Apple pull-apart bread

Savory Apple Pull-Apart Bread and Horseradish Butter (Inspired by Fiona Apple)

Apple pull-apart bread

THE DISH
Apple, Camembert and chive pull-apart bread with horseradish butter

THE INSPIRATION
When I started brainstorming recipes for this site two years ago, one of the first half-ideas I had was a Fiona Apple-inspired dish involving with tart apples — naturally, because of her reputation for having a sometimes-bitter personality that’s come across as much in her public appearances as in her music. I’m glad I held off on that, though, because her latest record changed my perception a bit. The Idler Wheel is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do (whew!) still has songs about loneliness, heartbreak and defeat, with lines like “I ran out of white doves’ feathers/ to soak up the hot piss that comes from your mouth every time you address me.” But overall it’s not quite as intense as her first two releases, and there are a few more moments of sweetness than I’d expected, and when I saw her at a small show in Brooklyn months before the album came out, she was funny and chatty and just not as angry as she’s been the other times I’ve seen her. Idler Wheel is Apple’s first album since Extraordinary Machine in 2005; it was worth waiting for and every bit as great as I’d hoped it would be.

I’ve only made yeasted bread a few times — partially because if it was a regular thing I’d eat way too much of it, and also because of the time commitment. But it’s becoming tradition when my best friend Jenni comes to visit from Michigan, and the couple times we’ve done it it’s been worth the effort and, like Apple’s records, more than worth the wait for the end result. Last year we made Smitten Kitchen’s apple and honey challah (part of an entire apple-themed dinner) and it was incredible, quickly devoured by my friends at an apple-themed dinner party. This year’s project — a pull-apart bread filled with apples (becoming another part of the tradition, I guess), Camembert cheese, and chives — also took a while; something like three hours if you count the time waiting for it to rise. We had the BF and his mom over for dinner, and this baby was nearly gone by the end of the evening, with just enough for Jenni and me to share for breakfast the next morning.

The bread is baked in stacks of square pieces of dough covered in the apple filling, so when it’s done you don’t need a knife because you can just break it off into big, flaky pieces. The childlike, eating-with-your-hands element makes me think of the Idler Wheel song “Anything We Want,” where Apple sings about pretending to be 8 years old, and also “Jonathan,” a song about her ex, author Jonathan Ames, who supposedly has taken many a date to Coney Island. As for the filling itself, we did use tart apples like my original idea, as well as chives, balanced out by sweet, creamy Camembert cheese.

The album ends with the jazzy vocal acrobatics of “Hot Knife,” driven by the line, “If I’m butter, if I’m butter/ If I’m butter then he’s a hot knife.” Some have written the track off as silly, but it’s actually one of my favorites here. Like other parts of Idler Wheel, it’s uncharacteristically sweet, about a guy who makes her melt (and vice versa later in the song, when it changes to “I’m a hot knife, I’m a hot knife/ I’m a hot knife, he’s a pat of butter”). I also love the story behind the recording: Apple sung it with her sister, an experience that was one of their most intimate. So to complement the bread, we made a horseradish-infused butter; the kick from the horseradish represents the song’s bold claim that she’s going to win the guy over for good: “If I get a chance I’m gonna show him that he’s never gonna need another, never need another,” and the butter is self-explanatory. (In case you were wondering, we didn’t spread it with a hot knife — whoops!) The album’s most quoted line comes from the first track, “Every Single Night”: “I just want to feel everything,” and with the different flavors in this, I think it works here, too.

Read More »

Advertisements

Pear Spice Bread (Inspired by The Weather Station + Hurricane Irene)

THE DISH
Pear spice bread (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
I listen to a lot of new music (considering my day job, I kinda have to), but it’s not so often that I stumble upon and fall utterly in love with a virtually unknown artist I’ve never heard of. When it happens, though, I get really excited and immediately tell everyone I know about it. These moments are some of my favorite reminders of why I love music and working in this industry. On Thursday I was browsing new releases on eMusic and the ’70s-looking cover of All Of It Was Mine, an album by The Weather Station, caught my eye, so I downloaded it and got sucked in for the rest of my workday. The Weather Station is the project of singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman, who writes gorgeous acoustic folksongs that remind me of some of my favorite singer/songwriters, old and new; Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Laura Marling, Sharon Van Etten. Her music is warm and soothing, and it was the perfect soundtrack to the weekend I spent cooped up in my apartment, baking my Saturday morning away while I waited for Hurricane Irene to pass through Brooklyn.

I tried to use up produce and perishables like eggs, butter and milk that’d go bad in the fridge when we lost power, and make food that’d be OK to sit at room temperature. (Even though my neighborhood, Bushwick, wasn’t in an evacuation zone, I was still pretty positive there’d at least have a power outage — which, thankfully, there wasn’t). My roommate’s boss sent her home with his entire CSA share earlier this week, which included a bunch of pears, so I used those to make this amazing pear spice bread. I think this is the most delicious quick bread I’ve made, and it was as comforting as The Weather Station (not to be confused with the actual weather station — or, more accurately in my case, NYTimes.com hurricane updates — because none of that was really comforting). There’s also a reference to making homemade bread in opening track “Everything I Saw.” And to top it off, all of this paired (pear-ed? ha ha ha) together nicely with some other recent developments that have left me as warm and fuzzy as the warm richness of cinnamon, ginger and cloves in the pear bread. Hitting particularly close to home is a line from the song “Came So Easy”: “Your kind words came so easy, and I have winced at sugar sweetness/ You made me feel so wealthy, so I got tongue-tied, I got restless.” I love when the right music shows up at just the right time.

Anyway, you can stream the entire Weather Station album below; you can also buy it on her Bandcamp page or on eMusic.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=3812411084/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/

Read More »

Herb-Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits (Inspired by Simon & Garfunkel)

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

THE DISH
Cheddar buttermilk biscuits with fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (Recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
This one’s pretty straightforward: biscuits with the namesake of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The name comes from the song “Scarborough Fair/Canticle,” which combined Paul Simon’s lyrics with lyrics from a traditional U.K. ballad.

Read More »