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Make your own ricotta: It's easy and impressive

Homemade ricotta goes nicely with strawberries. Food styling by Heather Shaw/Judy Inc.

Maya Visnyei for The Globe and Mail/maya visnyei The Globe and Mail

Looking to impress your critical Aunt Mavis this Christmas? Even she will be stunned into silence when you serve up your own … homemade ... ricotta.

Ideal for canapés, salads or desserts like the simple strawberry pairing shown here, DIY cheese may sound impressive, but isn't all that difficult to make. Simply bring 8 parts whole milk to 1 part buttermilk to a rolling simmer for 20 minutes. Once curds form and the mixture reaches 175 F, turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth, tie it into a ball and drain it over a bowl for 2 hours. Before serving, toss quartered strawberries with sugar and balsamic vinegar, then spoon them over the cheese.

In addition to enriching sweets, homemade ricotta makes a fine addition to a brunch buffet or, for a quick app, can be mixed with fresh herbs and spread over crostini. High in protein, calcium and B12, it's also a boon in the booze-and-nougat run-up to Jan. 1.

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Chef Michael Tong is the owner of Toronto's Sublime Catering.

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