Cheese Torta with Apricot Chutney
The simpler the recipe the more important the quality of the ingredients is. This cheese torta is a perfect example. Simple, easy to prepare, and so tasty.
Mari Rossi invited me to try this recipe in her kitchen at B & R Farms. Jim and Mari Rossi and their son Scott run this apricot ranch in Hollister, where they grow the Queen of Apricots, the Blenheim. Using recipes from Jim's mother Elsie and recipes developed by Mari, their products all use dried apricots from their farm.
To make the cheese torta, we combined 8 ounces of Fromage Blanc and 2 cups of grated Goat Milk Cheddar.
Cowgirl Creamery makes a number of fresh cheeses, including Fromage Blanc, Crème Fraiche and Clabbered Cottage Cheese, all of them award-winners from the American Cheese Society. (We use the Crème Fraiche in the recipe for Dried Fruit in Vanilla Wine Syrup.) Fromage Blanc is sort of a French version of cream cheese, only richer and yummier.
The goats at Redwood Hill Farms are happy goats, and the cheese is wonderful as a result, a fact that is attested to by the numerous awards the farm has won. All the cheeses are made on the farm with milk from their own herd of goats.
There is a cheese for every occasion (and every wine pairing): fresh chevre, the Camembert-style Camellia, earthy and robust California Crottin, raw milk Gravenstein Gold cider washed and aged, feta, cheddar and smoked cheddar.
As Mari added the grated goat milk cheddar from Redwood Hill Farms to the Cowgirl Creamery Fromage Blanc, she was watching the consistency of the torta. She chose to add not quite the full 2 cups of cheddar. It's a matter of personal preference, and it helps to keep in mind that a little bit of liquid is still to be added.
The ingredients to add to the torta mixture were a dash of hot pepper sauce, two tablespoons of dry sherry, three to four minced green onions, a quarter teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of curry powder. That's it!
The torta was shaped on a plate, any shape will do. And it was topped with the B & R Farms Dried Apricot Chutney. Mari made sure that it was well covered, so that every single bite would have both cheese and chutney!
To serve the torta, we used Valley Lahvosh heart-shaped Lahvosh crackers. It makes a pretty presentation and a tasty backdrop to the cheese torta. Valley Lahvosh also makes round crackers and star-shaped crackers (nice at the holidays).
Since we had opened a bottle of very good dry sherry to make the recipe, we had a little glass of that with the finished torta. Marvelous! It would also be nice with a dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer. A Sauvignon Blanc or off-dry rosé would pair well too.