Monday, 8 July 2013

Oeuf redux: Huevos High LIfe

Eggs and mushroom tea.

Break the fast

Break the cup

Shards can hold no poison.

Leaping Quantum

Time to no time

Replay: Teacups heal.

Forget the poisoned tea -- everyone's asking for Huevos High Life

Pulled from broadcast, Episode “Oeuf” was viewable only on line. In this episode, Hannibal made psilocybin tea, blood sausages and gorgeous wine-soaked pears but his High Life Eggs breakfast was the most requested recipe of the season. Jose Andre's people sent me these pages from El Practicon, a 19th century book on food written by Angel Muro, and I have modified it into a recipe for you below, translated by my foodie pal Leo and demo'd by my Spanish doctor.

Cooking is one thing... 

Food styling is another thing altogether. There's no recipe for that.

You think this episode was deadly for the Kid Killers? Try getting through my's the second day of food scenes and the last day of shooting for this episode.  Four of the 5 scenes on today's call sheet have food. Plus one food insert that was scheduled at the last minute.

OK who stole my sides? These are the miniaturized scripts printed on half-sheets that some of us carry around on set. We mean to read them during the lulls so we can get a fresh reminder of the scenes we are about to shoot. But now, of course, most everyone uses their smart phone. I cling to the old paper ways – I like to circle things and make flow charts and diagrams so a print-out works best for me.

But today, of all days, I didn’t get a set of sides. Too busy rushing around organizing my two assistants. We have about a zillion things to prep today because I just found out last night that the CGE people need close-ups in order to do their time-lapse for Will’s flash-back of the mouldy food meal we shot yesterday. So now, we have to re-build the whole meal which the second unit will shoot in the adjacent studio while, in Hannibal's Dining Room set,  the main unit shoots the scene where Hannibal and Jack dine on people sausage and ffffava beans. So I am food styling in two places at once.

You just know there are gonna be a few terse words exchanged before this morning is over.

Roll and cut. Roll and cut. Repeat for hours. Then we are into the "Hannibal cooks breakfast" scene.

Our on-set props guy pulls out his sides and asks if I’ve got everything ready for the next scene:  Oranges, check. Eggs, check. Sausages, always. Potatoes, check. Brioche. Brioche?  He sees the frozen-brain look on my face and reads aloud from the script:  (slowly, like I’m three)

Hannibal throws an egg in the air, catches it on the edge of a knife, cracking it and holding it in place as the contents drool onto a slice of brioche with a hole already in a pan, The sausage sizzles and crackles in its own pan, almost done.


I forgot to pack the bread for the High Life Eggs. And we are in the middle of a suburban industrial zone. There isn’t going to be a French bakery out here. Bye-bye my brioche.

We still have an hour to prep while the set is being lit for the scene. I send my assistant, Kristen out into the field  (literally) to search the suburban supermarkets for challah. (Challah is Jewish brioche. There should be a lot of it on the shelves since it’s Friday – Shabbat when most Jewish families will be putting a loaf on the dinner table. GPS in hand, she roars out of the lot while 2nd assistant, Victoria and I sort through my pharmacopia of dried mushrooms for the scene where Abigail drinks from a poisoned cup.

Thanks to the food styling gods, the scene is held up a bit while Mads and the director discuss an alternative to the samurai egg master trick described in the script. They settle on a potato trick– it’s easier for the set dresser to pick up a slashed potato than it is to wipe smashed raw egg off everything after each take. So now, I have to find a couple dozen identically shaped potatoes and peel them for the knife trick. Because I need another thing to do at this moment.

Brilliant Kristen returns triumphal with 4 dozen challah buns. These will work even better than the challah slices called for in the script. The braided tops are elegantly twisted - like Hannibal himself. A near disaster turns into a brilliant result! We pick out the perfect ones - nine in all - and make them up into Spanish Egg in the Hole. 

And we’re rolling!

Your turn to cook now.

Didn't that story make you hungry? Better fry up some Huevos High Life.

My doctor, Rene, is from Spain. His grandmother used to make these all the time. So he volunteered to do this show-and-tell:

Here’s his step-by-step on Huevos High Life. You can see by his photo that a lifetime consuming vats of olive oil has kept him quite slim. So pour it on!

