Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ep 8 Suza kana






Peter and Clark

Will and Hannibal.

Cowbird in a robin’s egg.

 

Hatched or hatcheted

Breaking shells won’t free them now.

 

The driver and the driven

Leashed together in their bloody tug of war.



Suza Kana is the course in a Kaiseki dinner that cleanses the palate. Usually a small vinegared dish of vegetable or seafood, it is light and refreshing. After reading the script, I’m not sure how light this episode is but at least none of the regulars get killed. That's refreshing...

Lots of hatching and dispatching this week-- eggs of melon "caviar"  and duck. 

Turducken, anyone?


     A frightened Bird beating its wings like a heart in the chest of a dead Woman who is cocooned within a dying Mare. Did the murderer have Turducken for dinner?

     Most of  the murder tableaux on this show don’t make me hungry but this one had producer Sharon Seto and me talking about Turducken. That’s the dish that famously became the Thanksgiving dinner of choice for football fans in the late 1900s – a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey and roasted. Famed Cajun chef, Paul Prudomme secured a patent on it, but the idea of stuffing game and progressively smaller birds within each other like Matryoshka dolls dates back to Medieval times. It’s called Engastration, that is: stuffing into gastric passage.
It's raining Truite au bleu
     Engastration may not sound particularly yummy but ye olde Tudors loved it. They made a festive pie from a whole turkey stuffed with a goose, with a chicken then a partridge which was stuffed with a pigeon.  Grimrod de la Reyniere, a bit of an embroiderer of facts gives his recipe for “Roti sans pareil” in his almanach for  epicurians: a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler stuffed with an olive. But Grimrod was outdone by a 17th century Maharajah who is reported to have dined on a roast whole camel stuffed with a goat, a turkey, a chicken, a grouse and a quail within which was a sparrow.

     But enough of Holiday meats. It’s fish, fish and more fish for your unfortunate food stylist this day.
my sketch to plan out the plates for ep 208

     I read the opening scene of this episode with equal parts of creeping dread and bounding joy. Hannibal is in his kitchen torturing trout that Will has caught for dinner. This is fish caught while fishing with Fishbourne for Hannnifish. He’s making Truite au bleu.

First, you kill a fish…

     Truite au bleu is one of those dishes that epicureans love. First of all it’s French. Really, really French. No one, not even the Chinese would go to this kind of trouble for dinner. You start with live trout. Then you knock it on the head or kill it with as little fuss as possible so the trout doesn’t know it’s in trouble. The Chinese way is to pierce its brain by running a chopstick through its mouth. (Mmm-mmm, appetizing, I hear you think.)
Japanese use a technique called Kaimin katsugyo where a thin wire is inserted at a specific pressure point, like acupuncture and the fish is immediately rendered brain dead but its spinal nervous system is still functioning so it’s in a kind of coma til you gut it.

     You don’t want the fish to struggle for a couple of reasons. First is that the flesh will be sweeter and more tender if the fish is relaxed when it dies. The second reason is that you don’t want to manhandle the fish and accidentally scrape off any of the protective slime that coats the living fish. It is the slime that turns blue – well actually steely blue-grey, and gives the dish its visual appeal (Did I say appeal? No, not really)

     I’ve done Truite au bleu for a film before and it was a banquet of 10. So I really didn’t think this scene would be a problem. The first time, I did it in the customary horseshoe shape – head turned toward the tail. But I want to do something more Hannibalesque. Something that alludes to the Engastration of the murder tableau. Trout regurgitating its own tail.
truite au bleu garnished with an octopus tentacle waiting for the consomme shower


     I go to my neighbourhood fishmonger and buy a trout and after a quick struggle (Unfair, I’ll admit -- I have pliers* and a knife – the fish has nothing but a paper bag) I am able to produce something so disgusting looking, I know it is perfect!

Then you kill 49 more…


     Because the trout has to look like the same ones Will and Jack fish out of his Frozen Stream of Happy Dreams, I ask the Prop Master to get me four to six dozen live trout from the same fish wrangler who supplied the trout for the fishing scene. All the same size, please –  no larger than one pound so they fit on the plate. Even as I request this, I know it won’t be possible. I need them to stay alive because their slime starts to slide off when they die. So I ask him to deliver them in an ice slurry in some coolers by 9am the next morning. And I crossed my fingers that one of my assistants will be good at dealing death-blows to fish. As you might guess, everything that could go wrong does and it is wall-to-wall fishfighting right to the very second the director says “Action” three days later.
Platter of Truite au bleu around an epic battle fought between fish, cephalopod and flora, on land and sea.

