Monday, May 2, 2011
My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow
I haven't been this excited about a cookbook since I bought Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier a few years back. I purchased My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow, because I'm a big fan of her work and of her blog Goop not to mention that I love cookbooks. I always feel a cookbook is worth its price if there's at least one recipe in it that I'll make again and again. In that case, I think Gwyneth's book is definitely a winner many times over.
Aesthetically, My Father's Daughter is a beautiful book. The pictures are similar to its cover - bright, crisp and clean. The food photographs look delicious and healthy. Gwyneth shares her favorite recipes along with personal anecdotes of life with her late father, Bruce Paltrow, her mom Blythe Danner and her two young kids. There's also several intimate family snapshots in the book proving that this has been a very personal project indeed for Paltrow. It was three years in the making. Gwyneth reveals that her father taught her through "...his own enjoyment that gathering around a table is the high point of the day. Through shared meals and meaningful togetherness, he made happiness feel achievable. He helped me realize it's all about the here and now, that happiness happens on a freezing winter night or in the garden when the weather's warm, often with a good bottle of wine, and always with the people you love. You just need some good ingredients and a few simple recipes, maybe a couple of jokes, or a topic to dissect at the table, the way they do at Nora Ephron's house."
Gwyneth also writes about why she doesn't eat red meat and how she created recipes that incorporate her health consciousness. Interestingly enough a lecture from Leonardo di Caprio when he was nineteen and she was twenty-one was one of the things that convinced her to drop the beef and pork. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a vegetarian book...there's fabulous recipes for brisket, chicken and fish. However, there's definitely a lot of healthy dishes and I just love that. I like it when a cookbook can teach me new things and that's exactly what I found with Gwyneth's book. For example, she uses real maple syrup instead of sugar without sacrificing flavor. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed with some of the ingredients that I've never heard of before such as agave nectar, Vegenaise and spelt flour. Where oh where was I going to find these products in Manila? Vegenaise, and spelt flour haven't made it here yet but I did find an alternative non-egg mayonnaise at a health food shop and the agave nectar was surprisingly available in a few supermarkets. Gwyneth gives alternatives in case the ingredients aren't available where you live.
I recently made a big batch of her roasted tomato recipe yesterday and have it in the fridge to use in salads and sandwiches. They're so delicious that I'm making them again soon. Her peanut butter cookies are the best I've ever tried and my 5-year-old agrees. Her balsamic lime dressing livens up even the plainest salad. I can't wait to try the rest of her recipes. In the ever crowded genre of cookbooks, My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow is a breath of fresh air.
I know that many of you are not home cooks but I'm sure anyone can whip this up in five minutes.
Gwyneth's Balsamic & Lime Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Whisk the vinegar, agave, and lime juice together in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.