Lip-ity Do Dah
Liptauer is a type of fresh cheese from the picturesque Liptov region in Slovakia, which is, admittedly, far from Flyoverlandia. As in an ocean and much of a continent away. So why am I writing about it here? Because Liptov also gave its name to a delicious cheese spread featuring its famous cheese. Liptauer is the adjectival form of the Germanic name for Liptov: Liptau. The cheese, typically made from sheep’s milk, is mild and fresh and difficult to get in the United States. Liptauer cheese, however, has also come to refer to a spread with said cheese as its base, flavored with capers and caraway and such, and served with dark bread.
So, Are You Going to Get Around to the Flyover Part?
Cool your jets, hold your horses, relax-don’t do it. In a word, yes. Right now. Firstly, it turns out that you can make Liptauer cheese (the spread, not the fromage, unless you have a ewe in the backyard between the shed and the Weber grill). And secondly, it also turns out that you can use cottage cheese, specifically the more accessible Kalona Supernatural cottage cheese to make a reasonable (and quite delicious) facsimile of Liptauer cheese spread. And thirdly, it turns out that the recipe follows below.
Makes 1.5 cups
What You’ll Need
- a hand blender, food processor, or fine strainer and bowl
- chopping board and knife
- two mixing bowls (preferably medium)
- wooden spoon or hand mixer
- small bowl of approximately 1.5 cup volume
- mortar and pestle (optional)
- a small plate
- plastic wrap
- 1 cup of full-fat cottage cheese, preferably Kalona Supernatural brand
- 1 stick (8 Tbsp) softened butter—I used Organic Valley’s Pasture Butter, which is lightly salted
- 1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1/4 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp dry mustard powder
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
- 2-3 Tbsp finely chopped cornichons, gherkins, or capers
- 1 garlic clove, papery skin removed
- 1 tsp anchovy paste (omit for vegetarian version)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp finely chopped parsley or chives
- 1/4-1/2 tsp fine salt
- freshly ground black pepper
How To Make Liptauer Cheese Spread
- Using your blender and mixing bowl or food processor, blend the cottage cheese until it is a smooth paste; alternately, go low tech and press the cottage cheese through a strainer into the mixing bowl. If the cottage cheese is watery, drain in a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter for 15 minutes
- Cream the butter in another mixing bowl. Add the cottage cheese and mix together well.
- Put the caraway seeds and garlic clove in a mortar and pestle. Grind into a paste. Alternately, mince the garlic finely and leave the caraway seeds whole.
- Add the paprikas, caraway seed-garlic mixture, mustard, cornichons or capers, onion, and anchovy paste (if using). Mix together well.
- Add the sour cream, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, mixing thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
- Line the smaller bowl with plastic wrap. Put the entire mixture into the plastic-lined bowl and then place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours; this gives the flavors a chance to meld.1
- Remove from refrigerator and unmold onto a plate. To do this, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap, then place a plate on top of the bowl. Invert the bowl onto the plate, remove bowl, and then remove the remaining plastic wrap.
- Sprinkle with the parsley or chives. Serve with dark bread (I’ve used cocktail rye).
I’ve adapted this from Sara Dickerman’s recipe found in the New York Times (which is itself an adaptation from Joseph Wechsberg’s recipe found in The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire)
1I’ve found that this doesn’t taste very good initially, but fabulous after the Refrigerator Tour of Duty. The flavors really come alive and work well together after sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours.