This week's recipe was a hard one to decide on. Marcia chose the ingredient Smoked Salmon -- which I adore. But, I'm a purist. I love it all by itself with just a bit of dill sauce and some capers. So to challenge myself, I decided to to work out a recipe that could be in the showstopper category. At first I played around with the idea of an empanada. But, then decided that I really didn't want to use pastry this time around. So my next idea -- which I thought was totally original -- was a savory cheesecake.
NOT so original. A search of databases revealed at least 20 different savory salmon cheesecake recipes. I picked features from about 6 of them to come up with my final recipe.
Savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake
2 cups 1/2” diced stale French or Italian bread
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (unsalted)
1/2 cup chopped pistachios (unsalted)
2 tbs fresh dill (minced)
3/4 cup grated swiss cheese
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter (unsalted)
2 large shallots (minced)
3 tbs unsalted butter
2 8ox pkgs cream cheese
6 oz ricotta
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teas kosher salt
1/2 teas black ppper
1 teas cayenne pepper
8-10 oz sliced smoked salmon (fairly thick slices, not paper thin)
Toast nuts and bread together on a cookie sheet in oven then let cool to the touch.
Transfer to food processor, add minced dill, and pulse to crumbs. Add shredded swiss cheese and melted butter. Blend evenly.
Line an 8” square cake pan with two sheets of parchment paper in a cross pattern so that you have no wrinkles or folds.
Press crumb mixture evenly into bottom of pan only. Do not bring up sides like you would a traditional cheesecake.
Soften shallots in 3 tbs of butter until tender. Do not over cook. Let cool to a point it won’t curdle sour cream.
In a food processor, cream the cream cheese, ricotta, & sour cream. Add in salt, pepper, cayenne, and cooled shallots in butter. Continue to process, occasionally scraping down sides so you don’t have any lumps of cheese.
Add in eggs, one at a time, pulsing briefly after each egg.
Lightly whip heavy cream in a large glass bowl. Fold in cream cheese mixture. At this point you will have a total of about 5 cups of filling.
Pour two cups of the filling over the bottom crust.
Using half of the salmon, layer evenly without overlapping.
Pour another two cups of filling.
Layer second half of salmon.
Top with final cup of filling.
Bake in 350 degree oven until set. (45—60 minutes, but use the toothpick test) Don’t over cook. Should be just a tiny bit ‘wiggly’ in the center when you take it out of the oven.
Let cool to room temperature on rack then cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight in fridge.
Using four hands lift by edges of parchment and transfer from pan to cutting board. While still cold, cut into 1” squares. Bring back to room temperature.
Place one square on a small bite plate. Garnish with your favorite caviar and a sprig of fresh dill. Serve at room temperature.