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Anna N

Prune -- The Book

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A few days ago a friend brought me a copy of Gabrielle Hamilton's book Blood, Bones and Butter. I admit that I had no idea who Hamilton was and I've never heard of her restaurant, Prune, in New York City. So I graciously said thank you and took the book home. Can't say that I was anxious to dive into it but the polite thing to do was to at least open it. That was my first mistake. I barely moved from my perch until I reached the end of it.

As I often do when I find a book or an author who captures my imagination I googled for more information. That was my second mistake. She had just released another book. Prune is a collection of recipes for the dishes served at her restaurant by the same name.

It is designed to appear similar to the binders kept in most restaurant kitchens. In the hardcopy version there are stains on the pages, the appearance of masking tape added, shadows of the holes left by the three rings, etc. so the hardcopy is designed to make the reader feel much more like a line cook than a home cook. That is all to say that my third mistake was buying the Kindle edition where all of this is absent.

Nevertheless the book has me spellbound once again. There in no introduction, nor any head notes to the recipes as Hamilton considers Blood, Bones and Butter to serve these and other functions found in most cookbooks designed for the home cook. So if you have not read her other book you may find yourself somewhat disoriented although it certainly isn't necessary in order to understand the recipes.

I have not cooked anything from the book but there are many very approachable recipes in it. I certainly intend to cook from it but for the moment I am just enjoying a very different reading experience.

So has anyone else purchased this book? If so, please share your thoughts.

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I looked at it at a bookstore for 30 minutes and really liked the approach of the book as a "binder to the line cooks" but at least for me the recipes itself weren't really inspiring enough to buy the book. They sound OK but nothing unusual or something I haven't seen similar in other cookbooks. I think I am getting more and more selective about buying cookbooks and either buy a book because it has either a specific regional approach (some country or better part of a country and its culinary recipes) or a chef/restaurant driven cookbook (by a restaurant/chef which has an unique "culinary voice" or technical approach). Both didn't really cover Prune which seems to be a nice neighborhood restaurant based on the recipes.

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I loved "Blood, Bones and Butter." Just a great read. Hamilton's childhood and teen years were an astonishing mix of magical and scary. I don't buy many cookbooks for myself, but I'm going to ask for Prune this holiday season.

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I looked at it at a bookstore for 30 minutes and really liked the approach of the book as a "binder to the line cooks" but at least for me the recipes itself weren't really inspiring enough to buy the book. They sound OK but nothing unusual or something I haven't seen similar in other cookbooks. I think I am getting more and more selective about buying cookbooks and either buy a book because it has either a specific regional approach (some country or better part of a country and its culinary recipes) or a chef/restaurant driven cookbook (by a restaurant/chef which has an unique "culinary voice" or technical approach). Both didn't really cover Prune which seems to be a nice neighborhood restaurant based on the recipes.

Thanks for sharing. I think it appealed to me for the very reasons that it did not appeal to you! I am so glad we are all so different.

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I have both. I specifically got a paper copy of Prune rather than an ebook, because it looked like a format that wouldn't translate well. And I like the fact that the recipes are way more approachable than most restaurant cookbook recipes. I think the first one I'm going to try is the pumpkin in ginger beer with yeast...as soon as I can find a source for the yeast. I have all kinds of other yeast in the house, but not the nutritional version!

 

Never mind that the cookbook itself is so much fun to sit down and read like a novel!

 

(And also check out the book section of today's NY Times: the By The Book column is with Gabrielle Hamilton! http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/books/review/gabrielle-hamilton-by-the-book.html?ref=books

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I have both. I specifically got a paper copy of Prune rather than an ebook, because it looked like a format that wouldn't translate well. And I like the fact that the recipes are way more approachable than most restaurant cookbook recipes. I think the first one I'm going to try is the pumpkin in ginger beer with yeast...as soon as I can find a source for the yeast. I have all kinds of other yeast in the house, but not the nutritional version!

