The Perfect Marriage: a Cookbook Author and a Musician

April 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm Leave a comment

Yoshie Fruchter and Leah Koenig combine two of our favorite things in their marriage: she’s a cookbook author and food writer and he’s a musician. What more could a couple ask for??

Leah Koenig and Yoshie Fruchter, awesome couple.

Koenig‘s first cookbook, Hadassah Everyday Cookbook, recently came out through Rizzoli Publishing and is currently impressing Jewish grandmothers across the country, as well as their hip young granddaughters, like myself (yeah, I’m hip and young–what of it??) who always despair at the lack of creativity in Jewish cookbooks.  And did I mention it includes a breakfast chapter? You can buy it here on Amazon.

Meanwhile, Fruchter and one of his several bands, Pitom, recently released their latest album, Blasphemy and other Serious Crimes, on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records. A mashup of jazz, funk, rock, and whole bunch of other stuff, Pitom creates unique music that is constantly evolving. On their new album they explore some more rock and grunge sounds that will surely make your ears happy. You can buy that album here on Amazon.


The two are teaming up outside of their home for an awesome event called Blasphemy and Bites. Fruchter and Pitom will be on hand playing their tunes, as well as the band Gutbucket, and Koenig will be there with tons of amazing samples on hand. It happens Monday, May 2 at The Rock Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn. TnJ will be there and so should you.

TnJ also got the chance to interview this fabulous couple, check it out:

TnJ: You two are both writers–one of music and the other of food articles and recipes–what kind of similarities, if any do you experience in your writing process?
LK: Our processes are very similar, I think. We both start with a raw idea–Yoshie with a musical phrase, and me with a question–and then polish it and whittle away at it until it feels right. We also both find that our best ideas tend to come at odd or inconvenient times–like while taking a shower or walking down the street.
YF: I think the similarities in our process have more to do with the research and preparation that goes into our work. Like the other day Leah was reading Travels with Barley, a book about beer, while I was listening to Andy Statman’s “Between Heaven and Earth.”  In order for us to stay fresh in what we do, it’s important to keep our minds open through other artists in our field.
TnJ: You also both often work and write from home–do you get along? Is Yoshie in charge of background music while Leah provides the snacks?
LK: Usually!  We used to work in the same office in our apartment, but I’ve migrated my work space to the dining room table, which feels appropriate for a food writer. We have lunch together a lot, which is the greatest perk of working from home. Typical meal: pasta, salad, and a viewing of The Daily Show.  I cook, Yoshie does the dishes. And on the rare occasions that Yoshie’s practicing ever gets too loud, the Brooklyn Public Library is only two blocks away!
YF: And sometimes Leah comes to the door of my office and shuts it when the background music becomes, well, more than background.

TnJ: Leah, your new cookbook, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen, features an entire chapter on breakfast recipes, which is somewhat of a rarity in most cookbooks, especially Jewish ones. Was it your decision/idea to include this chapter? Why did you think it was essential to include?LK: I think Jewish cuisine has added a lot to the world of breakfast. Bagels and lox, challah french toast, matza brie…we’ve got some real classics in the repertoire. Plus, breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I find myself scheming up new egg dishes and baked goods more than anything else, so having a chapter dedicated to breakfast seemed like a no brainer.

TnJ: Leah, what are your 3 favorite breakfast recipes in the book?
LK: Apple Walnut Bread. You could serve it for dessert too, but it’s got enough nutritional heft (whole wheat flour, flax seeds, a ton of apples) to make it a perfect breakfast bread.  If I’m on the go, I slather a piece with peanut butter or almond butter and take it with me. I’ve copied the recipe below.  (Thanks, Leah!)
Horseradish Omelet: What could be better than cheesy eggs with a kick of heat? This recipe is a great way to use up any jarred Passover horseradish lying around.
Chocolate Apricot Scones: I’ll be serving these at our show on May 2nd (Woohoo! Show is worth it already!).
TnJ: Yoshie, what is your favorite breakfast recipe that you got to sample while Leah was testing recipes?
YF: Smoked salmon scrambled eggs for sure. Two of my favorite things to eat in one dish!  

TnJ: What is your favorite restaurant to eat brunch or breakfast?
LK: So many! In our neighborhood of Prospect Heights/Park Slope I love Cheryl’s Global Soul, Flatbush Farm, Rose Water and Dizzy’s Finer Diner.
YF: Even though it’s a bit far, I love B & H Dairy in the city. A bit greasy yes, but delicious, and I dig the diner thing for breakfast.
(In case you readers are wondering, TnJ wholeheartedly approves of all their choices! We even just did a review on Rose Water!)

TnJ: Yoshie, your new album with your band Pitom, Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes, was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records. Do you consider Zorn to be an influence?
YF: Definitely. When I first discovered his music and Tzadik in college, it was a breath of fresh air. Having grown up with a lot of Jewish music, but getting increasingly into more experimental jazz and rock at the time, Zorn provided a swath of new music, from [his bands] Naked City to Masada for me to play and play over again. We were excited when our first, self titled album came out and are psyched about our new one as well.
TnJ: Yoshie, these new songs seem to have bit of a heavy metal undercurrent, not something you expect from most jazz bands. Did any metal bands influence you? Why do you think that works well with your brand of jazz?
YF: Honestly, aside from the fact that the music is instrumental and includes improvisational sections, I’m not sure if I can get away with calling it jazz anymore. Our first album was recorded right on the heels of my graduation from the jazz school at University of Maryland, so I think the jazz influence came out more on that record. For Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes (which was produced by our bass player Shanir Blumenkranz) we decided to go in a much more of a rock direction. Our influences are less metal, and more sludge/grunge/noise rock, but who’s counting, I guess.  The Melvins, Sonic Youth, Frank Zappa and Zorn among many others would be influences…but let’s throw some Napalm Death in there for good measure.

TnJ: Yoshie, is Pitom going on tour at all for this album?
YF: We did a short tour in the Midwest, playing a festival in Detroit and a gig in Chicago.  And will be going to Eastern Europe to tour with our friends and labelmates AutorYno (Paris) at the end of May. Also, our NYC CD release is May 2nd!
TnJ: You guys have an awesome event coming up at the Rock Shop on May 2. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
YF: Leah and I have been talking about putting on an event together for awhile and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Leah is going to make some edibles from the cookbook and we are going to play music from our new record. Opening will be our good friends and killer band Gutbucket, and we’ll have special guest saxophonist Jessica Lurie sit in with us as well. Gonna be a blast!
LK: This show, which we’re calling Blasphmey and Bites, seemed like a great opportunity to combine our passions, have a great night, and get all of our friends (and hopefully some new faces too!) together in one place.

Delicious Apple Walnut Bread

Apple Walnut Bread

This super moist, nutritious quick bread is reminiscent of a Rosh Hashanah apple cake. For a twist, pour the batter into cupcake or muffin cups. Makes 2 loaves

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
Turbinado sugar (raw sugar; for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine both flours, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a second bowl, mix together sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time to wet mixture and stir to combine. Pour wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in apples and walnuts (the batter will be very thick).

2. Lightly grease two loaf pans and spread half of the batter into each. Sprinkle the tops with a little sugar and bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Entry filed under: DevoLT, Jams, Recipe, Toast. Tags: , , , , , , .

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