and MUCH stronger than French mustard)
2 teaspoons of capers
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
A sprinkling (sous poudre) of Cayenne pepper
Drain the tuna of excess oil (or water)
mix together in a basin with the crème faiche and mustard
Add the capers and transfer to a serving dish
Cover with cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes
Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and serve with warm toast or crusty French bread
That’s all there is to it!