The Sweetest of Guilty Pleasures: Vacherin

Easy, delicious salad, cheese and dessert course in one

For a few winter months, the French splurge on eating Vacherin, the famous Swiss cheese one eats at room temperature with a spoon. It tastes like nothing else and is a delicacy for the end of year holidays on many French tables. I served one in early January for a Sunday lunch with galette des rois and had a bit leftover. Back down memory lane and my Alsatian grandmother’s “leftover” gamut for an easy and yummy dish that could also be a lunch or brunch as it is complete and filling.

(If you can’t find Vacherin or it’s out of season, a Reblochon or any cow’s milk cheese from Jura or elsewhere that is on the soft side will do. It’s important to take the cheese out of the fridge a good half hour before preparing this dish.)

For one:
Heat a drizzle of olive oil and a sliver of butter in a frying pan and add a cored, peeled and sliced apple that you’ve sprinkled with cumin and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add a teaspoon of honey and cook a few minutes more to obtain the beginnings of caramelized juice. Place on a dish. Add a tablespoon of the cheese. Season with freshly ground pepper and serve immediately with a few spinach leaves all around the edges. It’s yummy with a toasted slice of seven grain bread.

Another similar concept:
I served this recently to a group of international friends visiting Manhattan, and it was a hit. Alsatians love gingerbread so this was another favorite one in our house; though it misses the fruit part, it is equally yummy: spread some Epoisses cheese on a slice of gingerbread (1 portion) and put in a 300 degree F preheated oven until the cheese melts. Serve immediately on a bed of mesclun, frisée or mâche salad.

Photo by Jessica Binder.