Blackberry Mousse Cheesecake

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Blackberries are synonymous with Fall in the Pacific Northwest.  Everywhere you go you can find fresh blackberries for sale, blackberry shakes and smoothies, blackberry desserts, jam & syrup…you name it!  I’m lucky enough to have access to TONS of wild blackberry bushes that are heavy with ripe, juicy berries.  I’ve been a little obsessive this season about making sure I’ve picked enough to last me through the winter, and my torn up hands are proof of that!  But, it’s well worth it to have a nice supply in the freezer.  Not only are they amazing in tons of recipes, but they also make flavorful (and pretty!) little ice cubes for your water.

This recipe is a spin off from my Key Lime Cheesecake recipe.  I used the same basic method with a few key ingredient swaps.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a dessert girl, but I could eat these all day!  It’s light and moussy with tons of blackberry flavor, not to mention the color!!  They’re pretty little things!

Keep in mind, the recipe as written includes the blackberry seeds.  If you are someone who is sensitive to those hard little seeds, just replace the 2 cups of blackberries with 1 cup of fresh, strained blackberry juice.  Also, you can prepare in two ways: traditional cheesecake in a spring-form pan, or, my favorite, cheesecake mini’s (as pictured above).

Happy Blackberry Season!!

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 package Graham Crackers (approx 1 ½ cups crushed)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Blackberry Mousse:
2 cups fresh blackberries (or 1 cup fresh, strained blackberry juice for seedless texture)
¼ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
½ cup butter, softened
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Optional Blackberry Syrup:
1 cup fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

To Prepare Crust: In a food processor, process graham crackers until they turn to coarse crumbs.  Transfer to a bowl, add melted butter, sugar and cinnamon.  Stir until thoroughly combined and mixture is the consistency of wet sand.  Press crumbs firmly into the bottom of an ungreased spring-form pan.  (If you’re making individual cheesecakes in a cupcake pan, scroll to the bottom for further instructions.)   Bake for 7 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool completely.Crust.jpg

To Prepare Blackberry Syrup:  In a small saucepan, mash blackberries.  Add lemon juice and cook on medium heat until they release their juices, 5-10 minutes.  Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer.  Return to pan, add the sugar and cook on medium for another 5 minutes or until liquid coats the back of a spoon.  Allow to cool completely.

To Prepare Blackberry Mousse:  Add blackberries to a medium saucepan and give them a quick squish with a fork.  Add water and Knox gelatin and allow to sit about 5 minutes until the gelatin begins to develop and the liquid thickens.Blackberries.jpg

Add eggs and sugar and whisk until eggs are well beaten into the mixture.  Turn your heat on medium and stir constantly while the mixture slowly comes to a boil.  Stirring is VERY important, you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs in your cheesecake!

Once the mixture has thickened remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the blackberry mixture and mix on medium speed until well combined, scraping the sides and bottom so that all of the cream cheese is incorporated.  Refrigerate until cool stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream in a metal bowl until stiff peaks form.  When the blackberry mixture has cooled, fold in the whipped cream.  Whipped cream step.jpg

Pour the mousse into prepared crust and smooth it out with a knife or the back of a spoon.  Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

To release from the pan, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan before opening the spring-form clip.  Remove the pan cuff.  Place a sheet of parchment over the top of the cheesecake, then flip it over onto a flat surface.  Gently insert a butter knife between the crust and the pan and the the cheesecake should easily release.

Before serving, drizzle with blackberry syrup.
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Variation:

To prepare cheesecake mini’s, fill cupcake pans with foil liners (recipe makes about 24).

Note: You cannot prepare mini’s in batches, they must all be done at once because the cheesecake mixture will firm up in the mixing bowl if left unpoured.  If you don’t have at least 24 cupcake spaces, you can purchase disposables at any dollar store or grocery store.

Distribute graham cracker mixture evenly into all foil liners, about 1 tablespoon each.  Press firmly into the bottom of each cup.  (Try using a clean spice bottle for this.)  Crust Mini.jpg

Bake about 7 minutes at 375.

Once crust has cooled, fill with prepared blackberry mixture all the way to the top of the foil liner.  Refrigerate until cool and set, at least 2 hours.
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Top with blackberry sauce and fresh berries.  Indulge!
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Cream of Broccoli Soup

There is a place in my heart that only soup can fill.  That sounds silly, but truly, I have rarely found a soup that I haven’t loved to eat…or cook!  The possibilities are endless, and with a little imagination anyone can make a great pot of soup.  Cream of Broccoli is no exception!  This is one of those rich fall soups that leaves you feeling warm and full.  You can change up the vegetables as you wish, adding cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, whatever you like!  Below is my basic recipe for a creamy, flavorful soup.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, chopped
4 Tbs butter, divided
2 Tbs flour
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 lbs broccoli, chopped (including stems, peeled & chopped)
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese
1 Tbs salt, 1 tsp pepper +/-

Directions:

Saute onion, celery and leeks in 2 tablespoons of butter, until tender, about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Set aside.  

Create a roux: in a large stock pot, add 2 tablespoons each of butter and flour.  Whisk over medium/high heat until the mixture is thick, about the consistency of mashed potatoes.   Continue to whisk and slowly add the stock.  Allow mixture to come to a boil.

