My partner and I went to Maine with his extended family in tow. I always prefer to under pack as opposed to overpack. If I have an excess of things, it makes me anxious. So I decided to bring exactly one cookbook. This is easier said than done, I have an extensive cookbook collection. What to bring that would highlight delicious, seasonal food and be kid-friendly while not excluding the less adventurous eaters among us? So I wanted something with the classics but updated versions of them. After a bit of thought, I settled on Gwyneth Paltrow’s “My Father’s Daughter.” The subtitle sold me, “Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness.” I’ve cooked from this book before and liked her recipes. I’m just going to say it. I’m a Gwyneth stan. I know many people find her to be a lightning rod, but I’ve always adored her.
I’m a Gen-Xer, and she starred in some of my favorite movies as a teen and twentysomething. Her aesthetic helped define an entire decade for me. I STILL think about that green Donna Karen ensemble she wore in “Great Expectations,” it was perfection.
I realize this may place me in the minority, but I think a lot of the noise surrounding her is hate buzz amplitude because she generates coveted click-through rates. At any rate, she and her team write a mean cookbook. For one, she creates seasonal vegetable-forward recipes. The recipes celebrate the abundance of summer produce, and that is precisely what I was looking for. So, while in Maine for a week, I cooked from her cookbook nearly every night. I have to say; it was a tremendous success.
Night One: we ordered in Pizza as everyone was tired from their travels.
Night Two: I made her Kale and Brown Rice. We paired it with some grilled chicken we had marinated the night before and grilled vegetables. While it wasn’t the star, it made a versatile base from which to build a meal. The leftovers were fab for breakfast. I’m a big fan of leftover grains and veggies served with a sunny side up egg and a few pieces of kimchi. I have energy until noon, and if I set the stage for good, healthy eating in the A.M., I can usually maintain that streak all day.
Night Three: I made her Fish Tacos with Pico de Gallo, Salted Cabbage, Lime Crema, and Guacamole. I found the local fish market *shout out to The Fisherman’s Net in Cumberland, Maine*, and bought some gorgeous cod. I made the lime crema with traditional mayo as opposed to veganaise. The cod had the lightest, most delicate beer batter. It was a lot of work, as frying anything is, but Sean was a trooper. It was superb. I bought WAY too much fish, and we had leftovers for everyone to nibble on the next few days. I like a meal that gives you leftover options for the next day’s lunch. No one wants to stop their fun mid-day for someone else’s idea of what lunch should be.
Night Four: It was a bit cooler that day, so I decided to make Gwyneth’s Corn Chowder. I served it with a big salad, and it was a hit, even with the kiddos that claimed not to like chowder. The corn we bought was REALLY sweet, and that’s about my only complaint. I even got compliments from someone who usually doesn’t do the chowder thing. So, a success. Dessert was a locally purchased blueberry pie.
Night Five: I made the Fried Zucchini Spaghetti. I used bucatini – I think its easier to eat than spaghetti or linguini, and the sauce permeates the hollow center. It was fabulous, although time-consuming as the zucchini was also fried. At this point, Sean was sooo over fry duty, but we persevered. Who knew Gwyneth Paltrow eats so much fried food? The kids loved it as it’s essentially a sophisticated version of Mac and Cheese that uses parmesan, pasta water, and olive oil to make the base.
Night 6: I made her Lobster Rolls. The recipe called for white miso, which gave it a bit of umami. Sadly we didn’t have any tarragon, so we made do without. I’d happily serve this to just about anyone. Lobster meat is such a treat, and you want to be sure that you do something worthwhile with it. And this recipe checked ALL of those boxes for me.
It’s a good cookbook. It has a little something for everyone (while keeping kids’ tastes and nutrition in mind), it’s seasonal, and the recipes are just fussy enough to be impressive. I mean come on – when you are cooking for groups of people, accolades matter. “My Father’s Daughter” is a great entertaining cookbook. If you can only bring one, it’s an excellent choice.