Warm Creole Cream Cheese and Goat Cheese Cakes with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pesto
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 1/2 ounces drained sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 1/2 ounces herbed goat cheese, softened
- 6 ounces Creole cream cheese, recipe follows
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more, to season salad greens
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning salad greens
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 3 cups mixed salad greens
- Basil Pesto, recipe follows
- Homemade Creole Cream Cheese:
- 1 gallon skim milk, at room temperature (between 70 and 80 degrees F)
- 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon rennet (6 to 8 drops)
- 6 to 7 cream cheese molds (2 cups each)
- Basil pesto:
- 1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of a food processor, puree the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes on high speed. Slowly add the oil through the feed tube as the machine is running and process until smooth. Add the goat cheese and Creole cream cheese and process until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the eggs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper, and whisk well to combine.
Using a pastry brush, grease 6 (6-ounce) ramekins with the melted butter and sprinkle the inside of each with the bread crumbs to lightly coat. Divide the cheese batter among the ramekins. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through and risen. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the greens with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the greens among 6 serving plates, and invert one cheesecake onto each, shaking gently to release. Drizzle each cake with basil pesto, and garnish with remaining sun-dried tomato puree, if desired. Serve immediately.Homemade Creole Cream Cheese:
In a large enameled saucepan, glass, or plastic bowl, combine milk, buttermilk, and rennet and stir constantly for one minute. Cover the container with plastic wrap or cheesecloth and allow to stand at room temperature (between 70 and 80 degrees F) for 16 to 24 hours. Do not stir again, or you will break the curds. The longer the mixture sits, the firmer the cheese will be.
Carefully ladle the curds into cheese molds lined with cheesecloth. (These could be plastic containers with holes punched in the sides and bottoms if you have no cheese molds.) Place molds inside a baking pan to catch the excess whey that will drain off of the cheeses. Place molds in the refrigerator for at least 6 to 8 hours, longer is fine (cheese will become firmer as more liquid drains). The cheese is now ready to eat and will keep, refrigerated, for at least two weeks.
Yield: 6 containers cream cheese, about 1 1/2 cups eachBasil pesto:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, cheese, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Puree on high speed. Slowly add the oil through the feed tube and process until a smooth paste forms. Pour into a bowl until ready to use.
Yield: a generous 1/2 cup
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