It’s high apéro season in Paris! For those not au courant with this term, it’s the name for the French tradition of sharing drinks and nibbles with friends and family in the early evening. As a recent French resident, the apéro is one of my favorite new rituals. Particularly because by the time 5 or 6 pm rolls around, I’m starving waiting for the 8 pm dinner hour. And serving an apéritif is an easy way to entertain new friends with a minimum of time and work.
An apéro can be something as simple as cheese and baguette slices and a bowl of roasted almonds. But since it’s the holiday season, let’s take it up a notch with some festive appetizers that won’t take you hours in the kitchen. Invite some friends or family to toast the holidays or the New Year, pop some champagne, and apéro like nobody’s business.
Let’s get started with a decadent classic recipe, Baked Mont d’Or with Jam. This recipe is delicious with a triple-cream Brie as well, but with the gooey, earthy Mont d’Or, it’s simply sublime.
Baked Mont d’Or with Jam
- 1 500g round Vacherin Mont d’Or
- 1 package round pâte feuillettée pur beurre (230g)
- 115g fig jam
- egg wash (1 egg, mixed with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt)
- apple slices, to serve
- baguette slices, to serve
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Unfold pâte feuillettée on the parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet.
- Take cheese out of its container (you will need to cut around the side of the cheese to remove it). Cut a bit of the rind off the top of the cheese.
- Spread jam on top, covering the cheese completely.
- Now place in the middle of the pastry. Wrap dough around the Mont d’Or, folding it up gently as you move around the circle. Seal by pressing the last fold of pastry on top of the rest.
- Brush with egg wash.
- Bake 35-40 minutes, until pastry is golden-brown and jam is bubbling up through the pastry. Cool 5-10 min.
Serve with apple and baguette slices for guests to dip into the hot creamy cheese.
Next, a super-simple appetizer perfect with a glass of bubbly. I make these all the time at home when I feel the need for something a little special. And while these look and taste incredibly posh, you can find small jars of very reasonably priced caviar in most grocery stores in Paris.
Salmon Caviar Blini
- 1 jar salmon caviar (or any caviar you prefer)
- 1 package mini blinis
- 100g crème fraîche
- Heat mini blinis in a dry skillet on the stovetop – just a couple of minutes per side until the blinis are warm and pliable. Let cool slightly so crème fraîche doesn’t melt immediately.
- Spread each blini with about a teaspoon of crème fraîche, then a small spoonful of caviar. Serve.
Finally, I’ll end with one of my favorite crowd-pleasing appetizers. This one pairs endive with salty blue cheese, nutty pecans, and sweet dates.
Stuffed Endive with Blue Cheese and Pecans
- 1 head endive
- 60g pecans
- 8 dates, pitted (75 g)
- 60 g crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
- 2 tablespoons Velours de Vinaigre Balsamique
- Preheat oven to 175°C.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and add the pecans. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Let cool, then chop into small pieces.
- Peel off any bruised leaves on the endive, then rinse. Cut off bottom and peel each leaf off and put onto a paper towel to dry. As you make your way peeling leaves from the outside to the inside, you may want to cut off the bottom of the endive as you go, so that the leaves continue to come off easily.
- Prepare your dates by chopping into small pieces.
- Now it’s time to assemble. Lay your endive cups onto a serving platter and sprinkle a little of each of the main ingredients: chopped pecans, chopped dates, and crumbled blue cheese. No need to measure anything, just eyeball that you have roughly the same amount of each.
- Drizzle with Velours de Vinaigre Balsamique and serve!