it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it.
That’s the final line of one of my favorite poems by Frank O’Hara (watch him read it below). I recently took a walk through his old stomping grounds in New York’s East Village, guided by the incredible “Passing Stranger - The East Village Poetry Walk.” The audio tour weaves you through the poetry-related sites of the famous Beats and New York School poets, like O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg (that’s the fire escape of where he once lived), Jack Kerouac, Anne Waldman, and even musicians like Charlie Parker.
The tour culminates at the Bowery Poetry Club. If you don’t live in New York, on the website, you can check out footage, scroll through photos, and hear some of the best poems ever penned.
While the tour focuses on poetry, you’ll also notice the many community garden plots throughout the village and Alphabet City. Which brings me to a puff pastry recipe. This is definitely the time of year for greens and handfuls of herbs. Here’s a simple way to use them while they are fresh.
East Village Puff Pastry
Serves three as main dish or eight as side and costs about $5
Inspired by the Fire Island Cookbook
3/4 pound of crumbled cheese, like feta or goat
3 tablespoons of chopped chives
2-3 tablespoons of chopped basil, or other herbs
Dash of nutmeg
1 egg beaten, plus 1 egg yolk
Homemade or store-purchase puff pastry, thawed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine cheese, chives, herbs, nutmeg and beaten egg in a glass bowl and set aside. Lay out pastry dough on floured surface, and stretch a bit with a rolling pin. Cut into 3-inch squares (about 14-16 of them).
Drop a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each square, wet all edges of the square with chilled water. Fold over the filling to form a triangle. Seal the edges with a fork and brush each triangle with the beaten egg yolk.
Place on a baking sheet (perhaps lined with parchment paper), and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve with asparagus and a mixture of greens.
Drop a heaping teaspoon onto each square.
Autumn lingers. And I like it. May I recommend feasting on this Butternut Squash Rustic Tart? The pastry dough is flaky, buttery, and slightly salty. The butternut squash is sweet—but not too sweet—and easy to peel. Add some shallots and a little cheese, and you have a comfort food dish fit for a farmer.
Rustic Butternut Squash Tart
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 2 and costs about $6.50
1 pastry crust (homemade if you have the time/courage)
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
1 teaspoon of maple syrup or honey
Dash of salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, cayenne
1 cup of Swiss cheese, grated
3 sprigs of thyme
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel squash, scoop out seeds, and chop into 1/2-inch chunks. Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and a dash of salt and mix. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with tin foil and roast squash for 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet over medium-low heat and add shallots. Fold in seasonings and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes.
Raise oven temperature to 400 degrees (or follow directions on package of dough). Roll out dough to completely cover a pizza pan or baking sheet. Cover dough with squash mixture, honey, and thyme, leaving about 1 1/2” of crust space on the perimeter.
Carefully fold crust edges over the squash mixture, forming a tart (or galette, if you’re fancy). Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.
Make your own pastry dough if you can.
The lingering colors of autumn remind me of this dish.
Double or triple the recipe to serve as a main course for four.
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