It's time for the roundup of Cook the Books' Club June-July 2019 edition
for which we read the memoir Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton.
Inspired by the fact that Hamilton is chef / owner of the NYC restaurant Prune
, I decided to present our club's contribution as a menu. For each, I will give you the official information (author, blog name and post title) and a quote from it — a taste that will entice you to follow the link and read the author's take of the book and how the reading inspired the cooking.
Cook the Books Club's BB&B-Inspired Menu
Herbed Olives, Hummus and Whole-Grain Spicy Mustard
Orecchiette with Pesto
Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)
Roasted Rack of Lamb
Harissa Roasted Eggplant and Shrimp
Abruzzo Style Swiss Chard & Cannellini Beans
Green Bean and Torpedo Onion Salad
Make yourself comfortable, then enjoy the meal.
"I loved this book, found it a truly enjoyable read!... Gabrielle carries us along with her, from the beginning of her interest and contact with food prep, watching her French mother, through years of camp cooking and catering, to the opening of her own unique little restaurant in New York City. Her stint with various catering companies would certainly put one off ordering from them, by the way... There was also a drink mentioned frequently, in various places throughout the book, a Negroni, for which Hamilton does give a recipe... [which echoes] the sweet, the bitter and the sadness of their marriage."
"It’s funny revisiting a book seven years later, a book you once professed to love. Age will do that. My reexamination only left me liking the book this go around... Images of Hamilton rooting through her mother’s pantry as she was trying to fend for herself in her early teens also stayed with me. One weekend morning, I found myself preparing three recipes that I thought would pair nicely with this book: Herbed Olives and Hummus and homemade Dijon mustard. It just hit me that perhaps through foraging in the fields around the mill and hungrily searching through leftovers in the home larder that maybe Hamilton might have found some sustenance making something similar."
"[Hamilton's] stories, descriptive writing and appreciation for good food and the craft of cooking make for an entertaining memoir that, although a bit uneven in places, had me readily following along on her journey... I went for the celery toasts. They sounded fun, and retro and perfect with a glass of wine. Plus, I didn't want to make/use blood or bones in a recipe, so that left butter from the book's title 😉 ... I thought that I would like these based on the ingredients list alone as I like celery and love blue cheese, toast with butter, lemon and garlic but I wasn’t prepared for how good these little toasts are."
"Hamilton can write... I enjoyed the clarity of the details as well as the vivid imagery she creates. She is also candid about herself and food industry... But, as much as I found her short-tempered and self-absorbed, she is certainly a strong person and I can honor her successes. Finishing the book raised a third question in my mind: given the opportunity, would I eat in her restaurant, Prune
? I think I would. Though I wonder how hard it is to get a reservation there. The parts of the book that appealed to me the most were the descriptions of her trips to Italy and cooking with her in-laws."
Amy was definitely not impressed by the book. "However, there was no shortage for foodie inspiration. I was more inspired by a food mentioned very early on in the book (like the first chapter – I almost quit reading right then and there, but decided to see this one through). She mentioned the Pastitso she enjoyed on those rare occasions when the family got to go out to eat. Having never heard of pastitso, I quickly googled it and found a fascinating Greek version of lasagna. As much as I didn’t love the book, I did love the pastitso! It was amazing!"
"I had never heard of Gabrielle Hamilton before this memoir was assigned. I loved her honesty and transparency throughout the book. I enjoyed her writing style and I love the vision of her American restaurant based on the warmth and comfort she found in various places during her time in Europe.
There is TONS of food inspiration but the first is roasted lamb. Her parents would roast a whole lamb once a year and have a huge party. It is one of Gabrielle's fond memories of a childhood before her family was turned upside down and scattered. Lamb is mentioned several more times in the book in different aspects. Dinner doesn't get much easier than roasted rack of lamb."
"Hamilton’s book is a disjointed memoir. She brings us through her life and references food throughout, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood – showing us how she became the chef she is today. I have no doubt that Hamilton is a great chef. I did not think she was a great writer. While I am always intrigued in learning about a person, learning how they tick, Hamilton did a poor job getting me to care at all about her story... The only part of the book I really enjoyed was the part where Gabrielle spends time in Italy with her now ex-husband’s family... I decided to make something inspired by the eggplant with harissa and caraway she described. "
"Reading this memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton, a fellow Pennsylvanian, was a treat... Some of my favorite chapters were her interactions with her mother-in-law, Alda. It was clear Alda was beloved by her Italian family and Gabrielle fell in love with her too... As she studied her mother-in-law, and cooked beside her (cooking being a common language of its own) Gabrielle knew she needed to teach her young sons, Marco and Leone, about their Italian side. About kindness and respect... I was inspired to prepare... a rich meaty eggplant dish with the appropriate accompaniments."
"Reading the book, and particularly the pages devoted to her in-law family, I was reminded of my grandmother Amalia from Abruzzo, Italy... [Hamilton's] description of Alda's cooking particularly rang true. She writes: 'Her food is so simple and prepared with such dispatch that it is almost unnecessary to speak of recipes, and wrangling one from her is more of a poetic than a didactic encounter.'... Sounds exactly like my own experience in collecting grandmother's recipes, but in her case, by dint of persistence I persuaded her to go back and measure after putting out her ingredients so now I have many of them for passing on to family."
"Hamilton's writing and storytelling style makes for an easy reading and the events she narrates with more details are well chosen... My favorite part is when she describes her boss and mentor Misty for which she worked while in graduate school in Ann Arbour, MI... Once the book moves to Italy, a lot of what Hamilton recounts sounded familiar... I remembered my first vacation away from my family... in Calabria. A lot of the foods I ate were either new or prepared differently from the way my mother prepared them. The latter group included green beans, which my friend's mother boiled and dressed like a salad, but with the addition of red onion from Tropea."
A great Thank you! to everyone who joined in this edition of Cook the Books.
I believe all the submissions I have received are presented in the roundup. However, mishaps are part of life, so if you find anything missing or in need of amendment anywhere in the roundup, please do let me know.
And now, I’ll turn things over to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen
who is hosting the August-September edition in which we are reading the The Food Explorer
by Daniel Stone.
Arrivederci a presto!