’Tis the season for all things holiday, the time of the year when family, friends and colleagues celebrate in their own special ways. More often than not, these gatherings have two common denominators: food and music. Whether you’re hosting a big party, baking holiday treats as gifts or just bringing a side dish somewhere, any chef will tell you that preparation and timing are key ingredients. That, and fueling the kitchen with music.
So we figured, why not bring music and kitchen prep together for you?
Rather than blare cooking instructions through your Sonos (which, by the way, also makes a fantastic gift for someone), there’s another route that seems better. In addition to hunting down some A+ holiday recipes, turn songs into your cooking timer. What do we mean? Say you’re baking a loaf of artisan bread that needs 45 minutes of oven time. Hit play on The Songstress by Anita Baker (see what we did there?) immediately after putting your loaf in to bake, and when it plays all the way through, check your bread to see if it needs the other three minutes the recipe calls for. Make sense?
Here are some other holiday dishes (and musical timers) that will make your kitchen smell — and sound — delicious this season:
It doesn’t get more tried-and-true (and rich) than this Italian classic, and anyone planning to undertake this baby from scratch is in for a 4 hour haul with prep and cook time. The bolognese sauce and béchamel in the recipe will take up about 3 hours of that time, so some music to keep you in the groove is key.
Start with Andrea Bocelli’s Cinema, with operatic takes on hit movie songs that will be familiar even if you’re not an opera—or Godfather—buff. Get through that, and you’re one hour (and one minute) in.
You may not think of Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo as Italian, but his father’s heritage is what gave him his last name, so next queue up Pinkerton Deluxe Editionfor 2 hours and 7 minutes of the under-appreciated 1996 album. It’s excellent lasagna assembly music.
Start with Andrea Bocelli’s Cinema, with operatic takes on hit movie songs that will be familiar even if you’re not an opera—or Godfather—buff.
The last 45-50 minutes of the recipe involve throwing your now-layered lasagna into the oven and doing little else, so lay down on the couch, put on Sigur Ros’ Kveikur — yes, it’s decidedly un-Italian but it’s relaxing and that’s what’s key here — and 48 minutes later, you’ve got lasagna perfection.
Holiday cookies can be so much more than tree-shaped handouts, and music can help serve as inspiration for your recipe. For instance, these Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies take 12 minutes of baking time — so play D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” (4:22) followed by Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” (5:35) (maple syrup and Arcade Fire, two of Canada’s finest exports), and you’ve got a two minute warning before your cookies have hit their 12-minutes-in-the-oven mark.
These bad boys are impossibly delicious. If you’re Jewish or not, whether it’s during the eight days of Hanukkah or not, latkes need to be eaten more often by more people. There’s your reason to dive head-first into Latke Land, with the help of four fine mensches: Andrew Zimmern and the Beastie Boys. Zimmern, who when he’s not eating foul and rotten things on television, is actually an accomplished chef and, as Adam Sandler so astutely observed, “all three Beastie Boys” have Jewish roots as well.
“…dive head-first into Latke Land, with the help of four fine mensches: Andrew Zimmern and the Beastie Boys. Zimmern…”
With Zimmern’s recipe clocking in at an hour, your potato pancake soundtrack should very definitely be Paul’s Boutique(crucial recipe-relevant tracks: “Egg Man” and “Shadrach”), which at 53 minutes will almost fulfill your frying journey. And, much like the album, sampling your latkes heavily while cooking … consider it quality control and homage to the B-Boys. To cover the remaining seven minutes, “Finger Lickin’ Good” off of Check Your Headand “Root Down” are equally apropos and the perfect length to close out the hour.