My Emu Is Emo

I cook. I listen to music. Mayhem ensues.

Introducing the Bronuffin: a biscuit-donut-muffin hybrid made with beer


Bronuffin interior I present to you… the Bronuffin!

In a world where hybrid breakfast pastries such as the duffin, the cronut, the cragel, and the doughscuit have replaced mere pancakes among hip and trendy people who like spending their early mornings in a queue, the bronuffin was waiting to happen.

The bronuffin is a biscuit-donut-muffin hybrid that is named for the moment when one wants to make exciting breakfast pastries but has neither milk nor eggs in the house, so one says, “Bro, I got nuffin’.” It requires beer and jam. If your refrigerator is down to the point of containing nothing but retro-style pop and sriracha, make substitutions at your own risk.

Preheat the oven to 400 because 400 is a nice, round number. For music, I focused my eyes on Spotify’s recommendations and noticed an indie pop act calling itself Brandon & Leah. As it happens, their music is influenced by pop. soul, hip-hop, and reggae, making it a fitting hybrid soundtrack for the bronuffin. The result in “Life Happens” is relentlessly perky.

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Carrot Caramel Brownies fill your Frames


Carrot Caramel Brownie“Previously skeptical, even hostile, listener hears the band’s latest track and is utterly blown away” is a common scene in fiction about musicians (and probably in musicians’ livelier fantasies), to the point that coming across it is my signal to throw the novel at the wall and go on to something else.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you. . . Lee DeWyze. Frames (buy deluxe at iTunes, buy at Amazon, official site). DeWyze is putting his stint as the butt monkey of American Idol culture behind him (note those long strides on the album cover!) with a new album on the indie label Vanguard — in which he returns to his folk-rock roots and shows that he means business.

This calls for carrot-caramel brownies to accompany track-by-track consideration. The brownies have their roots in Caramel Apple brownies from Lemons for Lulu. Frames has its roots in Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles.

Preheat your oven to 350, grease your 9×9 pan, fire up your headphones, and let’s do this thing.
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Rustic Rye Coffee Cake with Almond-Lavender and Blueberry Filling dares you to eat it


Rye coffee cake with almond-lavender and blueberry filling.This is the very first time I’ve tried to make pastry from scratch, for which I can thank — with a rueful, flour-coated smile — the Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge for March. [Spoiler: despite being fluffy rather than flaky, the results tasted good. So there's hope.]

The key ingredients were almond paste and pastry. For two entire months of planning, I swore I was going to make a sort of tart with prefab pie crust, prefab almond paste, and jelly in a nice jar. Then I found myself standing in the baking aisle of Transitional Neighborhood Kroger with nary a tube of almond paste to be seen… but sliced almonds marked 40% off.

It’s not that I dare mightily: it’s that I’m both lazy and cheap. So this coffee cake is entirely made from scratch, and would probably have still been pretty easy if I were better at it.

For no really clear reason, this coffee cake got me listening to the stream of Megan Hilty’s new album, It Happens All the Time (buy at Amazon, buy at iTunes), so don’t hesitate to check it out, particularly her cover of “Dare You to Move” (which is not quite the same as “dare you to make pastry,” but it’ll do).
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  • Published: Feb 21st, 2013
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Comments: 11

Lavender-filled Croissants Heart You


lavender-filled croissantsThis month’s Improv Cooking Challenge at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker involved “hearts and flours.” Of course, I wrote this down as “hearts and flowers,” which is slightly different. The result is these lavender-filled, lemon-glazed croissants, which are meant to be both quick and easy. The flour, however, is already mixed into the pre-fab croissant dough. Or you could make your own croissant dough.

The natural accompaniment is Ontario’s SayWeCanFly, whose song “Hearts and Flowers” is not the usual romantic piffle or anti-piffle. SayWeCanFly (last seen here, with cucumber cake) is Brandon Barrie’s moody, introspective, yet ultimately cheerful acoustic project. It bespeaks weathered barns and… well… fields of lavender under cloudy skies.

So let’s preheat the oven to 375 (or whatever the dough says on the package) and make a little something for afternoon tea.

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Orange muffins with strawberry filling see the light


orange muffin with strawberry fillingColton Dixon blinded me with science.

While I wasn’t overwhelmed by his stint as a reality-TV personality on American Idol, his launch into Christian Contemporary Music coincided with my seizing on the research question of whether Idol alumni would have an easier time building sustainable careers if they started in a niche genre, rather than being hurled at pop music. It’s hard to get more “niche” than CCM while still singing in English — no, as far as I know, no group sings in tongues — unless one dedicates one’s life to smooth jazz.

