Sweet Potato Corn Chowder (Inspired by Lost in the Trees)

Photos by Amy Davis

Sweet potato corn chowder (recipe here)

One of my favorite musical discoveries last year was Lost in the Trees, a classical-inspired folk group from North Carolina. Their most recent album All Alone in an Empty House is sad and beautiful, telling the somewhat autobiographical story of frontman Ari Picker’s family. There’s death, fighting, pain and depression, but also hope. It’s a warm, comforting album perfect for fall, and perfect for healing (this, perhaps unsurprisingly, is likely going to be a theme with most fall music featured here). In the album’s centerpiece, “Fireplace,” the shouted chorus goes, “So surround yourself with good people/ I know it’s painful but we can stand.”

I chose soup because, well, as far as I’m concerned, soup heals everything. But it’s also an ideal dish for big gatherings/communal eating in general: sharing with other people and being together in both good and not-so-good times. As for the flavor, the sweet potatoes and corn are for the band’s southern roots and comfort food in general. (Sidenote: While thinking about corn, autumn, and being “lost in” anything, I couldn’t help but remember the time my cousin and I got lost in a cornfield in northern Michigan when we were toddlers.)

This is easily one of my favorite soups I have ever made; it’s sweet and savory, and can be eaten warm or cold (I prefer it warm, but a friend at work loved it cold). However you eat it, though, I can tell you this stuff was amazing. I said soup is great for sharing, and this one was tasted by my roommates, my friend Amy (who took the accompanying photos), and three coworkers — and they all approved. This soup requires quite a bit of veggie prep work, but it’s well worth it, I promise.

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Kurt Cobain’s No-Bake Cookies

No-bake cookies (recipe here)

Kurt Cobain made cookies? Apparently, or he at least had some interest in doing so. While reading through Cobain’s journals as research for a really cool feature we did on eMusic, I found a jotted-down recipe for no-bake cookies (as well as one for his mom’s shrimp pasta salad). This month marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, so in honor of the album’s anniversary I made his cookies to the best of my ability! (And they’re even more appropriate for this week seeing as I’m headed to grunge’s birthplace, Seattle, on Friday.) Strangely enough, they do not have peanut butter in them, like every other no-bake cookie I have ever made or eaten, but I assure you they are still just as fudgy and gooey as the ones that do.

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Q&A: Dave Chaitt from Backyard Brunch Sessions

Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo

When Dave Chaitt moved into a first-floor Williamsburg apartment with a grapevine-filled gazebo out back, he knew it was only a matter of time before he came up with some crazy idea as to how to take advantage of it. He was working in the music industry and had been hosting weekly pizza dinners as a sort of informal networking event at his previous apartment, and that connection between people and food set the groundwork for what’s now the Backyard Brunch Sessions. Starting in April 2010, Chaitt began inviting bands to come over and cook brunch with him, then play a short, intimate set outside to about 15-20 people. He found a partner to take care of the film work, and also befriended Dan Lynch of nyctaper, who now records audio of the performances.

I was invited to a session in the middle of this summer’s heat wave; where Chaitt cooked huevos rancheros with Johnny Ollsin, guitarist for the awesome Family Band (who happen to be eMusic Selects alums!), pictured above. Chaitt’s were made with fresh mozzarella, caramelized shallots and balsamic-soaked strawberries; Ollsin’s were with cotija cheese, cilantro, and broiled tomatillos, onions and jalapenos. And all of that was accompanied by McClure’s bloody marys, and amaaazing ice cream from Adirondack Creamery (my favorite was carrot cake spice). We watched XVSK and Family Band while we ate and tried not to melt (it was definitely worth braving the heat).

Backyard Brunch Sessions

I caught up with Dave a couple weeks ago to chat a bit more about his cooking history and what goes into each session.

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Carrot Spice Madeleines (Inspired by Karaocake)

All photos by Dominick Mastrangelo

Carrot spice Madeleine cookies (recipe here)

Karaocake is a dreamy, synth-heavy French indiepop band who one of my coworkers discovered last year on eMusic and the rest of us quickly fell in love with. For a long time I’d been wanting to collaborate on a recipe with my friend Eleanor Whitney (of the cooking blog 2 Cooks in the Kitchen and the Brooklyn band Corita), and this was a perfect fit because of her love of all things French. Karaocake got their name through a silly joke involving carrot cake, and Madeleines are a French pastry as lovely and delicate as the band’s music, so carrot cake-flavored Madeleines were a perfect fit!

