Hungarian Cottage Cheese (“Pot Cheese”) Appetizer Spread

Hungarian Cottage Cheese (“Pot Cheese”) Appetizer Spread

I’ve been cooking a lot of Eastern European food recently, Russian “Tefteli” meatballs (see my blog posting of 10/2/2019), cheese-potato Pirozhki, radish salad with sour cream (see my blog posting of 10/2/2019), Transylvanian goulash. Maybe it’s fantasizing for cooler weather as this dry heat wave continues in Georgia.

Bowl by Maria Dondero, Marmalade Pottery, Athens GA
Here’s a common appetizer from Hungarian cooking, which I encountered repeatedly at an authentic Hungarian restaurant I frequented when I was in school. It’s easy and satisfying.

Pot cheese, the homemade fresh cheese in Central Europe, is relatively close to the old fashioned dry-curd cottage cheese that used to be sold in the US. What seems available now is wetter “creamed” cottage cheese. It can be turned back into the drier version by letting sit in a sieve for an hour or so to drain.

The recipe will serve 8 to 12 as an appetizer with bread or crackers.

1 pint of fine curd cottage cheese
1 tablespoon minced chives or green onion tops
1/2 teaspoon paprika, Hungarian “sweet” (not hot) preferred
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (herb-seasoned can be good), plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne

Place cottage cheese in a strainer or cheese cloth over a bowl and let it drain for an hour.

Mix cheese well with remaining ingredients. Let rest a few minutes, then stir again.

Taste for salt, and add a little if needed. More paprika can be added if slightly pinker color is desired.

Let mixture sit for a while, refrigerated, to let flavors mellow.

Serve with bread or crackers to spread the mixture on.

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