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Apéro Treats for Summer

Emma (chef) and John (sommelier) Gilchrist bring us some “cool”, delicious ideas for apéro treats for summer and reminds us to support our local vineyards.  For those who like to kick the lunch off with a cocktail, John also brings us some super ideas to keep us cool.

short crust pastry

Emma and John Gilchrist


Tarte Soleil/Sun Tart

Tarte Soleil is a French-inspired pull-apart puff pastry dish.  Making a great centre peace and one of our fabulous apéro treats for summer, you can make it with various fillings.  Here is my version.

2 Circles Puff Pastry or Pizza dough, 12 inch (shop bought is fine)

200g Cooked spinach (fresh or frozen)

2 White onions, finely diced

2 Large garlic cloves, finely chopped

150g Cream cheese

30g Parmesan or Pecorino, grated

Pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)

Salt and Pepper

1 Egg beaten with a little cold water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a non-stick sauté pan.  Add the onion and garlic, salt and pepper, cook until soft.

Stir the spinach into the onion mix (make sure the spinach is dry).  Take off the heat and cool in a mixing bowl.  When cool, stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan/Pecorino, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Taste to check seasoning.

To Assemble

Spread the filling on one of the pastry circles, leaving 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) gap around the edge.  Brush the edges with the egg wash and place the second dough circle on top.

To create the sundial effect place a glass in the middle of the circle and, using a sharp knife from the edge of the glass to the edge of the pastry, cut the pastry into quarters.  Cut each quarter into three equal parts, and each of them into two parts. I n the end, you will have 6 “rays” in each quarter and 24 rays in the entire circle.

Remove the glass. To support the pastry place your finger near the centre of each ray (where it is most likely to break off) and gently twist each strand two or three times.

Brush each ray with beaten egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 30 to 35 mins, until golden brown all over.  Cool on the baking sheet for 10 mins, and then transfer to a serving platter.  Tear off rays of sun, and enjoy!

Apéro Treats for Summer

Tarte Soleil


King Prawn, White Bean and Chorizo Tartine

A Tartine is basically a fancy French way of saying open-faced toasted sandwich.  Make them small for a party or large for a lovely lunch, they have to be on your list of apéro treats for summer.  (Makes 4 medium Tartines.)

2 White onions, diced

3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

400g Tin of white beans

2 tbs Olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

Juice of half a lemon

Handful of flat leaved parsley, chopped

4 Slices of sourdough bread, toasted

12 Cooked king prawns

150g Chorizo, sliced and cooked

Chopped chives

Chive Flowers Optional

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and gently cook the onion and garlic until it’s soft but not coloured.  Add ¾ of the beans and salt and pepper.  Cook for 4 mins.  Place in a blender, pulse to a rough purée, move to a bowl and add the rest of the beans.  Mix in the lemon juice and parsley.  Divide the purée equally between the sliced sourdough toast and spread in an even layer.

Top each tartine with the chorizo and prawns, alternatively.

Finally, sprinkle the chopped chives and flowers.  Serve and enjoy!

King Prawn, White Bean and Chorizo Tartine


Support your local vineyard

For any lunch, dinner, outside eating or apéro party your first stop really should be your local vineyard for that lovely local wine they produce for us, at very reasonable prices, year after year.  This year it‘s even more important that we stay very local and choose the wines on our doorstep.  They need to sell their wine to keep going and they need the space for storing the new vintages.

Cocktail Anyone?

If wine is not your thing, here are six super-easy cocktails for the summer.  They have the same two core ingredients; fresh lime juice and simple syrup or syrup de canne, every cocktail bar essential.  To make the syrup, boil equal parts sugar and water together until it’s clear.  Cool before use.

All the cocktails use the same method:

Fill a shaker with ice and add ingredients.  Shake well and strain into four chilled martini glasses.  Or, if you don’t have a shaker, add ice to a large jug, add the ingredients, stir and divide into glasses.

You can add lemonade, soda or sparkling wine and turn all three cocktails into long cooling drinks.  Perfect for outside in the sunshine.

Gin Gimlet

200ml Gin

50ml Lime juice

25ml Simple syrup

(Add soda water to make a classic Tom Collins)

Watermelon fizz

200ml Gin or vodka

50ml Lime juice

25ml Simple syrup

200g Whizzed up watermelon

(Add lemonade and you have vodka/gin and watermelon lemonade)

Apple Daiquiri

150ml Light rum

50ml Clear apple Juice

50ml Lime juice

25ml Simple syrup

(We add pink sparkling wine to make our Les Caulins Cocktail)

Cheers! Salut!


About Emma and John

Emma (chef) and John (sommelier) Gilchrist have been running their gîte and cookery school, Les Caulins, in Lot-et-Garonne since March 2016.  Emma has worked with great chefs in some of the best restaurants around the world and John, a former UK Sommelier of the Year and winner of the Mondavi award for the best wine list in the world, is an enthusiast for the smaller wine producers.

First published in the July and August 2020 issue of The Local Buzz.

Images: Les Caulins


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