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50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #15 Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso - Salad Niçoise

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
15. Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso- It’s hard to overstate the influence of The Silver Palate—the 1982 cookbook named after the gourmet emporium this pair opened in 1977 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Before, there was no ratatouille; after, there was chicken Marbella.

I think I may have to shield my head from flying objects when I say...I had never heard of Sheila Lukins or Julee Rosso before I found their names on the list.  {ducking head}  I do think that I'd heard of The Silver Palate Cookbook before, though...but never actually held it in my hands or looked through it before a couple of weeks ago when I checked it out from the library.  So, I did what I normally do and started paging through, leaving little strips of paper poking out here and there.  Okay, so...another cookbook to for ever-growing, never-ending "want" list.  It is packed with cooking tips, kitchen info, menus, quotes, and lots and lots of good-looking food.

Sheila Lukins first received a degree in Art Education from NYU and eventually attending Le Cordon Bleu in France and studied with Michelin-starred chefs in Bordeaux.  She then started The Other Woman Catering Company, which was how she met Julee Rosso (she was living with a client of Sheila's and had eaten her food many times).  Together they opened a 156 square foot take-away food shop and kitchen on the Upper West side which was modeled on a French traiteur, called The Silver Palate.  Shortly after, they wrote The Silver Palate Cookbook which has already been released in its 25th Anniversary Edition.  After feuding and "breaking up", the shop eventually closed around '93.  Lukins worked as a food editor and columnist for Parade Magazine (a position formerly held by Julia Child) for 23 years.  She succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 66.

Julee Rosso on the other hand, is a bit more elusive.  But what I was able to discover, I really liked.  She graduated from Michigan State University (GO STATE!).  Yeah, I'm easy.  Along with her husband, she has owned The Wickwood Inn in Saugatuck, Michigan since 1991...and she teaches cooking classes.  Her biography states that "she continues to be passionate about good food and health everyday".
Salad Niçoise
slightly adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
To make a Pan Bagnat (the official beach sandwich of Nice), prepare salad in advance and layer it into a hollowed-out baguette.  The longer the salad rests on the bread, the more the two become one.
makes 6-8 portions

8 new potatoes (~1 lb.), scrubbed
2 lbs. green beans, cooked
10 very ripe plum tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 small purple onion, thinly sliced
½ c. niçoise olives
¼ c. chopped Italian parsley
pinch of salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¾ c. "Silver Palate" Vinaigrette *recipe follows
6 hard-cooked eggs, shelled & quartered lengthwise
12 oz. canned oil-packed tuna, well drained
2 oz. anchovy fillets (optional)

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender but not mushy, ~10 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, quarter the potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl.

Add the green beans, tomatoes, onion, olives, parsley, a pinch of salt, and pepper.  Pour ½ cup of the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss gently but well.  Transfer the mixture to a large serving platter.  Arrange salad informally, or as follows: Place the egg quarters around the edge of the platter.  Flake the tuna over the salad and arrange the anchovy fillets, if you use them, over the tuna.  Drizzle with additional vinaigrette and serve at room temperature.
*"Silver Palate" Vinaigrette
yield: 1 c.

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
¼ c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
minced fresh parsley and/or sipped fresh chives, to taste
½ c. olive oil

I just throw everything into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake-shake-shake!
Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins (11/18/42 - 8/30/09)
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?

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