Saturday, October 10, 2009

Review: The Silver Palate



Before there was a Food Network, Iron Chef, or even a Martha Stewart magazine, there was The Silver Palate. Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins may not be classical chefs, and they did not revolutionize restaurant cooking like Alice Waters or Thomas Keller, but they did more to change the way Americans cooked in their homes than anyone since Julia Child first trussed a chicken on t.v.

While much of the text and many of the recipes seem dated, it bears remembering that The Silver Palate was in the vanguard of America’s food revolution. This book was first published in 1979, which explains why the authors had to advocate the use of olive oil and explain things like raspberry vinegar, Gruyere cheese, and pesto.

Silver Palate recipes are not wildly innovative. Rosso and Lukins used a lot of old-timey, Junior League-type recipes and gave them enough New York City gloss to appeal to a new generation of home cooks. They simplified classics, gussied up gloppy casseroles, and tapped into the trend for high-quality fresh ingredients, creating a collection of recipes that are the kitchen standards of today.

OTHER REVIEWS

If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


NOTE

This was my cookbook choice for the Spice of Life Challenge and my "silver" choice for the Colorful Reading Challenge.

10 comments :

jlshall said...

I always loved Silver Palate, even though I've never been much of a cook. I pulled out my old copy just now and found a piece of paper towel marking the page with the Rice and Vegetable Salad recipe that I used to make for faculty parties. Now that was a long time ago! Thanks for nudging me into a little walk down memory lane.

And I was sorry to hear that Sheila Lukins died recently. So sad.

Rose City Reader said...

Joy -- Yes, reading this book made me horribly nostalgic. As much as Joy of Cooking, this is the book that taught me to cook. I mean like the day-in-day-out put dinner on the table kind of cooking that really builds memories.

I didn't know that Lukins died. I always think of both of them looking like they do on the back of this cookbook -- never growing older or getting sick.

Marie said...

Yeah. I have an old copy passed down from my mother in law, and it seemed very 70s to me. The recipes seemed difficult and/or time consuming- sort of special occaisony but old school. I never really use it. I got a great cake recipe in cooking school that was supposedly based on one of theirs but I couldn't even find it in the book.

Rose City Reader said...

Marie -- It seems very '80s to me, but that is because that was when I cooked from it the most. I was surprised to see a number of easy cake recipes (easy, to me, meaning no separating the eggs and beating the whites). I am planning on trying some.

Caitlin said...

I had a used copy of this when I was in college. I can't remember if I ever cooked anything from it, but I have vivid memories of reading it (I read cookbooks like novels). I think I have to look for it again if only for the nostalgia!

Rose City Reader said...

Caitlin -- My biggest reaction to reading this book was overwhelming nostalgia! It's nice to know that someone else reads cookbooks like a book. I occasionally read one cover to cover, like this one, and enjoy it tremendously.

Suko said...

I'll bet it's very enjoyable to read this cookbook. Thanks for your review!

I used to get a very delicious red raspberry dressing made by the Silver Palette, but no longer see it at the market.

Rose City Reader said...

Thanks Suko! I had forgotten about their products until I read the cookbook. I don't think the store is around anymore, so the products must be gone too.

Rebecca Reid said...

I love the idea of NOT widely innovative. I love the new cookbooks but to be honest sometimes they scare me with the on-edge techniques. This sounds good and traditional!

Thanks for the review!

Rose City Reader said...

RR -- Thanks for the note and for hosting the fantastic Spice of Life Challenge!

It is funny to think of the Silver Palate as being "traditional" because it was trying to be innovative (innovative with old standbys, at least) 30 years ago. But now those innovations are the traditions. For example, Julia Child (or my Nebraska Grandma) never made a "mini" quiche, but after 30 years of wedding receptions and graduation parties, mini quiches seem ubiquitous. Thanks, in large part, to Silver Palate, I think, for introducing the idea to home cooks. That's a random example that stuck in my head after reading the book.

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