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

mutterer Feb 27, 2008 07:00 PM

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?


  1. PegS Oct 16, 2009 11:22 AM

    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. s
      Stuffed Monkey Oct 16, 2009 10:23 AM

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

      1. jfood Oct 16, 2009 09:46 AM

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

        1. l
          laliz Oct 16, 2009 08:37 AM

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

          1. b
            budboy Oct 16, 2009 07:39 AM

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

            1. DanaB Feb 28, 2008 03:30 PM

              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. Miss Needle Feb 28, 2008 11:27 AM

                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. p
                  pengcast Feb 28, 2008 10:14 AM

                  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. 280 Ninth Feb 28, 2008 09:32 AM

                    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.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: 280 Ninth
                      mutterer Feb 28, 2008 10:04 AM

                      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
                        yayadave Feb 28, 2008 12:08 PM

                        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
                          MMRuth Feb 28, 2008 01:10 PM

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

                          1. re: yayadave
                            classylady Oct 16, 2009 10:37 AM

                            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.

                          2. re: mutterer
                            NYchowcook Feb 28, 2008 02:38 PM

                            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
                              MMRuth Feb 28, 2008 02:41 PM

                              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
                                Miss Needle Feb 28, 2008 02:51 PM

                                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. Chocolatechipkt Feb 28, 2008 09:31 AM

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

                          1. jinet12 Feb 28, 2008 09:23 AM

                            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. ChefJune Feb 28, 2008 06:31 AM

                              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. jfood Feb 28, 2008 06:14 AM

                                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. a
                                  Analisas mom Feb 28, 2008 05:54 AM

                                  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. b
                                    BostonCookieMonster Feb 28, 2008 05:34 AM

                                    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
                                      cassoulady Feb 28, 2008 05:51 AM

                                      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. beetlebug Feb 28, 2008 04:11 AM

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


                                      1. j
                                        jeanmarieok Feb 28, 2008 03:53 AM

                                        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. MMRuth Feb 28, 2008 03:38 AM

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

                                          1. jvozoff Feb 27, 2008 08:31 PM

                                            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. b
                                              Billow Fair Feb 27, 2008 08:11 PM

                                              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. amymsmom Feb 27, 2008 07:52 PM

                                                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.

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