2 cups panko or other coarse, dry bread crumbs
¾ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
½ cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, minced
1 ¾ pound cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup grated Asiago cheese
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 large eggs, separated
8 ounces good-quality smoked salmon, chopped
To make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and dill, and stir gently. Drizzle the butter in slowly while stirring to lightly coat the bread crumbs. They should be loose, not compacted. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a buttered 9-inch springform pan. The crust will not come all the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate.
To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter and sauté the onion until soft but not brown. Set aside. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand with a wooden spoon, blend the cream cheese, half-and-half, sautéed onion, cheese, salt, and pepper until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff but not dry peaks. Fold in the salmon. Carefully fold the mixture into the cream cheese mixture. (It should have the consistency of a thick batter. If it's too stiff, stir in a little milk or cream.) Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for one hour and ten minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
Remove the ring from the springform pan and cut the cheesecake into slices with a warm knife. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe courtesy of "From the Earth to the Table," John Ash, author, Chronicle Books, 2007.