Take a look at the cookbook collection of anyone on staff at Bon Appétit, and there’s a good chance a copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook is there. And if it’s not on their shelf, it’s definitely on their mother’s shelf, or their mother’s shelf. Ring a bell? How about Chicken Marbella? If you’ve ever had the famed olive and prune dish, then you know what we’re talking about.
Co-authored by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, the first edition of the unassuming soft-cover cookbook debuted in 1982 and introduced American home cooks to simple, approachable, super flavorful dishes that drew on a global palate, while remaining familiar and accessible. It was an immediate hit. Sure the approach sounds like a given today, but Silver Palate was ahead of its time; almost 40 years later, it hasn’t lost an ounce of its relevance.
As winter only continues to get worse (when did polar vortex become a regularly recurring season?) we’re using our monthly Cookbook Club as a chance to turn back to comforting classics while we wait for bright green things (ramps! Peas!) to return to the market. And if we’re going to use February as an excuse to get nostalgic, then there’s no better place to start than the Silver Palate.
Everyone at BA has their favorite recipe from the book, but for me, it’s all about the sour cream coffee cake: the single most important thing I eat all year. It all goes down on Christmas morning (and only on Christmas morning!) as an accompaniment to my family’s very over-the-top gift-giving ritual. Not one of us can recall when or why this tradition began, but I do know that it’s not time to rip apart some shiny paper if the scent of this impossibly moist, perfectly sweet pecan-studded cake isn’t already wafting through the house.
So take my word for it, grab some friends, and join us in honoring this timeless classic at your own Cookbook Club this month. Just be sure that coffeecake makes an appearance at the table. You can be very certain I’ll be bringing it to ours.
Get the recipe: