Figs and the milky, sticky sap from the tree were used since antiquity to curdle the milk and produce a fresh cheese. In Greece we call this soft cheese sykomyzithra and in Turkey teleme. From Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking (Wiley, 2009) we get the ancient as well as the contemporary way of making this cheese, according to Musa Dagdeviren. In Musa’s beautiful video on Netflix we see the shepherds whip-up the fresh cheese in the mountains; and of course Dagdeviren has included the recipe for teleme in his recently published, encyclopedia-like Turkish Cookbook (Phaidon, 2019)
The recipe for this dessert that lingers between sweet and savory, is from Musa Dagdeviren’s book. Instead of dried figs I once used fresh over-ripe figs and the result was a lighter, exquisite cream. I like to sprinkled the bowls with walnuts toasted with brown sugar, salt, and rosemary.
Makes 6-8 servings
1 quart (liter) full-fat goat’s milk
9 ounces (250 grams) dried figs, or 12 ounces (350 grams) fresh figs, hard tops and ends trimmed
About 2 ounces rosemary-scented toasted walnuts (or pecans) with sugar and salt (see Note) coarsely chopped
Bring the milk to a boil then let cool to 122 F (50 C).
In a large bowl combine 2 cups of the milk with the figs and with a stick blender mash the figs until they absorb all the milk, then slowly add the rest of the milk and stir for a few minutes.
Serve into 6 or 8 bowls and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.
Sprinkle generously with the walnuts or pecans, if you like.
In a bowl toss the walnut or pecan halves with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoons brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves. Transfer to a baking tray and roast in a 375 F (200 C) oven for a few minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Be careful because they burn easily. Let cool and keep in an airtight jar.