Oscar-winning actress Paltrow steps off the screen and into the kitchen to pay homage to her father.
The author’s father, who died of cancer in 2002, taught her early on that “a meal made for your family is an expression of love, a source of pleasure.” Her debut cookbook of sophisticated yet healthy meals embodies this very culinary philosophy. Divided into eight categories, including “Salads,” “Main Courses” and “Breakfasts,” Paltrow offers a variety of recipes that range from the basic “Best Stir-Fried Chicken” to the more elaborate “Perfect Roasted Chinese Duck.” Readers who believe in eating green will be particularly interested in her approach to cooking; once a proponent of the macrobiotic diet, she now emphasizes the importance of balance—i.e., eating chicken is fine, but it should be free range and organic. The book is also free of beef and pork, aside from a family recipe for brisket. Each recipe is tagged with icons that indicate whether it can be made ahead or serves as a “dress-up meal”—a family-sized dish that can be adapted for both child and adult palates. Paltrow also offers suggestions to adapt recipes to accommodate vegetarian or vegan diets, although some seem forced, like substituting fried tofu in a po’boy for oysters. Whimsical photographs of ingredients, finished meals and Paltrow’s family are the perfect complement to the homey recipes—and serve as inspiration to get readers cooking.
A solid collection of recipes and a reminder that a meal is only as good as the people with whom it’s shared.