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"Silver Palate" and "New Basics": Dated? or Worth Keeping?

A friend who is moving abroad gave me a pile of cookbooks (lucky me!) and among them were The New Basics and The Silver Palate cookbooks. I know these books were very popular some time ago (10 years? 15 years?) but to me, upon flipping through them, they seem dated. Am I just being thrown off by the cheesy graphics? Are these books worth keeping? If so, any particular recipes you'd recommend?


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  1. I actually use both of mine. Only made one recipe with one of their products - some vile chicken dish. One of my favorite cookbooks is actually my BH&G "New Cook Book", with the gold cover, from 1965. I use all 3 for basics.

    1. Silver Palate is a classic that is enjoying something of a revival and a new printing. Their Mango Chutney and Chicken Marbella (among others) are permanently in my favorites.

      1. These books fall into a category I call flavor-based books. You really don't need to have much cooking expertise because the recipes rely on a combination of interesting on-the-bold-side flavors and very little on technique-based qualities like texture or subtle hints of flavor. At least that has been my experience with the Silver Palate books.

        That said, I think all books are solid for those kinds of recipes. I particularly like the Full Of Beans Soup, Gingerbread, Chocolate Raspberry Cake a la Simca (sp?), and the vegetable lasagna (really really good). A friend was just telling me that her favorites from the New Basics are the corn cloudcakes and the Sticky Buns.

        I'd keep 'em for sure.

        1. I use the gravlax recipe in New Basics, and do refer to it from time to time - don't have the other one.

          1. I've made Chicken Marbella and Berta's Chopped Liver more times than I can count. I like looking thru their cookbooks, they are well written and have lots of little tips and ideas.

            1. Silver Palate was COTM in November 2007. Here is the link to the mother thread.


              1. Also, you can't beat the Silver Palate for a sociological lens on the 80s. I'd keep them for that alone!

                1 Reply
                1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                  I think both books are worth keeping. I refer to them often especially when I find a recipe and want to compare it to another version of the same dish. The soup section of New Basics is great. I think these are gret books to have in your collection.

                2. I learned to cook with silver palate as a young bride I have not looked at my copy in a few years but I could never part with it. I think I will pull it out today and and refresh my memory.

                  1. There is something comforting about having the three books in jfood's go-to shelf. And every now and then he flips the pages. So yes to your question of should they be kept.

                    Jfood's annual salmon croquette recipe comes from Silver Palate (the one with the Sorrel Mayo, but jfood does not make the mayo). He buys two big cans at Costco and makes up a bunch and then freezes whatever are not eaten while he makes. These are easily the best cakes family jfood has ever eaten. That recipe alones says "keeper."

                    1. I have always loved the Silver Palate, and I'd keep that. It contains some timeless classics, and some great "Sheila" recipes. OTOH, I never "got" The New Basics, which came out about the same time as Julia's much more comprehensive "The Way to Cook," and have never had it in my library, so I'd say give that a toss.

                      1. Have the New Basics....Some wonderful recipes in there...Tarragon Chicken Salad, the Barbeque sauce, etc....Dated, well yes, but so is James Beard and Julia Childs, still some wonderful recipes....

                        1. Definitely worth keeping both. I have a ton of cookbooks, but I actively use both SP and NB.

                          1. I thnk much can depend on your taste in foods, but I do like Silver Palate, and like many other posters, have made Chicken Marbella a ton of times. You've got a happy problem.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: 280 Ninth

                              Thanks, yes I suppose it is a happy problem. I guess I am just one of those opposite-of-packrat people (is there a word for that?) where I don't tend to keep things in the house if I won't use them. Or maybe it's that if I already own X amount of cookbooks, and these count towards the total, does that mean I have to stop buying them? ;-]

                              1. re: mutterer

                                Yes, that means you have to stop buying them. You also have to stop letting people gift you cookbooks. The real Chowhounders on these boards never have more than seven cookbooks. Or maybe seventeen.

                                I learned to use "gift" as a verb on these boards.

                                1. re: yayadave

                                  Or 100 ... I'm amazed at those who say they have 1,000.

                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    My cookbooks are very old. James Beard, Jenny Grossinger, old copy of Joy of Cooking., several NY Times cookbooks, including Craig Clairborn, I purchased several foreign cookbook when I traveled abroad. This is part of my collection. I have not purchased any books and find the internet recipes very helpful.

                                    1. re: yayadave

                                      I guess I"m not a real chow hounder. I have about 200 cookbooks, and have used them all, otherwise they go out to sell or to donate. I do like complicated recipes and a wide variety of ethnic cuisines. as well as US southern and south west. I also like reading the cookbooks for inspiration.

                                    2. re: mutterer

                                      I would say adamantly NO you never have to stop buying cookbooks! I'm over 100 but would not give away my Silver Palate cookbook. Part of the fun of cooking is getting a new book and expanding your horizons -- new cuisines, new techniques, Alice Water's new book, COTM. And having some older ones for occasional reference. (and years of Gourmet magazines though my collection seems to have been made somewhat obsolete by the epicurious website, though I pull out all the old Nov issues at Thanksgiving (and I fear someday they will start to charge)

                                      I have given away or discarded some books people gave me because they were moving, and who needs a mini garlic cookbook (though I love garlic) -- there are many mediocre cookbooks, and those need not take up space in your home, but most of my purchases I am attached to.
                                      If they create a tension with your home companion when they start taking up all available space, well, then you might consider purging. Or changing your living situation.

