Thanksgiving Roundup: The Appetizers

I already wrote about our delicious Thanksgiving lunch of chipotle corn chowder, rolls, and Bloody Marys, but here's what else we had for our harvest celebration. Thanksgiving is the culmination of our year's labor, so I'm going to show it off a bit.

Some snacky appetizers: pickled Swiss chard stems, sweet gherkins, and curry sour refrigerator pickles. Also on the scene is a slice of cheese torta to spread on the crackers. That wedge is actually a small portion of what was once a giant jello-mold-esque bomb of buttery, cheesy delight. It's super-rich and freezes well, so we brought a piece out for the holidays.

This is modified from an old recipe from Kirk's mom that we only have a photocopy of. Here's how we make it.

Cheese Torta

2 packages of cream cheese, room temp
4 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp
6 pesto cubes, melted (about 4 oz.)
1 small jar of oil-packed sundried tomatoes

1. Moisten and then wring out cheese cloth, and use a double layer to line a large mixing bowl (or fancy mold if you have one). Make sure there is plenty left to overhang the sides.

2. Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer until thoroughly blended.

3. Use a food processor  to finely chop all the sundried tomatoes, but save 1-2 for garnish. Place those 2 in the bottom of your mold (they'll end up on the top when you turn it out, so center them nicely).

4. Layering time! Spread 2/3 cup cheese mixture smoothly into the bottom of the mold. Then spread 1/3 cup pesto, another 2/3 cup layer of cheese, then half of your chopped tomatoes. 

5. Repeat. Be sure to end with a final layer of cheese.

6. Fold the edges of the cheesecloth over the top and chill until firm. Overnight is your best bet.

7. Unwrap the cheesecloth and carefully turn out the torta onto a serving plate. Use a knife to spread on baguettes, crackers, whatever. Also tastes great by the spoonful, but this certainly spike your cholesterol. Beware: totally addictive.

We also had some kid-friendly, brunchy fruits (pineapple and mango), plus some pistachios by Jonas' request and some chipotle lime pumpkin seeds (made with the seeds from our pie pumpkin). 

Our guests also brought some outstanding homemade veggie spring rolls and dipping sauce, and cooked up a pot of clams (a Wampanoag tradition, by the way) on the spot. I didn't take a picture, but maybe we can get a guest post to share the secret of those dishes some day, because they were delicious!


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