 

Never mind that the cookbook itself is so much fun to sit down and read like a novel!

 

(And also check out the book section of today's NY Times: the By The Book column is with Gabrielle Hamilton! http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/books/review/gabrielle-hamilton-by-the-book.html?ref=books

I read Prune then I read it again and now I am reading every single recipe as if I might cook it. Recipes that do not appeal to me in the slightest still offer up tips and hints or manage to make me smile.

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Don't know the cookbook, but enjoyed the memoir, and love the restaurant. An enduring favorite in NYC

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Don't know the cookbook, but enjoyed the memoir, and love the restaurant. An enduring favorite in NYC

As in no other cookbook that I have read and I have read a lot does the philosophy of the chef comes through quite so well. The way she instructs her line cooks/reader to respect the ingredients, however humble, avoid waste, label and date everything, be frugal when you must and generous when you can, all comes through.

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I haven't had a chunk of time to sit down and read the book cover-to-cover yet, just to dip my nose in here and there. Yesterday, I ran into a reference to "waxing" cauliflower cores (I think it was cores and not stems). The book doesn't have an index, so I can't look up what that means. Is there a recipe for waxed cauliflower? Does it have hair to be removed? What does this mean? (Anna, or someone else who has had more time lately?)

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Sounds like a clever concept, but perhaps annoying to actually use as a cookbook

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I haven't had a chunk of time to sit down and read the book cover-to-cover yet, just to dip my nose in here and there. Yesterday, I ran into a reference to "waxing" cauliflower cores (I think it was cores and not stems). The book doesn't have an index, so I can't look up what that means. Is there a recipe for waxed cauliflower? Does it have hair to be removed? What does this mean? (Anna, or someone else who has had more time lately?)

So I googled and googled and googled with no results that made any sense whatsoever. But using context as my guide I came to the conclusion that a wax is a complimentary dish sent out from the kitchen. It is the only thing that works in my mind to explain the two dishes that use discarded parts of vegetables to make a brand-new dish. Other is zucchini stems.

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Sounds like a clever concept, but perhaps annoying to actually use as a cookbook

May I put forward a theory that I cannot back up at all since I have never worked in a restaurant kitchen. But I suspect that line cooks simply refer to the looseleaf binder but would never take it to their station to follow as they cook. The recipes in Prune are not especially friendly for the home cook. I suspect they are best used in a similar manner. That is one should read through the recipe until all the steps seem logical, gather one's mise and then cook leaving the book where it normally resides. To me it seems very liberating. One's attention is on the food and what it is doing, how it looks, how it smells instead of on the cookbook trying to figure out the next step.

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As luck would have it the library blessed me with Prune and Bitter both on the same day.  I decided to start with Bitter -- the initial dissertation on white grapefruit would sway the heart of any true zombie lover.  However my coworkers and I engaged in a spirited discussion of Prune this afternoon.  I'm told her father has a restaurant near here.

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As luck would have it the library blessed me with Prune and Bitter both on the same day.  I decided to start with Bitter -- the initial dissertation on white grapefruit would sway the heart of any true zombie lover.  However my coworkers and I engaged in a spirited discussion of Prune this afternoon.  I'm told her father has a restaurant near here.

Lucky you having both together. Bitter is on my radar and I may just pull the trigger today. I loved white grapefruit when it was abundant and would eat it as one eats an orange as well as gently broiled with a little brown sugar. I always felt pampered when someone carefully separated the segments from the shell and from each other and presented me with a half grapefruit ready to eat. Ah those days when a grapefruit knife and grapefruit spoons were essential parts of one's bag of tricks.

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Prune was a gift this xmas morning. It's hilarious! I have no trepidation about getting it stained or putting my own notes in it, despite the fact that it is a high-end production on expensive stock and weighs as much as a brick and the chicken that's under it. Only Gabrielle Hamilton could make me want to run to the cupboard for sardines on triscuits. So fun!

