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More on Trailing at Co Co. Sala

Since trailing at Co Co. Sala over the summer (click here to read about that), I’ve been coveting a number of amazing pieces of equipment. The amazing guitar cutter is one; if you haven’t seen one, it’s a tool used to cut perfect squares of chocolate, chocolate, or other confections. It’s called a guitar cutter because of the strings. Basically, it’s a frame of strings set at your desired width that cuts a product into even strips. If you use a metal sheet to turn the chocolate strips, you can cut perfect squares by cutting the strips again on a perpendicular.

If you look at the uncoated Linzer chocolate squares in the gallery, you can see just how crisp and beautiful the edges are. WANT! The enrober was also incredible. It’s a tool which coats anything you want in chocolate. It rains down a waterfall of tempered chocolate over whatever items you’ve placed on the conveyer belt – in this case, squares of set chocolate ganache. You can then allow it the coated squares cool, or decorate them using a beautiful, patterned transfer sheet as the chocolate sets up.

The colors on their chocolates are really striking. Some, like the ones in this gallery are decorated using acetate paper, but a lot are filled chocolates hand-decorated with different colors. The colors never take the place of flavor – they just make the end result really stand out.


Trailing at Co Co. Sala

Chocolate’s always been a big part of my life. After a ton of truffle making this year, I decided I wanted to dig in a bit and learn more about how to make artisanal chocolate. In Washington, D.C., Co Co. Sala and its incredible chocolate master chef Santosh Tiptur spring to mind immediately when you think about really great chocolate. The store and incredible chocolate-centric restaurant do everything from savory dishes to beautiful, hand-decorated chocolates. If you haven’t already been, go check it out; their showpieces, strewn around the restaurant and store for decoration, are pretty incredible. Tiptur and the co-owners were kind enough to allow me to trail at Co Co. Sala for a week over the summer. What followed was a revelation.

In what was apparently the slow season, Katie, who heads up the chocolate-making program (there’s a whole other team dedicated to the chocolate dishes for the restaurant) and Marisol, who is a key part of making the chocolates happen, churned out chocolate decorations, truffles, bonbons, bars and all manner of incredible confections. They graciously included me and explained what they were doing as they went. These photos are a few shots from the day Marisol (pictured) and Katie were working on chocolate garnishes for the restaurant dishes, and chocolate curls for cocktail garnishes and hot chocolate.

Ramp Recipes


Ramp season is drawing to a close here in D.C. – so sad! If you still have some ramps knocking around, try one of these recipes:

The Ultimate Spring Egg Sandwich: Pretzel Roll, Ramp Pesto, Fried Egg, Bacon, Wilted Ramp Leaves and Caramelized Mushrooms

Fava Bean Salad with Pickled Ramps, Peas and Goat Cheese


The Ultimate Spring Egg Sandwich: Pretzel Roll, Fried Egg, Bacon, Ramp Pesto, Wilted Ramps and Mushrooms


The Ultimate Spring Egg Sandwich: Pretzel Roll, Fried Egg, Bacon, Ramp Pesto, Wilted Ramps and Mushrooms

“Purple Beer”

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Chicha Morado is a tangy, refreshing glass of awesome. It’s a Peruvian drink made from purple corn, simmered with apple, pineapple, dried fruit and spices and served cold. While researching a series for Food Republic (see Part 1 and Part 2), I ended up playing around with it a lot in the kitchen. Not to be confused with the fermented alcoholic corn drink Chicha, it’s made with dried purple corn from Peru. Chicha refers to corn in Peru, and Morado means purple, so it’s named for the corn from which it’s made. The corn usually comes dried in the States, whole on the cob, so dark purple that it’s almost black, and it’s the source of the gorgeous, deep plum color and slight acidity of the final brew. Perfect with Peruvian food, of course, it’s also great with barbecue, or any other time you might ordinarily have an iced tea. Pair with fried chicken for a hangover-free morning after.


Chicha Morado Recipe

Servings: 1½ quarts (about 6 Servings)


1 pineapple

1 pound dried purple Peruvian corn*

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped

3 cinnamon sticks

7 cloves

1 star anise

¼ cup palm sugar

¼ cup dried cherries

Water to cover

1 lemon

Sugar to taste


Cut the peel, top and bottom off the pineapple. Set aside the peel and discard the top. Quarter the peeled pineapple lengthwise. Trim the core from the flesh. Chop the flesh and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. Put the pineapple peel and core in the bottom of a medium stock pot. Add the corn, 1 of the apples, the cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, palm sugar and dried cherries. Cover with enough cold water from the tap to just cover the solids. Bring to a boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour. The color from the corn will leach into the liquid and stain the apples and pineapple peel. This is normal. The finished liquid will be a beautiful, deep purple, a bit like red wine.

Turn off the heat, uncover the pot and allow the mixture to cool. Strain the mixture, reserving the cinnamon sticks to serve—they unfurl a bit as they cook and serve nicely as a garnish for the finished glasses of Chicha Morado. Thinly slice the lemon. Taste the strained corn liquid and add sugar if desired. This is rather like iced tea—how sweet you like it depends entirely on your palate. 

