I've been enjoying Gabrielle Hamilton's cookbook, Prune, based on the recipes featured in her New York restaurant of that name, and which I checked out from our local library. I didn't renew it though. Bought my very own copy, YES! A fairly hefty tome. And looking forward to trying many more of her recipes, methods and creative ideas.
We at Cook the Books Club had just read and reported on Gabrielle's previous book, a memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter, which led me to check out her cookbook. So glad I did. Gabrielle's background, learning to cook with her French mother, working for various small restaurants, and catering companies, traveling and learning along the way, all informed her unique personal style and conception for Prune.
As per the Publishers:
"A self-trained cook turned James Beard Award–winning chef, Gabrielle Hamilton opened Prune on New York’s Lower East Side fifteen years ago to great acclaim and lines down the block, both of which continue today. A deeply personal and gracious restaurant, in both menu and philosophy, Prune uses the elements of home cooking and elevates them in unexpected ways. The result is delicious food that satisfies on many levels."
I am finding Prune a revelation, written based on the restaurant kitchen binders, meant for her chefs and staff. When reading the recipe instructions, you feel a part of that process and one of the line crew, with her handwritten notes, scolding and encouragement, alongside. All put together with some lovely photography.
The first meal we tried from the book was the above dish of stewed yellow lentils with a side of cardamom-braised Chard. This is the recipe page, just to give you an idea of her style. Note the instruction to not throw away the chard stems.
I followed it pretty much, just substituting from my garden, fresh Pacific spinach (a tropical perennial) for the chard, and eliminating the final sprinkling of "gunpowder". Not having my own sous chef, and in the push to get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time. I do want to try making some gunpowder ahead and use it eventually though. This dish combination was just perfect, a super mix of spices and tastes, so delicious!
The little dollop of condiment on the side was some recently made Pineapple Chutney. We've had quite a few of those babies ripening around here. This post will be shared with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, and with Heather for her August edition of Foodies Read Challenge. Thanks Heather, that gift certificate came just in time to help buy the book!