02 March, 2009

Turkish Cheese 1 - Piknik White Cheese

The produce store in my hometown is owned and operated by a Turkish gentleman and his family, and now that the store is well-established and doing a brisk business, he's started to expand his selection to include some Turkish and Eastern European specialties. Turkey has a long tradition of dairying, so it's natural that he offers several wonderful kinds of Turkish cheeses.

White Cheese (beyaz peynir) was one of the first ones I tried. It is a simple cheese, made from either sheep or cow's milk, which is cultured with rennet then strained, salted in brine, and packed into tins. The brand at left, Dairyland, is made from cow's milk and the tin contains two round loaves of the cheese in its brine. In Turkey, White Cheese is commonly eaten at breakfast, in omelets, or as an appetizer with raki (traditional Turkish firewater.)

To this American palate, it is similar to feta, but moister (less crumbly) and with a fresher, milkier taste. There is a distinct sour tang, but White Cheese is both less salty than feta and more mild. It reminded me, in particular, of a young, mild cheddar. The flavor is very complimentary to tomatoes and onions, and one of my favorite starters using White Cheese is Domates Salatasi (Tomato Salad.) Combine half a pound of halved cherry tomatoes with some thinly sliced red onion. Add some olives. Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley, then dress with olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer a traditional recipe, use this one at Binnur's Turkish Cookbook as a foundation and go from there.


Michele said...

the look and texture reminds me of a basket cheese. But canned cheese?

Anonymous said...

As the Turks would say this cheese is 'çok güzel' (very beautiful).

It's a far cry from other canned cheeses'