So I started reading Dixon’s interviews, generally enjoyed how he talked about music, and figured, with the release of his debut album, A Messenger (buy at iTunes, buy at Amazon), that thoroughness required giving it a listen to see if he delivers on his promises to do musically exciting things.

There is no logical or theological reason this should be paired with orange muffins that are secretly filled with strawberry jam. Dixon does not, for instance, have a jam band (that would be Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips). His style is unsurprisingly alt-rock, spurring (fair) comparisons to genre-mates MercyMe and Casting Crowns. Let’s preheat the oven to 350, find an orange, and contemplate this album track-by-track. (If you use Spotify, you can follow along without committing.)

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Sunrise Muffins steal your granddad’s style


sunrise muffinsThese muffins are my effort to find a cure for the common cold. They contain raisins (iron! potassium!), walnuts (protein!), pineapple (manganese! vitamin C!), orange juice (more vitamin C!), carrots (anti-oxidants!), and enough spices to decongest an elephant.

This throw-everything-in approach fits well with my pick from Run Hundred‘s top 10 workout songs list for January (and yes, I do feel hypocritical when I’ve been in no condition to go to the gym). The first time I heard somebody on the radio rapping “I wear your granddad’s clothes – I look incredible,” I figured this was some odd Will Smith schtick. (You must admit, Will Smith looks incredible in basically anything.)

No, it’s “Thrift Shop” by hipster-rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz. And it is about… wait for it! Thrift shopping. Preheat the oven to 375 and let’s make some muffins.

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Carrot bread will lure you closer to vegetables

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Carrot breadCarrot bread is notoriously shy. The number of slices I had to eat in order to achieve a passable portrait is not to be discussed.

Carrot bread is also the first installment of what I hope will be a series of Thanksgiving recipes for the single, the dual, the bringer-of-a-dish-to-parties and the uninspired but hungry. You can make this on the Wednesday to serve for Thanksgiving morning breakfast, with a little cream cheese, secure in the notion that your tots, if any, will thus be consuming a vegetable other than green bean casserole.

The presence of a vegetable makes this a natural match for this month’s selection from Run Hundred‘s top workout songs. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare to bounce around to The Ready Set’s “Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever).”
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Pear-anise Muffins will blow you away

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A pair of pearsThe urban equivalent of eating seasonally is eating with the produce section of the 99 Cents Only. A big bag of pears for 99 cents was too good a deal to resist, with the result that I have a lot of pears waiting to be eaten or possibly used in still life paintings.

This situation called for pear muffins. The calorie count of muffins in turn called for tackling a little something from the Run Hundred Top Workout Songs for September list, which oddly included Carrie Underwood’s recent hit, “Blown Away.” The dark tone of the song goes with the darker and richer flavoring I want to achieve with this particular muffin, so I think we have a match.

The version on the workout song list is the original, but a quick survey of Youtube determines that there are remixes. Remixes! And remix-style covers! This requires investigation.

Preheat the oven to 425, grab a pear (or grow a pear), and let’s start with Underwood’s original version for reference. Read the rest of this entry »

Heavy Metal Sticky Buns are dark, yeasty, and pack a kick

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Heavy Metal Sweet RollsMy corruption would have been improved by cream cheese.

Every now and again, I encounter heavy metal, like some of what I hear, plead ignorance, and then forget all about it until the next encounter. However, in the wake of last month’s James Durbin show, metalladon and BellaRog came through with many lively and varied examples of metal, both classic and modern.

And after the concentration of Wordy Young Men With Guitars, late in the 50 States project, I was ready to bang some heads. At the very least, my education in metal — and this is going to be more about my reactions than about metal qua metal, as I’m still a newbie — is good for some eye-rolling and a pat on the head from the true afficionados.

This adventure required a particularly intense and edgy sweet roll, which I invented for the occasion. It includes chocolate, rye flour, and ancho chili pepper. It will grow hair on your chest, then kick you into next week for a barber’s appointment. Since the filling is too dark to show clearly against the dough, it’s logical to begin with the song that started the conversation: Ronnie James Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark.”

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Cucumber cake gets heady ideas about summer


Cucumber breadOh. Canada.

Just as I finished the 50 States / 50 Bands / 50 Dishes project, indie musician Braden Barrie of Ontario, Canada, showed up among my Twitter followers. Either there’s a coincidence here, or this dude read me correctly, as I’d been considering a hasty run through Canada before calling it a day on geography.

Making a decision on Barrie’s project, SayWeCanFly (official site) was the easy part. Moody, introspective indie-type music, yet with a certain wistful upbeat quality on the choruses? Say, something that belongs on a weather-beaten farmhouse porch in rural Ontario, in some idyllic summer before the freshman year of college? No problem.

