January - The Sound of (Flamenco) Music

Liptauer CheeseJanet Wynne Evans suggests a Spanish twist to Liptauer cheese, beloved of '70s buffets, and a recipe for stuffed piquillo peppers

With Christmas done and dusted, and the piste and après-ski looming, it occurs to me that some members may share my enthusiasm for the latter without feeling the need to trudge up the former, just to slide down again on two wooden planks, and possibly end up in a cast.

Why bother when you can get quite a good workout turning out the kitchen cabinets in search of new and stylish ways to deal with the continuing joy of festive leftovers?

Liptauer cheese, darling of 1970s buffets, is the medium-lazy gourmet's way of pimping cream cheese with bits and pieces most of us have to hand. It's a mittel Europe conceit, for which the credit is claimed by Austria, Hungary, and any number of other points east.

The constants are soft cheese, butter, paprika, caraway seeds, diced onions, anchovies or essence of, and capers. Optional extras - add or deduct marks for authenticity depending on your ethnic roots - might include mustard, gherkins and sour cream.

The end product - a classic absorber of a chilled grüner veltliner or two in an Alpine heurige - is a designer sandwich spread or dip, tinted a beguiling terra-cotta by the paprika, with crunch from the onions, a vinegary tang from the capers and a geography lesson from the caraway seeds, which remind you that, despite the anchovies, you are in sauerkraut and pumpernickel country. I think of their unmistakable flavour as Third-Man-appeal, because like Orson Welles, it's not everyone's cup of tea (including mine, truth be told).

But swap the caraway for coriander and cumin seeds and the Hungarian paprika for smoky pimentón and you suddenly have a Spanish rhythm section that transports you direct to Andalucia. I call this version Liptoro and I like to stuff it into little ready-roasted peppers to serve with a glass of sherry. For a bit of added colour, a few lemon wedges are nice. Best leave old Harry Lime in a sewer in Vienna for this one.

'Juanita' Wynne Evans

'LIPTORO'-STUFFED PIQUILLO PEPPERS

Serves 4-6

  • 1 jar (8-10) roasted whole piquillo peppers in oil, well drained
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika), sweet or hot as you prefer
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 75g butter
  • 1 tbsp capers, well drained and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 anchovies, well drained and finely chopped
  • 1 banana shallot, finely diced or 3-4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, washed and chopped
  • Lemon wedges to serve

Stuffed Piquillo PeppersFirstly, toast the cumin and coriander in a dry pan until they begin to release their flavours. Transfer to a pestle and mortar, along with the salt and grind them to a powder. Add the smoked paprika and mix well.

Beat the cheese and butter together until smooth and light. Add the spices from the mortar and beat again.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well in. Using a teaspoon, fill the peppers with the mixture, while it's still manageably soft and leave in the fridge for as long as you can, ideally overnight, for the flavours to infuse and the filling to chill to a firm consistency.

Serve as a tapa with a glass of any off-dry, medium or even slightly sweet sherry that takes your fancy.

Match of the Day

Friendly: Romate Don José Selection of Oloroso

Premier League: Lustau Botaina Amontillado

Director's Box: Cayetano del Pino Palo Cortado Viejismo 1/5

> View our recipes for leftovers
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