Smoked Salmon Torta

Salmon from both east and west coasts holds a special place in Canadian hearts -- and palates - said Murray McMillan of the Vancouver Sun. "No wonder," he added, "we have some of the best in the world." For his recipe, he turned to smoked salmon - "a suitably luxurious ingredient for a special picnic on a special day."

Murray compared a torta to a layered paté and notes that it transports well for a picnic. Make it the day ahead, he advised, and you'll have a major component of your July 1 menu ready to slip out of the fridge and into your cooler.

All you need to pack along with it is a simple serving plate and lots of good crackers or freshly sliced french bread.

2 packages (8 oz./250 g each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 C. (125 mL) butter, at room temperature
2 or 3 sprigs fresh dill
1/4 C. (50 mL) chopped fresh dill
1/2 lb. (250 g) sliced smoked salmon
Assorted bread and crackers

Beat together cream cheese and butter; add salt to taste. Line an 8 x 4-inch (20 x 10 cm) loaf pan with a piece of plastic wrap large enough to extend over edge of pan. Arrange dill sprigs on bottom.

Carefully spread a third of the cheese mixture in the lined pan to make an even layer. Sprinkle half the chopped dill over cheese layer; top with half the smoked salmon. Repeat layering, ending with cream cheese mixture. Press down lightly to compact layers. Cover and chill overnight.

To serve, pull edges of plastic wrap up to loosen torta; invert on to plate and carefully remove plastic wrap. Garnish as desired.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups (875 mL).


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