I'm wondering if I should have a link on this blog "with a glass of wine/cocktails"? That window of time before dinner to nosh lightly while imbibing something special, chit chat and good music rounding things out. Spiced nuts, a homemade something or other to dip/spread on something equally delicious, maybe your going the pickled or cured route. Cocktail hour, surcease, whatever you want to call it, I'm pretty sure you're getting the picture by now.
This amazing little cocktail bread is from the delightful and inspiring book "Table in the Tarn." I picked this book up years ago and have recreated so many of their recipes. It's about two expats moving to the French countryside, buying a beautiful home and converting it into a guest house. Gardens, beautiful home in rural France and cooking all rank pretty high on my "sounds absolutely fabulous list." The book is a charming read that will have you busy in the kitchen trying out recipes and day dreaming about future vacations. As for the term cake, I'm not quite sure why the French call their savory little loaves "cakes", I noticed this when I was at Rose Bakery in Paris years back, regardless I think it's kind of fun.
This rendition of "Le Cake" is really quite wonderful. I've baked these little beauties up for so many occasions and always have a few tucked away in the freezer. Something about fresh herbs, crisp pancetta, salty olives and melted cheese goes really well with a glass of wine or Lillet with a twist of orange. Whatever you are imbibing try this elegant savory little cake on the side, it will add just the right amount of zing to your cocktail hour!
Adapted from Table in the Tarn
makes 3 small loaves
1 cup cubed pancetta
3/4 cup black olives, rinsed, dried, pitted and coarsely chopped
generous 3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black ground pepper
1 cup cubed Raclette or other semi soft cheese
2 tablespoon freshly chopped herbs, I used tarragon and thyme
1 1/4 cups milk
3 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 large egg
3/4 cup creme fraiche
3 small foil loaf pans 8"x3"x2"
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Fry the pancetta until just beginning to brown. Leave to cool and mix in olives.
Grease the pans and sprinkle half the parmesan evenly over the base. Whisk flour, baking powder, cayenne and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix in the Raclette, herbs, pancetta and olives.
In a small bowl, whisk the milk, butter, egg and creme fraiche. Using a large rubber spatula, fold the wet into the dry ingredients until just mixed, the mixture is meant to be thick and sticky, stop mixing when it is just combined. Turn into the pans, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for 40 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean, be aware that if it hits some oozy cheese it will come out sticky regardless. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes then turn out and serve warm.