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Mascarpone and Goat Cheese Torta with Smoked Salmon

Mascarpone and Goat Cheese Torta with Smoked Salmon
A delicious luxury, most quality varieties of smoked salmon are cold smoked, a longer, more demanding process than hot smoking. Nova, which once denoted smoked salmon from Nova Scotia, now refers to any cold-smoked Atlantic salmon. Lox is salmon that has been both brine cured and smoked; it is a slightly saltier product. Because this torta calls for chopped smoked salmon, you may use slices, the most readily available form, or trimmings or scraps, which are often available in fish markets and specialty-food shops.

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄4 cup shelled salted pistachios
  • 6 oz. mascarpone or natural cream cheese,
      at room temperature
  • 6 oz. fresh plain goat cheese,
      at room temperature
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1⁄2 cup finely chopped smoked salmon, packed
  • 1⁄2 baguette, cut into slices 1⁄4 inch thick

Directions:

In a small, dry fry pan over medium-low heat, stir the pistachios until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Pour onto a kitchen towel and fold the towel over them. Let the nuts cool for 2 to 3 minutes, then rub them together vigorously inside the towel to loosen the skins. Pour into a colander and shake over the sink, letting the skins fall through. Chop the nuts into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone and goat cheeses. Season with white pepper and stir until blended and smooth. Line a deep 3- or 4-cup rounded bowl or mold with plastic wrap, letting the edges hang over the sides. Lightly oil the plastic wrap. Spoon one-third of the cheese mixture into the bowl. Using an oiled tablespoon, pack it down firmly. Spread the smoked salmon evenly over the cheese, packing it down and leveling the top. Spoon in another third of the cheese, packing it down firmly. Sprinkle most of the pistachios evenly over the cheese, reserving some for sprinkling on top. Spoon in the remaining cheese, packing it down firmly and leveling the top. Cover with the overlapping plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven until dry on top, about 5 minutes. Turn the slices over and toast on the other side until crisp on the edges but still soft in the center, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.

To serve, uncover the top of the torta and unmold it onto a large serving plate. Remove the plastic and sprinkle the reserved pistachios on top. Let the torta stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Arrange the baguette slices around the torta and serve.
Serves 12.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Christmas, by Carolyn Miller (Simon & Schuster, 2003).