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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Goat Cheese Torta

This is the "signature dish" of my late (and still-lamented) net.pal Susan Hattie Steinsapir. I have made it for a lot of people in a lot of different contexts and a number of them have asked for the recipe. I hope they are serving it to their friends, who are serving it to their friends, and so on and so forth. I think that Susan would be happy to have such a legacy. She liked feeding people.

The most recent occasion for making this was my friend Elaine's birthday party. She provided cake and champagne (and the floor show in the form of her Hellcats), and I said I'd bring nibbles. Most of it got eaten, which was gratifying.

This is a good one for non-cooks as it mostly involves mushing and shaping. It is also very make-ahead. If you have leftovers, they are stunningly good on pasta. I have tweaked her recipe somewhat to suit myself, and you can do some tweaking to suit yourself, but it's all good.

Susan Hattie's Goat Cheese Torta

1 large log (8 or 11 oz) soft goat cheese
1 8 oz package cream cheese (lower fat is ok)
1 or more cloves garlic, minced or smooshed
About 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped and patted dry with paper towels
About 1/4 cup basil pesto (as "dry" as possible)

Leave the cheeses out to soften, and when they are soft, moosh them together in a bowl and add 1 or more cloves mooshed or finely diced garlic (to your taste).

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate until the cheese is a bit more set up (1 hour or more). Overnight will not hurt it at all, indeed, the flavors will "marry".

When you are ready to make it, line a small-medium bowl (I believe the one I usually use holds 20 fl oz - smallish serving or large "ice cream"/cereal bowl) with cling wrap in both directions.

On a piece of cling wrap or waxed paper, form about 1/3 of the cheese (less if the bowl is very tapered) into a flat round that will cover the bottom of the bowl well. Flip the cheese into the bowl and smooth out/patch edges.

Cover cheese with a layer either of the drained chopped tomatoes or the pesto.

Form another round of cheese to cover. Flip into bowl (and patch).

Put whichever of the pesto or tomatoes you didn't use last time on top of the cheese.

Form last of cheese into another round. Flip into bowl and patch.

Cover with the cling wrap or waxed paper you used as a surface. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

To serve, remove the top covering, cover bowl with a plate (salad size works well) and invert. Remove bowl and cling wrap. Provide spreaders and baguette slices, or crackers. Eat with happy noises.

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