Gwyneth Paltrow: My Father’s Daughter

Some people have jump into a cooking career without seemingly to have paid their dues. They use their fame from some other career to lend them some credence and then go on to use that media savvy to their advantage.

What to make of Gwyneth Paltrow‘s new career?

My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness (Grand Central 2011) is not a fan book – although there are plenty of pictures of Gwyneth, her father Bruce Paltrow, mother Blythe Danner, and snatches of her kids Apple and Mosses. It is a relatively thick book of standard American family fare minus any beef or pork. If someone less famous had written it, would anyone pay attention? Probably yes, since the forward is by Mario Batali, and the recipes are fairly good, tested by Julia Turshen, with lovely photos by Ellen Silverman. It is a good looking book – and one to give to affluent, young parents, who want to feed their families just like Gwyneth feeds hers.

Mario’s forward is all about their respective love of family and the importance of food – and a pitch:

If this book has been a delicious exercise of introspection and documentation for Gwyneth, then the creation of the website/blog GOOP.com has crystallized her point of view in the public domain. (p. 11)

Gwyneth’s own introduction is a paean to her father and his love of food, and their late introduction to cooking (her at 18). Better to read My Children’s Mother (p. 19), about getting kids interested in eating well. Her points are common sense and on target:

1. Go to the farmers’ market or supermarket together.
2. Make a kitchen garden.
3. Talk about seasonality of the food, way and how things grow in different temperatures.
4. Make treats from scratch.
5. Expose your kids to the flavors of other countries and cultures.
6. Have your kids measure out ingredients. (pp. 21-22)

Despite her slender figure, Mario insists that Gwyneth does eat heartily, so, take a look at the Main Courses chapter for the evidence. It starts with Chicken Milanese: Four Very Special Ways (pp. 146-149) including Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Arugula, and Endive & Gorgonzola. Who doesn’t like a crispy cooked piece of chicken? It is thin, cooks quickly, and has no pesky bones. There is also a Roast Chicken, Rotisserie Style (p. 153) that means it has garlic salt and paprika added. More interesting is the Whole Roasted Fish with Salsa Verde (p. 154), a simple roast sea bass with a mixed herb sauce – a simple recipe for any kind of evening meal – with family or guests. The influence of Spain is prominent – Seafood Paella, Spanish Mama Style (p. 169) from her days living with a Spanish family, and Vegetable Paella (p. 172) for vegetarians or vegans.

Gwyneth and her team put effort into this book, and it shows. It is homage to her father, who passed away in 2002, but it is also a friendly cookbook – and as close to Gwyneth as most of us are likely to get.

Recipe: Salsa Verde

6 olive oil-packed Spanish anchovies
1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the anchovies in a bowl and cut into small pieces with a knife and fork (this save you a board to wash). Stir in the mustard and vinegar. Add the herbs, slowly stream in the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

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