- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 3 to 4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- In a small, dry skillet, toast the peppercorns with the cumin over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool, then coarsely grind.
- Set a large colander in the sink and line it with 3 layers of moistened cheesecloth, leaving 2 inches of overhang all around. In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, immediately add 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and stir gently; the milk should separate into fluffy curds and watery whey. If not, add another tablespoon of vinegar. Pour the curds into the lined colander and let drain for 10 minutes.
- Gently stir the ground spices into the curds. Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the cheese into a tight ball, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Tie the cheesecloth with string, then transfer it to a work surface with the twisted end of the cloth off to the side. Set a cutting board on the cheese and weigh it down with heavy skillets or large cans. Let the cheese stand until firm and dry, about 5 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth before refrigerating or cutting the cheese.
The cheese can be wrapped in a damp towel and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Toasting whole spices releases their fragrance and intensifies their flavor. Even if you're using pre-ground spices, toasting them for 20 to 30 seconds in a pan on the stove while stirring constantly will make a difference.