The Silver Platter Cookbook.
Congratulations to Daniella Silver on the publication of her Cookbook!
Hard to believe the Silver Platter Cookbook is Daniella’s first Cookbook, when you see how gorgeous the book looks, and how many valuable items are in place.
Since the Silver Platter Cookbook definitely belongs in the Good Cookbook pile, and the strengths of the book far outweigh the weaknesses, I see no problem throwing all my thoughts about it together.
What goes a long way toward explaining that Daniella Silver’s first writing effort – and the resulting cookbook – look so slick and professional, beside of course Daniella’s own talents, is her rewarding collaboration with her lovely and accomplished senior friend and mentor, the esteemed and beloved Cooking Doyenne Noreen Gilletz. This book is a glowing example on how many insights and how much wisdom people of diverse generations and backgrounds can bring one another. Even before opening the Silver Platter Cookbook, I felt Noreen’s pun magic in the title (Daniella Silver, Silver Platter: get it?). The Silver Platter Cookbook includes a valuable chapter furnished by Norene listing the nutrition information of every dish at the end of the book. I loved that this chapter is located separately from the dishes themselves, as opposed to including nutrition information at the bottom of the respective dish to inform you of the “damage” and risk raining on the diner’s parade. Likewise, Norene includes useful friendly notes and tips at the bottom of every recipe, and clear descriptions that identify the main recipe features at the outset: meat or dairy, gluten-free or not, Passover-friendly or not, freezable or not. A utilitarian cook after my own heart, Norene has thought of everything. I haven’t spotted a single intimidating or labor-intensive dish. One surprising fact borne out throughout the book though: Norene, aka the Food Processor Queen, come of age at around the same time as the formidable machine, has devoted volumes to the food processor and its prowess. Yet in the Silver Platter Cookbook, like a carpenter scorning his drill, Norene resolutely ignores the food processor and grants it hardly a passing mention, as if it were an amiable but clueless guest outstaying his welcome. For example, you are instructed to buy store-bought sliced cabbage or shredded carrots in several recipes, making it the norm rather than the last resort.
The Silver Platter Cookbook has lots of your favorites:
Streamlined, demystified, healthy and from scratch. The Appetizers Chapter alone can garner the next jam-packed Super Bowl Party raves in your house: To name a few winners in the appetizers section: spicy roasted chick peas, corn and edamame; rice paper rolls; salmon patties; baby eggplant fans; mini meatballs; chicken wings roasted three ways; corned beef strips; hummus, guacamole and eggplant dip and more. I reserve judgment for the odd baked egg rolls (the baked halibut fish sticks do stand more of a chance).
The soup chapter is short and somewhat predictable, and gets an honorable mention. But the following salad chapter amply picks up the slack, and it’s lovely to see some wonderful favorite salads spread it on thick for the big salad rock stars: fresh corn, roasted beets, kale, fennel, toasted nuts, cabbage, tiny heirloom tomatoes, lentils, quinoa. Some salads get elevated to main course status: Two examples of main course salad that made my tongue smile: Halibut, spinach and grapefruit salad; chicken, mango and avocado salad.
The fish chapter will easily reconcile some recalcitrant fish eaters among you with fish dinners.
You will roast salmon like a pro, half a dozen different super simple and exciting ways, including cedar-planked. Don’t rack your brains how those fancy chefs do it: Halibut and sea bass are at your reach, the perfect dining-in treat for two, ready in minutes. So many fantastic from-scratch seasonings and sauces to go with each fish dish (lemon shallot butter, mushroom, pesto, herb and more). Poultry: Here too, half a dozen marinated roasted chicken dishes, and another half a dozen ways to roast chicken with vegetables: I am making the gorgeous and delicious looking basil chicken with sun-dried tomatoes, and the lemon herb chicken with roasted garlic. Just reading about the bright and vibrant herbs and seasonings makes me feel fleishik at breakfast time. The meat chapter reads like a lumberjack delight, and consists mostly of roasts topped with various sauces, all simply prepared and packed with good flavor, albeit repetitive, a feeling expressed as much in the meat recipes as in their pictures.
The grain chapter is somewhat dominated by quinoa, but there’s no reason you can’t explore with the whole grain gamut and get interesting dishes each time. Each of the grain dishes looks impressive enough to be a whole meal whenever you chose: Quinoa with hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes and avocado; quinoa with dry fruit and red cabbage; quinoa with roasted vegetables, to name a few. Likewise, you will love the side dish chapters. Oh you will eat your veggies! Listen to this: Panko-topped bok choy and edamame; maple-dijon cabbage rounds; spiced roasted cauliflower; zucchini spinach kugels, sweet potato scallop, and much more.
In the dessert section, I am prepared to forgive a handful of silly and somewhat perplexing potato chip-, popcorn- and pretzel-based confections, or the use of improbable white chocolate in a couple recipes, and still have eyes for all other wonderful offerings: cookies, biscotti, chocolate barks, pies and cakes. Cheesecake adorned with Halvah inside and up is now doubly sinful! Cranberry Blueberry Crumble, Almond-Crusted Chocolate Tart, Apple Cinnamon Cake, Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies, Pistachio Biscotti, Flourless Fudgy-Wudgy Cookies, Chewy Raspberry Oatmeal Bars, Blueberry Flan, and many more unbelievable and simple treats.
Throughout the book, the reader and the cook in you will greatly appreciate and respect the integrity of the flavors and preparations, the dynamic and vibrant rythm of the pages, the total absence of gimmicks and doodads in the compositions, the clean and streamlined look of the beautiful pictures (a picture for each recipe), the simplicity and honesty of the personal style. As importantly, you will get that satisfying “Hey, I can do this!” feeling with every dish. Which ultimately is the mandate in a good cookbook. Kudos to Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz, and best wishes for a long and fruitful collaboration: You are quite a team!