Sheila Lukins: The 25th anniversary Silver Palate Cookbook; their Chicken Marbella recipe

Excerpts from my interview with Sheila Lukins on my WLRN National Public Radio program Food News and Views


The Silver Palate Cookbook was published in 1982 and changed the way America cooked. It introduced us to ingredients we take for granted today like– sun dried tomatoes – fresh herbs – pesto sauce. Extra virgin olive oil and specialty olives weren’t abundant on the supermarket shelves then as they are today. We didn’t have celebrity chefs. The most famous television cooking celebrity was Julia Child. My copy of the original Silver Palate Cookbook has a prominent place on my book shelf and now next to it is the 25th anniversary copy. The new one is filled with 100 color photos.

Sheila, how did you start the Silver Palate shop?


I lived in a small apartment in New York and loved to cook. I have a degree from the Cordon Bleu School in

Paris. I would make dishes for friends and neighbors. This grew into a catering business and one of my clients was Julee Rosso. She loved my food and that led to our opening our small Silver Palate shop in Manhattan. At that time there were very few places where you could pick up great food on a whim to serve one or many. We had no idea that it would take off and that the cookbook would become a classic. LG

One of your famous recipes is Chicken Marbella. What is it and why do you think it’s still a dinner party favorite today?


The chicken, olives, capers and prunes blend together for a sweet and savory dish. It’s easy to make and can be made several days ahead. Another advantage is that it can be served hot or at room temperature.


What about your delicious carrot cake. Where did you get the recipe? SL

This is my mother’s carrot cake. When we first opened the Silver Palate shop in Manhattan, my mother would make the cakes and drive them to the shop everyday from Connecticut.

Chicken Marbella Recipe

Here is the Silver Palate Chicken Marbella recipe.

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice

bay leaves

1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed

1/4 cup dried oregano

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Combine the live oil, vingar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.

Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauce boat.

16 pieces, 10 or more portions The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins with Michael McLaughlin, Workman Publishing Co., Inc. $19.95