     While I am flipping trunkloads of fish, Jose Andres sends an email saying that Mads should gill-gut the trout in the kitchen scenes. I won’t say that I am dismayed when I learn that Mads has not any experience gill-gutting. Even if he has, to make the scene go smoothly, I will have to pre-gut them and stuff the guts back in so he can just stick his pinkie under the fishie’s gill cover and effortlessly pull out its entrails in one long blood-drooling garland. It is just one more little thing to add to my list of unsavoury time-consuming duties. At one point during pre-prep, the counters and table top of my kitchen are completely covered with a pestilence of tail-swallowing fish heads. It looks like a punishment from the gods but no, it is just another day with Hungry Hannibal.

     Truite au bleu doesn’t really taste that fabulous, IMHO. Floured, coated in rolled oatmeal and pan-fried in salty butter is a much better way of cooking trout.

     And you thought I was going to talk about Halanabals’ sex scene…..

White anchovies and salted baby squid with sea asparagus (samfire) and caper berries
* When shaping the trout like this, you need pliers: after gutting the fish, you slit the belly open all the way and open the abdomen, spreading it out flat. Then you put the needle-nose pliers through the mouth and grab the tail. Gently but firmly pull the tail through the mouth as far as you can. The teeth should keep it from sliding back. Put the fish on a square of parchment and poach in court bouillon. If you want to make it "au bleu", run the fish under wine vinegar until it goes whitish-grey-blue, then steam. If you want, you could stuff the trout with crab mousse before steaming.

Now for this week’s cook-along recipe:

I know you will not make Truite au bleu, so here’s a recipe for Chocolate Macarons. No reason – just that they are fun to munch on and this recipe was requested by Frederika “Newshound” Lounds.

Mini Chocolate Macarons

makes 3 dozen

1 cup sugar
1/2  cup toasted almond slivers
3 Tbsp best quality cocoa

2 extra large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2  tsp vanilla

1.  In a food processor, pulse 1 cup sugar, almonds and cocoa until finely powdered. Set aside.

2.  In a large glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites with an electric beater on medium-high until frothy. Add vanilla and beat. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating constantly. Continue beating until egg whites form stiff peak.

4.  Gently fold in cocoa-sugar mixture with a rubber spatula, one-third at a time. Do not over-mix but scrape down sides to ensure complete incorporation.

5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment.

6. Drop batter by teaspoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch drops, leaving 1 inch between each drop.  When sheet is full, bang lightly on the counter a few times to flatten and to knock out any large bubbles.

7.  Put in oven at 350F and immediately turn oven down to 250F. Bake for 15 to 20 min. If the baked macarons do not have a crinkly “shoulder” just below a smooth shiny dome, let the formed drops of dough sit  in a cool dry place for an 1 hour before baking. If they are not slightly chewy in the centre, take them out of the oven sooner.

8. When cool, they can be filled, sandwich style with ganache or buttercream icing. For ganache, melt 5 oz. good quality dark chocolate in a mixing bowl over hot water. In another small bowl, beat 1/2 cup whipping cream until soft peak. Fold in 3-4 Tbsp rum or cognac if desired. Fold whipped cream into cooled chocolate. This is too much filling for this number of macarons but you can make chocolate truffles from  the left over ganache. Put it in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up so you can roll it into 1-inch balls, then dust them with icing sugar or cocoa or chocolate flakes. Store in a cool place.

Next week: Sanctomonte Omelettes made from by gypsies.


More dishes you've made for Hannibal and shared:

   More and more of you are cooking along with Hannibal, so please continue to send me photos (janicepoon8@gmail.com) of Hannibal dinners you've made from my recipes or your own. Here are three more great ones!

