Saturday 26 April 2014

Episode 9 Suziikana

Gnashing teeth

Clashing knives

A mask for the child in the beast in the man.


Innocence or ignorance

Instinct or will

Pushing deeper, rising up.


Wild like the wind

Driven like the snow

Drowned like the sound of his sorrow.


Suziikana is the course in Kaiseki that is the main event. A substantial hot pot of rarest and finest ingredients. This episode is named for a meaty pot-boiler.

The pling of an incoming text wakes me.

     It’s from Stephen, the prop master. He says: New pages. Dining room scene shooting Monday.

     MONDAY? This has really caught me napping. I had been checking constantly and the last script I saw didn’t have any food in it at all so I was kind of relaxing and lazing about. I leap up and immediately email the script supervisor who is the person who circulates the script revisions. She says there are no new pages. OK. Fine. I’ll go back to sleep. But I know there must be new pages so I start emailing everyone til finally I get a new script.

     I have only two working days to prep so I scan the rewrites worriedly. If I have to order anything special there is very little time (kill days at the abattoir are Tuesdays and Thursdays and it takes a week to pre-order odd cuts of beef pork or lamb – it can take many more to purvey stranger beasties)

This is my sketch for this episode's meal that Hannibal serves to Jack

It seems we are working with leftovers.

     Hannibal making dinner with leftovers you whisper disbelievingly? Yes, Virginia. Leftovers. A quick review and a chat with the prop master confirms it: 

     Let me explain: You know how sometimes you find yourself staring in the fridge at assorted tupperware-encased remains wondering how you can combine them into a stunning dinner for two? What fabulous meal can I make from a half an onion, six chocolate macarons and a turkey leg? Or salmon eggs, liverwurst and wilted green beans.

     Episodic tv can be like that. We had shot cooking scenes for episode 6 that got dropped in the final edit. Toss ‘em out? Never!! Can’t let fresh footage go to waste!!! There are film makers in other hemispheres who are starving!!  We have all this lovingly shot footage of sweetbreads being sautéed – liver being sliced with a blood-streaked knife – kidneys being chopped. Robyn Stern (Jose Andre’s researcher) had worked on how these organs could be shot and they were great. Definitely too good to waste. But what could Hannibal make out of them?
A slice of Sacromonte Omelet with a duck eggshell filled with salsa and a quail egg filled with sea salt. On the side, purple baby potatoes and grilled clementine

     Sweetbreads, liver and kidneys can go into Sancromonte Omelets declares Jose -- Hannibal can talk about his memorable days with the gypsies of Spain! So omelets it is. I make them as frittatas because 1) they’re Spanish and 2) wedges of egg-potato tortillas are much easier to reset than fluffy French omelettes which would have to be made on set, a la minute -- not my idea of a tranquil day at work. Plus we just had Hangtown Fry in Episode 5 and if I don’t watch Hannibal’s cholesterol levels, who will?.

    I sketch up a plan of how I think the meal should look and what I plan to have on the table as accompaniments. This gets emailed off to everyone and I even have time to put in a request for wine suggestions from Robyn.
Side platter of Spanish olives, sweet tiny red peppers, spiced almonds

    I don’t imagine that Mads and Lawrence want to eat lamb’s brains and testicles – which is what is called for in authentic Sacromonte Omelets – so  I make them instead with chicken, potato and red pepper - pans and pans of them and cart them off to set.
Side platter of anchovies crawling on tomatoes and fresh basil uprooted from black quinoa "dirt"

    Unloading the car into the studio is always a bit of a joyless task but I cease to feel sorry for myself when I run into Jaro Dick, the set decorator. Isn’t he supposed to be on location at the museum downtown? I’m pretty sure I saw that on the call sheet. No. The location didn’t work out. At the last minute they couldn’t swing it and had to build the museum set in the studio. WHAT??? I will never feel sorry for myself again. At least no one expects me to build a massive dinosaur room overnight. I get crabby because I'm expected to magically produce suckling pigs and leaping trout out at a moment's notice, but no one has ever asked me to erect 2 or 3 dinosaurs overnight. But Jaro was taking it in stride. Just another day in tv land.

Plates waiting to go to set
  The shoot goes smoothly ( the frittata is a breeze to plate - why can't all food come in wedges?) and I manage to get home before dawn. Another episode done. Only three more to go. I don't know whether to be happy or sad about that.

But never mind the joys and sorrows of tv-making. Let's eat! 

    It’s time to whip on those aprons and head to the kitchen to make some delicious frittata. You can make this simple but delicious treat with any leftovers and  turn them into a wonderful lunch dish. The main ingredients are eggs and potatoes. The rest is up to you. And you need a non-stick slope-sided pan. I use a well-seasoned cast iron omelette pan.

Chick n Cheese Frittata

6 eggs
¼ cup cream
¼ tsp salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp butter
1 large cooked potato, in 1/8-inch slices
½  medium onion, in ¼-inch slices, pan-fried until translucent
½ cup cooked chicken in ½-inch dice
½ cup peas
½ cup diced bell peppers
2 oz cheese thinly sliced

1.  In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs with cream, salt and pepper.
2.  Over medium heat, melt butter in omelette pan. When butter is bubbling and beginning to brown, pour in a third of the beaten egg to cover bottom of pan. In a single layer, add a third of the potato slices and sprinkle in a third of the chicken, a third of  onions and a third of the cheese. Repeat twice.
3.  Continue cooking over medium heat until egg has mostly set then place under broiler to finish cooking egg and melting cheese. Brown the top.
4.  Cut into wedges and serve with a salad. If you have any left over, this is also great eaten right out of the fridge.

Next week: This dish could sure use some ginger... 

And for those of you munching along at home: 

    I am delighted with the way you are diving into the recipes and thrilled with what great cooks you are and how artfully you are presenting your dishes! Here are more Hannibal cook-alongs that you have sent to me for sharing:

Brian S created this elegant dish of lamb kidney garnished with prosciutto rose on apple.
Brian's absolutely gorgeous Lamb kidney and mushroom 

CFO Winkle made osso buco and the spinach stuffed loin from season 1
CFO's Osso Buco beginnings
CFO's Osso Buco simmering in the pot
CFO's wonderful looking stuffed loin
CFO's stuffed loin sliced
Rachel F made the chocolate macarons – vegan ganache made with non-dairy chocolate and coconut milk.
Rachel garnished her yummy looking macarons with kumquats and strawberries

Brian’s breakfast Huevos - brilliantly garnished with avocado, tomato and black beans almost to lovely to eat!
A beautiful way to start the day cooked by Brian S

Stefano W from Italy made a roast in clay served with apple and roast potatoes – not surprisingly, none of his friends wanted to sacrifice a leg for dinner so he used pork tenderloin...
Tenderloin wrapped in clay and artistically decorated by Stefano
Just out of the oven - Wow!
Looking delish with caramelized apples and roasted potatoes

Thank you for sharing!!!!!!!!!

All content unless otherwise attributed copyright of Janice Poon 2014

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 ( 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 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