Not only is Gabrielle Hamilton’s debut cookbook packed with inspiration, it’s a damn delightful read. We’d expect nothing less from the idiosyncratic chef/writer, whose Blood Bones & Butter was a page-turner. But it’s all the more impressive in this case because the cookbook for her classic New York restaurant doesn’t have a lick of prose. Not an intro, not a headnote — nada.
Instead, Hamilton’s illustrative verbal abilities and conversational culinary wit show themselves in the body of her recipes. Her descriptions are instructive and often evocative: “Take the cheese past gooey, melted, and flabby, please; get golden brown blisters on it,” she writes. “Fold in half. Set on a plate. Let the contents reveal themselves a little, so it looks luscious.”
We love Prune (fiercely, eternally) because a meal there always includes a combination of comfort and innovation, of elegance and un-fussiness. This balance is hard to achieve, and you’ll find that her cookbook sashays between each pole with grace and ease.
We love Hamilton because she’s a vegetable wizard, too, with proper reverence for age-old, peasant-style recipes from Italy and France (artichokes barigoule! cardoons! braised cabbage!). And she loves caraway and aioli. And she’s the author of the only roast chicken recipe to ever rival Zuni Café’s roast chicken with bread salad (Hamilton’s bread heels and pan drippings salad).
Get it, tuck it on your shelf, and don’t forget to take it out for inspiration, at least once a season. Something delicious will undoubtedly come of it.