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October 21, 2008 at 9:13 AM

Sheila, I love ya

I was hanging out in my favorite bookstore on Saturday, when I saw this:

So, how did I miss the fact that Sheila Lukins — the woman who helped turn me into a cookbook junkie — had a brand new book out? Dunno. But I didn’t waste any time pulling out my wallet and taking that thick paperback home for a cozy read.

“Ten” takes an unusual approach. In it, Sheila pinpoints “all the foods we love,” running the gamut from burgers to lobster, salsas to “Sunday Suppers,” offering 10 recipes for each. Turn to the chapter on shrimp, for instance, and you’ll find shrimp cocktail, buffalo shrimp, coconut shrimp, grilled jumbo shrimp, shrimp toasts, grilled shrimp rolls, shrimp tacos, grilled Saigon shrimp, a pot of Creole shrimp and shrimp curry.

In “Ten,” Sheila isn’t shy about borrowing recipes from other chefs, and if you aren’t the kind of serious cook who thinks “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” is the be-all and end-all (I do), you might want to have Sheila’s latest if only for Judy Rogers’ incomparable recipe for Zuni Roast Chicken with Savory Bread Salad, a got-to-think-way-ahead dish that requires salting the chicken in advance of cooking, listed in the chapter on “Chicken — Roasted and Baked.”

I’ve always had a fondness for cookbooks from Sheila’s longtime publisher, Workman, which built its brand on the Silver Palate series, but also includes these:

Those stain-splashed books are beloved for their easy, breezy conversational tone. They’re heavy on the text and tips and ixnay on the fussy color-photographs that end up looking stale and old five years after publication.

Anyway, I though you should know about Sheila’s new book, because I know I’m not the only one who loves the woman who helped make me a better, more adventurous cook way back when, thanks to “The Silver Palate Cookbook.” There are so many recipes in “Ten” I can’t wait to make, and I plan to start with this one, from the “Leafy Salads” chapter, because Nate recently got turned on to Green Goddess dressing in a restaurant, and after one taste he saw God(dess):

Iceberg Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing (serves four)

For the dressing (makes 3 cups)

1 cup Greek yogurt (nonfat if desired), drained

1 cup prepared mayonnaise, such as Best Foods (she suggests Hellman’s — same diff, different label)

6 canned or bottled anchovy fillets, drained, rinsed, patted dry, and minced

3 scallions (white bulbs and 3 inches green), finely minced

4 tablespoons snipped fresh chives (good thing I just planted some in the garden!)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (aka: Italian) parsley leaves

3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarrgon leaves (don’t leave this herb out, it’s an important flavor-component)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

1 head iceberg lettuce, trimmed, rinsed, drained, patted dry and cut into four wedges

16 yellow and red pear tomatoes, mixed (these are for garnish only, so, unlike the tarragon, you can leave them out if you want to)

1. Prepared the Green Goddess Dressing: Combine the yogurt and mayonnaise in a bowl. Add the anchovies and scallions and stir well. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the chives, along with the parsley, tarragon and vinegar. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours for the flavors to blend.

2. When you are ready to prepare the salad, place a wedge of iceberg lettuce in each of four shallow bowls. Pour 1/3 cup of the dressing over each wedge. Any extra salad dressing can be covered and refrigerated for one day. Grind some pepper over the top, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining tablespoon of snipped chives. Scatter the tomatoes evenly around the wedges (if using) and serve immediately.

Comments | More in | Topics: Reading about eating

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