|Hi Ricki, it was a great pleasure taking with you on the phone and exchanging cheesemaking ideas. I am sending you two balls of cheese which we call Shanklish, the word is either derived from Arabic or Turkish, I'm not sure. But it is very popular in Lebanon and Syria and similar to your real buttermilk cheese.
the folloing is Haleems recipe.
Always start with clean equipment and use pasteurized milk.
This cheese is great over salad or with Italian foods. It may also be chopped in small pieces and add 2-4Tbls olive oil, serve with crackers.
First you must make a yogurt.
YOGURT: Heat in a large pot over a medium fire and check the heat by spraying a few drops of water in the kettle to see id the water sizzles (starting it at this heat will keep the milk from sticking so much.) Pour two gallons of milk into the pan and heat over medium heat until it starts to foam, it will be almost boiling. Remove from the stove and cool down for 2-3 hours until the temperature reaches 105-110F. Return to the stove to add 4T plain yogurt (for the active bacteria) and stir for one minute.
At this point, cover and let stand in a very warm place for 8-10 hours. I set my pan on a blanket with a heating pad underneath the blanket and place an additional blanket on top of the covered pan. The yogurt is done when it looks thick and you can press the bottom of a spoon in the top and it will retain the impression of the spoon. Now refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
SHANKLESHE: After the yogurt has cooled, put back on the stove and cut a T or X through the yogurt with a butter knife, going all the way down to the bottom of the pan. This will allow the yogurt to come to a boil over low heat and let the bubbles have a place to come up or escape.
Gently mix in 2 cups of water, 3T. Salt, (pickling or kosher) and bring this mixture to a soft boil over low heat, stirring only a few times at the beginning to mix in the water and salt.
Boil this gently, over low heat until you see curds and whey. Remove from the heat and let stand to cool off for about 4 hours. Once cooled, pour into a strainer lined with butter muslin and apply pressure, (using a weight or a cheese press) until hard enough to mix into balls. It is important to know at this step, the cheese must be pressed firm enough to handle and is easy to knead.
At this point add fresh ground red cayenne pepper (to taste), from 1 to 1 ½ T. and taste to ensure the desired amount of salt and cayenne are present. Knead this mixture until smooth, this is essential to good Shankleshe. Pat cheese into tennis size balls and lay on paper towels to completely dry (this will take at least 24 hours.) You will have to change the paper towels at least 2 or 3 times.
Place s large glass container on its side and fill with the Shankleshe balls. Put the lid on LOOSE and place under sink or in a cool, dark place for 3 to 6 days. (Mold will be visible on the whole outside of the balls.)
Remove the balls and carefully scrape off the mold. Roll each ball in oil (any type) and also roll in crushed thyme (Zataar thyme is the best.) Wrap well, freeze and enjoy!
You have just made a most delicious Lebanese cheese!!!
Haleem Moussa lives in Florida and has the most delicious persimmon trees imaginable!