Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Freehand Cooking

Tomorrow is my birthday and that reminded me that a year ago Hahn got me a Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine (George Foreman Grill) for my birthday. So its time for more haute cuisine. Forget the Jamie Olivers and Gordon Ramsays. They are only puppets controlled by the English government because the whole world knows that the British were never known for good cuisine.
Time for 2 recipes with the power to change the world.

1. Freehand Egg Croutonne
First of all take notice that Hahn is not wearing a shirt. A chef has to be one with the heat in the kitchen, besides the food has to feel the chef's authority. One could say the hierarchy between the chef and his ingredients. Nevertheless Hahn is not a fool, he always wears protective glasses. Notice the accidental beauty, the amazing composition in the image to the right...This is what we call "freehand" cooking.
Improvise! Out of the box thinking is essential. The concept of a recipe actually contradicts this basic principle, so make sure you add some personality to the process when making the "Freehand Egg Croutonne". Hahn re-invents the Foreman grill by turning it upside down. The ingredients are given a new perspective, notice (right) how Hahn has upset the egg, reminding it of its position in the hierarchy between ingredient and chef.
Every last detail matters so don't ever get sloppy, even Gordon Ramsay will tell you this. Take notice of any subtle signals from your apparatus. The Foreman Grill signals Hahn that it's ready to deliver with a tiny red light. TV chefs always act pragmatic and cool when their dish is finished. The ingredients could use some praise after their hard work, like a football team after winning a game.

2. Egg in the hole.

I felt so inspired and excited after Hahn's performance that I forgot to take off my shirt. Nevertheless my dish started with an epiphany, a technique never seen before, an idea that came to me in the heat of the moment. A moment disgracefully disrupted by another "hate-call" from Jamie Oliver.
Hahn took over with great eye for detail, respecting my initial concept, all the while showing the ingredients who's boss. The bread, egg, cheese and bacon work together like a well oiled machine.
Nimble, quicker with a blade than Zatouichi, a true master.  Egg in the hole turned out even better than we expected, with an unexpected surprise at the end. Freehand cheese calligraphy.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2008, The year of the barbeque

2008 has been an exceptional year for many reasons. Hahn and I (Haas) spent the year living in Rio de Janeiro making a 2000m2 painting in Rio's most dangerous favela. During that time we experienced many memorable culinary moments, most of them at barbeques. We consumed thousands of kilos of meat and millions of liters of beer at these social events which Brazilians call a churrasco. Lets reflect on 2008, the year of the BBQ.
(By the way, this post was inspired by this song on the new years mixtape put together by my cousin Jesse and his wifey Yula.)
Wendy Rene - BBQ (right click download)

The Churraso is a social event where people, meat and beer come together. The preparations are very simple unless one chooses to marinate the meat which might take a bit more time. 
Hahn quickly acquired fame with his spicy marinated chicken inspired by Surinamese quisine, but people who know Hahn know he was a bbq fanatic even before going to Brazil. 
Other than that all you need is a good selection of meat and very cold beer.

The last is important because a Brazilian won't touch beer if its warmer than -4°C. 

The meat in brazil is very cheap and of excellent quality. One typically buys huge chunks of picanha (rump cap in English), exceptionally tender meat which I have never seen in Holland, lots of linguiça (sausage), with which you keep all the kids happy who tend to flock to your churrasco, drumette (chicken leg) and asa (chicken wing). Oops, I forgot to mention that coraçao (chicken heart) is very popular. 
Picanha is usually prepared with coarse grain salt beforehand. This can also be bought pre-mixed with spices.
The bbq itself is usually handmade. Most bbq's made of old oil drums, gas tanks or the drum of an old washing machine.
Above, an interesting local technique can be seen to prepare your fire, providing more oxygen with the use of an electrical fan. The thumbs up hand-sign is the most common gesture in Brazil which can turn an angry stare into a smile at all times and has got us out of trouble many times.
One more thing which I feel is crucial to the churrasco is the way of serving the food. Unlike in Europe or the U.S. where people wait in line for their burger, in Brazil the meat is cut into small savory pieces and handed out. In this way the guests don't have to get up away from their beer and pleasant conversation to fight for their food. 
A churrasco can make a great party.

Finally lets go back to some of those special churrasco moments.

Eventhough this was new years eve 2006-2007, these guys from Vigario Geral (favela in Rio) deserve honorable mention for frying a whole pig. Pigs run around freely in many favela's so you just need to catch one and kill it to throw a party like these guys.
Churrasco on our friend Don's boat.
This guy is Pitbull, or Valter Nogueira Filho, another churrasco superhero.

You might also wan't to check out this video we shot in 2007 for Bebel du Ghetto, the video revolves around a typical favela churrasco, this time in Cantagalo.