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Cooking with Hannibal: Kaiseki

Hannibal slices meat in the dream sequence, then catches Jack Crawford's eye.

Hannibal slices meat in the dream sequence, then catches Jack Crawford’s eye.

SPOILER ALERT! Season 2 kicked off on Friday with a Hannibal-on-Jack fight in the kitchen. Turns out, it utilized one of my least favorite narrative devices. The “it was all a dream” schtick. There were a couple of very cool images during the fight scene, though. Before the fight explodes, we see Hannibal prepping meat and a salad and there are some very eerie reflections as we see him slice.

Dream sequence: Hannibal preps salad then sees his own reflection.

Dream sequence: Hannibal preps salad then sees his own reflection.

Back in the real world, Hannibal really does cook dinner for Jack Crawford, supposedly to make him feel better about Will’s apparent guilt. He makes Jack a kaiseki meal (a type of high-end Japanese repast that has imperial roots), including some raw sliced “flounder” and some sea urchin.

Sea Urchin during Kaiseki dinner Hannibal serves to Jack Crawford.

Sea Urchin during Kaiseki dinner Hannibal serves to Jack Crawford.

Doesn’t it look beautiful?

Look how pretty!

Look how pretty!

It’s served with the squid roll (the tall white object below) as a side to the flounder dish, but in my opinion, sea urchin always merits center stage.

Sea Urchin with Squid Roll and Squid Ink Quills

Sea Urchin with Squid Roll and Squid Ink Quills

One of my favorite sea urchin dishes is a Sicilian pasta made with bottarga and fresh sea urchin. Here is a recipe:

Pasta with Bottarga and Sea Urchin (adapted from La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy)


4 ounces bottarga of tuna

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound spaghetti or bucatini


1/4 cup fresh sea urchin


1. Grate the bottarga into a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic, parsley and olive oil. 

2. Cook the pasta in unsalted boiling water since the bottarga is so salty. When al dente, drain.

3. Add the sea urchin into the pasta, then add the bottarga mixture, mix gently so as not to break up the pieces of sea urchin, and enjoy!

Will's prison food

Will’s prison food

Less alluring by far are the culinary delights of the prison system. Poor Will!



Happy Valentine’s Day!

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When I worked in New York still, I used to meander over to Beecher’s across the street for coffee and a sweet treat from Liddabit Sweets. One move to Virginia, and one kid later, and I’m too far from New York for an impromptu candy bar from them, but since their cookbook is one of my favorites that I’ve been playing with over the past year, I was thrilled when my husband bought me a ticket to their ICE course. One blizzard and postponement later, I finally made it to the course. Here are a few shots of the class, plus one of a truffle recipe I developed this year. Whether you have someone in your life or not, I hope you’re enjoying something delicious right now. For more craft chocolate makers, see my recent article for Food Republic.

Cooking with Hannibal: Savoureux

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

What to serve your traumatized shrink? Head, clearly. In this episode, Hannibal surprises the beautiful Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (played by Gillian Anderson…yes, Scully!) with a platter of Tête de Veau – veal head. Needless to say, this is not a popular dish in America.

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

As you can see from this shot, he serves it as a sort of a roulade of the head meat from the “veal” and then adds the bone marrow to the plate. In this sketch below, you can see how the individual roulades of deboned veal head are served.

Sketch of Tête de Veau by Food Stylist Janice Poon

Sketch of Tête de Veau by Food Stylist Janice Poon

Speaking of bone marrow, browsing old cookbooks the other day, I came across an Osso Bucco recipe in The Dione Lucas Book of French Cookery. It’s an oldie but goodie by Dione Lucas, who was born about 3 years before Julia Child. She was also a huge proponent of French cooking, as the first female Cordon Bleu grad. She worked as a hotel chef before opening a French cooking school in London in the 1930s, and eventually ended up moving to the USA, publishing cookbooks and opening a cooking school here. She was the first female host of a cooking show in the USA. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t nearly as personable or lovable as Julia Child, so she is a name that seldom comes up anymore, while good old Julia is an American icon.

