Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Party Cheese Tortas; Pesto, Cheddar, Pineapple

Isn't it great to have a signature dish? One that is easy to make and you also love. Mine is primarily the Pesto Torta. It is nice to have a couple other cheese spreads. I will give you my base recipe and the variations that I have tried.

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Pesto Cheese Torta (or a variation from below)

So easy to make ahead and can be garnished fancy or plain. Depending on the size of the crowd, I make one, two or 3 different flavors of these wonderful spreads. The all time favorite is the Pesto Torta but I've made several variations and layered them, so experiment with your favorite flavors added to the base, this easy item is very forgiving. These also work well spread on slices of baguette with a tomato bruschetta topping.




Mold; After you make the mixture, line a bowl or loaf pan with plastic wrap. Spoon mixture in, making sure not to leave any air pockets and refrigerate overnight. (If you have to make any of these the day of the party, they will be soft, so serve them in a bowl.) A half hour or more before serving, invert the mold to a platter, remove wrap, smooth with a warmed spreader and garnish. You can simply lay fresh parsley on top, press chopped nuts all over the surface or arrange edible flowers onto each one.




To serve; When I make 3 different kinds, I like to use a rectangular platter and loaf pan size tortas in a line. A round serving dish is perfect if you mold the torta in a bowl. You can surround the torta with crackers or have them in a basket next to the platter. Wheat Thins or banquet crackers work best for spreading on and it's always best to buy more crackers than you think you will need.
Base ingredients;
  • 2 8oz. packages of Cream Cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 Sticks of Butter (room temperature)
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves
  • pinch of salt
In a food processor, finely chop the garlic cloves, add the butter and process until smooth, add the cream cheese one package at a time, then the salt processing until fully incorporated and smooth.

Pesto Torta;  Add 1 C. prepared basil pesto. Use can use homemade or find it in the cheese case at the supermarket.  Process until smooth.





Cheddar Torta
  • Add 1 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 C. Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
Process just enough to incorporate. You want the cheese to be mixed in but not completely smooth.
Sundried Tomato Torta; add 3/4 C sundried tomatoes and process smooth. (This is a really pretty color.)

Garlic Torta; add 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce and one more garlic clove. Process until smooth. This is a great flavor to use when making a layered torta with anyone or two of the other flavors.
Herb Cheese Torta; 
  • 3 Tb Parsley
  • 4 green onions (minced)
Pineapple Cheddar Torta;  (Take a chance and make this one, it is so delicious!)

Make the base and put it in a mixing bowl or large ziploc bag. Add to it...
  • 2 C. Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Small can of crushed Pineapple, juice drained
  • 2 TB Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 finely minced Green Onion
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Mix it thoroughly  and mold it or roll into a large ball. Press onto the outside mix of chopped nuts and parsley.  

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