Berries are popping up all over in Georgia. I love trying different recipes with them, from drinks to muffins to desserts. This time I used raspberries, in a no-bake raspberry cheesecake. You can use whatever berries you wish. Granted it’s not the best cheesecake I’ve ever made. But there is no baking involved, it still turned out yummy and was devoured by my family.
First step, put on a raspberry pink dress to camouflage the raspberry puree that will later be splattered all over as you are making said cheesecake.. of course you could also wear an apron but it’s not as fun..
To make the crust, finely crush about eight graham crackers. I put them in a baggy and smashed the heck out of them with a rolling pin. You can also make the crust in a food processor but in my opinion, the less equipment involved the better. Add 4 Tbs melted unsalted butter, 2 Tbs brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
In a small pot, add one pound of raspberries. Frozen will do as well as fresh. Also add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 Tbs water. Cook over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until the fruit is soft. Use an immersion blender to puree the raspberry mixture. This is when a pink dress comes in handy. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a regular blender will do and it’s probably a lot less messy!
Sprinkle one packet of gelatin over 2 Tbs of cold water and let it sit for a minute to set up. Add the gelatin mixture to the raspberries and cook over low heat, whisking until the gelatin is completely dissolved. This does not take more than a few seconds. Divide the mixture into two bowls, one with 1/4 of it, and one with 3/4.
To make the cheesecake, beat one pound of softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and one tsp of vanilla extract. Again, I didn’t use a mixer, just a wooden spoon. More exercise for your arms! Add the 1/4 cup of raspberry mixture and gently mix together.
In a separate bowl, whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream into soft peaks. It helps to chill the bowl in the refrigerator beforehand. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake batter. I love the beautiful pink clouds!
Pour the cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust. Tap the pan gently to get rid of any air bubbles. Add the remaining 3/4 raspberry mixture to the top and gently smooth it out. Place the cheesecake into the refrigerator and allow it to set for at least two hours, preferably overnight. Before unlocking the spring-form pan, run a knife around the edge. You can top the cheesecake with fresh raspberries before serving if you wish, but I thought the raspberry gelatin was so beautiful on its own.
Enjoy while watching a berry colored summer sunset~
We took a carriage ride from the French Quarter to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. It is one of three cemeteries belonging to parishioners of the great cathedral on Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Marie Laveau, the Voodoo queen of New Orleans is interred there. She was born around 1800 to two free persons of color in the French Quarter of New Orleans. She was also a devout Catholic. The church at the time understood the cultural significance of Voodoo in New Orleans and did not frown on their parishioners practicing it. She passed away in 1881. The markings all over her vault are from people who come to ask her for favors or help with a problem. Why three X’s is not known for sure, and there are several theories.
St. Louis Cemetery is owned by the Archdiocese and they had recently clamped down on security just before our visit. Apparently there were some prior unfortunate incidences with film crews and vandalism. You now must have a tour guide to escort you through. Thank goodness for our local carriage driver! You can also wait at the gate for a tour guide to show up with their group, then pay them the going rate of about 10 bucks to let you tag along. The oldest tomb we saw was from 1800 and had recently been restored..
It felt strange walking around among the many vaults, no grass underfoot like cemeteries in the Midwest and the South. Only dirt, crumbling stone and brick, and crushed seashells. There were bits of green trying to pop through, tiny plants and flowers in the cracks of the tombs. It was the only sign of life other than us tourists. I wondered how the souls buried there would feel about all these people, most of them not even from New Orleans, traipsing through every day. In many ways it’s better than having no one there at all. Their burial site will always be appreciated unlike so many that have been long forgotten.
On our first full day in New Orleans we decided to explore the French Quarter. Being Easter weekend and having three parades on Easter Sunday (including the Big Gay Easter Parade which I kind of wanted to see, but would have had to drag my husband to kicking and screaming), we though it best to go on Saturday to avoid more crowds and difficulty getting around. We walked about half a mile from our hotel, which was totally doable even with two kids in tow. The weather was cloudy and cool which was a surprise given our impression of hot, humid NOLA, but really pleasant for walking around all day.
Breakfast at Pierre Maspero’s
Mid-City Carriage ride through the French Quarter and to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (the cemetery will be my next post)
French Quarter scenes
One thing on our list that we did not get to experience was beignets at Cafe Du Monde. The line was insane and we would have waited all afternoon. But that gives us another reason to come back to New Orleans someday.
I just returned from New Orleans, and was totally entranced by the place. It is a city of contrasts in every sense. It was my first time there, and I left wishing we had more time.
The first person we saw downtown after we exited the expressway was an older man with boobs and a purse. My children took a while to process this and I think I heard some of their brain cells pop. But I am glad their sheltered suburban lives were rocked a little bit. This is why we travel, to see things we don’t normally see and expand our horizons. New Orleans is truly a town built by a cast of characters. As I told the kids, welcome to New Orleans!
I will post my New Orleans images in a series of installments. This first will be about The Roosevelt, a Waldorf Astoria hotel. We would stay there again in a heart beat. Built in 1893, it is historic and elegant. It also has a great roof top pool that changes colors at night! It is located just off Canal Street, which is pretty gritty, but we didn’t feel unsafe. I am a city girl at heart having grown up in Chicago, so maybe others may feel more uncomfortable, but my family and I did not. New Orleans is curious in that you have these amazing hotels like The Roosevelt and Ritz Carlton mixed in with some unsavory surroundings. But also with wonderful huge-hearted people. There is just something special about it. The city really was intoxicating, and not just because of the Sazerac cocktails!
My kids especially enjoyed elevator #1 in the second tower. The lights would go out every once in a while, which made for an exciting ride! From the Fountain Lounge in the lobby, the kids would watch the doors open and the elevator stand empty, just waiting for it’s next victim. Or so their active imaginations thought! It’s part of the fun of staying in a historic hotel. My favorite part were the flower arrangements and how the lobby smelled like lilies the moment we entered. Oh yes, and the Sazeracs, ohh the Sazeracs..
(recipe from The Roosevelt New Orleans)
1 sugar cube or simple syrup, 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters, 1.5 ounces of good 6-8 year rye whiskey, 1/4 ounce Herbsaint, lemon peel for garnish
Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. In a second old-fashioned glass, place a sugar cube (or simple syrup) and add the whiskey and Peychaud’s Bitters. Empty the first glass of ice, and coat that glass with the Herbsaint. Discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the mixture from the second glass into the first glass (make sure to strain as you do it). Add the lemon peel garnish. Enjoy alone or with your favorite cast of characters~
Asparagus says spring to me and I love finding different ways to cook with it. Here is my recipe for a creamy asparagus soup I made this week. You could even serve it cold as you would a vichyssoise..
1 large bunch of asparagus chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (remove woody bottoms of stems first), 4 small chopped red skinned potatoes (washed but not peeled), 1 thinly sliced shallot, 1 sliced garlic clove, 1 quart of vegetable broth, 1 Tbs unsalted butter, 1/2 cup heavy cream, salt & pepper, herbs to garnish
Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the shallot with a pinch of salt & pepper. Saute on med-low heat for a couple of minutes until softened but not browning. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the asparagus and potatoes. Add enough vegetable broth to cover the vegetables just barely. If you add too much the soup will be too thin. I believe I used less than one quart. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered with a lid (I like to let a little steam escape). Turn off the heat and puree with an immersion blender. One of the best inventions known to mankind! You can also transfer to a blender or food processor if you don’t have an immersion blender. Add the heavy cream and taste for seasoning. You can add more cream or milk if it’s too thick. Add more salt & pepper if you wish. Garnish with chopped chives or dill or whatever herb you prefer. Happy spring!