Saturday, 29 March 2014

Episode 5 Muko zuki


Slice of life

Slice of pie

Sidekick thrust aside. 


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

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Episode 3 Hassun


Grinning from ear 

To ear. 

Justice and revenge 

Best served cold. 

His breath a sentence serving life.

     Hassun is the second course of a Kaiseki dinner - so named because of the size of the plate (eight inches). This course features foods that are complements of each other in nature, artfully depicting the relationship between sea and mountain  -- or field and stream. A sort of tension/attraction - a balance of opposites.

No Food Scenes this episode. Just ears, ears, ears. So for this week, I switch from cannibal cookery to vampire bloodthirst.

      If Hannibal is tied up in court or too busy killing and mutilating to even think about cooking, it means a break for me - or does it?

      It just so happens that our neighbours, the Upyrs are hungry. (That's right, Upyrs - don't you dare go calling them vampires - or even vampyres - they are much more powerful, richer, smarter and of a much more ancient lineage...etc etc) They are shooting Hemlock Grove  in the studio down the street so I head over to their sound stage to do some food scenes.

      They want the Upyr Princeling to break the bone of his lamb shank dinner and suck out the marrow in a post-pubescent moment of suddenly discovered bloodlust. Of course, Handsome Bill Skarsgard, who plays him can't break a shank bone with his bare hands - you have to have the magical super-human strength of an Upyr to do that - so I am called in to make some fake E-Z snap'n'half ones:

Faking marrow bones out of tarelli dough painted with white chocolate colored red
Lamb shank with fake bone-which gets filled with cranberry jelly to look like bloody marrow

and the raw heart and kidney I made from jello and filled with red syrup blood spurt

     It seems they also needed a couple dozen fake hearts and kidneys for Bill to gobble as they come out of the cloned human organ machine. And they have to spurt copious amounts of blood all over the place when Bill chomps on them. So I made them out of raspberry jello - a dozen each to cover all the takes with some left over to leave in co-worker's desk drawers. I think they are having quite a lot of fun over at Hemlock Grove.

Speaking of fun chomping,

     Lots of you have been cooking along with Hannibal and some have sent me photos of the results. I thought this non-food week would be a good time to share these great efforts with everyone. Here are some of the delicious plates readers of this blog have been creating:

This one came in the day after Hassun aired:

Mads peering at their dinner -- Osso buco made by reader "Thursday St Giles"

and then I got these delicious looking photos from more Hannichefs.....

Hmmm-this one made by Joseph E in Wisconsin looks tastier than what I made for Mads ... but can you make 50 of them Joe, all the same, at midnight, with 4 hours notice - well can you? 

Ryan G sent this from LA - his version of Osso Buco made from beef  chuck - he and his wife are recovering vegetarians and didn't want to use human baby veal legs. Wise choice.

Somdutta sent this from India - she made Venison Stew (from Season 1) but used chicken and ham. Makes sense since the Wendigo is always hamming it up for Will or playing Chicken in the hall.

More Hannidinners made by readers:

Bread pudding made by Euiseok
Huevos High Life made by Euiseok

Veal heart made by DoubleTeE

Pork heart with tomato barquettes and roses by Double TeE

Fruit in Nautilus made by Joshua

Oxtail made and photographed by Joshua - see more at the link below:

Stuffed Veal Loin  Step1: Spinach stuffing       by Katerick
Loin Step 2: Cumberland sauce        by Katerick
Step 3: Stuffed loin just out of the oven       by Katerick
Step 4: Bon appetit!       made by Katerick

plus some lovely Fannibal art...

A manga interpretation by of my interview with Freddie Lounds

More, please!!! From the comments I'm reading, I think a lot of you are cookin' with the cannibal. Why not share!

      Next time you cook something Hannibal - from my recipes or otherwise - I'd love to post them here (mail to 

Next Week: You will never look at a jar of honey the same way again. Ever.

all content of this post except where noted copyright Janice Poon 2014

Friday, 7 March 2014

Episode 2 Saki-zuke

And cries:

Your prayer
Your pain.

You see your god
Through your own eyes.

Gone in a blink.

Sakizuki is the first course in a formal Kaiseki dinner.
     …a sampling of small appetizers whose ingredients, garnishes and dishware sets the tone for the season and invites the gods to partake of the meal.
Winter sakizuki at Hashimoto's Kaiseki restaurant in Toronto

...meanwhile Jack is trapped in the Pantry of Death with tasty sauce dribbling down his neck....

     This episode is named Sakizuke and sets the tone for the story of Hannibal as it unfolds this season: stronger inscrutable Will, murderous Hannibal, gutsy Jack, vulnerable tasty friends and foes. Although some get much closer and some run away…no one is safe.

I'm tiptoeing through the dark studio to my food styling station trying not to wake the dead 

Just an average day hanging around the Hannibal set.
     At the sound stage, Shoot Day 12 is an interesting day for hair and makeup: Thirty-eight extras naked and wedged up next to each other in a very cold studio are to be shot as an artwork. (Everything is people.)

     It’s the Eyeball Tapestry. A closed set, of course. Can’t have random crew milling around the set when three dozen actors are lying about naked curled together in the shape of an eyeball. Might break their mood – although at some point each one of them must be seriously questioning  “What is my motivation?”

