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