White paper taped over the glass this week covered up the cheerful messages on the doors about food and coffee at the recently closed Poet Street Market on Poly Drive in Billings. “Poet’s is Closing,” declared the hand-written sign.
Said former original owner Cindy Prigge, “I’m tired; I have been doing this for 18 years. It’s time to move on and do something else.”
While selling off the equipment, racks, sauces and other food items in her former shop, the Poet Street entrepreneur said she is a self-taught cook and has a plethora of cookbooks.
“I’ve got about 2,000 of them at home,” she said. Ms. Prigge said she is thinking of designing a cookbook focused on her collection of pastry, bread, cookie, sandwiches, soups and other favorites that Billings residents have enjoyed from her Poet Street Market shop for almost two decades.
“The gazpacho [cold tomato soup] was always a favorite ... . I can share where I got the recipes and how I tweak ‘em,” she said. “I am mostly a self-taught cook; I love to read, and I think people seek out comfort food.”
She said that she, as a cook, has discovered that people want food with which they are familiar that tastes good. She encourages creativity in the kitchen.
“I always told my people to taste the food first. I find that when people have recipes to follow, they follow them to a T and they don’t adjust anything based on the way they like it to taste – but you have to taste it first – before you decide to put it in the soup, or in the sandwiches, or in the pan ... .”
In the case of a world-famous Italian dessert, Tira Mi Siu (Pick Me Up), Chef Prigge designed an altered recipe that she could sell in her store in slices like a cake.
“Tira Mi Siu is too wet and sloppy for most people to buy and take home,” she said. “We made it not as wet.” She said her version of the dessert is not as soaked with Marsala wine, espresso and the other flavorful liquids that characterize the treat.
According to Calogero Villareale, an Ormond Beach, Fla., blogger, patrons of Italian brothels, not the courtesans working there, popularized the delicious dessert. Mr. Villareale said his Sicilian uncle told him that back in the 19th century, competition between brothels was fierce.
Another of Chef Prigge’s treats are the scones, especially the lemon ones. She said that she uses the lemon zest for that special taste. She peels lemons and then grinds them up in the Cuisinart to give the scones their characteristic fresh and tart taste. Specifically, the lemon scone recipe calls for flour, baking powder, sugar, lemon zest, eggs and buttermilk.
“We also put a nice glaze on those scones. Most scones are not glazed,” she said proudly, eager to sell off the next piece of large restaurant equipment and take some much-needed time off.