Blood Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton: Harissa Roasted Eggplant and Shrimp


I read Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton to participate in the June/July event at Cook The Books. Gabrielle Hamilton is a chef who owns the restaurant Prune in NYC. This book was rated 3.73 stars on goodreads at the time I made this post. I rated it 2 stars.

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. Parts seemed out of order. Other parts involved huge sidetracks. And truthfully, I found Hamilton irritating.

What the book does have though are food references:

  • Spring lamb roast
  • Dark, briny, wrinkled olives, small birds we would have liked as pets, and cheeses that might well bear Leginnaire-disease
  • Salade nicoise and soup vicyssoise
  • Lime bean salad and the asparagus vinaigrette and the all-butter shortcakes
  • Choux paste eclair swans
  • Pomegranates, pistachios
  • Spiced wine and pigeon pies
  • Yellow peaches and apples
  • Sausages
  • Fresh peas
  • Chocolate-covered graham crackers
  • Italian meat hoagies
  • Tastykake iced fruit pie
  • Sweet Italian sausage sandwich
  • Lime bean and mushroom salad with red onion and oregano
  • Cornicons and hard salami and radishes
  • Pasitsio and moussaka
  • Shirley Temples
  • Pop-tars and frozen French bread pizza
  • Tangerines with preserved lemons and cardamom pods
  • Leftover ratatoulle
  • Sardines on Triscuits with sliced shallots and mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard and milk over chicken breast
  • Gorgeous tall cakes
  • Seafood chimichanga
  • Egg-on-a-roll sandwich
  • Chili and chili burgers and beer
  • Stir-fry and tempeh and tofu
  • Eggs and hashbrowns
  • Hamburger patties and turkey club sandwiches
  • Scrapple, souse, double-yolk eggs, and funnel cake
  • Buche de noel, studded with perfect meringue mushrooms
  • Rosemary aioli, harissa hummus, white bean puree
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheel
  • Bruschetta
  • Hors d’oeuvres shooters
  • Grilled salmon filet on a bed of leek compote with preserved lemon relish
  • Mini-muffins, mini-scones, and mini-quiches
  • White Russians
  • Goat cheese in phyllo dough purses
  • Jerk marinade
  • Corn and beans and mashed potatoes
  • Lentils and lamb leg and fennel salad and roasted cherry tomatoes with bread crumbs
  • Plain spaghetti and plain chicken
  • Tater tots and baked chicken
  • Stinky Vietnamese fish sauce for vegetarian spring rolls
  • Chilled mussels on the half shell with vinaigrette
  • Boney duck wings coated in toasted sesame seeds with curly bitter endive
  • Cold poached sea bass
  • Butterflied and grilled lobsters basted with smoked paprika butter
  • Malted date and a scoop of sweet cream ice cream
  • Bowl of micro-greens lightly dressed with aged balsamic and garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and roasted apricots
  • Baby artichoke ragout
  • Cerviche and Israeli couscous and mushroom duxelle and robbiola cheese
  • Cold smoked chicken in apricot glaze and sirloin strips in molasses black pepper sauce
  • Miniature ham-on-cheddar biscuits
  • Duck proscuitto
  • Filet mignon with horseradish cream and super chunky brownies
  • Pounded veal breast with a blueberry-Frangelico sauce topped with prosciutto, Parmesan, and pine nuts
  • Pho, lemongrass ice cream, macadamia nut tartlets with lime curds, cocnut creams, and passion fruit syrups
  • Shrimp club sandwich on chipotle challah
  • Posole
  • Pumpernickel bread
  • Crepes
  • Italian wedding soup
  • Eggs benedict
  • Sour cream and caraway omelettes
  • Onion tart
  • Pot roast
  • Rye cracker omelette with fried duck skin
  • Rabbit legs in vinegar sauce
  • Beautiful ravioli
  • Prosciutto and arugula sandwiches
  • Negroni
  • Roasted chicken with garlic and rosemary and Dijon mustard and lemons
  • Biscotti
  • Orecchiette and minchiareddhi
  • Red gelatin with whipped cream
  • Tortellini with prosciutto and butter
  • Stuffed and baked tomatoes, cooked with turkey leg with oranges
  • Mortadella sandwich
  • Fried eggplant and boiled beans and boiled zucchini and giuncata cheese
  • Grilled whole fish stuffed with fennel fronds
  • Mozzarella pizza
  • Fried bechamel
  • Peanut butter sandwich
  • CUrried goat
  • Broccoli rabe with pepperoncini and braised rabbit
  • Lobster roll
  • Mojitos
  • Ocotpus with potatoes and onions and a few chilis
  • Eggplant roasted with harissa and caraway. Eggplant smoked with garlic and lemon and parsley. Eggplant fried with eggs and bread crumbs. Eggplant quickly pickled in red wine vinegar and green onions.

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. Every summer Gabrielle, her husband, and their children go to Italy to see her husband’s family. He was born and raised there, so there is a lot of family in the area. They stay with his mother. It is the only part of the book where I felt any sort of spark or any sort of excitement or any true sense of emotion from the author.

During one of Gabrielle’s Italian trips, she takes the lead in cooking. Alda, her mother-in-law, has gotten old and frail. So Gabrielle takes it on herself to feed the family. She goes to the local market square and is disappointed that the only thing she can find is eggplant. She makes tons of different eggplant varieties, from roasted to fried to pickled and smoked. I decided to make something inspired by the eggplant with harissa and caraway she described. And I added shrimp, to make it a full meal. I served it over cauliflower rice. Perfect and keto.

IMG_1803.JPGHarissa Roasted Eggplant and Shrimp


1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp harissa
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
12 oz shrimp, deveined and shelled
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped mint


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, harissa, 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin, and half the salt. Pour it on top of the eggplant and toss together. Spread on a baking sheet so they do not overlap.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Combine the shrimp, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp cumin, the remaining salt, and pepper. Spread on another baking sheet.
  5. After 20 minutes, turn the eggplant 180 degrees. Place the shrimp in the oven also. Bake for 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the eggplant and the shrimp. Toss together in a bowl with the lemon juice and mint.

Serves 4.

Besides Cook The Books, I’m also sharing this with Foodies Read.


8 thoughts on “Blood Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton: Harissa Roasted Eggplant and Shrimp

  1. A lot of food references in that book, though your review doesn’t leave me looking forward to reading it.


  2. I’m anxious to reread this. I remember loving it when I read it after it was first published. I’m interested to see how my perception has changed. (Now, I have to find the book on my overcrowded shelves!) Enjoyed the recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are definitely a lot of inspiring food references in the book. Great choice of recipe! I confess I love eggplant (in fact, I had some for dinner). I will definitely try the pairing with harissa (which I also like a lot). Thank you for participating in this edition of Cook the Books.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great recipe! I do love eggplant, but can’t cook it too often, without a really good disguising recipe, as my husband doesn’t care for it much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds like everyone’s favorite was the time in Italy. I didn’t realize just how much food was in the book until I read your list, wow! Your eggplant looks delicious, I’m a big eggplant fan.


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