Freddie's beautiful vegetarian Hannidiner
Freddie's photo of her non-vegetarian Hannidinner


Alex makes these HIgh Life Eggs every Friday morning to start the Hanniday off right
This just in: Joachim Reinhold, a vegan artist/writer with a very stylish approach to food sent these lovely photos from Germany. He has recrafted some of Hannibal's dishes into vegan meals. Great idea...you don't need a plastic suit to get an eggplant.
Joachim's vegan osso buco inspired by Episode 2 is made from eggplant and cannelloni

More eggplant and stuffed cannelloni from Joachim - reminds me of the shank in the masthead at the top of my posts

Thanks Freddie, Alex and Joachim for sharing your photos this week!


unless otherwise noted all material in this blog copyright of Janice Poon 2014

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Episode 7 Yakimoto



Stumbling down blind alleys

Bloodless tears stain your cheek,

 

Looking too close

You cannot see.

Twins in the dark.

Killer be killed.


Be free and bleed.


This episode of Hannibal is named Yakimono -- the course in Kaiseki dinner that is grilled meat, often marinated and skewered then seared over hot coals.  Pretty much describes everyone in this episode after they each have a run-in with Hannibal.


     When I get the script, I use the search function to get a quick idea of what food I will be required to make in the new episode. In Scene 51, Hannibal is taking a roast coming out of the oven. And that’s all. What, no smart dinner parties this week? I have a little anxiety attack -- the only thing worse than being overworked is not working.

There must be more food scenes somewhere...  


     I read through the whole script. It’s a jaw-dropping page-turner. I see the plot is thickening and boiling on so many burners it’s not surprising that Hannibal has no time to make dinner this week. I know how I feel after a week of having a lot of people over for a big party. Finding their cigarette butts in the herb wall. And he had to make that clay roast dinner too. Plus have a big sleep-over. And laundering that plastic suit. Really, sometimes all I can do is shove a roast in the oven and I don’t have half the things to do that Hannibal does WTHOUT HELP!!!! My advice to him is get a cleaning lady. OK, he may have a few things in the basement to hide – don’t we all. But you are who you are and as they say, no man is a hero to his valet. Hannibal, get help.

     As I contemplate this episode's food styling duties, I wonder if it’s a people roast in the cannibal’s oven. Bryan Fuller, font of all that is Hannibal, emails to say he’d like it to be a nice roast beef. Hmmmm. Beef. This tells me that Hannibal is being very very careful. He knows people are beginning to talk so he should lay off the people-snacks for a while. I will make the most ostentatiously obviously-not-people  beef ever roasted. Like a billboard in the oven that says “Move along…no people-eating to see here folks.”
the unseen giant roast beef

     I imagine a full rib rack of beef on long bones. Frenched like a rack of lamb. My regular butcher doesn’t have the cut I want so I have to go to his competition. The new butcher is shocked at my request. I have to re-explain the whole ‘It’s for Hannibal” thing. I say, OK, like those dinosaur rib steaks you have – like that only the whole rib roast and don’t cut them into steaks. How many ribs asks the butcher, unsure of my sanity. Nine, I say, no, ten. Or twelve. What’s the maximum you can give me? (cows have 13 pairs) Nine, he says, getting used to the idea and starting to loosen up. Anything else is illegal because it would be from a deformed cow, he jokes. When it’s ready, John, my assistant, goes to get it and when he lugs it back to the studio, we gather around in awe of the sheer size of this giant thing of flesh.

     OK it’s big. But big is not enough. It has to be Hannibalized. I think about Chris Hardagon, our wonderful wardrobe designer and I realize -- nothing says Hannibal more than a plaid suit! I can definitely make a plaid pattern on this sizable canvas of beef! 

   I score it in a diamond pattern like an Easter ham and lace the tracings with rosemary and thyme making a nice Crawford Tartan plaid. Bias-cut to be more slimming.  Reminds me of my days as a couturier draping massive ballgowns on oversized Mothers of the Bride.

     Enough of the beefing. Except to say I had to cut it down by one rib – it wouldn’t fit in the oven. That’s a big roast.

    When we go to shoot the scene, the director says, “Isn’t that roast kind of big for one person?” One person? Hannibal is not one person. He is a surgeon, an artist, a psychiatrist, a flower-arranger, a gourmet cook, an oenophile, a brew-meister, a boy who lost his sister, a man who can’t stop killing, and a god. And he gets hungry.

     Now you may be shaking your head and saying, I don’t remember seeing a big roast in this episode. Three little words: Cutting. Room. Floor. It didn’t makethe final edit.

     So here is the only place you will see my plaid roast. So I’m also posting other meals not ready for broadcast but ready for you to share in the Hannibal joy.