I’m really proud of this one, and have to salute Eleanor for the fact that we very loosely followed a recipe but they still came out perfectly. They were a blast to make, mostly because between Eleanor, our friend Dominick (who took the amazing photos) and me, there was lots of giggling and goofing off — the best way to do anything in the kitchen. We also devoured almost the whole first batch of these tiny cookies before the second tray went in the oven…

I should also note that my amazing roommate Sneha returned from Indiana after Labor Day weekend with a KITCHEN-AID STAND MIXER. IN HER SUITCASE. It was given to her a couple years ago and she didn’t really use it, but now it is here, in Brooklyn, making my kitchen dreams come true. This was my first time using it!

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DIY Pop-Tarts with The Shondes (Inspired by Pat Benatar)

Every month or so, I’ll be partnering with one of my favorite local sites, Brooklyn Based, to bring you an exclusive song by a Brooklyn band, recorded at Nadim Issa’s state-of-the-art recording studio in Gowanus, Let ‘Em In Music. Then, I’ll create a recipe with — or inspired by — the featured artist. This month’s mp3 is The Shondes’ cover of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” (get the free mp3 and read my feature on them here), and here are the homemade Pop-Tarts I baked with drummer Temim Fruchter.

Homemade Pop-Tarts (recipe here)

When Shondes drummer Temim Fruchter and I were brainstorming what we could make inspired by Pat Benatar, she suggested Pop-Tarts as a nod to the ’80s (so, Pop-Tarts were actually introduced in the ’60s, but kind of like I associate creamsicles with the ’90s, Pop-Tarts are her ’80s) — not to mention the obvious pop pun, and sugary sweetness of that era’s music. While writing their new record, Searchlights, The Shondes spent a lot of time listening to ’80s pop/rock for its “punky, defiant exuberance,” she said. (You can read more about that over at <a href="Brooklyn Based.)

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Raspberry-Peach Jam + a rainy-day playlist

Raspberry-peach jam (recipe here)

It’s funny to be posting this on a day with zero chance of precipitation, but the start of last week was all rain, and the weekend forecast wasn’t looking much better. (I’m going to Seattle at the end of the month; clearly New York has been testing my rain tolerance.) So I wanted to take on a food project fitting for a rainy day, since between the weather — which actually ended up being OK! — and the train I live near undergoing some major weekend construction, I wasn’t planning on going far from my apartment. So I picked up a few jars and took my first trip to the Brooklyn Kitchen, where I picked up a candy thermometer, canning funnel, and a super-awesome little book about jams, jellies and canning.

Making jam and canning is sorta labor-intensive, and I was definitely nervous about jars exploding while I was boiling them, but the whole thing was actually pretty exciting and I will totally be doing it again! (Even though the second batch I made was too runny…whoops!) Also, you can definitely use this recipe for my next recipe post.

Some songs about rain! If you’re on Spotify, you should be able to check out the playlist here (please let me know if it doesn’t work!). Here are the songs:

Bob Dylan, “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”
Basia Bulat, “If It Rains”
The Tallest Man On Earth, “It Will Follow The Rain”
Garbage, “Only Happy When It Rains”
Fleetwood Mac, “Dreams”
Joni Mitchell, “Rainy Night House”
Adele, “Right as Rain”
Mayer Hawthorne, “I Wish It Would Rain”
NewVillager, “Black Rain”

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Beer Bread Breakfast Sandwich (Inspired by The Replacements)

Breakfast sandwich with beer bread (recipe here)

This one is kinda goofy, and I hope you’ll trust me when I say it actually tasted pretty good! My beer-nerd friend Tony (who also happens to be one of my favorite cooking buddies) was in town for the holiday weekend, so he was the perfect excuse to make beer bread in honor of the Replacements song “Beer for Breakfast.” I’ll be honest: Tony did most of the work on the bread, since he’s made real bread a bunch of times before (I have not, but that’s going to change), and it turned out great. As for the sandwich, I used a fried egg, brown mustard, and … barbeque potato chips, since the song has a line about wanting to eat them. The song also talks about being broke, and everything here is definitely easy on the wallet. I know, you’re probably still gagging at the idea of this sandwich, but I swear it actually tasted pretty good. (And even if you don’t believe me, the bread is at least worth a try!)

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