What’s kind of funny is that Osso Bucco is an Italian dish and this is a French cuisine cookbook, but let’s not nitpick. In the original recipe, Lucas uses veal shins that still have some meat on the outside of the bone. Most places don’t have this anymore, so I’ve adapted the recipe a bit. I also changed the rice to Arborio rice. Really, Dione? Long-grain? For shame!

Osso Bucco: Braised Veal Shins with Risotto

Adapted from The Dione Lucas Book of French Cookery

Yield: 4 Servings


2 1/2 pounds veal shins or knuckle, cut across the bone into 4 pieces 

1 clove garlic, halved

1/4 cup dry Sherry

Freshly cracked white pepper

3/4 cup salted butter

1/2 cup Cognac

2 white onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

6 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced

3/4 cup pine nuts

Salt to taste

1  1/2 cups arborio rice

3 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon saffron

3 tablespoons cold water

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Rub veal with cut halves of garlic clove. Brush veal with Sherry and season with pepper. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the Cognac in a shallow pan, ignite it, and pour over the veal bones in a sauté pan. Remove the veal bones from sauté pan. In the same pan, melt the rest of the salted butter but do not let it brown. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms and pine nuts. Stir in the rice, then add chicken stock. Add the saffron to the cold water then add to the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the rice to a boil.

Put the veal on a platter and serve with the rice. Top with the Parmesan cheese.

Cooking with Hannibal: Relevés

Black Silkie Chicken Soup with Red Dates and Bok Choy

Black Silkie Chicken Soup with Red Dates and Bok Choy

If you really care about someone, you make them chicken soup…while you’re convincing everyone around you that they’re mad. And a serial killer. At least, that’s what you do if you’re Hannibal. In this episode, Will Graham is laid up and Hannibal, in between periods of plotting Will’s incarceration in a loonie bin, makes him a restorative chicken broth. Ya know…’cause he cares. From food stylist Janice Poon’s blog, it looks like it’s a soup of black silkie chicken, with red dates (also known as jujubes), goji berries, bok choy, ginseng and  white fungus. All of these ingredients are considered to have health benefits in Chinese medicine.

The reason the chicken looks so dark is because black silkie chickens look like this:

Black Silkie Chicken, Image by

Black Silkie Chicken, Image by

If a chicken can be adorable, the black silkie is it. This is what it looks like plucked (less adorable):

Plucked Silkie Chicken, Image by Clove Garden

Plucked Silkie Chicken, Image by Clove Garden

Silkie chickens come with white feathers or black feathers, but both varieties have black skin, as above. Don’t they look cool in soup? What a great idea for clear broths.

My favorite easy chicken soup is a recipe from Canal House Cooks Every Day. The authors, Christopher Hirscheimer and Melissa Hamilton, are two ex-Saveur Magazine staffers who run Canal House Cooking, and do all the photography, design, production, recipes, the works. They’ve written a whole bunch of cookbooks and continue to produce 3 a year. You can subscribe, and get them as they come out for $50.

If you have extra meatballs, you can always freeze them in a little tomato sauce. For a good quick dinner in a pinch, you can just add some pasta to the tomato sauce and meatballs, top with some parm and fresh basil and you’re good to go.

I find meatballs work better with some breadcrumbs to bind, so I’ve adapted the recipe a little. I tweaked some measurements since I find it easier to measure grated nutmeg than the amount of a whole nutmeg grated, for example. Hope you enjoy, even if you’re not being plagued by a serial killer.

