50 Women Game Changers in Food: Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins (Week 15)

In 2011, Gourmet released their list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food. I stumbled on this entirely by accident. One week a couple of months ago, I was meal planning, and didn’t have access to my Ina Garten cookbooks. So, I googled the recipe I was looking for and found it on a blog that was making its way through the list (she’s number 39… I’m a little disgruntled that Rachael Ray is higher up than she is). I was inspired to do the same. I need to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and I thought this would be an excellent way to do so.  As I’ve been planning for this, I’ve been flipping through cookbooks, checking out websites and buying new equipment, and I’m excited. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about these game changing women, and introducing myself to recipes I’ve never cooked before.

(And since this entire year-long project will be all recipes I’ve never made before, I can’t promise that everything will turn out the way I want it to. But whether a dish is a winner or an epic fail, I’m going to be completely honest about it.)

Week 15 brings us to Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins.

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Sheila Lukins (November 18, 1942 – August 30, 2009) was born in Connecticut and attended NYU, obtaining a degree in art education. After graduation, she moved to Europe to work in graohic design, and ended up studying at Le Cordon Bleu in London, and then working with Michelin star chefs in France. In 1977, she returned to New York, and opened the Silver Palate with business partner Julee Rosso. Besides running the successful gourmet food store, they also published several cookbooks together, including: The Silver Palate Cookbook, which broke sales records in it’s first year. In 1986, she replaced Julia Child as the food editor for Parade Magazine, and in 1988, she & Julee went their seperate ways, and the Silver Palate was sold. She continued to publish cookbooks on her own, despite suffering a severe cerebral hemorrage in 1991. In 2007, Sheila & Julee reunited to publish a 25th anniversary copy of the Silver Palate Cookbook. In 2009, Sheila was diagnosed with brain cancer. She passed away three months later.

Julee Rosso was born in Michigan in . She graduated from Michigan State with a Bachelors in French, History & Education. She moved to New York two days after graduation, and after turning down a job with the CIA, she began a career in marketing. It was thanks to her work in advertising that she met Sheila, a struggling caterer. She hired her to cater a press breakfast, and the two instantly became friends. In 1976, Julee brought up the idea of opening a store. Sheila was reluctant at first, but Julee managed to talk her into it. After their partnership ended in 1988, Julee remarried and moved back to Michigan. She also continued to write cookbooks, but they were met with mixed reviews, and accusations of plagarism. Julee currently owns the Wickwood Inn, a boutique hotel in Saugatuck, Michigan.

The Silver Palate changed the way New Yorkers (and Americans) ate. Their store provided “high end takeout”. The shop provided delicious, high quality food to people who desired it, but had little time to produce it, and it also influenced the types of foods people were serving. At a time when people entertained serving French classics like duck à l’orange, Sheila & Julee introduced them to foods with big flavors, created with accessible ingredients & modest techniques.

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Potato-Cheese Soup
(Recipe adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook, p. 60)

Ingredients:

  • 4 T. of butter
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of peeled, chopped carrots (about 4 carrots)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1.5 lbs. of potatoes, peeled & chopped (2 large potatoes)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

    1. Melt the butter in a large dutch over medium-low heat. Add carrots & onions, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
    2. Add stock & potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 20-25 minutes.
    3. Puree the soup. You can either put half of the soup in a food processor, puree it, and add it back to the pot. Or, you can use an immersion blender and puree some of the soup in the pot.
    4. Fold in the cheese, stirring till melted, and parsley, and salt & pepper to taste.

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