Pear, spinach, rosemary, bleu cheese galettes

Bleu cheese, rosemary, pear and spinach galettes

Maybe spring is to blame, but I feel as though I’m bursting with recipes I want to share, and recipes I want to make. I have about five things I’ve recently made that I want to tell you about. I’d save them up and tell you about one each day, but I also have about five things buzzing around in my head that I can’t wait to cook! It’s gotten really bad, I tell you! So I apologize in advance for posting more than once a day. As ever, feel free to ignore it all!!

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…

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Cider pancakes and winter fruit compote

Tuesday was Mardi Gras, as everybody knows. We didn’t have wine in the morning, but we did have some breakfast at night! I’ve talked before about my love for pancakes. There’s something so comforting and, sigh, I hate to say it, because this word has been advertise-speaked to within an inch of its life, there’s something so wholesome about them. (It’s actually quite a nice word, if you think about it!) When I was younger, I remember thinking that if I ever got pregnant, I’d want to eat pancakes three meals a day, because a baby made up of pancakes was sure to be sweet and happy. Silly, but true. (I didn’t do that, of course, but my boys are still mostly sweet and happy, I think!) And I’ve always loved eating pancakes for dinner. You feel like you’re getting away with something, even if you’re 42 years old. And we ate them with whipped cream – even more transgressive and exciting. The whipped cream was mixed with maple syrup, and it was deeeelicious. We also had fresh strawberries, as a treat. And I made a compote of fruits. (“Compote” is another word that I love! Compote!) I love the smell of fruit cooking – apples and cinnamon, for instance, because applesauce is a compote. I made a mix of things that are regularly (and not-too-expensively) available in the winter – dried tart cherries, pears, orange juice, and black currant jam. Bright, tart, sweet. I’ve been eating it for breakfast since tuesday, mixed with granola, but it would be good with ice cream, too. It’s like a distillation of summer smells and flavors for a February day. When we were growing up we called crepes “flat pancakes,” so, of course, we called fluffy pancakes “fat pancakes.” That’s what I made for fat Tuesday, and I made them with apple cider, cinnamon and ginger. They’re really tasty, and easy peasy.

pancakes!

Here’s the Carter Family’s Chewing Gum, because it’s been in my head all morning! She mentions apples and pears, which is why it’s in any way remotely connected to this post. Can I just say that I heard this song for many years before I saw that it was called “Chewing Gum,” and it was a huge surprise to me that those were the lyrics. That’s not at all what I heard!
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Pear, hazelnut, dark chocolate CAKE!

Pear chocolate hazelnut cake

The juiciness of the pear, the nutty crunch of the hazelnut, and the supreme deliciousness of very very dark chocolate combine to make this fairly ordinary cake seem like something special. This is a nice combination of autumnal flavors, and it goes well with your coffee in the morning, but with a dollop of cream whipped with a little sugar and vanilla, it can seem like a fancy dessert as well.

Here’s Miles Davis’ Chocolate Chip
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