More of your photos of the Hannimeals you've been making


Lindsay F sent a great photo of her Blue Plate Special: Huevos High Life and homemade pork sausage.
Lindsay's Huevos High Life

Aleks and Maria made a special dinner for friends to celebrate Hannibal’s Season 2 premier: Mushroom Cappuccino to start and delicious looking Not Meat Pie. Followed by Strawberry-Apple soup and a bit of drinking.
Mushroom Cappuccino
Not People Quiche

Marina & Alicia have Friday Foodie Hannibal dinners and sent photos. Roasted leg of lamb with gremolata, rosemary and garlic redskin potatoes, and asparagus.
Roasted Leg for Friday Foodies

Alex S says “I gave Hannibal's non-people silkie chicken soup a whirl last spring! I managed not to mess it up despite being a novice cook and it gave me the opportunity to check out the many Asian supermarkets near my home.”
Alex's Adventures in an Asian soupbowl

Katie and Aaron wrote: We'd been planning to do a dinner plus Hannibal night for a few weeks and finally pulled it off last night, to great success. 2 pix of Osso Buco
Osso Buco with Katie and Aaron

Shanks simmering on the stove 

Jens wrote: Tried my hand at a variation of the tandoori liver. added fava beans (because liver and fava beans)and substituting risotto for couscous while adding honey for some sweetness to the match the liver and spices. 
Jen's gorgeous results: Tandoori liver on couscous with fava beans
roast hearts



Hannichefs, thank you for sharing! 

Next week: Will and Jack plan to go fishing but Hannibal has bigger fish to fry: Truite au Bleue.


. Except where noted, all content copyright Janice Poon 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

Episode 6 Futamono


Pacing…

Cold cold heart

Heart of stone.

Beats alone.

 

Pairing…

Cold cold feet

Feet of clay.

Walk away.


Futamono is the mid-meal course in Kaiseki of a small but robust soup or stew served in a lidded bowl. We are mid-meal in the story of Season 2 and now everyone is hiding something in this tempest of tiny pots. One by one, the lids will soon blow off!

Kicking the bucket list

     Nothing like surviving strangulation in your swimtrunks to make you lust for life. For you and me, that might mean ordering a dangerously rare steak and staying out late on a weeknight. As always, with Hannibal, it’s an order of magnitude higher: he kicks back by kidnapping and roasting a comedian, doping a friend-with-benefits and having a party for everyone who thinks they know him.

Quick sketches to send to Heads of Departments as the script changes keep on coming

Alana, straight and narrow  

     First of all, I just have to say it: Alana drives me mad. Thoughtful and sensitive, how can the girl be so wrong, wrong, wrong about so many things? She’s our darling daring Little Red Riding Hood in the woods having a picnic with the monster who ate her granny.

     Back in Season One, when I gave Carolyn Dhavernas a cook’s tutorial for her first kitchen scene – chopping carrots with Hannibal --  she showed excellent knife skills. But, in character while doing the scene, she was so reckless with the knife I was on edge the whole time. Blithely drinking a little too much in that first scene with Hannibal, Alana was charmingly guileless, headstrong and a little drunk on Hannibal’s cellar-brewed People Beer. I didn't realize it back then but Carolyn had her character totally nailed. It was a real foreshadowing of this episode’s seduction scene when Alana drinks a little too much of Hannibal’s poisoned wine and as a result, she misses entire chunks of the evening. Like when he slips out of bed to get the fixin’s for a midnight snack -- roast thigh.
Eddie's  thigh baked in clay with marrow and tiny Lady Apples on the side

Surprise, it’s Eddy’s thigh

     Up til now, the script had called for Alana having lasagna with Hannibal. I got my first clue there would be a thigh roasting when I heard my phone chirping just after midnight as I’m on my way home. It’s Bryan Fuller asking cheerfully, “Hi Everyone! We would like to so a Braised Roast of Eddie Izzard’s thigh. This shoots Friday (tomorrow). Any interesting tidbits about history of roast…or anecdote…? What can we do with a whole joint – bone and all…”

     Jose Andres, our food consultant in DC, replies with a suggestion of cooking the roast in clay so Hannibal can lecture Gideon about man being made of clay and returning to clay. It’s 1 o’clock in the morning.

