Usually, my recipes are created out of a desire to enjoy something that through modernization or poorly maintained food traditions, has been made unhealthy. I attempt to bring back recipes that have been filled in with unnecessary additions of sugar or crisco or poor quality grain…so that ethnic food tradition can be rediscovered within the context of whole foods and a healthy lifestyle.
This time however, I was not inspired by something I wanted to eat that needed a healthy update, but rather by something I find completely unpalatable that would serve my nutrition needs better than other options.
I really hate cottage cheese. I went until my 20’s before trying it, and then, only added to cauliflower or quiche and baked…but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it straight up. I love tvorog and quark- far more palatable and attractive European cousins, but cottage cheese is quite possibly the most disgusting food I can think of.
As a child, I remember visiting a nursing home with some homeschool or 4H group I was a part of, and talking to one of the women there about food. She described how when she was a child, they would take their milk that was on the edge, put it in a saucepan, and sit it on the back of the stove for a while. The result was cottage cheese.
I love yogurt. Yogurt sweet or savory is just great. Likewise sour cream. Ricotta is pretty alright.
But cottage cheese is something I find disgusting enough to verge on the comical. Like sardines or headcheese in popular culture (two foods I actually love), cottage cheese seems most appropriate to me served as a punchline.
Unfortunately, it’s also an easily digested fermented dairy product, rich in protein, and relatively low in calories. When looking for weight-conscious protein options, cottage cheese comes up A LOT.
Life is cruel.
Attempting to incorporate cottage cheese into my diet could involve more cottage cheese and cauliflower casseroles, with plenty of onion, garlic and paprika, flavor appearing in this recipe as well. It could involve quiche style creations. However sometimes, a snack or a quick meal is in order, and something (disgusting) like cottage cheese, seems to be the answer.
A drinking snack from the region of Germany most known for it’s wine and being a major location in the Nibelung Saga, Spundekäse is usually made from quark or cream cheese mixed with créme frêche. However, Spundekäse is one of those rare and delightful situations where, though not an identical substitute for quark, cottage cheese will stand in just fine.
Where I live now is the exact opposite of my previous home in Portland, Oregon- There are foods you are just not going to find in Virginia grocery stores (and many Virginian foods you will never see in Portland). Quark and creme frêche are two such foods- but that’s ok! Even in Portland these were pricy foods. In Portland, a cheese dip such as this in similar quantity would cost in the neighborhood of $8 to $10 to make en total. Here…$5 for a quart of it.
What do you get for $5 and a quart of Rhine Hessian style cheese dip, if one serving is 140 grams?
Just under 7 servings per batch
11.4 grams of protein
6.9 grams of carbs
12.6 grams of fat
Traditionally consumed with pretzels and wine, Veggies and crackers both go well with it instead; and for satiety after eating- it is phenomenal. A verse in German by Adolf Gottron describes it’s virtue as a drinking snack-“…strengthens the stomach- in short, you can tolerate a (wine) again!”
In Germany, the stopper on a keg of wine is called a spund. This dip is traditionally formed into a shape which roughly imitates that of the spund, and is served with wine as a drinking snack. Thus the name, Spundekäse (käse being “cheese.”)
This recipe is not authentic, but it is tasty and convenient, having been adjusted for brevity of preparation and use of minimal kitchen tools. For a more authentic version, use cream cheese or quark if you have access, and grate a small yellow onion into the mixture instead of using onion powder.
16 oz cottage cheese
8 oz sour cream
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
2 teaspoons sea salt
Stir it all together. Top with either caroway seeds, or capers or chives or parsley, if desired.
Serve with crudités or crackers or pretzels.
Spundekäse makes a great addition to a German breakfast spread as well, either smeared on good bread, rye crackers, or as a dip for vegetables.