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Our cookbook of the week is Alpine Cooking by Meredith Erickson, co-author of the Joe Beef cookbooks, among others. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with its author.
A Heuriger (tavern) mainstay — especially during the fall harvest — Meredith Erickson developed a taste for liptauer (spiced cheese spread) as she ate, hiked and skied her way across the Austrian Alps.
Made with a variety of dairy products — including quark (a smooth and tangy soft cheese) and cultured butter — fresh herbs, earthy cumin and aromatic paprika, her recipe was inspired by the spread Philipp Rauscher, custodian of the Resterhöhe Berggasthaus & Lodge in the Kitzbühel Alps, made when she took refuge there.
Erickson recommends serving it with bread (it was perfect slathered on a slice of whole grain sourdough with some chopped chives sprinkled over top), chips or crackers for dipping, or piping it into mini sweet peppers. To complete the Austrian autumnal evocation, pour yourself “a glass of crisp Grüner Veltliner or seasonal Sturm (freshly fermented grape juice).”
SPICED CHEESE SPREAD
2/3 cup (145 g) unsalted cultured butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) quark cheese (see note)
3 tbsp (45 mL) crème fraîche
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 tsp (5 mL) drained brined capers
3 canned anchovies, minced
10 gherkins, diced
3 tbsp (45 mL) sour cream
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tbsp (15 mL) caraway seeds
1 tbsp (15 mL) sweet paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced chives
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a small bowl, using a fork or a small whisk, whip the butter until smooth, then add the quark and crème fraîche, stirring until smooth again. Stir in the onion, capers, anchovies and gherkins.
Finally, adjusting amounts as desired, add in the sour cream, mustard, caraway seeds, paprika, salt, pepper, chives and parsley. (You can also add a splash of the gherkin juice from the jar.) Transfer to a crock or glass jar for serving.
Serves: 4 to 6
Note: Quark, one of the dairy bases for this dip, is technically a fresh soft cheese, though it tastes a lot like sour cream, and is used in many cooked and uncooked dishes in Germany, France (where it is called fromage blanc), and in the Slavic countries. Look for quark in the refrigerated dairy section of your supermarket.
Reprinted with permission from Alpine Cooking , by Meredith Erickson, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Christina Holmes.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019