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Goat Cheese Torta

For this five-layer appetizer, garlic lovers may want to add more to the cheese mixture, but keep in mind that the pesto also has garlic.

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 pound goat cheese, room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Several dashes of fresh pepper
1/4 cup fresh or prepared pesto
6 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
Toasted slivered almonds for garnish
Fresh oregano or parsley sprigs for garnish

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic, oregano and pepper. Use your hands to blend thoroughly. (You also could use a food processor, or you could stir the mixture with a spoon.)

Wrap either two 10-ounce custard cups or one 1-quart casserole dish generously with a double layer of wax paper, going an inch or more over the top of the dishes.

Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture on bottom of the two custard cups or the casserole dish. Top with a thin layer of pesto. Top with 1/3 of cheese mixture.

Drain sun-dried tomatoes, reserving several for garnishes. Cut remaining tomatoes into small pieces, and spread evenly over the cheese mixture. Top with remaining cheese mixture.

Cover with foil or plastic wrap and press gently to pack cheese. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Uncover and invert onto a serving plate or plates. Wipe off juice from pesto and sun-dried tomatoes with a paper towel. Touch up the torta(s) as needed. Garnish with sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, oregano or parsley as desired. Serve with crackers, bread or baguettes.

Makes 1 large torta or 2 smaller tortas, easily enough for 15 to 20 people to have seconds.

Monday, November 19, 2001

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