Add sauteed vegetables to the liquid and simmer about 10 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup base until smooth.  

Add chopped broccoli and simmer for about 20 minutes or until broccoli is tender.  Adjust broccoli cooking time to suite your taste: less cook time = crunchier broccoli, longer cook time = softer broccoli.  

Add cream and cream cheese and blend one final time to your desired consistency using the immersion blender.  Add salt and pepper, adjust to taste.

Serve hot and enjoy!

White Chicken Chili

I LOVE beans.  I could eat them raw right out of the can.  In fact, I have.  I also love cumin and cilantro, as you may have already gathered from my other recipes.  This soup is like my perfect meal, and so easy to make.  It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but most of it is pretty ordinary stuff.  Don’t fret about the green chilies, they are NOT hot.  This soup has been 7-year-old approved so you can confidently serve it to your little ones.  

You can EASILY make this a vegetarian recipe by omitting the chicken and adding more beans or rice.  I’ve done that and it’s just as amazing.  You can also use dried beans, which is a little more work, but for convenience sake I just used the canned variety.  ~Joanie

Makes about 8 servings.

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Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tbs vegetable oil
3 cans white beans, great northern beans, or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
32 oz chicken broth
2 4oz cans Chopped Green Chilies
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp lime zest
½ Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ Cup Whipping Cream
1 Cup (8 oz) Sour Cream

For garnishing:  Green onion, jalapeno, cheese

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat.  Saute garlic until golden, then add onion and cook until soft.  Add chicken, cook until chicken is no longer pink.

Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings.  Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.  The soup may look a little “muddy” at this point, but carry on.  Trust me.

Remove from heat.

Before you add the cream and sour cream, you will need to temper it so that it doesn’t curdle.  Scoop a little bit of soup out into a separate bowl, add cream to this small portion and stir.  Add that portion back into the soup pot.  Repeat this process with the sour cream.  If the soup is too cool after this, you can heat it back up, but heat slowly.

Garnish with chopped green onions, cilantro, and/or cheese.  I like to eat my chili with a few  chili-cheese fritos.  They are the perfect compliment to this creamy, zesty soup.

Homemade Butter Is Better!

So here it is, our first blog post!  This has been a long time coming, as we have been talking about putting together a cookbook for years.  However, it was Janna who said “I want to start a food blog!”  That idea has now become a reality and we are so excited to get started!

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Janna here!  I’ve been thinking hard about what recipe I want to share first.   I want it simple, yet intriguing…maybe a little inspiring.  So I’ve chosen BUTTER.  Yes, butter!  You will not believe how easy it is to make your own butter.

I had just started working in the kitchen at Hedges Family Estates Winery, with Deborah Culverhouse, the Liason.  Deb (as we all call her) told me we were going to make butter and I thought, seriously?  Where’s the wooden butter churner and the rickety front porch?

Deb pulled out her food processor and some heavy cream and it literally took under ten minutes to make delicious, creamy, sweet butter!  This was only the first of many fantastic things I would learn from Deb.

AMAZING!!!

To make your own butter, you will need:

8oz heavy cream (unpasturized or pasturized but NOT ultra pasturized, I use pasturized, organic, grass fed)

Food processor, stand mixer or hand mixer with a paddle attachment (a whisk attachment will NOT work)

Rubber spatula

Cheese cloth or mesh colander

Very cold water

Fine sea salt

Put cream into mixing bowl or food processor and start on med/high.  Cream will start to thicken and will resemble whipped cream in about 4 minutes.  Continue mixing.

The cream will “break” and the butter will start to separate from the buttermilk at about 6 minutes.  The butter will look dry and grainy.  The buttermilk will slosh out at this point so, use the splash guard attachment on your mixer if you have one.

*Note:  The “ghosty” look of the pictures is just the paddle spinning.  Don’t turn your mixer off during the churning process, even for pictures.  =)

Drain the buttermilk out of the bowl (you can reserve it to use in another recipe).  Press the butter up against the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula, squeezing excess buttermilk out.  Drain off buttermilk again.

Scrape butter into bottom of bowl and add about ½ cup of the cold water.  Turn mixer on low for about 10 seconds.  Press butter against the bowl again and drain water.  Do this 2 or 3 times.

As a last step, to make sure all the buttermilk and water is out, put the butter into a mesh strainer and press with rubber spatula over the sink or a bowl.  Turn butter and press several times.  It may be useful to pat lightly with a paper towel to get all the moisture off the surface of the butter.

*If you don’t have a mesh strainer, you can do what Deborah does and wrap the butter in a cheesecloth and press excess moisture out.

At this point you have delicious homemade butter!  Aren’t you proud of yourself?  It was easier than you thought huh?  I don’t make this every time I want butter because it is a little more spendy than buying it already made, but for some recipes (like homemade bread), no other will do than freshly made butter!  Your friends and family will be completely impressed and will think you were hunkered over the churn all day!!

If you want your butter salted, use a fine grain sea salt and stir it into the butter.  a little goes a long way so start with a very small amount (a pinch) and add to taste.

Enjoy!!

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Update:  1/15/13

Here’s a couple snapshots.  Top: Janna’s butter next to a store-bought stick of butter.  Bottom:  Joanie’s first attempt at butter.  Turned out lighter in color, but still delicious!

JannasButterJoaniesButter

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