I live in a sleepy little city on the Delaware. I’m no town historian, but our house is from 1850, and it feels as though most of the rest of the town was built up at that time. Lots of brick row houses. Narrow streets and small yards. More antique stores and art galleries than we know what to do with. (Delightfully so!)
One weekend of the year our quiet little town becomes crazy crowded – we have a street festival! Roads are blocked off, booths are erected. Hundreds of people walk by each day. We can watch it all from our store – just on the edge of the action. Our store is small and has a huge window in front, so we feel like we’re in a fishbowl, watching the crowds go by. It’s oddly quiet, despite the sudden population increase. Maybe from the lack of cars. Maybe with the hush that crowds sometimes have, when everybody seems to adjust the volume of their voices to form, all together, a low, incoherent rumble. It’s mesmerizing to watch everybody passing by, at a stately, regular pace. FIrst one way, then crossing back, in tempo, returning the other.
I always find crowds of people strangely moving. I don’t always love humanity in the abstract, but masses of people make me feel oddly affectionate towards us as a species. Small moments of human drama in the sea of people feel so poignant. A child who is over-stimulated and over-tired, with a crumpled, crying face that just happens to be painted like a happy tiger. Eccentric looking couples that seem so happy together, and make you happy that they met each other, even though you don’t know them at all. Straggling groups of teenagers wearing giant 70s sunglasses, who can’t suppress how excited they feel to be wandering without parents at the festival.
Anyway. We had some food in our store, for anybody that was brave enough to come in off the street. I made three kinds of savory pastries. And I’m going to tell you about all of them!! One at a time!! They all turned out really good!! Or so I think!! The nice thing about savory pastries (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) is that although they’re probably best hot out of the oven, they’re also very tasty at room temperature. So they’re nice for parties, or picnics, or art openings, or to offer at street festivals. They’re easy to pick up and carry around, and they combine lots of good flavors in a manageable package.
The first I’ll tell you about is this little galette. It’s got a toasted oatmeal black pepper crust. It’s got fresh baby spinach, ripe pears, bleu cheese and rosemary. It’s very tasty!
I’ve got the Tom Waits song 9th and Hennepin stuck in my head, so I’ll post that here. Not because it describes my town, thank heavens, but because he’s watching people through windows, just like we were, and he’s rambling on to anyone who will listen. Just like I do!
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen…
And I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen it all
Through the yellow windows of the evening train…
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup rolled oats, processed to make a crumbly powder
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) frozen
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Grate the frozen butter in, mixing as you go. Bring everything together to make a workable dough, adding ice water as you do (about 3/4 cup). (It won’t be as smooth as regular dough)
Set aside to chill, 1/2 hour to over night.
3 ripe bosc pears, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch dice
2 packed cups baby spinach, chopped quite finely
1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 t fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
salt and plenty of black pepper
Mix everything together very well, mushing it just a little as you go.
Take a small lump of dough, maybe golf ball-sized. Roll it into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. (It doesn’t need to be a perfect circle. Put a golf ball-sized spoonful of filling in the center. Pull the edges up all around and crimp them together. You don’t need to seal the whole in the middle, but make sure the dough is quite well crimped all around it. Put on a lightly greased baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough & filling. If you have leftover filling it makes a nice salad.
Preheat oven to 400. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes till the edges and bottom start to brown.