Portobello nests

Portobello Nests with Pear-Onion Jam (Inspired by Shearwater)

Portobello nests

THE DISH
Roasted portobello mushrooms with greens, goat cheese and pear-onion jam

THE INSPIRATION
I’ve been spending a lot of time with Shearwater lately, which might have a little something to do with the fact that my boyfriend has a huge crush on Jonathan Meiburg, but also because I finally spent a little more time with their album that came out earlier this year, Animal Joy. While Animal Joy got my attention pretty quickly, their overall catalog might take a little more time — a lot of the songs build slowly, like the opener on 2008’s Rook, “On The Death Of The Waters”: It begins with Meiburg’s voice and a piano, then halfway through explodes with heavy guitars, drums, horns and woodwinds.

That album is perhaps their best known, and it combines the dramatic, majestic music with haunting lyrics about life, death and nature — “Rooks” is essentially about a bird apocalypse (side note: Meiburg is an ornithologist), and probably the most relevant to this dish. We made “nests” using portobello mushrooms and cooked kale and arugula, but they don’t have anything in them that resembles eggs because all the birds are gone from their nests (and dead). The pear-onion jam on top takes a long time to cook as the flavors blend together and it gets better with time, and the onions go from spicy to sweet as they soften and caramelize on the stove — not too far off from how it can take a while for Shearwater’s music to sink in, there are so many layers that go into each song, and as a whole, the music has gone from grim to an album that even has “joy” in its title. That’s not to say Animal Joy is a uniformly happy record, but it doesn’t feel so heavy and there are more moments of driving rock. Also, you need to listen to the song “Animal Life,” as it makes my head explode in a way that very few songs have done; kind of like what I felt the first time I listened to Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy.

Read More »

Advertisements

Butternut Squash Pancakes and Maple-Goat Cheese Sauce with Pearl and the Beard (Inspired by Bon Iver)

Every month or so, I partner 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 create a recipe with — or inspired by — the featured artist. This month’s mp3 is Pearl and the Beard, performing Bon Iver’s “Re: Stacks” (get the free mp3 and read my feature on them here), and here are the butternut squash pancakes with maple-goat cheese sauce I made with the band. All photos by Dominick Mastrangelo.

THE DISH
Spiced butternut squash pancakes with maple-goat cheese sauce and candied walnuts (recipe + tons of photos here)

THE INSPIRATION
Within five minutes of Pearl and the Beard (Jocelyn Mackenzie, Emily Hope Price and Jeremy Styles) entering my apartment, I felt like they were old friends. All three of them are bundles of smiles and energy, and they came prepared to make delicious cocktails, which always gets points in my book. I first heard of the band through Dave of Backyard Brunch Sessions and was instantly won over by their simple but creative instrumentation and strong harmonies that often lean more toward cabaret than Americana (though there’s plenty of that, too).

When I asked them to do an installment of BB Songs, they decided to cover Bon Iver’s “Re: Stacks” from his debut album For Emma, Forever Ago (listen to their gorgeous version of the song here), and they wanted to make “stacks” of pancakes served with goat cheese sauce. From there, I decided on rich butternut squash pancakes and a spread made with goat cheese, maple syrup and yogurt. We topped our stacks with candied walnuts for an extra bit of sweetness — except for Jeremy, who is allergic but still insisted on flirting with danger and stirring them over the stove. Bon Iver’s music, especially For Emma, is a perfect match for the cold — and while we ate these pancakes for dinner, they’d be incredible as a comforting Sunday-morning brunch while holed up in a cabin in the dead of winter. The pancakes are filling, and the sauce — which we spread in between each layer — turns it into a pretty decadent meal. They’re still pretty healthy, though: The sauce is made with goat cheese, maple syrup and Greek yogurt, so there’s plenty of protein and not too much fat. And the butternut squash has got to count for something, right?

