Years ago (more than I care to admit), I was an exchange student in Vienna, Austria. It was there I had my first kiss, my first martini, and my first taste of Liptauer. It’s hard to say which of these made the biggest impression on me. Needless to say, I spent many a balmy night in the Heuriger (wine gardens), drinking the season’s new wine and noshing on German rye thickly slathered with a creamy, salty spread laced with mustard, paprika, and garlic.
Try Liptauer with a soft pretzel or three, and soon you’ll be singing the praises of the Austro-Hungarian empire (at least culinarily).
Swept up in Austria
This spread balances the tangy bite of pickles and capers with lots of creamy goodness. It is excellent on everything from crudités to crackers. Serve it at your next holiday party and brace yourself to explain—repeatedly—what the heck makes it so addictive. It’s that good. You might as well make a triple batch, as I did. Just think of it as exotic pimento cheese ;).
-4 Tbsp. butter, softened
-1 Tbsp. cream cheese
-1 c. quark (available at Whole Foods, or substitute fromage blanc (drained), soft farmer’s cheese, or you might try 2 parts full-fat Greek yogurt and 1 part whipped cream cheese)
-1/3 onion, peeled
-1 clove garlic, peeled
-1 tsp. water
-1/3 c. chopped pickles or cornichons (German pickles are sweet-sour, so perhaps combine equal amounts dill and bread and butter pickles)
-1 1/2 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
-1 tsp. hot German or Dijon mustard
-1 tsp. anchovy paste or 3/4 tsp. finely minced anchovies
-1 tsp. tomato paste
-1 tsp. capers, chopped
-1 tsp. fresh snipped chives, plus more for garnish
-1 pinch cayenne pepper
-pinch of dill, for garnish
-salt & pepper, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, whip the butter, cream cheese, and quark (or its substitute). Make sure the butter is soft to avoid unpleasant chunks.
2. Add the water, onion, garlic, and 1 Tbsp. of the butter-cheese mixture to a blender and purée.
3. Pour the onion-garlic puree into the bowl with the cheeses and mix well.
4. Mix in the remaining ingredients and combine well. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. If you used unsalted butter, salt liberally.
Garnish with snipped chives and dill and serve with soft pretzels, celery sticks, crackers, or German rye bread. Liptauer tastes best when made the day before so the flavors have a chance to mingle and throw back a couple martinis together.
This recipe was translated and adapted from the German.