Make Ahead

Anchovy Cheese

December  2, 2010
3 Ratings
Author Notes

One of my earliest assignments as my mother's sous-chef for her dinner parties and open houses back in the 1960's and 70's was to mix together “Liptauer,” a soft cheese spread popular in Hungary, going back to when they had an emperor, or perhaps before I’ve never cared much for the original recipes defining flavors -- caraway seeds and sweet paprika -- so as I’d prepare the spread, I’d mix all of the ingredients except those two, set some aside for myself, and then complete the spread and set it out. My mother also entrusted me to prepare all of the crudités for her parties, including what we called “radish rosettes.” I must have carved thousands – well, it sure seemed like that – over the years. I was never a big fan of raw radishes, but oh, how I enjoyed that anchovy and caper scented butter and cream cheese spread slathered generously over those rosettes. (The small “petals” of the rosettes provide extra places to fill up with the spread!) Today, I use the basic ingredients from that old recipe, making it my own by leaving out the caraway seeds and sweet paprika, adding a touch of parsley and lemon zest and juice, and using a lot more anchovies, because frankly, they're just so darned good. You can serve this with plain crackers or herbed flatbread, but do put a small knife out, as this really is not a dip. Also, if you know your guests appreciate anchovies, use four or five to garnish the top, radiating them from the center of the dish or mound. With or without the anchovies on top, shake a good thick layer of the best smoked paprika you can find all over it before serving. Enjoy! ;o) —AntoniaJames

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Makes about 1 and a half cups (can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled)
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (softened, at room temperature) or any similar cheese
  • 4 ounces (1 stick, or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature (soft and easily spread)
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 8-10 anchovies (more or less -- fewer if using large ones), plus more to taste and/or to garnish,
  • 2 teaspoon of capers,, drained and coarsely chopped, plus a few more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided in half
  • 10-12 chives, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Smoked paprika, for generously sprinkling all over the top
  • Extra anchovies, optional, for garnish
  • FOR SERVING
  • Thin slices baguette, toasted, or water biscuits
  • Radish rosettes
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Thoroughly cream together the butter, cream cheese and crème fraiche. Using a mortar and pestle if you have one, crush the anchovies with the chopped capers to make a fine paste. (You can also just chop them as finely as possible using a knife.) Add the anchovy paste and the mustard, chives, chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice. Stir well to blend thoroughly.
  2. Taste and add more lemon, mustard or anchovies, to taste. (You’ll need to pound the additional anchovies, of course.) Shape into a mound onto a small plate surrounded by radish rosettes or plain crackers. I do this using a bowl that I’ve lightly rinsed with water beforehand. I stuff the spread into it, then turn it out, smoothing with a butter knife once it’s on the plate. You can also serve this in several medium ramekins.
  3. Sprinkle generously with smoked paprika. If you know they'll be appreciated, garnish with anchovies, radiating from the center, piling on a few capers at the intersection.
  4. Serve with water biscuits, thin slices of toasted baguette, or on radish rosettes.
  5. Enjoy!! ;o)

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AntoniaJames

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in Boulder County, CO, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)

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