With summer almost upon us those of us that are lucky enough to have some outside space can think about moving the party outside. Many casual drinks parties are impromptu, taking advantage of some sudden sun or a chance visit, but you need to be able to offer your guests a bite to eat. I am always impressed how in France the host disappears for 10 minutes and reappears with trays of delicious snacks, Roullier White’s two French colleagues Stella Giugiu and Solène Falières share some secrets from the kitchens of French Hectic Hosts.
Warm goat’s cheese with honey on toast. Take some bread, a day old bread is fine, lightly toast one side under the grill. Remove from grill and spread with creamy goat’s cheese, pop back under grill and cook under the cheese is melted, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with thyme or black pepper and serve.
Basil tuna rillettes. Take a tin of very good quality tuna, drain the fish and flake with a fork into a bowl, add some cream cheese, a dash of paprika, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper and top with some torn bail leaves. Spoon into small ramekins or spread on char grilled toasted bread with aperitifs.
Smoked salmon & ricotta toasts. Chop smoked salmon, this is ideal if you have some left over from brunch or breakfast and mix in a bowl with Ricotta, add some lemon juice and dill and work into a smooth paste. Spread on small toasted circles of French bread.
Verrines are a very popular party dish across all of France, small portions are made in little glasses, and are left scattered for guests to pick up. Chop some endive and drop into the bottom of each vessel, peel and pith some orange and break into small chucks, saving any juice, place the orange on the endive and top with some crumbled goat’s cheese, mix the leftover juice with a dash of olive oil and pour over each pot. Serve with a tea spoon. Another super-easy version is a crab & pear verrine, chop some pear and mix with some flaked white crab meat, stir in some lime juice and a little some fresh herbs. You probably won’t need salt but do season with black pepper; although it is somewhat out of fashion in the UK and almost forgotten, white pepper works a treat with all types of shellfish. It has a slightly more aromatic and earthy quality that works with the saltiness of the fish. White pepper is a common ingredient in France when you do not want dark flecks to show in your sauces or dishes. It is used mainly in the kitchen rather than on the table as a condiment. Spoon into glasses and top of with a little more lime juice and a dash of olive oil.
Soup de Champagne is a traditional punch-like drink that is served chilled in the summer. To a bottle of champagne – or fizzy wine – add a cup of Cointreau, a cup of squeezed lemon and a cup of squeezed orange juice and stir in sugar to taste.
Lawrence Roullier White writes the Hectic Host for SE22.
This feature first appeared in the June 2016 issue of SE22 magazine.