Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cook book is very pretty and pretty great, for the most part. It has also been the subject of much debasement and internet snark. As an avid home cook, I am going to review the cookbook on its merits, and in a few instances, the lack of its merits. I think the people who are trashing her book are just plain JEALOUS! Yes, she is beautiful, rich and priveliged. So what!! It should not figure into a review of a cookbook.
The Introduction- she talks openly about her health and her desire to change. She comes across like every woman to me and I like that.
The Pantry- explains many of the specialty ingredients that she uses in her recipes. I enjoyed reading it, if only to realize to my delight that I have many of the items needed for the recipes. An improvement would have been to list sources. Those not living in major metropolitan areas might have difficulty finding some of the pantry staples. Yes, there is always Amazon, but I like hearing about local purveyors that might have a website. Or I may have enjoyed knowing which brands Gwyneth uses. Only problem with the pantry section is that while she does not list soymilk in her pantry staples, she calls for it in a few of her recipes. Ofcourse, you can sub it out for whatever milk you prefer, but I have to admit to being a little dissapointed in seeing it in her book. Soymilk is a highly processed food and does not belong in a cookbook that has a strong health focus.
The Photography-there are a LOT of photos in the book. They are stunningly beautiful….there are photos of Gwyneth and photos of food. I did enjoy looking at all of them, they make me want to cook!
The Recipes-I have tried 8 recipes from the book and the following are mini reviews on each:
1. Leftover Quinoa, Quite Savory (p.33)- Let me start off by saying, I ADORE this recipe. It is so simple and so delicious. Some already cooked quinoa, sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic. Add some ribbons of kale. Put a gently fried egg over the top. Such simple ingredients and so tasty. The quinoa is a great alternative to the toast that one might otherwise have with an egg.
2.Carrot Ginger Dressing (p.65)-This is very yummy and I’ve been making it for a while. It is also on her Goop website. Problem with this recipe is that it calls for added salt. Completely unnecessary. The recipe would be a salt lick with the added salt. The miso in it supplies plenty of salt already.
3. Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Peas(p.173) -This was very delicious and I have never thought of roasting cooked beans in the oven.Roasting the cooked beans gave them a pleasant chewiness. I will definitely be making this again. Did not have parsley the recipe called for. Simply subbed in cilantro and it was still great. Could be a main dish meal even though it was listed in the chapter called “Vegetables”.
4. Bernardo’s Pumpkin Pie Shake (p.209)-Ok, the price of the cook book is worth it for this recipe. Although it needed a few tweaks, it is a 4 star recipe. Problem though, are the proportions. Recipe calls for one and one half cups of almond milk. I found that to be way too watery. 3/4 cup of almond milk worked much better for me. I also found that 3 drops of liquid stevia enhanced the flavors, much as salt would in a savory recipe.
5.Bummer Bars (p.254)-This was the one bomb of my experience for the book. These were WAY TOO SWEET. Nobody in my house would eat them. Don’t waste your time here. This recipe does not work.
6.Instant Berry and Coconut Sherbet (p.265)-Another winner, absolutely creamy and wonderful. Great for those who must avoid dairy. One little problem though-I used 2 cups of mixed frozen berries as she calls for. Blackberries and rasberries are way too seedy. Even the famous Vitamix does not pulverize the seeds into the final product. Next time, I will only use strawberries and blueberries. The recipe also needed just a few drops of liquid stevia to enhance the flavors. I liked this better as a right-from-the-Vitamix sorbet instead of in pop molds. I tried it both ways. The pop molds harden the mixture and it loses its creaminess. Still good, just better when its first made instead of frozen.
7.Apple Cider Vinaigrette (p.69)-This is a good dressing but I did not think it was anything to go crazy over. I had a friend over for dinner and had this on a simple green salad. She noticed the dressing and thought it was delicious.
8.Frankies-Esque Beet Salad (p.155)-I thought this would be better. It has two of my favorite ingredients-beets and avocado. Proportions are also way off in this recipe for the dressing. I made half of the dressing, and then only used half of that to dress the salad. The problem with this recipe is that while it tasted decent, it did not look good. The beets “stained” the avocado and the dressing on was too greasy. Not worth the effort.
Have you tried a recipe from this book? Please share your experiences as I always love to try a recipe on a reccomendation. Happy Cooking!