Thursday, June 2, 2011

Italian Torta

Finally! I'm back! Thank goodness! I've been so busy I didn't realize how long it has been since I posted a recipe.

Actually I do know how long I've been away. Everyday that passed & I didn't have time to get a recipe & pictures together I would think, "Blasted, my people need me & my recipes. There's someone out there who needs a torta recipe!"

With that introduction here I am with a new recipe in honor of my friend Natasha who left just today headed to Italy. (Remember I mentioned her in my last post from a couple of weeks ago, she's the science teacher going to teach English to Italian kids. Who da thunk it.)

My an Italian Torta.

What is a torta you ask? Well supposedly it means cake in Italian. I guess this could be a cake. I actually though torta was Italian for layered or layers or some form of the word layer. Apparently I was wrong. However this recipe, as most recipes, is a combination of a couple of different recipes & those recipes were also called tortas.

It can be quite confusing I know. But we'll make it through & we'll keep calling this a torta.

I have been making this recipe for at least 6 years. I've already shared it with a few other people & I stopped making it for a while because I got burnt out on it.

But it made an appearance at a recent baby shower I gave. I needed something easy that did not require cooking of any nature & the torta was my answer.

So, to make said torta...

You're going to need pesto, I use prepared, you can make your own & send me the recipe. You also need sun-dried tomatoes in oil & 16oz of whipped cream cheese.

This is embarrassingly easy to make, but you'll love it.

OH! And you need about a Tablespoon of minced garlic & a healthy couple of teaspoons of Italian seasoning. Mix together the garlic & Italian seasoning with your cream cheese. It's great if you can let this sit a couple of hours before making the torta too. That way the flavors have time to meld together.

This is a picture of the flavors melding.

What is melding anyway, it's a weird word, maybe it's not a word at all. Maybe I just made it up years ago. Either way I use it all the time.

What does it really mean? Maybe that's a conversation for a different type of blog.

Now, drain your sun-dried tomatoes & dump them in a food processor & add a pinch of sugar. Pulse that until they are finely chopped.

Grab your dish you want to use for the mold. I've used a loaf pan, a tart pan, a pie plate, you could use a jello mold or bundt pan if you want. Whatever blows your skirt up. But whatever you use, spray it with non-stick spray & lay plastic wrap over it. You'll need to be sure & smooth the plastic wrap as much as possible & get it in mashed down really well all around the pan or plate or mold or whatever. Once that is done spray the top of the plastic wrap. Just trust me & keep reading.

Score your cream cheese to make even halves.

Now plop (which is a very scientific word by the way) half of the cream cheese in your mold.

Very carefully spread the cream cheese around the bottom of your mold. There is a technique to this & it involves repeat spraying of the back of a spoon with non-stick spray & very small spreads.

The cream cheese will want to stick to the plastic wrap. Be patient & keep spreading. Have a fingertip full of cream cheese to make yourself feel better & spread some more.

When you're done with all that it should look like this. Good luck! This is tedious but I know you can do it.

Now add the chopped tomatoes to the top of the cream cheese.

Evenly disperse the tomatoes. The technique I use here is taking a fork & lightly spreading the tomatoes around. I know, it's becoming a bit much with all the fancy "techniques".

Add the pesto, which can also be drained just a little, & spread over the top of the tomatoes. This can be a little tedious too, but not too bad.

Add the remaining cream cheese to the top of the pesto & use the spraying, spreading, slightly frustrating steps listed earlier.

You're pesto & maybe even a little tomato will want to mix in with the cheese. That's okay, this is the bottom of the torta, no one will see it except you & it will be delizioso regardless of how it looks.

Cover with more plastic wrap & place in the fridge for at least 2 hours so that it can set.

Once it's set, remove from fridge, place your serving dish, upside-down, on the top of the pie plate. Grab the whole thing together with your big lobster claw hand...

And flip it over. You may have to jiggle the pie plate a little & pull on the plastic wrap to get it to come out all the way.

It should come out looking something like this. See the pretty layers...they taste good too. Yummm!

Garnish with some fresh basil leaves & sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil) & you have yourself an Italian Torta.

Serve this with crackers or crostini & enjoy!

Italian Torta
16 oz of whipped cream cheese
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup of prepared pesto
8 oz of sun-dried tomatoes in oil
Dry sun-dried tomatoes (for garnish)
3-4 fresh basil leaves (for garnish)

Mix cheese, garlic & Italian seasoning together & set aside. Place tomatoes in a food processor with a pinch of sugar. Pulse until finely chopped. Spray mold with non-stick spray, place plastic wrap in mold, covering all areas well. Spray top of plastic wrap with non-stick spray as well. Using half of the cream cheese mixture, spread evenly in bottom of mold. Spread tomatoes over cream cheese, the layer pesto over the tomatoes. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture over pesto. Cover well & refrigerate at least 2 hours.

To serve, place serving dish on top of mold, invert, remove mold & plastic wrap. Garnish with dry tomatoes & basil leaves if desired.

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