Read More »

DIY Business Association Conference + Red Pepper Hummus and Beet Dip

Alternately titled The Little Food Processor That Could OR No One Girl Should Make All That Hummus
(skip to recipes at bottom)

I’m starting this post shortly after taking a way-too-expensive car ride home from the first (but definitely not last) DIY Business Association Conference in DUMBO, and I am glowing because WHOA, I am full of inspiration from a day of panels and chatting with friends, past and present colleagues, and new acquaintances who are all working on amazing creative projects.


In my running around all day, I failed to take photos; I’m sure other people’s will surface soon…

The DIYBA was started this year by Amy Schroeder, a close friend who began as my mentor; she founded the now-defunct women’s music and culture mag Venus Zine when she was a student at Michigan State (also my alma mater, though we’re 10 years apart). When I was in college, Amy took me on as an intern and soon after hired me as an editor, and it’s because of that experience — and the constant support from her and the other colleagues, mentors and friends I met because of it — that I truly believed I could make a living writing about music in New York. Just four years later I was able to make it a reality. Anyway, Amy put on an incredible conference (I helped out most of the day and with the help of Stefanie of The Petite Soiree and a kickass volunteer team, it was like clockwork) and every single person left with something new.

“Ideas need to have sex with each other”
Most of the conference focused on collaboration — Grace Bonney from Design*Sponge talked about seeking out people in communities outside your niche who share the way you think; Molly Neuman, who I work with at eMusic, talked about how Ted Leo (who she manages) has started collaborating with comedians to reach new audiences; bassist Gregory Jackson, who’s played with countless reggae, soul and R&B artists, talked about getting gigs that combine music and art. The conference today was a clearing for new ideas and inspiration, and I know there will be some cool projects related to this blog that came out of today. (Jessica H. Lawrence talked about ideas needing to “have sex with each other” and it’s true.)

Among the people I met today: Journalists Niema Jordan and Annie Reuter, who wrote concert reviews for me at VZ back in the day but I’d never met them in person; Shondes drummer Temim Fruchter; comedic songwriter Jessica Delfino; BUST Magazine designer Erin Wengrovious; Brian Merchant from the Utopianist; photographer (and fellow former State Newser) Eleanor Templeton; Patrice Fehlen at September Gurl PR and quite a few others. I definitely have some cooking and wine-drinking dates and collaborative ETB posts ahead of me.


Journalist Niema Jordan (of Essence magazine and others) and Temim Fruchter of the Shondes

So, speaking of food (of course), the other notable part of the day is that I offered to make snacks for the drinks and mingling hour at the end of the event; which was about 150 or so people … which I had never done before. Considering the logistics — I had to make it a day ahead of time and it had to sit in a fridge or at room temperature all day — I decided on roasted red pepper hummus and beet/goat cheese dip, with pita, carrots and cucumbers, and a huge fruit salad. I also have no perception of how much food should be made for that many people, and I spent Saturday hovering over my tiny, tiny food processor, making my weight in hummus. (I don’t even wanna talk about it. The morals of my story are 1) I need a bigger food processor, and 2) I should never make that much hummus again.) And before the conference I chopped up two watermelons, four cantaloupes and combined them with six cartons of strawberries and about four pounds of grapes. WAY TOO MUCH FOOD.

In my frantic planning and errand-running and food-making, I completely freaked out. I thought, “I’m representing my food blog and this food is totally nothing fancy and people are going to think I’m super lame” … and then I realized it actually doesn’t matter. At all. What I do on ETB is not fancy. OK, I guess sometimes it can get a bit elaborate — but it’s usually not, and that’s a lot of what this site is about. I’m a home cook, not a business. I’m not trying to sell you anything; I just love to make food and share it with people. And reminding myself of that made it totally fine that I was making two dips and fruit salad. And then at the end of the evening when people said they liked my hummus, I realized how silly I was for thinking people would judge me in the first place. It was a great learning experience. And since I made WAY too much of everything, I pushed hummus-filled Greek yogurt containers onto other volunteers and conference-goers, and I can only hope they eat it.

Anyway! If you tasted these at the conference or they just sound good to you anyway, recipes are below. Both are very simple, though I recommend using a large food processor if you plan to make more than a few batches.

Read More »