From Punk Rock to Red Velvet: The Story of Auntie Em’s Kitchen

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Photo Credit: Danny Hole

From Good Food  producer Gillian Ferguson:

Before there were cupcakes there was punk rock.

In 1991, Terri Wahl was an avid home cook. By day, she consumed food magazines and poured over cookbooks.

By night, she played guitar and screamed into microphones about everything from boys to roller skating. Her all-girl punk band, The Red Aunts, was a self-taught crew of four who were quickly swooped up by Epitaph, a label known for punk rock acts like Rancid, NOFX and Pennywise.

While on tour in the US, Wahl and her band mates cooked for the people who housed them and asked the locals where to find the best regional eats. “That’s what our tours were all about,” she tells KCRW’s Evan Kleiman. “They were more eating tours than going on tour to play music.”

The girls found crab cakes in Baltimore and discovered the charm of the Waffle House in the Midwest.

Europe was even better. “It was unbelievable,” she says. “Unlike the United States, [in] Europe they put a feast out for you at the venues when you get there. They treated us like queens.” In Lyon, she remembers a meal of rabbit and couscous served alongside French wines. By comparison, most venues in the States offered a disappointing spread of bologna and cheese. (Take a listen to the interview here)

When The Red Aunts disbanded in 1998, Wahl pursued her passion for food and launched a catering business. From there she opened Auntie Em’s Kitchen in Eagle Rock which has evolved into a neighborhood institution known for market driven comfort food served up daily from 8 am to 4pm.

Her first publication, The Auntie Em’s Cookbook: A Musician’s Guide to Breakfast & Brunch, melds her passion for food and music.

Each recipe comes with a song recommendation and she includes a playlist for every season in the back of the book. Her famous Red Velvet Cupcakes are paired with Ruby by Boss Hog, while the chocolate chip cookies below require some slide guitar.

Preorder The Auntie Em’s Cookbook here! And keep an eye out for The Red Aunts Greatest Hits vinyl launching this summer.

Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Song: Blues for My Cookie, Lightnin’ Hopkins

Makes 40 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons of water

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups chopped semisweet baking bar or 64% chocolate pistols

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally. Reduce to low speed and add eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each. Pour in water and vanilla and mix well.

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix until incorporated. Fold in chocolate pieces.

Scoop heaped tablespoons of cooking batter on a sheet tray, side by side, and freeze 1 hour, or refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Placed chilled cookie dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 5 inches apart, no more than 6 cookies per tray. Gently press tops of cookies to slightly flatten into discs. Bake 12 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cookies are done when center is golden brown and edges are set. Let cool on  baking sheet for 15 to 20 min, as they crisp while they cool.

Extra batter can be frozen.