Garnish your serving glasses with a slice of lemon each, and put the rest of the slices in a jug. Add a couple of cubes of ice to each serving glass. Add some ice, half the pineapple, and the remaining apple to the jug, and then pour the strained liquid into the jug. Pour some of the finished Chicha Morado into the glasses. You can fish out some pieces of fruit for each glass, if you like—they’re the best bit!



*For purple corn, try your local Latin American market, or order online from Latin Merchant or La Tienda. If you live in the Washington, DC area, Las Americas International Market in Rockville, MD usually stocks the whole, dried cobs of purple corn, as well as an instant version of Chicha Morado:

Instant Chicha Morado

Instant Chicha Morado

purple corn packaging


Want to try another Peruvian recipe? Click here for a Caramel Sandwich Cookies.

Cooking with Hannibal: Futamono


Overview of Hannibal's party Hors d'Oeuvres

Overview of Hannibal’s party Hors d’Oeuvres

If Jack’s team is right, Hannibal finally made some food that contains animals rather than people. For a party, he prepares a variety of goodies with the help of the lovely Dr. Bloom.

More of Hannibal's party Hors d'Oeuvres

More of Hannibal’s party Hors d’Oeuvres

In the above photo, you can see little Wagyu Beef Roulade slices (stuffed with Sushi Rice) all decked out with chive flowers on the left. On the right, are little Filo Pastry Flowers with Beef Heart Tartare. In the middle you can see some of the Prosciutto Roses on Watermelon. For more on Hannibal’s party menu, click here.

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef

Beef Roulade

Wagyu Beef Roulade stuffed with Sushi Rice before cooking

Beef Kebabs

Beef Kebabs

Beef Heart Tartare in Filo Pastry

Beef Heart Tartare in Filo Pastry

Prosciutto Rose on Watermelon

Prosciutto Rose on Watermelon


Platter of Prosciutto Roses on Watermelon

Platter of Prosciutto Roses on Watermelon

If you’d like to try some offal hors d’oeuvres, here is a recipe I developed for The Ration Diaries. Since a lot of whole birds come with the offal in the cavity, I try and use it up with little bites like this. If you want to make something like this in mass, you can always buy veal heart and cut it much more finely; you still need to be careful too cook it gently since it’s a tough muscle and when cooked over a high heat, it tends to get REALLY tough.

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves (from The Ration Diaries)

Servings: 1

1/4 strip bacon
1 Guinea Fowl heart
1/2 Brussels sprout, cut in half
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
1 demitasse spoonful blackcurrant preserves

Slice the bacon very thinly then render it in a non-stick pan. When the bacon is crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate. Pour the bacon into a boiled egg cup. Allow the bacon fat to cool slightly, then add the heart. Put the egg cup in the microwave and set to “keep warm” for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the heart is cooked through. Heart gets tough very easily, so it’s important not to cook the heart on high. Sear the cut sides of the Brussels sprout quarters in the hot pan, and season with salt. Add the vegetable broth and simmer until the broth has evaporated. Slice the heart very thinly and reserve the bacon fat for another use. Serve the heart garnished with Brussels sprouts, reserved bacon, and blackcurrant preserves.


Cooking with Hannibal: Mukozuke

Hannibal opening oysters

Hannibal opening oysters

Finally, more food! The past 2 episodes have been a bit of a respite from the cooking on the show, but this episode, Hannibal’s back in the kitchen. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; to Hannibal, this means pancetta, oysters, crayfish and other fancy fancies with his eggs, as he whips up a little something for Jack to comfort him in his time of need…or mess with his mind.

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs

This is juxtaposed with a rather beige, depressing-looking breakfast for Will at the Baltimore loony bin. Then we get a flash of pancetta porn from Hannibal’s breakfast:

Pancetta sizzling for Hannibal's breakfast

Pancetta sizzling for Hannibal’s breakfast

And a gorgeous shot of a crayfish and oyster platter. The beetles were a total turn-off for me; who wants to see beetles at breakfast? Now dinner…

Crayfish, Oysters and Beetles

Crayfish, Oysters and Beetles

Here’s the final dish: eggs, pancetta, crayfish and oyster.

Pancetta, eggs, crayfish and oyster

Hannibal’s Breakfast: Pancetta, eggs, crayfish and oyster

Will's Hospital Breakfast

Will’s Hospital Breakfast

The above is one of the beige-est meals I’ve ever seen.

Will's Sad Face

Will’s Sad Face (hospital breakfasts get him down)

No wonder Will looks sad.

My favorite breakfast egg recipe ever is a mascarpone and tomato frittata that I used to make while working at an Italian restaurant. It used oven-dried tomatoes, but I’ve replaced it with some sundried tomatoes and some roasted, since the oven-dried ones take forever to make.

