250g (8oz) Syr (curd cheese) or Polish twaróg
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 egg , lightly beaten
50–80g (2–3oz) plain flour
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
250g (8oz) soured cream
1 vanilla pod, slit lengthways and seeds scraped out
60g (2¼ oz) maple syrup or clear honey
1 Mix the cheese, salt, sugar and egg together thoroughly in a bowl, adding enough flour to create a soft and slightly sticky dough.
2 Form the dough into 8 patties 5cm (2 inches) in diameter and 2cm (¾ inch) thick.
3 Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the patties on both sides, then layer them in a heavy-based saucepan.
4 Mix the soured cream with the vanilla seeds and maple syrup or honey and pour over the patties. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for 7–10 minutes. We eat this for breakfast or as a dessert and it’s good warm or cold.
Almost every week my mum used to suspend a muslin cloth with milk curds over the sink and the next morning we had syr (which literally means ‘cheese’ in Ukrainian).
Her mother did the same, as did her grandmother and so on. Eaten with some smetana soured cream and fresh raspberries for breakfast, or used in numerous sweet and savoury dishes, it’s a dairy product that I cannot live without. The process may seem a little complicated (it isn’t!), and raw milk is not that easy to come by, but more and more farmers’ markets sell it. The satisfaction gained from making your own cheese will certainly be worth the effort.
Makes about 300g (10oz) Syr and 1.3 litres (2¼ pints) whey
1.7 litres (2 ¾ pints) raw (unpasteurized) milk
A piece of muslin
1 Leave the raw milk in a 2-litre (3½ -pint) jar to go sour in a warm place in your kitchen. Check it after 24 hours. The milk should become thick like Greek yogurt but it should still be homogenous – the whey shouldn’t separate from the cream. It may take up to 2 days.
2 When the milk has soured and thickened, place half an empty egg box at the bottom of a large, deep saucepan and pop the jar of soured milk, uncovered, on top of it. Then fill the pan with water to go as far up the outer sides of the jar as possible.
3 Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for an hour or until the whey separates from the cream and you can see thick cracks forming along the sides.
4 Take the jar out carefully and leave to cool down a little.
5 While still warm, drain the curds through a muslin cloth set in a sieve over a large bowl, then leave overnight in the refrigerator. You can tie the corners of the muslin cloth together into a bag and weight it down a bit – this will help get rid of the moisture more quickly. Don’t throw away the whey – you can use it to make flatbreads, so simply pour it into a clean jar and keep it in the refrigerator. Use both within 1 week.
Note: To make a drier, salted version of this cheese (to use as you would feta), add 5g (¼ oz) fi ne sea salt to the drained curds – it should taste quite salty, almost slightly oversalted, so add more salt if necessary. Place the curds in a clean muslin cloth, tie it at the top and weight it down on a tray. Leave in the refrigerator for a day or two before using.