Canada is more challenging. Regional cuisines aren’t as clearly defined or as readily replicable as in the United States. Caribou? Think $20/lb at the boutique butcher. Fiddlehead ferns? Not in season. Butter tarts? My hips say no, and hips don’t lie.

However, Ontario has its “fresh, local ingredients” movement, and among the substances that are fresh and local is the cucumber. The deal was sealed when Barrie tweeted about stopping at a local farm stand for cucumbers and honey. Cukes it is! And this calls for cucumber cake (recipe from Honest Cooking). Preheat the oven to 350, brandish a cucumber menacingly, and let’s check out some tracks from Barrie’s new EP, Dandelion Necklace (buy on iTunes). Read the rest of this entry »

Wyoming Apple Pudding gets experimental


apple puddingA journey of 50 recipes for 50 states begins with a single pudding… and ends with one, too.

Technically, Alabama was sweet-potato pie, but experience testifies that the difference between a custard, a flan, and a pudding is largely the angle of view. And now I’m going to contradict myself and try to construct a Wyoming apple pudding that doesn’t contain eggs and milk. I’m complicated that way. I also couldn’t face chopping apple with my damaged hand (it’s much better now) and wanted an easier approach.

Since this project — based on the Jiffy corn pudding that snuck into New Mexico — is highly experimental, it’s fitting to accompany it with the highly experimental music of Harriman Exit (Reverbnation). Preheat the oven to 350 and let’s open packages! Read the rest of this entry »

Baked Cider Donut Mini-Muffins want to play your rib bones (Vermont)

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Cider donut muffinsVermont has a split personality.

To the right: colorful leaves and laconic farmers, making goat cheese and cider donuts. Honoring their legacy requires making baked cider donut mini-muffins, derived from Pixelated Crumb (recipe).

To the left, tie-dyed jam bands. This calls for the Boston Phoenix’s 2012 pick for Vermont: the Happy Jawbone Family Band (official site). The Happy Jawbone Family Band sounds exactly like one would expect a band called the Happy Jawbone Family to sound.

I’m typing this with my right hand because my left hand is immobilized in ice, thanks to having smacked my knuckles and the thin-skinned back of my hand into the wall of my 400-degree oven when putting the muffin tin in to bake. Spoiler: preheat the oven to 400. Read the rest of this entry »

Blackberry roll messes with your head


Blackberry rollWelcome to the morning mind screw.

Blackberries seemed inevitable for Oregon, despite my recently having wallowed in them for the Black Keys, where the blackberry sour-cream coffeecake had salted caramel topping. One of the flagship recipes for Oregon blackberries is blackberry roll, which is ordinarily a yeast pastry. Yeast pastries require the sort of advance planning that involves getting up at 4 a.m. to have breakfast at 9 a.m., at which point I’m wailing about starving to death louder than the cat, so they rarely happen in my world.

Then I found Small Things’ recipe for a biscuit-style blackberry roll with a surprise ingredient (recipe). Now we’re cooking with gas… well, with baking powder. And with the surprise ingredient.

One good mind screw deserves another. I went looking for a Portland, Oregon, alternative artist on Reverbnation. When I clicked on Jennifer Batten (official siteReverbnation page), I assumed I was getting another earnest, sweet-voiced, guitar-strumming gal with heartfelt yet cynical lyrics. No objection: I often like that sort of thing. Instead, it’s a funk/art rock sound with heavy distortion and sampling, like a brunch soundtrack beamed in from Saturn. Preheat the oven to 350 and come check it out. Read the rest of this entry »

Scones of Anarchy are a spicy response to social problems


spicy cranberry sconesThese are scones of anarchy.

Scones of anarchy were invented to accompany the new single from Calling All Astronauts (official site), a London indie band whose dark electro punk sound is roughly what would happen if Sisters of Mercy had a life-changing fling with the Sex Pistols, followed by a hot rebound relationship with Nine Inch Nails.

If London is calling (yes, I know, Clash), it’s time for New British cuisine. But New British restaurants exhibit stereotypical English reticence. Where a comparable American menu would gush and bubble about “farm-raised,” “grilled on a bed of fresh rampions,” and “raspberry-leek reduction,” its London cousin murmurs a stiff-lipped “hake with leeks” and moves on.

Stymied, I did the American thing and simple-mindedly (as opposed to Simple Plannedly) associated “English” with “afternoon tea,” settling on a multi-cultural and violently spicy scone that started from the Joy of Baking’s gingerbread scones (recipe) but mostly rebelled against dictates of mass baking culture. Are you ready to hear something new? Read the rest of this entry »

Blackberry Sour Cream Coffeecake sports salted-caramel topping

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Blackberry sour cream coffee cakePut it in a bowl with some yogurt, sprinkle with chopped bacon, and call it breakfast trifle.

