The angle: Quite literally Prune's daily restaurant playbook, complete with handwritten notes and plating instructions for service.
Recipes for right now: Farmhouse Chicken Braised in Hard Cider, Pear Tarte Tatin, Italian Wedding Soup, Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Cold Candied Meyer Lemon, Banana Bread, Fried Oyster Omelette with Tabasco Slurry
Who would enjoy this book? Top Chef junkies, aspiring line cooks.
• Who wrote it: Gabrielle Hamilton
• Who published it: Random House
• Other highlights: This cookbook snuck up on me. I started off extremely skeptical: "Handwritten" notes and faux food splatters? How...cute. But then a good friend all but ordered me to spend some time with the book. She told me to clear the afternoon, make a mug of tea, and actually read it page by page. And darnit, if she wasn't right.
The Prune cookbook seems to be a fairly straightforward reprint of the actual restaurant recipes that are no-doubt currently living in a 3-ring binder on a shelf in the Prune kitchens. It's a challenging bunch of recipes for home cooks — not because the recipes are all that complicated or chef-y, but because Hamilton talks to you like a line cook. She expects a certain amount of knowledge and confidence in the kitchen. Rather than spending time explaining how to tell when onions are done or how to whip cream, she focuses on the more nitty-gritty details that make the dish taste and look great. For an eager, ambitious home cook, Prune is a real education.
As I read through (page by page as instructed), I also developed a growing appreciation for Hamilton as a chef and a person. She'll include a note about mixing scallions into a topping by hand because mixing in a blender "makes the mixture spongy and weird," and in another recipe, to "crush the tomatoes vaguely with a spoon." I love it. She gives you just enough information to succeed without micromanaging every detail.
So! If you're unsure about this book, I will give you the same advice I was given: clear an afternoon, make some tea, and read it through starting with the very first page. And then, by all means, get yourself into the kitchen.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.