Liptauer/Šmirkás, or spicy “cheese” spread (Slovakia)

Slovakia is a landlocked country in Central Europe, though traditionally culturally associated with East Europe. Until 1993 it formed the country Czechoslovakia together with what is now the Czech republic. Earlier it used to be a part of Austria-Hungary. The economy is very quickly growing, in 2006 the growth in GDP was the highest in all OECD countries. Car manufacturing and electrical engineering are the main industries.

Slovakian cuisine has traditionally been heavy on several different kinds of meat, while vegetables haven’t been used that much. Cheese, sheep cheese in particular, is consumed a lot, too. The staple starches are noodles, dumplings, bread and potatoes. Other common ingredients include e.g. mushrooms, eggs, beans, nuts and cabbage, especially sauerkraut. Herbs and spices have traditionally not been used much. Wine and beer are both very popular. Most desserts are rich cakes or other baked goods, often featuring chocolate, jam, apples, nuts or a custard filling.

Liptauer (also called Šmirkás in Slovakia) is a spiced cheese spread usually made with a combination of cow milk cheese and sheep cheese. Besides Serbia it is known in Austria, Hungary and Serbia. It is used on bread or in cooking, especially as a filling for cold dishes. (You could also use it as a dip.) I happened to have some raw marinated portobellos around so I tried it the latter way, it was pretty nice, though other than that I didn’t really care for it. It was much less sharp than I expected, though. I haven’t had real liptauer, but I expect it to be sharper.

The recipe comes from the The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, though I slightly altered it. You can use soaked cashews or cashew butter to replace a part of the tofu for a creamier cheese, I used about 3/4 tofu and 1/4 cashews. You can replace all tofu with cashews and/or cooked white beans (adding more liquid), but if you only use nuts, I would reduce the amount of mayonnaise.

Liptauer/Šmirkás

Vegan liptauer

1/2 pound/225 g firm tofu (or tofu and cashews, see the notes)
1/3 cup/0.8 dl vegan mayonnaise
1 tbsp drained capers
1 tbsp scallions or chives (or more)
2 tsp umeboshi plum paste (I used umeboshi vinegar)
2 tsp ground caraway
1 tsp dry mustard
paprika powder

Break the tofu into large chunks. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Drain well. Let cool until it can be handled.

Place the tofu and all the other ingredients except for paprika in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. When serving sprinkle with paprika powder. Makes about 1.5 cups or 3.5 dl.


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