Our food-loving neighbors nominated this torte as the recipe that would make our fortunes if we launched it as the flagship of a frozen food line. We haven't cashed in yet, but this dish delivers on so many fronts it's the best time investment you could make for a splashy party.
Really a main dish cheesecake wrapped in incredibly buttery phyllo, the genius is in the shape -- a Bundt ring that stands golden and proud. This is a dish destined for many a buffet. Serve it with salad. A little honey on the side heightens the cheeses. Torte is best eaten the day it is made, but reheats well up to 3 days later.
Thanks to food writer Melissa Clark for sharing the recipe that launched this dish.
Wine: Look for a dry style Gewürztraminer from Italy's Alto Adige, Mendocino's Anderson Valley, or from Michigan.
2 cups (8 ounces) crumbled feta cheese (rinsed, dried and crumbled first, if in liquid)
1-1/2 cups whole milk cottage cheese, drained in a sieve
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Kasseri or Asiago cheese
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 medium onion, cut in 1/4-inch dice
2/3 cup chopped fresh dill (not packed)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus additional to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
1-pound box frozen phyllo dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator, if necessary
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
5 to 7 sprigs of fresh dill for garnish
1 cup honey (Greek preferred)
1. Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Have a 12-cup Bundt pan handy. In a large bowl, lightly combine the four cheeses, onion, dill, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the pepper. Blend and taste for seasoning, adding more nutmeg and salt if necessary. Then blend in the eggs. The mixture should be a bit chunky.
2. Line the Pan with Phyllo: Spread out a towel on a counter, top it with a piece of plastic wrap and unroll the phyllo dough onto it. Cover the phyllo with another piece of plastic wrap and then a dampened towel (keep the phyllo covered when you're not lifting off a sheet). Brush the Bundt pan with some of the melted butter so the inside is well coated.
3. Lay a sheet of phyllo across the pan, then crisscross another over it. Press the sheets down into the pan so they break over the center tube. Keep layering and crisscrossing the dough sheets (they should overhang the pan) so the inside of the center tube and entire pan is lined with many layers of phyllo.
4. Filling the torte: Turn the cheese filling into the pan, fold the overhanging phyllo over the cheese and press it in very gently. Use a knife to make about 30 cuts straight down into the torte to the bottom of the Bundt pan. Pour in the melted butter and don't worry if some stays atop the torte.
5. Bake the torte: Put the Bundt pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until the torte is puffy and golden brown. Cool it in its pan at room temperature 1 to 2 hours.
6. To serve, place a serving platter atop the pan and flip the Bundt over onto the platter. You'll hear a reassuring plonk. Lift off the pan, then garnish the torte with fresh dill. The torte is delicious warm or at room temperature. Pass the honey at the table for drizzling over each slice.
From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter 2011.
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