Epoisses, Ham & Apple TartI’ll sigh with poetry every time I hear about “Epoisses” -- the dreamy, soft, cow’s milk cheese that I tasted first, many years ago, during my first trip to Paris. That sweet memory was enough to convince me to undertake the recipe for the “Epoisses, Ham and Apple Tart,” from the October 2014 issue of Food & Wine. True, the recipe asks us to make a pastry dough, chill it, roll it, shape it, chill it again, blind bake it, then fill it and bake it again. It’s a big commitment. But the cheese…

I did it and I’m happy I did. I saw how this tart asked for a lot of my time and patience, but once it was all done, it would wait for me, at room temperature, to be eaten. This fits my lifestyle, for sure.

Assembling the pastry was simple, actually. “Pulsing” it in the food processor worked. It was neat and easy. I used a 9 1/2-inch tart pan rather than an 11-inch pan. This was fine. For my 30 minutes of blind baking, I did indeed cover my tart shell with parchment paper, then fill it with a bunch of dried beans, to weigh it down.

Only half-expecting to find a true Epoisses in my food coop, I reached instead for another soft, French, cow’s milk cheese: a Delice de Bourgogne Triple Crème Brie. It did the job. Understand that your final tart is not a frittata or a quiche. This is a looser custard. You win with the great flavor trio of cheese and ham and apple. I hope your dining audience appreciates what you did, here.

Roasted Maitake Mushrooms w/Seaweed ButterAnd now for the mushroom frenzy. That’s where I am, right now, at this moment in time and space. I cannot walk past the mushrooms. I cannot ignore them. The peer pressure is intense.

The same October 2014 issue of Food & Wine showcased “Roasted Maitake Mushrooms with Seaweed Butter.” How ridiculous. How necessary. It’s a stunt that’s easy and works, though. We’re roasting them whole, after all.

Why make seaweed butter? Well, because I can, that’s why. Once you have dried wakame in your pantry, you’ll return to it, again and again, forever (it lasts that long!). This seaweed butter will turn black in the oven, before you mix it with your big heads of maitakes. And what is this mushroom? Well, it’s a big, totally edible, delicious specimen of mushroom ugliness. Here, it roasts into a lovely texture. Surprising flavors will dazzle your diners. Really.

Delice de Bourgogne Triple Crème Brie (7 oz.) = $6.58
Maitake Mushroom Heads (17.5 oz.) = $16.70
Lemon (1) = .54¢

PREP TIMES: dedicate at least 4 hours to the prep and baking of the tart; seaweed butter and mushrooms need an hour or so
creamy, salty, sweet custard filling in a buttery tart shell; maitakes bake into archetypal chewy mushrooms, dressed in the perfect funk of seaweed

And speaking of seasonal(!)…next time I want to get happy with some pumpkin. Cookies, to be exact. Come back to my site next week to see me make the “Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Vanilla Bean Buttercream,” from Healthy Delicious. Get ready.