     This is a wonderful idea! I email Bryan and Jose my thoughts on how it would be done for camera: Hannibal rubbing herbs into a thigh-sized cut of meat, rolling, barding and wrapping it in lotus leaf, then covering it in thin sheets of clay using a wire garrotte he just happens to have in his batterie de cuisine (stored next to the mace). 
   
     It’s 2:30 am. I need to know how it will play in the script because to be ready for Friday’s shoot, I have to order the special “people-sized cuts” from the butcher in the morning before he cuts all the pork sides out into normal roasts and chops.
Roman cauliflower studded with purple cauliflower to go with the Clay-roast Thigh

Late to bed early to rise – back to the market to get those thighs…

     Bryan promises to send me script revisions by 5 or 6am. Good because the butchers bring out the big knives around 6am and by 9 it’s too late to get special cuts. It’s almost 4am now so I sign off by telling Bryan I am going to dream of Beggar’s Chicken – an old Chinese peasant dish where you go outside and dig up wet clay from your yard to slather around a chicken which you have wrapped in lotus leaves. 

    While I sleep, I decide that I will use two double pork loins invisibly sewn together and trimmed to approximate the muscle size of Izzard’s thigh, boned.  I figure I will need 4 roasts per page of dialogue to cover the number of takes. In the morning, I read the new pages in time to see I need 6 to 8 roasts. Ettie and Victoria (my assistants) and I spend the next 16 hours stitching loins together, rolling sheets of clay, pinching clay into vine leaves and roasting eight complete thighs, each wrapped tightly in its own clay coffin. One bursts in the oven, so I have seven camera-ready beauties by 4am - just enough time to grab a nap before I  drive to set in time for the scene.
Video Village where producers and directors cluster around monitors to watch the scenes as they are being shot. Everyone has wandered off momentarily because we are frantically injecting water into the roast with a syringe so it will run with juice when Mads slices it on camera. Why frantically? The clay keeps plugging up the needle.





     The kitchen scenes of Hannibal preparing the roast are TBS (to be scheduled). They don't get on the schedule til just before our second hiatus. Worry about matching those thighs later! There's a party scene going on....
In the foreground, a tray of Heart Tartare in Filo Flowers waits to go to set

Enough of thighs and sighs-- on to the party for a feeding friendy!

     While the thighs have been roasting, the script for the party scene has changed from a sit-down dinner to a cocktail party. From a food stylist’s point of view, a cocktail party scene is the best. You get to do several extravagant pieces-montees for the central table and pretty decorated trays of hors d’oeuvres for the waiters to carry around the room, each morsel a jewel presented to the guests. Not like a sit-down dinner with crazy resets and keeping track of what each guest has on his plate for the dozen-plus takes of a dinner scene. 


Roulade of beef stuffed with sushi rice and chive flowers

JellyTimbits stuffed with Foie Gras and Timbit slices topped with Headcheese

Squab drumsticks on Fresh Figs and Fig Newtons - claws bursting up from the underworld ( Fig Newtons = Cookie Hell) flailing heavenward, grasping for (your) lifeblood
For a cocktail party scene, you have the much easier task of resetting the waiter’s trays which gives you lots of time to chuckle about the extras who have greedily gobbled several hors d’oeuvres on the first take then are condemned to eat the same amount again and again for every take.
 Boar's head with Sausage collar and Veggie Wig-hat. Couldn't get the eyes to close. Worst. Side eye. Ever. 

Crayfish and octopus Ultimate Fighting with trout and squid
     On location in a rambling home in outer Etobicoke, the scene shoots for about 10 hours. The party is swellegant yet scary as befits our Fancy Cannibal. Hannibal is of course one step ahead of everyone – just when they are all beginning to suspect he is The Ripper, he throws them a bone of a non-human kind.

Toss a bone to your friends, throw a party!

Recipes for your own "at Home" with Hannibal cocktail hour
Trays waiting to go to set

Heart Tartare Tarts

You can substitute chopped beef tenderloin for the heart in this recipe if you prefer - or go pescatarian and substitute chopped raw salmon (sushi grade, of course). 

