This delicious mound of cheese layered with herbs, tomatoes and olives is always a hit--and it's something a little different, but fits right in with other Super Bowl snacks.
This recipe is a version of the "Cheese Timbale" that was served years ago at the Sugarloaf Inn when it was a restaurant. Timbales are layered dishes created in a vessel that resembles the kettle drum of the same name. This miniature, no-cook version is a blend of soft cheese--your choice--colorful and full of flavor.
Makes a 1 cup timbale
This dish needs to chill for a minimum of 4 hours before serving
Approximately 6 ounces of soft cheese at room temperature: it could be all goat cheese, or half goat cheese mixed with cream cheese, or blue cheese mixed with cream cheese. You decide which sounds best. I prefer the cream cheese blend. Both goat cheese or blue cheese are wonderful combinations.
Handful chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
Handful fresh basil leaves, parsley, or chives--or mix of all 3--minced
1/2 roasted red pepper, cut into small dice
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes (see directions below)
Minced garlic, shallots, or green onions
Edible decoration for the top. In mid-winter, it could be a leaf from Italian parsley. In summer, an edible flower such as nasturtium, viola, chive blossom, etc.
If using 2 cheeses, blend them together. Divide the cheese into 3 equal portions and flatten into discs that will fit inside a one-cup ramekin.
Mince the tomatoes and then place them into a small dish and cover with hot water to soften for 5 minutes or so. Pat dry on a clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel before adding to mixture.
Press a sheet of cling film--large enough to leave several inches of film for covering the dish once it is filled-- into the bottom of a 1-cup ramekin. Put the flower and/or some herbs in the center of the wrap (this will become the top of your creation).
Place one disk of cheese on top of the flower/herb decoration. Press down and make level. Scatter any combination of the remaining ingredients over the cheese, making sure that there are some on the edges so they will be visible in the finished timbale. I like to create one red layer and one green layer.
Repeat with the other 2 disks of cheese and remaining herbs, olives, etc., ending with cheese.
Fold the plastic wrap up over the last layer of cheese and press down gently to compress the cheese and fillings. Place the ramekin in the fridge and weight with a can or jar that fits inside the ramekin and rests on the cheese. This helps to compress all of the layers. Chill for at least 4 and up to 24 hours.
Unfold the plastic wrap and using the edges of the plastic, gently lift the timbale out of the ramekin. Place on a pretty plate, smooth out any wrinkles with a knife, if you wish. Serve with crackers, or bread.