Chicken Broth with Spinach and Little Meatballs, Image from Canal House Cooking

Chicken Broth with Spinach and Little Meatballs, Image from Canal House Cooking

Chicken Broth with Spinach and Little Meatballs

Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day

Yield: 8 to 10 servings



1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground veal

2 ounces ground prosciutto

1/2 cup fresh whole milk ricotta

1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Breadcrumbs, as needed


10 to 12 cups chicken broth

1 pound baby spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil (finishing quality)


For the Meatballs:

Gently mix  the pork veal, prosciutto, ricotta, pecorino, egg, parsley, mint, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add just enough breadcrumbs to bind. DO NOT compress or overmix, or you will get meatballs the consistency of hockey pucks. You can test the seasoning by taking a teaspoon and cooking it in a frying pan with a knob of butter. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Using a small scoop, put a small ball, about the size of a teaspoon, in your hand and roll a meatball. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the mixture. You should get about 80 small meatballs. They can be made ahead of time. 

For the Soup:

Bring the chicken broth to a  simmer in a large pot. Cook the meatballs in the broth until they float and then cook 1 more minute so they are cooked all the way through. Transfer about 10 mini meatballs to a shallow bowl, add a little broth and cover with plastic wrap to keep warm as you cook off the rest of the meatballs. Strain the broth when done into a medium bowl. Return to a rinsed out pot and return to a medium heat. Add the spinach and allow to wilt, then remove from the heat. Season the soup. 

To Serve:

Divide the meatballs between the serving bowl. Ladle some soup and spinach into each bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, then serve.

Cooking with Hannibal: Rôti

Kudal: a South Indian Curry with a Coconut, Coriander and Chili Sauce

Kudal: a South Indian Curry with a Coconut, Coriander and Chili Sauce

So, we haven’t seen all that much in the way of obvious Indian culinary influence on the show yet. This episode, Hannibal serves Dr. Chilton Kudal, which he describes as a “South Indian Curry with a coconut, coriander and chili sauce.” We can see a bit more clearly what else is on the plate besides the bowl of curry on the fabulous blog of Janice Poon, whose blog Feeding Hannibal details some of her amazing food styling work on the show.

Sketch by Janice Poon of food styling for Kudal on Hannibal

Sketch by Janice Poon of food styling for Kudal on Hannibal

There’s a banana leaf plate. The Kudal, which according to the sketch includes plantains, is in a banana leaf bowl. Also on the plate are some purple yam chips, some Pani Puri balls filled with pomegranate and yogurt, and a rice pilaf. There are also some feathers, berries, moss and chrysanthemum for decoration.

Pani Puri is actually something I wasn’t familiar with until I looked it up and found out it is the Hindi word for Golgappa, a street food/appetizer popular in many areas of India and known by different names depending on where you are in India. Golgappa are little balls of dough that are usually stuffed with a flavoring of some kind. The few I’ve had have usually been stuffed with a tamarind vegetable mixture. In her book Modern Spice, DC-based writer Monica Bhide describes meeting one of her idols, Chef Sanjeev Kapur, and eating some Golgappas with him, stuffed with shrimp, served sitting on top of shot glasses of lavender coconut curry.  She suggests serving store-bought Golgappas filled with mashed potatoes and cilantro on Chinese soup spoons, and eating them while drinking shots of flavored vodka. Here is an adapted version of her recipe from the book, from Leite’s Culinaria. Here, she just describes serving a shot of spiced, chilled buttermilk soup with a stuffed Golgappa balanced on top of the shot glass. I love her Kapur-inspired appetizer idea, since it will finally give me a use for those shot glasses I haven’t pulled out of the back of the cupboard since college. Cheers!

Golgappas stuffed with shrimp, from Monica Bhide, via Leite's Culinaria. Photo by Leite's Culinaria.

Golgappas stuffed with shrimp, from Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice, via Leite’s Culinaria. Photo by Leite’s Culinaria.

Hot Shots

Recipe adapted from Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice, via Leite’s Culinaria


For the filling:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and diced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


For the soup:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

10 fresh curry leaves

2 cups buttermilk

1 clove garlic 

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon salt

20 large, store-bought golgappas

For the filling:
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer add the mustard seeds. As the seeds begin to sizzle, add the garlic. Saute for a few seconds, until the garlic begins to change color. Add the chile flakes, turmeric, and shrimp, and cook for 2 minutes, or just until the shrimp are no longer translucent. Do not overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well, remove from the heat, and set aside.
For the soup:
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers and then add the mustard, cumin, and fenugreek seeds, and the curry leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few seconds, until the seeds begin to splutter. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Pour the buttermilk into a blender. Add the spice mixture, garlic, turmeric, and salt. Blend until the mixture is fairly smooth. There will be a few tiny pieces of curry leaves—this is fine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until cold. Pour 2 tablespoons of the soup into each shot glass. Fill each golgappa with about 2 teaspoons of the filling. Place a golgappa on top of a shot glass and serve.

