Provencal RecipesTasha PowellTaste

Best Summer Entertaining in Provence Apéro Dînatoire

With the summer heat in Provence, I find that an apéro dînatoire is the best way to entertain. I prepare all the dishes in advance except a fig and onion mini puff pastry. Then, 30 minutes before guests arrive, I put out my spread and pop the pastry hors d’oeuvre in the oven! I notice that people prefer lighter fare with the high outdoor temperatures. Also, I can spend all my time with my guests, filling glasses of rosé rather than spending time in the kitchen whipping up a 5-course meal. I’ll wait until the cooler months for the sit-down dining experience. Here is the menu from my latest Summer Apéro Dînatoire.

Apero Dinatoire Recipe

• Fruit Plate: grapes, figs, watermelon and cherries
• Prosciutto di Parma and Charentais melon plate
• Salted Marcona almonds with Herbes de Provence
• Crystalized ginger
• Fig jam and onion mini puff pastries
Caprese salad with basil and Burrata cheese
• Roasted peppers and potatoes with pepper coulis
• Saucissons, pickles, olives, icicle radishes & cheese plate
• Crackers and pain croustillant (crunchy, grilled bread slices)
• Beet / cucumber gazpacho soup
• Endive with blue cheese, chopped Granny Smith apples, lime vinaigrette and pistachios
• Apricot clafoutis
• Quatre-Quart (pound) cake made with creme fraiche, served with a dollop of lemon curd and a few fresh strawberries

Summer Entertaining in Provence Apero dinatoire

The French style of entertaining called the apéro dînatoire is a favourite way of throwing parties in France. Since I am in France for an average of 3 to 5 months every year, we have grown roots in Provence, specifically in the area of Aix-en-Provence! I love apéro dînatoire gatherings and the spontaneity of inviting friends over. When you mention apéro dînatoire, your guests will know there will be plenty of food, yet it’s casual. This type of party is becoming more common as it is the perfect balance between the apéro cocktail party and a formal dinner party.

Summer Entertaining in Provence Apero dinatoire

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Parma and melon

Food Styling, Plating and Presentation

Simple. Abundant. Seasonal.

Ask me how to build your appetizer party: how to choose plates and surfaces, and use complementary colours! I will show examples of how to create a cheese and fruit plate and individually plate dishes.

We will use food styling techniques to build an appetizer party presentation in French, an apéro dînatoire.

  • Create height on the plate or platter.
  • Use multiple textures.
  • Highlight the key ingredient.
  • Incorporate contrasting colours.
  • Choose a variety of plates and platters.
  • Use edible garnishes.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Use the correct tools.

Helpful tools for a beautiful spread:

  • Oversized tweezers
  • Squeeze bottle
  • Silicon brushes
  • Circle template (mould)
  • A variety of plates and platters – different sizes and colours
  • Piping bag (or plastic bag) and star tip

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Tasha Powell

Tasha Powell

Tasha Powell is a food stylist and writer who specializes in working with celebrity chefs and leaders in the hospitality industry. She cooks and styles for monographs, cookbooks and Satellite Media Tours, working between North America and Europe. Take a look at her mouthwatering photos on Cooking with a French Twist. Since July 2020, she has offered themed Zoom cooking classes influenced by her travels in France and Morocco. Here are a few:

• Fusion Vegetarian Menu: Cheese Soufflé, Grilled Vegetable Kabobs, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime Crème Fraiche & Floating Islands
• Fall in Provence: Carrot Soup, Seared Duck Breast and Chocolate & Pear Tarte
• 3-Course Gluten-Free Menu: Panisse, Grilled Shrimp & Chocolate Towers with Michelin Star plating techniques
• Food Styling Tips: Apéro Dînatoire, presentation & plating
• 4-Course Gluten-Free Menu: Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce, Zucchini Rollups, Roasted Leek Salad & Chocolate Lava Cakes, Michelin Star plating techniques
• Just Stuffed! Stuffed Aubergines, Tomatoes & Zucchini
• Provençal Cuisine: Baked Ratatouille Tian & Tarte du Soleil
• Add Sparkle, Shimmer, Silver and Gold to Your Culinary Presentations! By Lynn Neuberg of Easy Leaf Products and Chef Tasha Powell

Class listings can be found at Chef Tasha Events

Tasha also arranges culinary tours with Barbara Pitcher in Provence, France, in Marrakech, Morocco, in Sicily, Italy and in Parry Sound, Canada under Pitcher and Powell Cuisine and Culture.

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