Mascarpone and Tomato Frittata with Basil

Yield: about 6 servings


olive oil

3 ripe roma tomatoes, halved

5 sprigs thyme

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained

5 eggs, preferably local farm eggs

1 cup mascarpone

1/2 bunch fresh basil, torn


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle a small, ovenproof baking dish with some olive oil. Put the roma tomatoes in it, cut face up. Add the thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper and dust with the sugar. Put the tomatoes in the oven to roast (about 30 minutes, or until browning and emitting an incredible, slightly sweet aroma). Meanwhile, make sure the sun-dried tomatoes are drained and mince (they can be pretty chewy, so you want to make sure they’re cut fairly small. Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare a large, cast-iron skillet by heating over a medium heat. When the roma tomatoes are roasted, remove them from the oven and using a slotted spoon, remove them to a chopping board and cut roughly. Keep the oven on, since you’ll finish the frittata in it. You can reserve the olive oil and roasting juices for a vinaigrette, if you’d like-you just need some vinegar. Turn the heat to high under the cast iron skillet, then add olive oil. Heat until it shimmers a bit, then add the whisked eggs. Using a heatproof spatula, push around the eggs until curds start to form, then allow to solidify a bit before scooping spoonfuls of the mascarpone onto the top of the eggs, being careful to distribute evenly. Add the tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. DO NOT STIR!!! Put the skillet in the oven. When the frittata is puffy, and appears fully cooked, about 15 minutes, remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut in the skillet, then top with the basil. You can serve from the skillet at the table. And yes, it goes beautifully with pancetta. From a pig. Not the Hannibal kind.

Cooking with Hannibal: Sakizuki

Veal Osso Bucco

Veal Osso Bucco

So without giving anything away, in this episode, Hannibal makes some changes to another serial killer’s “artwork” and ends up with a leg in his pantry which does not come from a veal. He then decides to make Osso Bucco.

Veal Recipe

Veal Recipe

If you can forget the horrifying carnage that precedes it, it actually looks quite tasty! For a flashback recipe for Osso Bucco, click here. Judging from the quick flash of recipe that we get plus the quick recipe shots, it looks as though he probably dredges the veal in flour (see photo below) renders some pancetta, then sears the veal shank cross sections until brown, deglazes them with wine, and braises them with the mirepoix, garlic, and anchovies and some kind of red (maybe tomato-based?) sauce.

Dredging Veal

Dredging Veal

Searing Veal

Searing Veal

Glazed Veal

Veal Being Deglazed

Sketch of concept for Veal Osso Bucco plating from Hannibal food stylist  Janice Poon

Sketch of concept for Veal Osso Bucco plating from Hannibal food stylist Janice Poon

We learn from the above gorgeous sketch by Hannibal food stylist Janice Poon that it is served on top of a bed of saffron risotto, garnished with Tomato Osso Bucco sauce (maybe the braising liquid?) and some vegetables and gremolata. Since I’ve already posted an Osso Bucco recipe back when Hannibal last cooked veal, this made me think of an amazing Oxtail Stew that I had in Andalusia, in Spain, years ago. Something about the rich, glossy braising liquid from the Osso Bucco shots brought back that moment when it arrived at the table, steaming with beefy goodness.

I recently tried out a great recipe for Oxtail Stew from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. This book came out a few years ago and I’ve really enjoyed the back stories and sense of atmosphere that Roden manages to create. In addition to containing a lot of easy recipes and a smattering of harder ones, it’s a fun read, and full of cultural tidbits. This is adapted slightly from Roden’s recipe.

Oxtail Stew

Recipe adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden.

Yield: 6 Servings


Vegetable oil

6 pounds oxtail, cut into sections

1/4 cup olive oil

2 white onions, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

1 medium leek, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1/4 bunch thyme

2 small cans good quality peeled and chopped tomatoes

2 cups red wine, such as Rioja

1 cup dry white wine, such as a white Rioja

1/2 cup brandy

Salt and pepper

Mashed potatoes


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with 2 layers of foil. Brush the foil with a little vegetable oil, then add the oxtails and roast in the preheated oven until browned, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. 

While the oxtails are roasting, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over a medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and leek and sweat until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook through but don’t allow to brown. Add the bay leaves, thyme and tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for about another 10 minutes. At this point, you can remove the Dutch oven from the heat until the oxtails are done. Once they’re browned, remove them from the oven and return the Dutch oven to a medium heat. Add the oxtails to the Dutch oven using tongs. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan, then place it over a medium heat and deglaze using the wine and brandy. Use a wooden spoon to gently scrape any caramelized meat from the foil. Then pour the wine mixture into the Dutch oven with the meat and tomato mixture. Add enough water to cover the oxtails, season with the salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is tender and falls away from the bone.

Let the stew rest for about 30 minutes, and remove any fat that has accumulated on top. Remove the bay leaves and thyme and serve with mashed potatoes. Claudia Roden notes that some prefer to blend the sauce to a cream with an immersion blender once the herbs and oxtails have been removed and then serve the oxtail with the blended sauce, but that she prefers it with the bits of vegetables in and doesn’t like blending it. I tried it both ways, and agree with her. It’s a bit more of a rustic finish when it’s unblended, but that’s what I love about dishes like these.

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