                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                        I do the exact same thing w/ Gourmet - have them organized by month. A month or so ago my husband asked me if "I really wanted to keep them", and a day later a friend called looking for a 1995 recipe that wasn't on the website and, voila, I had it! I do try to discard some every year or so that I have no idea why or how I acquired them in the first place, and have never used.

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Last month, I went through a purging stage and looked through all of my old Gourmet and Saveur and tore out all the articles/recipes I wanted and put them in my binder. Made some room for some new cookbooks!

                                          Yayadave, I don't agree with your statement that a real Chowhounder never has more than seven cookbooks. There are so many different cuisines I like and have cookbooks of all different ethnicities -- Korean, Chinese, Thai, French, Italian, American, Japanese, Mexican, Nuevo Latino, etc.

                                  2. I have used the first SP the most of the three. If I had limited shelf space I would pick the SP books over the Basics. But if you don't have a good all-round introductory book Basics is OK. But I would choose Joy of Cooking or Better Homes and Gardens over Basics.

                                    My one knock on the SP books is that they often have very lengthy lists of ingredients. Now that I have kids, I look just find I don't cook like that as much as I used to.

                                    1. Don't know about the New Basics, but Silver Palate is a great book. Some things are kind of retro but there are some classics in there like their delicious carrot cake.

                                      1. While I do think they are dated, there are some good recipes in both books that I prepare regularly. The banana and zucchini bread recipes in the Silver Palate are both really good, and the chicken and dumplings in New Basics is also a great recipe.

                                        1. Listen, just came across this: New Basics is worth keeping for the Vegetable Garden Lasagna ALONE! Timeless - best ever.

                                          1. I love Silver Palate and would never part with it, ever.

                                            1. They both still maintain a position on jfood's kitchen shelf

                                              1. Keepers!
                                                Chicken Marbella, Carrot Cake, Decadent Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

                                                1. I don't use my Silver Palate all that much, but this thread is making me think I should flip through it again. However, there are some great, simple recipes in New Basics that I use all the time--either alone or as a jumping off point for something more complex. Plus, it's basic yellow cake recipe is my go-to comfort recipe when I'm craving something sweet.

                                                  1. I call the Garden Vegetable Lasagna "New Basics" the "reason my husband married me". Seriously the BEST veggie lasagna I've ever had (though somewhat time consuming) Also, the Chicken Marbella is a great entertaining dish. Aside from that, I think if you're a foodie, they are worth keeping. I enjoy going over them time and again and sometimes find new things I'd like to try. If you're not seriously into food, they might be taking up more space than they're worth. They are definitely more from the era of time intensive cooking rather than what is more trendy now, which seems to be simple but well seasoned and well prepared. But it never hurts to have a few "wow" recipes up your sleeve and the Silver Palate books have plenty of those.

                                                    1. I started to use Silver Palate when I discovered the first one in 1986! Our first daughter's wedding was catered entirely from their recipe's - and all three children (now in their 40's to 50 yrs old) have a collection of their recipe books. I love them and Mango Chutney chicken is a family favorite as are many other recipes. So - use them - don't throw them away.
                                                      PS We are a far flung family - I live in South Africa - one child in London - the other two in Virginia and New Jersey - so Silver Palate is universally popular!

                                                      1. A good cookbook, or any good dish you enjoy making and eating, is _never_ dated.
                                                        Some food trends or fads may be perceived as 'dated' --especially by food snobs-- but that's _their_ problem ;-)

                                                        Quite often, older cookbooks can be more inspiring to read and use than many of the more current ones I've seen lately.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                          I agree wholeheartedly that older cookbooks can be useful. I have many books much older than the Silver Palate books that I still use and refer to regularly. The problem I find with these two books is not that the recipes are faddish, but that I don’t care for them. The oft-praised Chicken Marbella, for example, I find cloying almost to the point of inedibility. Spicy Sesame Noodles with 2 cups of Sesame Mayonnaise? Anyone? And for so many of the recipes, Choucroute Garnie and Osso Buco, e.g., there are far better choices available, both from older and newer books. When these books were published really isn’t the point. Many people like the recipes; as you can tell, I’m not a fan.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            I've had Chicken Marbella (never made it myself) and Joan, I completely agree.

                                                        2. I don't know. I have never used my copy of Silver Palate. Thinking about getting rid of it.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: pistachio peas

                                                            I never warmed to mine and donated it, didn't miss it. Not my style of food either.

                                                          2. When I saw this thread, I had to check it out (I was sure that I had responded). I have the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook, & it's one of my all time favorites- it has great sidebars & tips. Now, I'm off to reread it & see how many things I've actually cooked out of it. It doesn't matter, I wouldn't get rid of it. I didn't like the New Basics as much, it's at my mom's house, so I occasionally revisit it.

                                                            1. I like the All American Baked Beans in the New Basics.

                                                              1. The Silver Palate cookbook reminds me of when I was a kid. I'd babysit for a family that had a lot more money than mine, and this was one of the cookbooks they had. I'd flip through it and dream that I was living in New York, working in a gourmet food shop, making and serving those recipes. Maybe I'm not remembering right, but I feel like Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins were the precursors to Martha Stewart and Ina Garten in introducing new American cuisine to the masses.

                                                                When I was old enough to buy my own copy, I made a bunch of the recipes. They were all very good to excellent, and I still make Tarragon Chicken Salad, Zucchini Bread (the best), Sour Cream Apple Pie, Linguini with Tomatoes & Basil (with brie!!), Spicy Sesame Noodles, and the Basic Quiche.