PRUNE; A loving tribute by Chef Liza
Last week the New York Times published a heartfelt piece written by the chef and owner of Prune, a small, independent restaurant in the East Village of Manhattan. For those who are not familiar with her, Gabrielle Hamilton is not only an award-winning chef who has been at the helm of a Manhattan restaurant for 20 years. She is also an incredible writer, teacher, and mentor, a person with strong character and conviction.
I know all this because I had the privilege to work with her for over a year during my early culinary pursuits. Working at Prune has left a profound impact on my life. Not only with how I cook and my respect for ingredients, but I think most importantly, with the relationship I have with my staff and the people who surround me in the kitchen. Gabrielle is one of the most gracious people with whom I have worked. Her work ethic, passion, her narrative behind everything she does is admirable.
The New York Times piece, My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World, is a beautifully written account of the challenges the restaurant industry faces. It is heartbreaking and hopeful. I wanted to share a few of my favorite recipes with you all so you can enjoy the simple satisfaction of a meal from Prune.
Note: these recipes are from Gabrielle’s cookbook Prune, published in 2014. The recipes are written with her line cooks in mind, so adapt the best methods for your home kitchen.
Shaved Celery, Fennel, and Radish Salad with Buttered Valdeon Toasts
1 head celery, tough outer stalks removed, well rinsed
2 medium heads fennel, stalks, and fronds removed
2 bunches scallions (approximately 15 pieces), root ends removed and first outer layer peeled off with your fingers
⅓ pound sugar snap peas, stem removed and the thread at the seam peeled
2 bunches red radishes, tops removed and well washed
5 fresh sticky garlic cloves, peeled
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces Valdeon cheese, crumbled or shaved (Cambozola is a great substitute)
4 ounces sweet butter, room temperature
4 long thin slices of fresh peasant bread
With a sharp knife, thinly slice the celery and then the fennel and toss together. Sliver the scallions and sugar snap peas on a bias and add to the fennel and celery. With a sharp knife or a mandoline, thinly slice the radishes and add to the salad.
Grate the garlic on a microplane. Mix together garlic, oil, and lemon juice and dress the salad—season with salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Let stand.
Toast the bread slices and spread each with an ounce of butter. Divide the cheese among the four buttered toasts.
Toss and taste the salad again before portioning, add salt if necessary. Plate with the Valdeon toasts.
** You want a bright, assertive, unafraid dressing on clean, crunchy, crisp and lively vegetables.**
Grilled Head-on Shrimp with Anchovy Butter
12 giant, head-on shrimp (10/20 count)
6 anchovies packed in oil
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
½ pound cold sweet butter, cut into ½ - inch cubes
In wide deep-sided saute pan, add anchovies and a few drops of their oil and set over medium heat. Let the anchovies sizzle and start to fry a little and dry out. Mash them and break them apart with your whisk until they disintegrate completely into a coarse paste. Continue to cook until the mashed anchovies are toasted, very dry, and dark brown in color. Whisk in cream, which will sizzle and bubble and start to reduce immediately. Shut the burner off!
The cream is there as a stabilizer to facilitate the slightly tricky mounting in of the cold butter. Don’t be tempted to use more cream than called for because it quickly dulls this rich, briny butter sauce into a salty cream sauce, which is not what we are after.
Vigorously whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time. Stay near the heat of the pilot light, but do not open up a burner - it will break your sauce.
Pour into a bowl and reserve.
Lay dry shrimp on the hot section of the grill. Brush the shrimp on both sides with a few strokes of the anchovy butter. Turn once or twice during cooking, until the shells have nicely charred spots and the liquids in the heads are bubbling.
2-3 per order
Stacked attractively, heads up, on plate
1-ounce ladle of anchovy butter pooled over them
Full branch leafy parsley
Sugared Ripe Peaches on Buttered Toast
Dead-ripe peach, skin off
Toast one slab of bread under the sally (broiler) on both sides. Butter well, “wall to wall.”
Slice peach and arrange on buttered toast while still warm. Use one whole peach per order.
Sprinkle liberally with sugar, but don’t create “snowdrifts”–just enough to season and texture. Set on a plate.
Chef Liza Greifinger
Your Guide to Our Culinary Trip Around the World
Growing up in New York, surrounded by the flavors of the world, Liza developed a love for food and cooking. After a fulfilling career in outdoor education, she decided to explore her passion for food. Liza studied at The French Culinary Institute and then trained with some of the top chefs in New York City before being drawn to the mountains of Colorado. She joined the team at Food Lab, in Boulder, in the spring of 2016. There she teaches cooking skills and technique to all ages as well as curriculum development for the educational programs.