For heart tartare:
1/2  lb. veal heart, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 raw egg yolk (optional)
1 tsp  capers
1 tsp chopped cornichon pickles
1 tsp red onions, finely chopped
salt, pepper to taste

For tart shells:
6 sheets filo dough (approx 12” x 18”)
½ cup melted butter

To make tartare:
1. Remove all silverskin, veins and connective tendons (the Chordae Tendineae - also called Heart Strings. Think about cow love and honour the beast)  
2. Combine chopped heart, oil, yolk, cornichons, onions, capers, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until just before serving.

To make pastry shells:
1. Brush 1 sheet of filo dough with butter and place two more sheets directly on top. Brush the top with butter and layer on two more sheets. Butter the top layer and add remaining 2 sheets. Press lightly to stick layers together. Cut the stacked filo into 12 squares 3” x 3”, reserving offcuts for shards. Press squares into the rounds of a buttered mini muffing tin allowing corners of pastry to extend up from sides of the rounds. Bake at 375 until lightly browned.
2. Set aside to cool. Fill each shell with 1 - 2 tsp heart tartare just before serving.

To make decorative shards:
1.  Cut pastry scraps into long triangular shards and place on buttered cookie sheet. Bake at 375 until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Spear into filled tart shells just before serving.

makes 12


Wagyu Beef Roulades

Rolling these is very easy if you use a bamboo mat such as is used for making Japanese maki sushi rolls. Otherwise, you could use a linen towel – as in the torchon method for making foie gras.

1 1/2-lb piece of wagyu beef sirloin, or beef tenderloin if you don't have the $300 for Wagyu
1 cup short grain rice for sushi
4 tsp seasoned rice wine vinegar**
1/4 cup Korean BBQ sauce*
 (optional) Chinese chives, blanched

12 pc parchment paper about 5" x 5"

1. Place beef into freezer for 45 minutes to firm up the meat so it can be sliced thinly.
2. Cook rice according to directions, cool and mix in rice wine vinegar.
3. Remove beef from freezer. It should semi frozen. Cut across grain into 1/8-inch slices. Gently shape and pound slices into squares 4 inches x 4 inches on the pieces of parchment paper.
4. Turn a square of beef onto sushi mat, paper side up. Peel off and discard paper. Spread a thin layer of rice on beef and roll up tightly. Tie circumference of roll in three places with a Chinese chive or butcher’s string. Brush with Korean BBQ sauce. Repeat with remaining beef and rice.
5. Grill lightly just to sear beef. Cut each roll in half for hors d’oeuvre size.

* ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 T brown sugar, 2 tsp chili hot sauce, ¼ tsp crushed garlic
**1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, ¼  tsp salt

Makes 12 roulades or 24 pieces

Prosciutto Roses on Watermelon

For multicoloured options, use cantaloup or honeydew melon as well as watermelon.

12 one-inch cubes watermelon, no rind
12  thin slices prosciutto

1. Form a rose from each slice of prosciutto: shape one end of slice into a small bud-like cone then loosely wind the remaining strip around it. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm the prosciutto then skewer each rose with a decorative toothpick and stick one onto each  cube of watermelon.

Makes 12


Next week: Roast Beef in Plaid tell no lies




All content copyright Janice Poon 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Episode 5 Muko zuki



  

Slice of life

Slice of pie

Sidekick thrust aside. 


Beverly.

A cut too deep.



     In a kaiseki dinner, Mukozuki is a small side dish of slices of raw and rare seasonal fish – sashimi. It is set on the far side of each guest’s lacquered tray, hence muko zuke (literally “set to the far side”) in a small beautifully glazed bowl or dish.

After going through the script I sketch up these concepts for this episode

Jack mines for the truth as Hannibal collects the gold

     Jose Andres, our Culinary Consultant in DC, wants Hannibal to make ‘Hangtown Fry” for this scene – in honor of the San Francisco 49ers. Hangtown Fry is a dish that became synonymous with Californian gold miners striking it rich in1849 and celebrating with the most expensive dish the local saloon-keeper could offer. It was first created by the cook at the El Dorado Hotel in Dry Diggins - renamed “Hangtown” after several unauthorized lynchings (you know how it only takes a few unfortunate outbursts to mar the reputation of a peaceable, if unpolished little town and sully the image of it’s simple but kindly townsfolk).
Hangtown Fry - with a crayfish and smoked Maldons salt

So out come the oversized oysters, sizzling bacon and --- fresh cracked eggs.