Using a glass or a cookie cutter, cut a round two-thirds of the way into a 1-inch slice of heavy fine-textured bread like Italian or Portuguese white loaf. Pull the bread out of the circle leaving a thin layer at the bottom. Set aside.

Into a heavy frying pan, pour about 1 inch of olive oil and heat.

Break eggs, each one into its own bowl. Check to see if oil is hot by dropping a small cube of bread in. If it browns within 30 seconds, the oil is ready. Remove the test bread and put the bread slices in the oil. 

Yes, that is 1 inch of olive oil. These babies are crispy bits of deep-fried goodness. We didn’t use this much oil for the shoot – Hannibal doesn’t want to fatten you up that much.

As soon as you put the bread in the oil, slide one egg into each hole and continue frying until the egg white sets, sunny-side up. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. The bread might get almost burnt around the edges but this is part of it’s charm – like the charred bits on barbecue or Portugese egg tarts.

Remove and drain on paper towels. 

Plate, top with salsa of your choice (we used chopped tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, peppers) and enjoy! We used duck eggs but chicken eggs are great or you could make minis with quail eggs.

Next time: Recipes for vegetarian cannibals: 

Beet Blood Sausages,  Mushroom Man Pate, Bones of the Dead cookies


  1. yay since I am a vegetarian I have been just making what you post and changing things so I can eat them, I am super excited about this!! thank you!

  2. I am pretty excited about posting vegetarian recipes too. I'm a total omnivore but I don't eat a ton of meat. There are so many other yummy options! So glad you have been using my recipes -- I want everyone to cook more. Home cooking gets/gives the most love.

  3. So sorry for offtop.
    Can you help? What is particular brand of plates (are used by Dr. Lecter) in the TV series? I so badly want to buy the same ))))

    1. It's been so hectic shooting season two that I haven't had a minute to log on to my own blog to reply to comments - but I remembered yesterday to look under the plates - "Crown Jewel" by Mikasa is the pattern. Hannibal's set is Platinum, of course.
      If you get a set, send a photo of your table to me at and I'll post it on a new page I'm starting of "Hannibal food people have made from my blog".

  4. Your site rules! its so inspiring. i've stepped up my game in the kitchen so much because of your site. i don't consider myself a foodie at all (i don't even know what that word means, sometimes). but i've learned to be more meticulous in my preparation & styling of food Thank you Janice.

    1. I'm so happy to hear that! I think when we take the time to cook, the food deserves to be styled - it makes the diners stop for a moment when they see the plate, and reflect on the food before they dig in. Sort of a visual "grace".

  5. Your site really inspired me to start cooking and taking time with my food presentation. I love it.
    Are you going to update again, or are you waiting until season 2? Because the food for vegetarian cannibals segment you mentioned sounds right up my street!

    1. Yes, I'll post again soon. I spent the summer working on my novel (well, more like staring into middle space in front of my laptop) but pre-production has just started on Hannibal Season 2 (Yeah!) so I've been reading scripts and outlines for the next 5 episodes and there are gong to be A LOT of surprises. No spoilers - all I can say is don't get too attached to any of the characters. Hannibal is going to be having several friends for dinner.

      Shooting starts mid-September, so I will be back in my Cannibal Kitchen soon and will post those vegetarian recipes for you in fall!

  6. Question (love the blog, by the way, and can't wait for new recipes!)...twice now I've tried to make this (using challah slices), and the bottom of the bread was completely burned by the time the egg was set. Any ideas why this might be? Do I need more oil (I'll be honest, I didn't use a full inch...maybe half an inch)? Should I use a heavier frying pan? (I used a small nonstick pan, since I was cooking for one)

    I love the idea of this, but wish my bread didn't get so blackened. :(

    1. It's supposed to be kinda burnt. But just around the edges, It actually adds to the flavour - like the way smoking enhances salmon and bacon (I know, I know, smoking enhances everything). I think you need to use more oil so it comes almost all the way up the sides of the bread. A heavy pan would generally keep the heat more stable but I don't think that's the problem. Maybe you are leaving too much bread in the bottom of the "hole" and it's insulating the egg. Pick out almost all of the bread leaving just a thin 1/8-inch (3mm) thickness at the bottom. Another possible factor is that maybe the challah you are using has a lot of sugar in it - which would make it burn. Try using a bread made by an organic or artisanal European baker - they usually have little or no sugar in them. Good luck and let me know if you solved everything and got the yummy results your effort deserves.

