Monday, August 31, 2009

New York Loses A Gourmet (and Lighthearted) Locavore, Sheila Lukins, 66

A revered member of Manhattan’s food world has died. Sheila Lukins, author of The Silver Palate Cookbook, and other well-known titles, caterer (and fresh food loving locavore) contributed enormously to the New York City and US food scene of the last 25-30 years and to my own recipe repertoire. Lukin stands alongside notable New York City specialty food retailers such as Dean and Deluca and the Zabar family who together and forever transformed the taste buds of millions of New Yorkers (and Americans). Lukins died on Sunday, August 30th. She was just 66 years old and died from brain cancer which was diagnosed in the Spring.

I leafed through my stained, penciled and dog-eared first edition copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook this morning. I think it must have been my first or second cookbook after I graduated from college in 1982 (Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook was my other cooking bible -- both replacing Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook).

I didn’t fully realize it until today, but Sheila Lukins and co-author Julee Rosso really influenced my dinner parties over the years. Simple recipes made with fresh, seasonal (local when available) food. These women understood where fresh and local food comes from -- one of the first illustrations in the book is of a farm! Yes, a farm! Thank you Sheila and may you rest in peace.

These are all of the recipes that I can remember making from The Silver Palate Cookbook for guests and my husband (* denotes good for using fresh, local ingredients). I know I’ll try some of them again in the coming weeks with so many local summer and soon to be early fall ingredients readily available:

Cheese Straws – made with puff pastry and Parmesan cheese - a cocktail party staple in NYC

*Phyllo Trianges with Spinach-Feta Filling - I made a few batches of these in October

*Salmon Mousse – a Silver Palate Classic – I still have my salmon mold for this very rich, but delicious spread

*Crudite Connection – colorful presentation tips using all kinds of veggies that I’ve followed for years

*Layered Vegetable Terrine --- a time consuming pate, but a beauty

Caviar Dip – made with red caviar, cream cheese and sour cream

*Carrot and Orange Soup

*Cream of Watercress Soup

*Curried Butternut Squash Soup – apples are the key to this yummy winner

*Gazpacho Soup

Greek Lemon Soup

*Sweet Black Cherry Soup – I remember when Lee Amato (Torre) made this for my friend Liane’s (Torre Nouri) birthday

*Summer Tomato and Melon Soup – I’ve never made this recipe but will try it soon using local Long Island cantaloupe, cucumbers and fresh mint and tomatoes from my garden

Peasant Vegetable Soup

Spaghetti with Oil and Garlic

*Pasta Primavera Gregory – lots of colorful veggies, prosciutto, and NO CREAM

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

*Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil – a perfect late summer dish with creamy brie cheese -- I'll substitute the brie with a local cheese perhaps from Mecox Dairy and see if my family likes it

Spicy Sesame Noodles - better than Ollie's Noodle shop

*Pesto Sauce – I use pine nuts in place of walnuts and cut the olive oil

*Pesto and scrambled eggs, pesto in mayonnaise

Chicken Dijonnaise

Lemon Chicken

Baked Ham with Glazed Apriocts

Softshell Crabs Almondine -- I forgot about this recipe and have some almonds in the house -- too bad I didn't see this recipe since I made crabs last night

*Bluefish Baked with Apples and Mustard – personally, I cannot stand bluefish but this recipe is “acceptable”

BAKING IN FOIL Chicken with Lemon and Herbs – this is the most used page in the book and a terrific method for in the oven or on the grill cooking

Chili for a Crowd

*One Step Artichokes and Herb Mayonnaise

* Cream of Asparagus Soup

*Ginger Candied Carrots

*Ratatouille – I must have made this recipe or a version of it 20 or 30 times over the years

Creamy Tarragon Mustard Dressing

*Sauteed Apples with Calvados


Orange Cake

Pumpkin Pie – best made with canned not local pumpkin puree!

Crème Brulee -- I'll never forget making this recipe 8 years ago for my now husband the very first time I cooked dinner for him (right after September 11th, 2001). He really loved my dinner and my cooking but said "no thanks" for what he had previously told me was his favorite dessert (good news for my brother-in-law and mother who got ALL of the leftovers).

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