What did I get myself into, deciding to put this here? It sounds, or will once I explain it, so unlikely, so culinarily yesteryear. But if we're talking family favorites, I couldn't leave it out.
Liptauer was the deli-counter delicacy of my childhood. But something made me remember it and, from taste-memory and some notes from the kitchen book inherited by my friend Olivia from her mother, I tried my hand at making it myself, and I can confidently and categorically state that it's not some sentimental yearning that makes me now want to see its comeback.
You don't need to go in for the retro-molding here, just mix the ingredients and plonk them in a bowl if you like; but whatever, this glorious cream cheese, caper, caraway seed, and paprika combination, spread over sour black bread or—if you don't have the genetic taste for it—over slices of any dark or brown bread, which you can get from the supermarket, is rhapsodically unbeatable.
- 18 ounces cream cheese
- 2-1/4 cups cottage cheese
- 4-5 tablespoons capers
- 8 cornichons, chopped
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- Pinch of salt
- Good grating of black pepper
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2 teaspoons French mustard
- 1-quart mold or bowl
For drizzling over:
- 1-2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil
- Fat pinch of paprika
Beat the two cheeses together until they are smooth, and then add all the other ingredients. Mix everything together well, and then turn into a small bowl with a capacity of approximately 1 quart, lined with plastic wrap for easier unmolding later. Smooth the top with a spatula and cover with the overhanging plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator to set. I put a couple of cans on top to press it down, but I don't feel it's crucial. I think it's because my mother was always putting pâté and suchlike in the refrigerator with weights on.
When it has become cold enough to turn out—a few hours should do it—unwrap the folded-over plastic wrap on top, place a plate over the now uncovered bowl, turn it the other way out and unmold. Pull the pastic wrap off and drizzle over a rust-red ooze, made by mixing the oil with a pinch of paprika.
Serve this with bread or poppy-seed-sprinkled bagels, gherkins, and, if you like, some chopped red onions.