On Alinea Baby

alineababyFor those of you who have missed the Alinea Baby incident, here’s a brief sum-up. Chef of high-concept Chicago restaurant Alinea (think 4-hour, $350+ a head meal) heard a screaming baby in the dining room from all the way in the kitchen. He sent a frustrated tweet, pondering banning babies from the restaurant, since the baby was ruining everyone else’s experience.

Sometimes we take our son out to a restaurant. This face is why we feed him at home, before we dine out.

Sometimes we take our son out to a restaurant. This face is why we feed him at home, before we dine out.

This has prompted a huge debate in the restaurant world (and an awesome parody twitter account, @Alineababy. Should babies be banned from restaurants? Just from high-end restaurants? Funnily enough, my husband, chef Ed Hardy, and I have a 7 1/2-month-old son, who is just a little younger than the Alinea baby. But we’ve also both worked in restaurants and had to tolerate the occasional loud/demanding parent with their obnoxious kids. We took our debate over to Food Republic and gave our take on dining out with baby, as a culinary couple. Check it out and let us know your thoughts in the comments section!


Cooking with Hannibal: Buffet Froid

Hannibal slices some Jamon Iberico

Hannibal slices some Jamon Iberico

The sight of Hannibal handling a very sharp knife makes me a little nervous. However, in this episode he was just using it to slice some Spanish ham – Jamon Iberico. Whew. That’s a relief.

Slicing Jamon Iberico

Slicing Jamon Iberico

As you can see up-close, Jamon Iberico is superfatty. It’s a delicious cured pork product that is sort of like a firmer, less sweet prosciutto. And Spanish. In case you have a gazillion dollars to drop on an entire jamon iberico (if you do, invite me over, pretty please?), here are a few tips on how to carve it, as an excerpt, with some edits from a funny article in The Guardian on How to Be a Jamon Carver.


1. Fix ham to the carving stand, with the hoof facing away from you.

2. Start by carving the babilla. Make a cut around the hoof near the top joint of the foreleg. Remove rind on one side. Remove excess fat and keep it for wrapping the ham when finished.

The babilla is the rump end of the ham, where the meat contains the most fat. La babilla is the part delimited between the femur bone and the coxal, and contains less meat than the part of the maza, which is the thicker, rump half of the ham, where the meat is most lean. It is recommended to start cutting ham in this part in order to preserve and to take advantage of the ham piece.

3. Use a long carving knife to make thin slices. The cut must be straight and parallel to the bone. Carve from punta to hoof. The carved area must be clear of skin and yellow layers of fat.

The punta is the hip, or the opposite part of the hoof. This part has a lot of fat and therefore is one of the more tasty parts of the ham.

4. When near the hip bone, cut around it with a preparation knife. Turn ham over to cut the maza. Keep applying the same technique, including the cut around the hip bone in the punta.

5. When there are no more big slices left, trim the fat around the hip and start slicing this part. Trim the rind around the first cut. Below, there is a darker meat, which has a rich flavour.

6. Serve as soon as possible, at room temperature. A good tip to help enjoy all the flavour from the ham is to place the slices on a warm plate.


Slices of Jamon Iberico. Image from

Slices of Jamon Iberico. Image from

For us mere mortals, you can buy the stuff sliced to order at online stores like LaTienda or in person at stores like Despaña in New York.

There is really no need for a recipe here. Toast some baguette slices. Add slices of jamon. Swoon at the decadence. Repeat until all the jamon is gone. Then cry.

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