Actress Nazanin Mandi wasn’t overjoyed when her husband, Grammy-winning singer Miguel, decided to turn her kitchen into a makeshift music studio. There were appliances everywhere and not much space to cook. The de facto redesign, Miguel explains, came about after he decided to start intermittent fasting. “That means skipping breakfast and breakfast becomes my favorite meal of the day.” To distract myself, I said, ‘Instead of making breakfast for breakfast, I make beats for breakfast. It was a way of staying creative every day and doing something different for myself while I was in the kitchen. ”
So after she had made Mandi a cup of coffee (taking over the kitchen “to ease the blow”, he explains), the singer went to work to cook a beat. He used all the noises in the house – the garbage truck groaning outside, the cat jumping on the counter – to build the basis of a song. “It was a way of staying creative every day,” he says.
Though Miguel’s intent wasn’t to turn that morning routine into something bigger, his beat-making sessions were the seed for what would later become Beats for Breakfast, a Facebook watch show the singer did with his mid-year Friend, the cook Jeremy, started falling. In each of the eight episodes, each about five minutes long and charmingly simple, Fall cooks a dish while Miguel stands behind his computer creating a beat that is inspired by and complements the dish.
In one episode, Fall Shakshuka cooks on one side of the kitchen. “How can you spice up your beat?” He asks Miguel, who answers by comparing his creative process with that of flavoring in a dish. But most of the time, the chef and singer stand quietly side by side, Fall concentrating on his pans while Miguel adds drums and guitar loops on his computer. “We both found that our processes are pretty similar in terms of the way we convey our craft,” says Fall of the genesis of this collaboration between him and Miguel. “I really helped how [Miguel] Kind of layers on a base layer. And that’s how I think of food. “
Starting a show that centered around breakfast was an easy decision: both Miguel and Fall are breakfast people. For Miguel, however, food was not always a source of inspiration or joy. “My relationship with food was survival, to be honest,” he says. “It was just because we didn’t raise a lot of money. And that’s just how I did it. My favorite food memories were special family occasions. Every time I was with the family it meant the food was a little more enjoyable. And for me it has a nostalgic value, but also a cultural value. ”One of his grandmothers made sopes and enchiladas for special occasions, along with a mac and cheese, enriched with salty Cotija crumbs. The other made fried chicken like no other: “She had a very special pan that she would use specifically for fried chickens,” says Miguel.
The dishes he and Fall create are largely a tribute to Los Angeles. “Miguel and I grew up not far from each other in LA, so I think some of the dishes are love letters to the city,” says Fall. One of those dishes is a decadent bunch French toast, a recipe they shared with Eater. The bread is coated with cinnamon sugar to evoke the flavors of a warm, flavorful churro. As for the cognac-enriched mle syrup: “Miguel and I both like to drink and every excuse to drink,” explains Fall.
With its five-minute chunks and gross proportions, Fall admits, this show is unlikely to turn a novice cook into a top chef. There won’t be any aspiring producers either The lots of insight into how Miguel makes music. But that’s actually irrelevant. Each snippet draws passages and similarities between the creative processes of a cook and a musician, something that can be as valuable and fascinating as a great recipe. “Every artist has a process,” says Miguel. “And the more you can be with other creative people, the more you can exchange processes, which helps you with your own creativity. That was the reason why it was worth exploring this idea. ”
Churro French toast with horchata ice cream
For the Horchata ice cream (makes 3 cups):
1 cup of horchata or 1 cup of sweetened rice milk plus 1/4th teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 Vanilla pod
6 egg yolks
1/2 a cup of sugar
For the French toast:
1/2 Cup of granulated sugar, divided
1/4th Cup of packaged light brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 Cup of whole milk
2 large eggs
1/4th Teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
8th (1/2– up to 1 inch thick) slices of challah
1/2 Cup of mle syrup
2 tablespoons of cognac or brandy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Fresh mint (optional)
Make the ice cream:
Step 1: Pour the horchata and cream into a medium saucepan. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and use a spoon to scrape out the sticky seeds. Add the seeds and the grated vanilla pod to the saucepan. Simmer gently over medium heat.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Slowly add the hot cream mixture, stirring constantly.
Step 3: Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan frequently with a rubber spatula until the mixture has thickened (an instant thermometer reads 170 degrees). This takes 20 to 30 minutes; Go slowly, being careful not to boil the mixture or the ice cream base will curdle.
Step 4: Pour the pudding through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and remove the solids. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
Step 5: Stir the ice cream base in an ice maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Make the French toast:
Step 1: Put 1/4th Place a cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Stir and set aside.
Step 2: Place the remaining sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add milk, eggs, vanilla extract and salt and stir. Rub the orange over the milk mixture and save the orange for another use.
Step 3: Combine the mle syrup and brandy in a small bowl. Put aside.
Step 4: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a non-stick pan or grill pan over medium heat. Dip 4 challah slices in the egg mixture and add them to the pan. Bake until golden brown on the underside for about 2 minutes. Turn and bake on the second side until golden brown, another 2 minutes.
Step 5: While the French toast is still hot, turn the slices in the sugar mixture in the cake platter to coat them on both sides. Spread on plates and cover and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining butter and challah.
Step 6: Drizzle the French toast with the mle syrup mixture and serve with a scoop of horchata ice cream on top. Garnish with mint leaves if you like.
Dina vila is a photographer based in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Ivy Manning