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Home Cooking

prune cookbook

wonderwoman | Nov 23, 201401:08 PM     10

since i enjoyed gabrielle hamilton's memoir, "blood, bones & butter," so i've been looking forward to this cookbook.

however, i just had a look and i don't know where to begin. truth is, it's not really a cookbook, but rather a copy (literally) of the loose-leaf recipe bible restaurant cooks use in the kitchen, complete with notes and food stains.

i mention the loose-leaf aspect, because, while beautiful, this book is difficult to navigate. it weighs almost 4 pounds. the layout makes skimming quickly through the recipes nearly impossible (and the table of contents is no help. the listings are almost deliberately vague: aldai? there's a photograph that looks like somebody's grandmother, but no clue as to whose.). there's no index; no effort to scale the recipes (or instructions) for home cooks. no introduction, no voice of the author other than the notes and the extremely specific (often boarding on anal) instructions, which, given her snippy, sarcastic tone, make gabrielle hamilton sound like the boss from hell.

the recipes themselves didn't really grab me; most are to fussy and complicated for home cooks. but, what i did find useful is the chapter called "garbage," which provides a fascinating look at how restaurants put to use what most of us throw away. tossing a parm rind into soup is nothing new. but, using rinds to make parm broth? i keep leek tops in the freezer for making stock, but, simmering slivered leek tops in the parm broth to make stracciatella? might have to try that, even if i have no leek tops in the freezer and have to substitute, say, baby spinach.

i was also intrigued by how they mix leftover cheese scraps with butter for create a cheese spread, although i have no idea what differentiates "raw, burning garlic cloves," and plain old garlic cloves. and since i used a lot of cauliflower, i'm eager to try out what they do with cauliflower hearts.

in the chapter on kitchen prep, her technique for making stock (she sautés the aromatics in a fair amount of butter) sounds interesting.

all in all, it's certainly worth a look, though i don't know that it's worth $45 -- i borrowed a copy from the library.

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