     We are more than a bit concerned with the Benihana egg trick called for in the script. I’ve tried it and can only get it 1 out of 4 tries, and I’ve seen Benihana chefs flub the manoeuver when they have an entire grill as target. Mads has to crack his eggs into a 8-inch diameter skillet. The props Master calls his guy. The Production Manager calls in his guy. I call my guy. On the morning of the shoot we have 8 dozen eggs and 3 Japanese chefs with their hands made up to be hand doubles.
On set - Three crack egg crackers: Benihana chef, Mads the Juggler and Mark AKA Judge Masa 

     I guess I don’t have to tell you that when Mads arrives on set, I briefly describe the egg trick to him whereupon he just tosses an egg up in the air and breaks it perfectly on the spatula. Did it.  Unbelievable. I insist it was a lucky fluke but he does it again. I accuse him of practicing when I wasn’t looking but he laughs (as if he has time to practise egg-cracking between scenes) and confesses he was a juggler in his youth. 
Beverly Kidney Pie

Sad slices of Beverly Pie

     Beverly has been in and out of the frying pan so many times in the draft scripts of the last two episodes that I have known for several months I will be cooking her up for Hannibal…yet I am utterly stopped in my tracks when I see vivisected silcone Beverly in the studio, sliced up in clear acrylic like a Damian Hirst cow. I stand 5 inches away from the piece and it looks real. I would like to marvel at the talent of Francois Dageneau, our prosthetic guy who makes these human sculptures, but I can’t. My mind is too busy screaming “She’s really dead!” Not cryovacced a basement somewhere to emerge in a future script. There can be no resurrection from this Slice-o-matic. Beverly Katz is deader than dead.
Beverly Pies line up ready for retakes

     I feel something that can only be described as grief. I understand that I will miss seeing the funny talented Hettienne Park in the studio but I am surprised that I feel real sadness about losing this fictional character. I loved her directness – she always solved the crime simply with her clear unwavering logic. While the guys in the room were running around hallucinating, waffling and pouting, she always came up with the goods. I see Hettienne (with baby bump!) in the make-up trailer and tell her I want her to come back in a dream sequence. We can but hope.


Beverly Pate - Yellow and red beets layered with chevre  and sliced to show their inner beauty

Buddah's Hand reaching up through the floorboards to grab  your leg and pull you into the dirt - which is black quinoa

The kidney in the pie is Beverly’s.

     I made Beverly into a pie (honor the Pushing Daisies' Pie Hole!) because no matter how sturdy and delicious the pastry, even though it defines the pie it is just a shell for the meaty centre. The top pastry I made into a mask – in this case, it’s Will’s prison mask. On set, Mads asked me if the pastry was to represent Hannibal's mask – absolutely not!  No one wants to keep him out of prison more than I do! Unless he can get a cell with an eat-in galley kitchen.
Making the pastry mask - mini mask shaped in clay, then covered in tinfoil to create a form for baking the pastry tops

     I think we will all feel aftershocks from the killing of Beverly – if only because her death is a signal that NO ONE IS SAFE. Let’s all comfort ourselves with a hearty breakfast and two shots of bourbon:

Hangtown Fry


Also great for a light supper or a weekend brunch or to celebrate when you discover gold.

For one serving:
3 eggs
3 Tbsp cream
¼ cup water
3 to 5 raw oysters, shucked
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup flour
6 Tbsp butter
2 thick slices pancetta bacon, fried
salt, pepper

1. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs and cream together. Remove all but 2 Tbsp to another bowl and set aside while you fry the oysters.

2. In the first bowl, add ¼ cup water to the 2 Tbsp egg mixture and beat together.

3. Spread breadcrumbs on a plate and flour on another plate.

4. Dip each oyster into flour, then egg water, then breadcrumbs to coat evenly.

5. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp of butter and fry oysters just until golden brown. Do not cook all the way through. Set aside.

6. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel and place over medium heat. Add butter. When butter is bubbling, add beaten eggs from 2nd bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scramble gently and before egg is completely cooked, add oysters. Continue to scramble gently and when eggs are fully cooked, turn out onto plate. Garnish with bacon slices and enjoy!

Next week: Osso buco was a fore-taste. Can thigh be far behind?

I sent this photo to the Prop Master to show how a veal shank could pass for a food stylist's leg

all material within copyright of Janice Poon unless otherwise noted