Plan a Home & Garden Party: Scrumptious Salmon and Dilly Cheese Torta

| August/September 2001

  • By Lucinda Hutson

Makes 12 slices

This torta layers rosy slices of salmon and feathery green leaves of dill with a cream cheese filling flavored with capers, mustard seeds, and shallots. Inverted onto a platter and garnished with cucumber slices, nasturtium flowers, and fresh dill, the torta is a beautifully presented dish. It is delicious accompanied by Cool Cucumber and Dilled Artichoke Salsa and small condiment bowls of chopped red onions, capers, and caviar. Let guests assemble their own open-faced sandwiches on party pumpernickel, pita crisps, or water crackers.

• 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 5 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
• 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
• 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
• 8 to 10 ounces smoked salmon
• 2 tablespoons capers, divided
• 2 chopped scallions with some green tops, divided
• 3 dill sprigs, thick stems removed
• 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
• Optional garnishes
• Fresh sprigs of dill and/or salad burnet
• Capers
• Nasturtium flowers
• Chive blossoms
• Borage flowers
• Viola flowers
• Caviar
• Finely chopped red onions
• Cucumber slices

1. In a food processor, mix the cream cheese with the shallots, lemon juice, dill, mustard, horseradish, and mustard seeds. Line a 3-cup loaf pan or bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Arrange 2 or 3 slices of salmon in the pan so they touch both the bottom and the sides, leaving equal spaces between them (when the torta is unmolded, these slices will be on top and the cream cheese mixture will show through the spaces).

2. Insert sprigs of dill underneath the salmon slices. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture into the pan over the salmon, making sure to get enough in the corners and edges to completely fill the pan. (This takes some patience, because the cream cheese will pull away from the plastic wrap.) Sprinkle this layer with 1 tablespoon of capers, half of the chopped scallions, and half of the dill sprigs. Add a layer of salmon—about half of the remaining salmon—pressing down gently. Spread the remaining cream cheese over the salmon. Sprinkle with the remaining capers, scallions, and dill. Top with remaining salmon slices and cover tightly. Chill overnight.

3. Unmold the torta onto a platter. Garnish with any of the above items or arrange them in small bowls around the torta. Serve on chilled plates.

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