Prune Cookbook: Sesame Biscuits
Have you ever been to Prune in NYC's East Village? Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef/owner. I had read her book Blood, Bones and Butter quite a while back and truly enjoyed the story of her career...and her blunt honesty in telling it. It's a fun read.
Prune is a smallish restaurant and Hamilton's food is a surprising mixture of innovation and simplicity. Put it on your restaurant list if you're going to visit NYC.
My daughter is a big fan, knows Gabrielle, eats there often and received a signed Prune cookbook for Christmas. I read it through, took some bad photos with my phone and decided to make a couple recipes for the blog.
But first, I want to show you what the cookbook looks like, as it's quite unique and unexpected. The pages have punch holes in them looking as though they've been photographed directly from Gabrielle's personal loose leaf binder..they're splattered with food stains and handwritten notes are scattered throughout, with amounts for doubling and tripling the recipes in bold yellow strips. Take a look:
And look at this simple sandwich recipe...Bacon and Marmalade on Pumpernickel. To quote Ina: how easy is that?
You'll find Gabrielle's book is filled with unusual offerings, some so simple you wonder why it was even included in the book (like the above recipe) and others so off the wall you'd never attempt them. But there are a lot of gems in there too. Altogether, an eccentric cookbook, much like the author herself.
I chose the Sesame Biscuits as I'd never seen a recipe quite like it. When I mixed the flour into the red wine mixture, it looked more like a mud pack for your face than dough. I nearly dumped it right then (how could this turn out well?) but persevered. And another puzzle: the amount of sugar in the recipe...is this an appetizer? A cookie?
After baking, I found they did taste slightly sweet, but interestingly, all those toasted sesame seeds are the predominate flavor. The cinnamon and wine are only slightly noticeable and I thought they were quite good. However, I think I would serve them with wine rather than tea. Especially since Gabrielle introduced this recipe alongside a milk punch recipe.
From Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cups flour
1 cup sesame seed, toasted
Set oven to 350.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and olive oil until dissolved and creamy.
Add the baking powder, baking soda, pinch of salt, cinnamon and red wine. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
Stir in the flour and beat vigorously until the dough comes together, then knead by hand a moment to a smooth consistency.
Scoop 1 inch balls of dough and roll into perfect spheres between the palms of your hands, then press each cookie between thumb and forefinger to make a thick puck shape.
Dip in toasted sesame seeds to fully coat and lay on a parchment-lined sheet pan. If you have difficulty getting the sesame seeds to stick, mist them super gently with the water before tossing in the sesame seeds.
Bake for 20 minutes.