Yesterday evolved into a beautiful, unexpected evening. April has finally given us spring temperatures, and without menacing winds! It would have been easy to avoid the indoors with 70 degree warmth outdoors, but I had a carton of French Époisses in my refrigerator and that trumped any desire to enjoy the sunshine. I opened my kitchen windows and got to work.
This tart is an investment. The 8-ounce disk of ripe, stinky cheese sells for $18.00... and I love it! Its taste just screams French -- make no substitutions, The cheese is special enough to plan a dinner around, with neighbors, which is exactly what I did. My husband uncovered the outdoor dining table, brought the chairs out of storage, and uncorked bottles of French wine. The evening ended up being beyond special... hopefully the beginning of a long al fresco season!
The recipe for this French savory tart is from Ludo Lefebvre of Petit Trois in L.A. I am now wishing we would have made the drive into Los Angeles to dine there when less than an hour out in February... I think at that point I had had it with traffic. I will keep Petit Trois on my "need to do" list.
• Époisses, Ham and Apple Tart... FOOD & WINE MAGAZINE
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
• 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) cold butter, cubed
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1/4 cup ice cold water
• One 8-ounce wheel of chilled Époisses, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (with rind)
• 1 sweet cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1/4 pound piece of Parisian-style or boiled ham, cut into 1/3-inch dice
• 2 large eggs
• 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1. Make the Pastry In a food processor, pulse the 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the kosher salt. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk and cold water and pulse until the pastry is moistened. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface, gather any crumbs and pat into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
2. Make the Pastry Preheat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 13-inch round. Ease the pastry into an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing it into the corners and up the side. Trim the pastry 1/4 inch above the rim of the tart pan and use the excess to patch any holes or thin parts. Refrigerate the tart shell until chilled, about 15 minutes.
3. Make the Pastry Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the shell for about 30 minutes, just until dry. Remove the parchment and weights and bake the crust for about 15 minutes longer, until golden. Let cool slightly, then transfer the tart pan to a large baking sheet.
4. Make the Filling Scatter the Époisses, apple and ham evenly in the tart shell. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the heavy cream, salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Pour the custard into the tart shell and bake for about 45 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking, until the custard is just set and lightly browned on top. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Remove the ring, cut the tart into wedges and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The tart can be refrigerated overnight. Let come to room temperature before serving.
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