December 17th, 2008

Savory Cheesecake

Cheesecake, that indulgent combo of cream cheese, eggs, and what-you-fancy, is a crowd-pleaser in all its guises. Everyone is familiar with the myriad sweet versions: New York original, chocolate, chocolate chip, strawberry, mocha…and no doubt, has a favorite.

But the cake’s savory sides are not as known.

I’ve had guests ask me, “This looks really good. What is it?”
and cock their heads with uncertainty when I say “It’s a Savory Cheesecake.”
When I explain that it’s got cream cheese, feta, artichoke hearts, green onions, fresh dillweed and oregano; just spread it on a cracker, Eyes Light Up.

This has all the right Big Party elements: rich Greek-inspired flavors and show-stopper looks, easy to make at a modest cost. One cake goes a long way—up to 50 guest’s worth of slathers on crackers—not to mention the yummy puff pastry crust.

Savory Cheesecake
2 lbs. softened cream cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup (or more) chopped artichoke hearts
3 minced garlic cloves
5 finely chopped scallions
2 Tablespoons fresh dillweed (2 t., if using dry)
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano (2 t., if using dry)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 eggs
pinch red pepper flakes
½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 10 inchx15 inchpuff pastry sheet (you can use smaller sheets and piece together–the pastry
pieces easily.)
9 inch round springform pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line the bottom and sides of the springform pan with puff pastry.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the feta and cream cheeses.
Beat in the artichoke hearts, scallions, and minced garlic. Add herbs, salt and pepper.
Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl, mixing well.
Pour into pastry-lined springform pan and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool, then unmold.
Garnish with sundried tomatoes and fresh oregano or dill.
Serve at room temperature with crackers or crostini.

Caterer’s Tips: This can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. I have had success freezing it, ungarnished. For a holiday look, I used English ivy and clusters of nandina berries clipped from my backyard to garnish the platter.

Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Recipes | 9 Comments »