Todd Coleman It's possibly no exaggeration to say that my mother-in-law Alda's Sunday lunch is a full third of the three things I like about being married to my Italian husband. Friedman and I are not alone in our accolades for Prune. In the book, Hamilton recalls her childhood, growing up on a farm and next to the apron of her gentle, nurturing mother, who instilled in her girl the feral pleasures of food: But what followed was no fairy tale: The whole family—her six children and the spouses and the grandchildren—had arrived in a swarm, and soon the small mob was casually dispersed throughout the many rooms of the grand apartment, relaxed and just hanging out. Mastering new dishes is helping me gain confidence; building up a culinary arsenal increasingly feels like part of some grand plan. So when word spread earlier this year that she was releasing a follow-up to Blood, Bones and Butter, and that it would be a cookbook, the cult of Prune myself included began pounding its cutlery on the table, wanting it NOW.
For the inaugural lunch, I composed a menu with Alda in mind and shaped it around what I thought she might cook. For a time, it worked. As a shy kid I grew up hating Sundays, with the week and all of its anxieties looming in the front window, just ahead. He smiled at me in exactly the right way, the way that says "Let's forget it," and poured me a glass of the Sassicaia, a ruby incredibleness, which made a direct warm path to my heart. Just by cranking the oven to degrees and leaving them in for a little longer than the package instructions advise, he had made a truly delicious lunch, which is one way of salvaging store-bought frozen pizza—and tradition—that I will forever remember. The book was a smash, and put Hamilton and her bold, internationally inspired kitchen in the global spotlight. Each Sunday afternoon for the past few months I've picked a new recipe, bought the ingredients, and spent the day cooking away quietly, peacefully, building up strength for the week ahead. Cooking with Economy and Grace, says that the bestseller, based on another thrifty masterpiece, MFK Fischer's How to Cook a Wolf , is rooted in "the idea that nothing should be wasted, that cooking well is built upon a deep, preservative impulse. Story continues below advertisement Maggie Wrobel is an editor with Globe Arts. Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess Apron Anxiety is the hilarious and heartfelt memoir of quintessential city girl Alyssa Shelasky and her crazy, complicated love affair with There are chemicals produced by Dow stashed under our kitchen sink. Surrounded by foodies yet unable to make a cup of tea, she was displaced and discouraged. I'm starting a tradition, I said. If you stroll into the kitchen where she is arranging the food and snitch a sliver of prosciutto from a platter, she smiles and does not scold you. I also planned a simple bagna cauda of sweet red cabbage wedges, elevated by warm anchovy butter. Prune, the restaurant, also won Hamilton the James Beard Award for best chef in New York the same year Blood, Bones and Butter was published, while the book won the James Beard Award for writing and literature the following year. Unlike many other cookbooks, it doesn't talk down to you. And then this man—amore mio—pulled the pizza out of the forno; the otherwise doughy, bad bread basket type of crust had become extra crisp and the flabby cheese had become nutty and concentrated. I've been to a dozen of Alda's Sunday lunches by now. I heard voices way downstairs. If you doze in the big leather chair for a few minutes after the meal, she picks up the magazine that has slipped from your lap and sets it next to you on the table. By the back door, I noticed, he had stacked the broken chair into a neat bundle of kindling, to be put out later with the garbage. Prune gets its name from Hamilton's much-loved year-old East Village bistro, which, in turn got its name from the nickname Hamilton received from her mother as a child. I did not uncross my arms from in front of my chest. Friedman and I are not alone in our accolades for Prune.
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David Chang, Gabrielle Hamilton & Tom Colicchio on Their Earliest Cooking Memories
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