     The human mural looks spectacular. I can’t help but notice that KY Gel was on the call sheet for Hair/Makeup. How much they used and for what, I can only speculate. (I’ll get the details and plug them in here later.)

Pausing a moment for deep reflection...eye don’t get it
     Looking at the crime scene photo on set, I wonder about the deeper meaning of that mural. Plato’s man is too weak to turn his eye directly to the light to see things as they really are – instead, he lives in the darkness informed only by the shadows on the cave walls.

     Looking for God, the muralist looks brazenly into the light -- inwardly wishing only to be seen. Meister Eckhart said it: “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me.”

Aye think naught.
      I, cave-dwelling food stylist, can only look at my shadowy life through a funnybone. So when the topic of eyes comes up, for a joke, I send this out to set:

Tasty Brussels sprouts -isn't that an Ox-eye moron?

Yes, kiddies, it's all fun and games until somebody wants to change things just when you thought your artwork was done. Yup, I'm talking about that unbearably grisly scene with the human eyeball tapestry that I can't look at. Just like when I was a couturiere – sewing’s ok but please don’t ask for an alteration. Seam ripping is the absolute worst.

Put down that sewing kit and get to the cooking, Mads
My concept sketch for Hannibal's solitary dinner
    We are gathered, rapt around the set, peering over shoulders to get a good view. Everyone has been drawn away from their work: the grips, hair/makeup, carps, set dec. Standing around the Pantry set watching the props guy set up the massive butcher's bandsaw so Mads can saw the leg into 3-inch sections for his evening snack in Scene 23. I'm nervous about Mads working the giant butcher’s band saw. The “skin” of the fake leg sticks and won’t slide across the saw smoothly. What if Mads slips and cuts off a finger. Hannibal in the book has six fingers on his left hand – Mads is doing the role with five but four - not so good.

My food styling station where I prep the real veal leg for osso buco

Hannibal's pantry where he preps the fake leg for osso buco

     Adding to the tension, Francois has made only one "hero" prosthetic leg for the scene. No second takes on this one. The prosthetic leg, in spite of its starring role, has to stand around waiting just like the rest of us. 
The fake leg standing around with Francois' bag of tricks and tools

     Of course, there was nothing to worry about. Mads works the butcher’s saw like it's his day job. The crew breaks out in laughter and applause after he breezily saws the leg into sections then tosses the foot in the air with a celebratory flourish.

The foot ends up on my plate.

Never too busy to put your feet up.

Little fibulae, little fibs
     We shoot the scene of Hannibal making the osso buco and I insert little fibula bones into the sections of meat so they look human. Oh, they are actually veal shanks – did I say they were people? I made these little bone buttons out of Fimo so they would be heat resistant and stand up to the frying.

painting blood on my fake fibulae

On the plate: osso buco with saffron-scented risotto and zucchini eyeballs. Plus a couple tiny cobs of baby corn to stand for the corn fields in the chase scene. 
Hannibal's hero Osso buco (before fibula implant) 

Only time for one meal?
      Hannibal is a man capable of many things but he is very extra busy ironing his plastic suit for the many kills he must perform this episode. Anyway, he has to keep his girlish figure for the hot hot scenes to come mid-season. (Yes! You heard me -- hot scenes coming to your screen soon!!!)

Hannibal dining alone? Let's all have TV Dinner together!
     Here’s a recipe for you if you want to watch episode 2 again and have a simul-snack with Hannibal:

     You can make this with chicken. Instead of using veal shank, cut a 3 ½  lb chicken into six pieces and do everything else the same but reduce cooking time to 1 hour.

     Risotto is the classic accompaniment to Osso Buco, but you can serve it with regular rice or buttered egg noodles if you don’t have the time to stand over a hot stove stirring risotto.

Osso Buco
     Hannibal makes this dish with his secret ingredient, the muralist’s lower leg.  You can make a delicious, less diabolical version with veal – a calf of a more acceptable sort. 

6 pieces of bone-in veal shank, each 6 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches) in length
125 mL (½ cup) flour
salt, pepper to taste
30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil

250 mL (1 cup) chopped onions
250 mL (1 cup) carrots in 5mm (¼-inch) dice
250 mL (1 cup) celery in 5mm (¼-inch) dice
125 mL (½ cup) parsnips in 5mm (¼-inch) dice
30 mL (2 Tbsp) butter

250 mL (1 cup) beef stock (or chicken stock for lighter flavour)
250 mL (1 cup) red wine (or white wine for lighter flavour)
375 mL (1 ½  cups) fresh or canned chopped plum tomatoes

5 mL (1 tsp) dried oregano
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf

1. Dredge veal pieces with flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy lidded casserole, heat olive oil over medium-high heat then add veal pieces, sautéing on all sides til brown. Remove veal pieces to a bowl and set aside.
3. Add onions, carrots, celery and butter to Dutch oven and sauté, stirring over medium heat until lightly browned.
4. Deglaze the Dutch oven by adding stock and scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then add wine, tomatoes, oregano, rosemary and bay leaf.
5. Return veal shanks to the Dutch oven, cover and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 1 hour then reduce to 140°C (275°F) and bake for another 2 to 3 hours or until very tender.

Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest and serve with risotto.  Serves 4.

Next week: Shanks but no shanks: a surprise dinner invitation from the fun Upyrs who live down the street

all content copyright Janice Poon 2014