May’s Run Hundred list of top workout songs startled me by including The Black Keys. Black Keys led ineluctably to baking with blackberries (well, 99-cent blackberry packs at Sprouts may have helped), in a modified mash-up of blackberry sour-cream coffee cake from What’s Cooking America and strawberry sour-cream cornmeal cake from Momtastic.

The really exciting modifications are not the ones that caused the loaf to fall apart — that was the result of the stumbling-around-kitchen-in-haze mistakes. I still need to mop up flour on the stove, blackberry juice on the floor, and a fascinating array of spillage on the counter. But first, preheat the oven to 325 and let’s boogie. Read the rest of this entry »

Whole-wheat Apple Muffins give a kick to upstate New York (case: Syracusative)

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New York apple muffinsNew York has an official muffin.

It is the apple muffin, although apple trees presumably don’t grow in the Big Apple, unless Brooklyn hipsters have started planting orchards atop their brownstones.

I will leave Googling that as an exercise for the reader.

New York City is, of course, clavicle-deep in hot indie bands. However, since I’d ranted about how God Bless America short-changed Syracuse’s local culture, I felt compelled to dig up indie bands from Syracuse. There are many. It seems 1 in 8 young adult Syracusians plays in a band, mostly alt-rock.

So let’s preheat the oven to 450 and start with the quasi-famous Merit (official site, where you can download the entire Arson Is for Lovers album for free). Read the rest of this entry »

Native cuisine presents a conundrum for Nevada

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Talking Stick buffetThe native cuisine of Nevada is “casino buffet.”

Doubt this claim? The University of Nevada at Las Vegas Libraries and its Center for Gaming Research have a delightful and informative online exhibit devoted to Las Vegas dining here, and the buffet looms large (as well as long and well-stocked) in early restaurant history. I even ate at one back on my Thanksgiving trip, here.

My first thought for finding casino buffet locally was to hie myself to the Wandering Horse Buffet at Talking Stick Resort for breakfast. This casino belongs to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa community, the same organized, aesthetically sophisticated, and cheerily “foodie” tribe responsible for the Salt River Stadium at Talking Stick, where I saw the Rockies play the Diamondbacks during last year’s spring training. Hieing, of course, requires a band or two for Nevada, so let’s start with a quintessentially Vegas video from Charlie Rivero (Reverbnation). Read the rest of this entry »

Rice Gets Wild with Chicken and bonus Wild Rice Blueberry Muffins


Chicken with Wild RiceMinnesota can only mean wild rice.

Minnesota can also mean snowy lonesome highways through the pine woods into the Iron Range, and for such occasions, we have Jamestown Story (official site), an acoustic band from Duluth.

In honor of Jamestown Story’s 2011 album, A Walk Through Time (buy from iTunes), let’s make a nice chicken-with-wild-rice that an indie band can afford, plus some bonus wild rice-blueberry-rye muffins. Read the rest of this entry »

Rye Cherry Muffins are wry, too (Michigan)


Michigan cherry muffinMichigan presented a conundrum: its emblematic food, the pasty, is largely potato wrapped in a pastry crust, a caloric combination that’s unlikely to reach consummation in my kitchen.

Michigan is also known for its cherries, which naturally seemed to point to Michigan cherry muffins. Muffins are my native art form (and just in time for A Little Nosh’s Taste-Tastic Thursday).

It’s thus fitting to take a suggestion from @dmvsndboard and check out a band that plays with rock ‘n’ roll’s 1950s roots. This is The Hounds Below (Bandcamp, official site), fronted by singer/songwriter Jason Stollsteimer (also of the now-defunct and more raucous Von Bondies). Let’s preheat the oven to 350 and start with “Cumberland’s Crumblin’,” which appears to take place in the sort of world I invent. Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Brown Bread has that can-do attitude (Massachusetts)

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Bread in a can (Boston brown bread) with bacon and strawberriesBread. In a can.

You probably want to know why the slices of my canned bread are not perfectly round. We’ll get to that. You may figure it out earlier in the cooking process than I did.

Reaching Massachusetts in the 50 states / 50 dishes / 50 bands project called for Boston brown bread (Epicurious recipe), which is traditionally steamed in a can. It also called for a different approach to the accompanying music, as Boston’s huge music scene was distracting me from my goal of pleasing obscurity. So I went to The Deli Magazine’s list of the 300 most popular bands in Boston at this moment and decided to include one song from each of the top three bands. That starts us off with electropop band Passion Pit (official site). Read the rest of this entry »

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