    2. I'm thinking it might be the challah - I've tried it a few more times (and I was *definitely* getting enough bread out - one time I actually poked through!) with varying levels of oil, and the result is the same - black black black! Pity, because challah is tasty. I have some regular italian bread at home that I may try out again tonight.

      Thanks for the tips!

    3. Honestly the exact same thing happened with me. I even removed more bread from the bottom and it put a small hole in there I removed so much. It was burnt both times I attempted it and that was before the egg was adequately cooked.

      Unfortunately brioche is not easy to come by where I am. I'll have to make a trip to a local bakery and see if they have any. I ended up cooking the egg, frying the challah slightly, then putting the egg in the bread. Everyone still enjoyed the taste.

      Oh and reading what you said about the challah and sugar makes sense. This did taste a lot sweeter than most challah I have had before.

  7. Hi Janice - I am not connected to this artist but I ran across her work and thought of Hannibal using them at one of his dinner parties!

    The creepiest example of her serving dishes based on Vanitas still lifes
    serving dishes based on Vanitas still lifes

    Or how about <a href=">disturbing baby bowls?</a>

    Teapots reminiscent of intestines . . . it goes on. Anyway her main webpage is just the volkhova DOT com root.

    1. Wow - what delicately wrought works! Thanks for point them out! I will talk to the production designer about getting a piece - or something similar - for Hannibal's table. The white porcelain would go perfectly with Hannibal's dinner set. Maybe not for this season, but next as he gets more and more daring about showing his true violent nature. That is if he can stay out of jail long enough to go shopping for dishes.

  8. Hello Janice,

    I just wanted to stop by and congratulate you for having such a fascinating blog! It is truly one of my favorite blogs of all time, which is why I'm eagerly waiting for the next update - with all the surprises, wit and humor that we've gotten used to read in your articles.

    I, like many others, felt inspired to improve my cooking skills after watching the Hannibal series, since it provides a constant showcase of intriguing culinary material; therefore finding your blog was like hitting the jackpot for me! I even wrote a blogpost about it, featuring my own Huevos Highlife that I cooked inspired by the recipe you posted!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us, I am really looking forward for your next update! (And the beginning of Season 2, of course). I hope everything is going great for you right now.


    1. Violetta, thanks for sending me a link to your terrific blog. Now that Season 2 has wrapped, I will check it out more often. I'm going to post your Huevos High Life - hope you don't mind - with other photos readers have been making from my recipes.

  9. Hi Janice!

    I've been a big fan of the show since it first aired, but after reading your blog, when I see an episode now, all I can think about is the ingenuity and hard work you and your team must deliver to create such a breathtaking production. I love this blog!

    But I have a question. I am fascinated with Hannibal's food "transportation." He brings the egg/sausage scramble and later the "silkie chicken in a broth" in patterned bowls with lids like I've never seen. Where did you get yours?

    I cannot wait to see what you've done with Season 2!

    1. I can't remember the brand because we covered the logo with a small square of decorative tape. If we get renewed for Season 3, I'll have a closer look at them and let you know.

  10. Thanks for sharing such a variable infromation, i love to read this awesome Tips,
    dinnerware Plates

  11. Thank you so much for this blog and for your hard work on the show. You are truly one of the secret stars of the show!

    You have inspired me to raise the bar in my own food presentation... and I am making huevos high life for breakfast tomorrow!

    1. Send me a photo of your Huevos High Life ( and I'll put it on the current post!

  12. I'm curious to know the brand of kettle used in this episode. I'm not much of a foodie, but I do have a fetish for glass cookware.

    1. Can't remember...was it the Jena tea pot with the glass infuser?

  13. So I just finished season 3 of Hannibal and as amazing as it was one thing was sorely missed in the back half of the season - Food! Thankfully I have this cookbook put together by you on my Amazon wish list, just in time for Father's Day! If only I didn't have to wait until October! It makes sense though, Halloween and all.

  14. my grandma and mom and now I make these, we called them toad in the hole here in new England they are fair common

  15. Two full thumbs up for this magneficent article of yours. I've really enjoyed reading this article today and I think this might be one of the best article that I've read yet. Please, keep this work going on in the same quality.

    11 month old baby food recipes indian

  16. I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.

    potato on face overnight