Rocker Recipes

Detroit Rockers Who Can Really Cook


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Noelle Lothamer

Noelle Lothamer is no vegan. Her food blog,, includes recipes for bacon-wrapped meatloaf and venison shepherd’s pie. But the same cannot be said for her Scarlet Oaks band mate and front man Steve McCauley. The two met at a pig roast hosted by Lothamer’s aunt, where McCauley’s half-vegan band was playing. The two struck up a conversation and have been gigging together ever since.Lothamer, 36, says her love of food was born of her year spent in France as a student teacher (she has a degree in French from MSU). “I started cooking while living there,” she says. “When I got home, I wanted to re-create some of the food that I had had there.”
As for music, she was indoctrinated much earlier, starting with the piano at age 4. In college, she began messing around with drums, her primary instrument in the Scarlet Oaks (she also provides backup vocals for the old-school country-rock band).“Music and cooking are so similar in the sense that sometimes you want to have everything very specific and make each note perfect,” she says. “And other times you just want to riff.” Her balela, a Mediterranean chickpea salad, began as the latter. “It’s a great side salad to take to a potluck or barbecue where people may have dietary restrictions,” she says, which makes it an ideal dish for a pig roast with a half-vegan band. 



Sainte Anne Street Blues Balela

  • 1 can each chickpeas and black beans
  • (or two cans chickpeas), drained and rinsed

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

  • 3-5 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced 

  • 1 good handful flat-leaf parsley, minced              
  •  Pinch sea salt
  • Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • (or substitute a mixture of dried thyme and oregano)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Several grinds black pepper

Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Lightly salt and give a stir. Place garlic in a small screw-top jar with other dressing ingredients and shake well. Let garlic marinate in dressing 5-10 minutes, then remove and discard. Pour dressing over salad, stirring well to combine. Allow salad to sit at least 15 minutes so vegetables may marinate and release juices. Stir again. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, or for more oil or lemon juice, as desired. If not serving immediately, wait until serving to add the parsley. For best flavor, serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Source: Noelle Lothamer, Scarlet Oaks;;

Gabe Dodson

During what he calls an “army-brat upbringing” out West, Gabe Dodson ate far more crêpes than pancakes. His father’s bananas Foster was a favorite bedtime treat.“I knew I had a special connection with food when I realized that not everyone’s father flambéed for them before bed,” Dodson says.Having spent the last 20 years working as a waiter in some of Detroit’s most renowned restaurants, including The Whitney, Tribute, and the Machus Red Fox (where Jimmy Hoffa was last seen), Dodson, 38, is now happy with his day gig at the Russell Street Deli in Detroit’s Eastern Market. “I really enjoy the lack of pretension in it,” he says. Dodson likes the shift, because it allows him to dedicate his nights and weekends to fronting Old Empire, an Americana-influenced rock band. In addition to being the band’s primary songwriter, he also splits vocal duties with his sister, Alexis. Inspiration for Old Empire came out of a “deep love” for The Band, early Funkadelic, and Sly & the Family Stone, although Dodson admits a number of people have told him his band sounds more like David Bowie in the early ’70s. “Making a good record is like layering flavors and filling a plate to please your palate,” Dodson says. “A taco can be anything.”


Skirt Steak Rock ’n’ Roll-ups (Serves 4)


  • 1 pound skirt steak (preferably the thicker-cut “Chicago-style”)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ancho-chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Squash
  • 3 cousa squash
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Salsa
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion (about 1 cup diced)
  • 6 serrano chiles (about 1/2 cup, seeded and diced)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • The rest
  • Flour tortillas
  • Enchilado cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Pacifico beer
  • A grill

Open a Pacifico, pour into a glass with a generous squeeze of lime. Drink. If using charcoal, prepare the grill now. In a small pan, carefully toast the cumin and coriander seeds for 2-3 minutes. Crush with mortar and pestle or give a coarse grind (or use 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and coriander). Remove any silver skin from the skirt steak. Rub meat with olive oil, cumin, coriander, chile powder, garlic powder, and salt. Set aside. Cut cousa squash lengthwise, about 4 per squash. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and ground cumin. Set aside. Combine tomatoes, onions, serranos, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Set aside. Combine avocados, garlic, lime juice, and salt. (Leave one pit in the guacamole to deter browning, cover tightly, and set aside.) Grill steak and squash to medium or medium-well. Cut steak into small cubes. Fill tortillas, topping with sour cream and crumbled cheese. 

Source: Gabe Dodson, Old Empire;

Scott Boyink photograph by Clyde Wilson; 

Noelle Lothamer photograph by Marvin Shaoun;        

Gabe Dodson photograph by Michelle Andonian.

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