Sheila Lukins rise to foodie fame is documented in this morning's New York Times obituary. She was my food goddess -- unlike so many who were enamored of Julia Child, I loved Sheila Lukins and happily visited her store nearly thirty years ago on a trip to NYC. Those chutneys were amazing.
A graduate from the Cordon Bleu School in London, she moved back to New York and her first commercial venture into The Big Apple's cookery scene was The Other Woman Catering Company. Her motto, "So discreet, so delicious and I deliver." was pretty risque but also very successful in attracting her target demographic -- New York bachelors who needed a little help navigating the waters of the at home dinner party.
I bought my first Silver Palate cookbook in 1982 because I was bored with the basics. Page 127 - Pot Roast, "A perfect Sunday supper." Page 331 - Mimosa, "A splendid way to begin the day." From straight talk about asparagus to the pasta glossary, I learned about new American cuisine and incorporating elegance into casual meals. Sheila Lukins made me want to be a better cook. Some recipes went better than others and I'm still learning. At 66 years old, she died too young. She had a lot of cooking left to do. After all these years, I still haven't gotten around to cooking all the recipes in the original Silver Palate cookbook.
That's why I started this blog tonight. Yes, I've seen Julie and Julia and no, I don't mean to be a copy cat. For one thing, I won't be using the F-bomb, even though my food goddess was a totally modern Millie and I'll bet it wouldn't phase her if I did. For another, there's no time limit on this and no guarantee that the only thing I'll write about will be the recipes in Sheila Lukins' cookbook.
A couple of weeks ago, I was notified that I'd won first prize in the one and only recipe contest I ever entered. It was sponsored by the US Highbush Blueberry Council. I might share food secrets taught me by my late mother-in-law, my long dead grandmothers, Italian on my mother's side, French-Canadian on my father's, and other assorted good cooks who have inspired my love of making yummy things.
But for tonight I'll toast Sheila Lukins' life with a classic Champagne Cocktail from page 330, using raspberries picked fresh from our backyard garden ... just because.
1 ounce Cognac
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
6 ounces Champagne, chilled
Mix together Cognac and Grand Marnier in a goblet, fill with Champagne, and garnish with raspberries.