Berry Pickin’

Tomorrow is October 1st.  Today’s high in Nashville is 68° and there is a chance of frost this weekend.  You would think I’d be breaking out the butternut squash and making a big pot of soup but no, today I’m reminiscing about summer.  Go figure.

For those who know me you will know that I really hate summer.  There isn’t much about it that’s appealing to me.  I’m not really a beach person.  I’m not in school anymore so summer doesn’t mean vacation and being lazy (in fact it gets much busier in my world!).  The word “sweat” is not in my vocabulary unless it’s in reference to a killer workout.  And don’t even get me started on the humidity in the South!

Give me mountains, football, sweaters, pumpkin pie, and and bonfires and I’m a happy girl!

As much as I loathe summer there are a few things that redeem it.  I do enjoy tall glasses of iced tea (unsweet please!), baseball and all the fresh veggies I can handle at the Farmer’s Market.  Who can resist the sizzle of burgers on the grill and corn on the cob slathered with butter?!  Patriotic holidays and picnics are filled with family and friends and great nostalgic culinary creations.  So I guess it isn’t all bad…

My favorite thing about summer is berry picking.  Just thinking about it makes me feel like a giddy kid again (picture bouncing up and down, clapping hands and a permanent Kool-Aid mustache).  In the summertime every car we owned had a stash of butter tubs, empty plastic pint containers and anything else we could use for collecting big, juicy berries.  It was a daily practice to drive around the country picking wild blackberries and raspberries from fence rows.  You had to keep your wits about you in the backseat (it wasn’t law for carseats and seat belts back then) or you’d end up on the floorboard when my Pappa would slam on the brakes and pull over (hmm, he did this in the Spring when he’d spot asparagus too)!  It brings back fond memories of thorns in my fingers and burrs all over my clothes.  🙂

It was a happy day when we collected enough berries for my Grandma to make jelly.  That was always quite the accomplishment since I would eat half of what I picked!  Nothing is more satisfying than breaking out a jar of homemade jelly in the dead of winter when the snow is piled high and catching a whiff of lazy, summer days gone by…

This recipe combines two of the things I adore: blackberries and cheescake.  ♥  It isn’t blackberry jelly but it screams SUMMER!  Enjoy!

Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Blackberry Curd

(in a jar)

Blackberry curd:

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Zest of 1 lemon (juice is used for cheesecake)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more depending on the sweetness of the berries)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

In a saucepan, combine blackberries, water and lemon zest and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer 5-10 minutes until berries start to break down (frozen berries will break down quicker).  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Process the berries in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds.  Put back in the saucepan over medium heat and add sugar and butter.  Mix the cornstarch and water together and add to the berry sauce.  Stir until thick and bubbly, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Cheesecake:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 16 oz. goat cheese, softened
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a bowl and toss with a fork until crumbs coated.  Press a heaping tablespoon full of crumbs into each of 12 jelly jars coated with cooking spray.  Set aside.

With a hand mixer, cream together goat cheese, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated.  Beat in lemon juice and zest.  Pour into jelly jars to about 3/4 full.

Place jars in a roasting pan with deep sides.  Place on the middle rack of the oven and fill the pan with hot water about half way up the jars.  Bake for 15-16 minutes or until cheesecakes are slightly jiggly.  Remove from water bath and let cool completely.

Top cheesecakes with blackberry curd, screw on the lid and chill for 2 hours.  Before serving, top with whipped cream, fresh blackberries and a sprig of mint.

Because these are baked up in a jar they are really great for picnics!  Just screw on the lid, pop them in the cooler and you’ve got a fancy, gourmet treat to impress your friends!

*This summer some of my Facebook friends had a little friendly cheesecake bake-off photo contest.  We concocted lucious cheesecakes, took our best photos and had a blind judging.  I didn’t win with this entry but it was fun to participate!  I wish we all lived closer so we could have tasted them all!!!  

This group comes from far and wide to share all things FOOD!  Check out the cookbook that was created featuring some awesome chefs to honor one of our own.  Yours truly had the pleasure of being included!

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2193766

Get a copy today and support an amazing chef, father and friend!

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