In Memory of The Silver Palate's Sheila Lukins

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"She introduced me and millions of others to capers and balsamic vinegar and crème fraîche."

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Julia Moskin has a pretty good obituary about The Sliver Palate's Sheila Lukins in today's New York Times. What is your favorite Silver Palate recipe? Mine is her puréed broccoli with creme fraiche, which my wife just loves.

I can't say I knew Shelia well. I would see her at parties and restaurants and exchange small talk. But when we first met, I told her my wife and I still used the Silver Palate cookbooks on many occasions, especially when having company over for big meals like Thanksgiving. She seemed to appreciate that, though I'm sure she had heard it a million times from people.

I also spent way more money than a fledgling late-1970s New York City professional making $150 a week should have at the Silver Palate store. The food struck me as ridiculously expensive, but, man, was it good, so I gladly spent half my meager paycheck there on more than one occasion.

Sheila Lukins, along with Julie Rosso, her writing and business partner for the Silver Palate cookbooks, were sort of a precursor to Rachael Ray, though Sheila was a much more of a serious and accomplished cook. She introduced me and millions of others to capers and balsamic vinegar and crème fraîche. But like Rachael, she recognized the time constraints professional women are under as they try to cook for family and friends after working the whole day.

Shelia empowered working women in the same way Rachael does. She just did it in a more sophisticated way.

In honor of Sheila, I just might have to make chicken marbella one day this week. Though I don't really care for it, it's probably the most famous dish Sheila ever created. On second thought, I think I will make Sheila's broccoli soufflé instead.