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Prune was a gift this xmas morning. It's hilarious! I have no trepidation about getting it stained or putting my own notes in it, despite the fact that it is a high-end production on expensive stock and weighs as much as a brick and the chicken that's under it. Only Gabrielle Hamilton could make me want to run to the cupboard for sardines on triscuits. So fun!

She really does make you want to run into the kitchen and throw your inhibitions out the window. She is in my head now whenever I cook and I can't make her leave. She nudges me about respecting ingredients, about getting all the zest off the lemon not just some of it, about being generous but not extravagant.

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Having a modest Boxing Day cocktail hour with some very old friends and feel compelled to experiment with that signature dish. This is the first time in forever that I have actually gone out to buy triscuits on purpose. My last encounter with a triscuit was in circa 1960 when I nearly choked to death on one. They're good though, at least I remember it that way. Happy Boxing Day to all. A toast to the fox that got away!

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Made a b'day dinner (husband and a friend one day apart) for five last night using three recipes from Prune. Apps included the garrotxa with buttered brown bread and salted onion (thanks to my husband for baking a wonderful dark pumpernickel the other day.) Super good! For a main I did the Farmhouse Chicken Braised in Hard Cider (universally praised) with a side of Roasted Beets with aioli. The recipe for aioli is excellent and seems fool proof. The good news is I have practically a full pint of aioli left over. The bad news is I have a full pint of aioli left over. It's been a long time since I had a book with so many recipes calling to me. And no, I did not use leek bottoms for a table decoration--and I never will! But I'm thinking that it would be fun to go to Prune this spring when I come to NY.

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   My local library had both of these books to my pleasant surprise.

   The memoir was OK IMHO.  It's tough to live up to Bourdain's praise on the cover.  Perhaps if I were female, I might have gotten into it a little more.  I skimmed through some of it, perhaps to revisit at another time.

   The cook book on the other hand really speaks to me.  I'm not saying that most cook books should be like this, but I love the design and quirkiness of it.  Some of the recipes look great too.  I am going to break my sweetbread cherry on one of them.

   Check out "Mind of a Chef" season four.  She's one of the featured chefs.

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I've made a few things from it.  The recipes work, although the book also assumes you know what you're doing.

 

A personal favorite is the celery hearts Victor.

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Just a shout out for Gabrielle Hamilton's recipes. Her apps are always knock outs. I've made the sardines on triscuits and the garrotxa on buttered brown bread that are from the book as well as many others. In the last week I made two of her recipes not in the book but both available on the NYT site:

 

One is the recent recipe in the magazine section for caviar sandwiches--yep, it was a New Year's splurge. The only changes I made were to use a home made white bread instead of the one she suggests, and I made them open face. I forgive her for her attachment to the commercial white breads of her childhood in several of her recipes; I just don't see going out of my way for Wonderbread or Pepperidge Farm when my husband can bake a simple white bread that's delicious.

 

The other one is her recipe for celery toasts with Cambazola from several years ago. It sounds a bit strange at first, but it is great. Again, use a white pullman style bread, good butter, a generous swipe of cambazola (weirdly Hamilton says to slice the cheese--who can slice room temp cambazola?) and then top with finely shaved celery lightly dressed with salt and pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. The toasts disappeared as fast as I could make them. A couple of slices would be a meal, as far as I'm concerned. After all, you've got your carbs, protein and salad all in one.

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On 1/8/2019 at 11:59 AM, Okanagancook said:

The index in a printable format is here

http://prunerestaurant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Prune-Index-Final-2.pdf

 

 

makes it much easier to use.

 

just made the roasted cauliflower again..love it 

 

Fantastic find.

 

The negative reviews on Amazon cite a lot of stuff I can tolerate -- the fake worn look, the little margin notes, etc. What I can't abide is the lack of proper index or contents. I only need one of those and I can make do.

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