In a recent post, I described an amazing feast we enjoyed at Bar Tartine in San Francisco. One of the co-chefs, Cortney Burns, is featured in an article titled, “Dairy Queen” in the Spring, 2014 issue of Culture: the Word on Cheese, a beautiful quarterly magazine all about cheese. Before our recent visit to the restaurant, Sarah and Evan said we should be sure to get the Liptauer cheese spread. Unfortunately, it was not on the menu that night, so we didn’t get to give it a try. I’m not sure, but I suspect that Cortney is behind the spread being on the menu because of her obvious interest and expertise in cheese. Liptauer cheese, like the pimento cheese I wrote about a while back, is a classic from earlier days, commonly seen at cocktail parties. I guess with the renaissance of cocktails, there is a renewed interest in cheese spreads as well. Liptauer cheese is the name for both the soft, fresh, sheep’s milk cheese originating in Liptauer, Hungary, and the seasoned spread made and enjoyed in Austria, Germany, and other European countries. You probably won’t be able to find the original Liptauer cheese at your local cheese monger, but fortunately you can make a reasonable facsimile using cottage cheese or cream cheese. If you want to turn your spread into a dip, just add enough sour cream to suit your taste. Also, for some tastes, this version may be a little bland. You can spice it up with cayenne or your favorite hot pepper sauce to taste.
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- anchovy filet, mashed (or about 1 inch of anchovy paste)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chives, minced
- 1 tablespoon green onion tops, chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- cayenne or pepper sauce (optional, to taste)
- finely chopped chives or green scallions or paprika for covering the cheese ball.
- In a food processor, pulse the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients until evenly combined.
- Refrigerate until firm, at least two hours or overnight. When firm, shape into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Chill again.
- Roll the chilled cheese ball in chopped chives or green scallion tops (I used a mixture of garlic chives and scallions. Alternatively you can roll it in paprika.)
- Serve at room temperature with fresh, crusty bread – preferably dark rye – or crudités.