One of the best things that happened to the Midwest and the city of St Louis today was the thousands of immigrants coming to this part of the country; with them they brought the passion for food, culture and ingredients.
Today, south St. Louis bustles with Hispanic-American culture particularly along Cherokee Street west of Jefferson Avenue. Since the early 1980s, numbers of Mexicans and other Latinos from South America have arrived in this predominately working-class neighborhood, which has seen many changes during the last decade. In years past, it was a hub for retail business in the area before going through a period of decline. In the 21st century Cherokee is thriving as a commercial center for the local Hispanic community.
This is a Quesito (Ke-see-toe) and it is delicious. It is so perfect in its simplicity; flaky puff pastry wrapped around sweetened cream cheese and buttery pineapple. It’s beautiful, in a shabby chic kind of way, nothing fussy, just rustic goodness with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped into small pieces
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out – 1 Table Vanilla
CREAM CHEESE FILLING:
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Egg Wash (1 egg beat with 1 tablespoon water)
Sugar, for sprinkling on the pastry
Confectioners' (powdered) sugar for dusting the baked pastry
To make the quesitos:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
In saucepan melt the butter over medium heat; add the brown sugar, pineapple and vanilla bean, with the seeds. Cook until the pineapple is tender and the juices have thickened to syrup.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly while you make the cheese filling.
To make cheese filling: In a bowl mix together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Cut the puff pastry into 4- to 5-inch squares, depending on the size of the puff pastry sheet you have. Spread the cheese filling in the middle of each piece of pastry.