|Photo by Melissa Donald
Chef Leon Padgett gives Heartsong Memory Care residents something to look forward to when he makes his lemon cheesecake with blueberry basil topping. This perfect summer dessert is made with eggs from chickens raised at Heartsong. “It is a staff favorite because we are providing a pretty organic dessert with lots of nutrition — not just empty calories,” he says.
Chef Padgett, who previously worked at Wild Eggs and Napa River Grill, uses fresh ingredients from the facility’s gardens. And he isn’t afraid to add something new to the menu. “One thing I’m really proud of is that I brought edamame one day,” he says. “It was a huge risk, but the seniors loved it!” Chef Padgett prepares three meals a day plus morning and afternoon snacks.
- 4 eggs
- 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup honey
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Blend ingredients in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on low to medium-low to desired consistency (I like mine more rustic with pockets of cream cheese). Pour into your favorite graham cracker crust. Foil-wrap the top and bake in 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, check at 10-minute intervals for the middle to be set, not runny. Cool approximately 20 minutes before slicing. Place individual slices on dessert plates and top with Blueberry Basil Topping. If desired, garnish with twisted thin slice of lemon and sprig of fresh basil before serving. Or top with lemon zest and a light dusting of powdered sugar for visual texture.
Blueberry Basil Topping
In a bowl or cup, dissolve ¼ cup corn starch in ¼ cup cold water and set aside. In a saucepan, combine these ingredients and bring to a boil:
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup basil, finely chopped
- ¼ cup sugar
Boil for approximately 5 minutes. Purée with immersion blender and strain. Bring strained blueberry mixture back to a boil. Stir in corn starch mixture; continue stirring until thickened. Add ½ cup fresh blueberries and set aside.