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My Father's Daughter
Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness
Foreword by Mario Batali
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- ebook $12.99 $16.99 CAD
- Trade Paperback $21.99 $26.49 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 12, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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As an actress, author, trendsetter, creator of goop.com, and host of the popular PBS series, Spain: On the Road Again, Gwyneth Paltrow is an icon of style and good taste around the world. As a young girl eating and cooking with her father, Bruce Paltrow, she developed a passion for food that has shaped how she lives today and strengthened her belief that time with family is a priority. Now in My Father’s Daughter, Paltrow shares her favorite family recipes along with personal stories of growing up with her father, Bruce Paltrow. She discusses how he has influenced her in the food she loves, how she involves her kids in cooking, and how she balances healthy food with homemade treats. And, for the first time, Paltrow offers a glimpse into her life as daughter, mother and wife, sharing her thoughts on the importance of family and togetherness.
Complete with 150 delicious ideas for breakfast, sandwiches and burgers, soups, salads, main dishes, sides, and desserts, this beautifully illustrated book includes full-color photos throughout, many featuring Paltrow at home with her family and friends. My Father’s Daughter is a luscious collection that will inspire readers to cook great food with the people who mean the most to them.
Table of Contents
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I literally could not have written this book without the tireless, artful assistance of Julia Turshen, who stood over my shoulder at the stove and chopping block for the better part of a year, bringing a method to my freestyling madness. She quantified, tested, and retested every recipe, oversaw the production of the photos, helped brainstorm in a crisis, and, above all, was my intellectual and emotional support through the whole process.
OKAY, I WROTE A COOKBOOK.
Why? you may ask. In the last ten years or so, cooking has become my main ancillary passion in life. I have always loved food, being around it, preparing it, and of course eating it. This adoration was instilled in me by my incredible father, a supreme gourmand with a deep love for great food and wine.
I always feel closest to my father, who was the love of my life until his death in 2002, when I am in the kitchen. I can still hear him over my shoulder, heckling me, telling me to be careful with my knife, moaning with pleasure over a bite of something in the way only a Jew from Long Island can, his shoulders doing most of the talking. I will never forget how concentrated he looked in the kitchen, it almost looked like a grimace or a frown if you didn't know him. He practiced incredible care and precision when he was preparing food. It was as if the deliciousness of the food would convey the love he felt in direct proportion.
He and I were always inseparable. When I was a baby, my mother was essentially the breadwinner in our house while my father was trying to rustle up a career in television. He walked me in his arms all night long as, by all accounts, I never slept. He took me everywhere with him, to each meeting and each diner, always ready to supply me with my fix of Red Cheek apple juice. We went to Jewish delicatessens and to now-extinct drive-ins where I was introduced to the finer points of the egg cream and the ice cream float. Health food was never really on the agenda; it was about fun and deliciousness and togetherness.
When I was a kid in Santa Monica, California, he often took us out to eat in what was then the start of the "California cuisine" era, taking great pride in my brother and me eating what would have been unheard of for him as a kid (oysters, artichokes, blue cheese, anything French). He looked forward to going out for a family meal with the genuine excitement of someone who never grew up eating in restaurants, and somehow that happiness, when we were all getting in the car, never seemed to wear off, no matter how many times we went to Michael's or 72 Market Street. For years, this excitement for food was limited to dining out—there wasn't a lot of agonizing over the home menu or tons of shopping and chopping. But that would change. Looking back, I think it all started with the pancakes.
My father was a master pancake maker. To the point that anyone who ever tried them would vouch that they were the best they had ever had. They still will to this day. They were thin, and light, and had that perfect subtle tang from fresh buttermilk. The pancake making started as a casual weekend breakfast thing and became a ritual. He became obsessed with perfecting them, eventually making the batter the night before as he was convinced it had some discreet effect on the outcome. Not only would we, his children and wife, delight in the taste of those mini stacks with warmed up maple syrup, but our extended family of friends would as well, the size of the group often swelling to twenty or so. I think he started to feel the impact of making people so content and relaxed and sated with those pancakes. He was, after all, the most loving and nurturing of all men.
When I was about eighteen we started cooking together. I'm not sure exactly how it started, what day it was, or how it was catalyzed. I just remember that we were both living back in Santa Monica (I was trying to get work as an actress and was hostessing in a fish restaurant) and we got tired of the giant supply of spaghetti and meatballs my mother had very kindly made and left in the freezer since she was working in New York. We decided to make a meal, and from there we got kind of obsessed. We would watch the cooking channel together as much as we watched NFL football, often with me resting in the crook of his arm. We would call each other with things we had learned, compare tips, recipes, and ideas like making salad dressing by putting all the ingredients into a little glass jar and shaking it up (utterly revolutionary to us at the time) or dicing an onion by cutting it in half vertically, making small slices vertically, then cutting horizontally, essentially eliminating the "chopping." "What kind of moron am I that I nevah thought of this!" he would say in his heavily accented New York–ese.
My father's meals got more layered and more complex in lots of ways, and, in other ways, he stuck to his basic greatest hits. The most striking aspect of his cooking was how much joy he derived from feeding people that he loved. I mean, genuine, bursting happiness. And he instilled in me the idea that a meal made for your family is an expression of love, a source of pleasure—not only in the visceral enjoyment of the food, but also in the magic that is created when you imbue food with energy and nurturing.
I understood him more fully when I had my own children. Over the years I had learned how to cook through trial and error, through cooking classes, through lessons with chef friends, but it had always been for fun. Now it seemed much more, well, important. Unlike my daddy, who back in the day thought Oreos and a glass of milk were snack worthy, I became a bit obsessed with providing my kids with healthy, unprocessed foods. This was informed by a period of eating a strictly macrobiotic diet, which, ironically enough, I had started when my father was diagnosed with throat cancer in the fall of 1998. I was devastated by his diagnosis and became convinced that he could heal himself with good foods and alternative medicine, even if he was resistant to the (perhaps naive) idea. I armed myself by reading anything available that linked processed foods, pesticides, growth hormones, preservatives, and the like to cancer and other diseases. I enlisted a macrobiotic counselor who had healed herself from cancer by eating a "healing diet" and also even brought on a chef to get us started. I was dealing with a man who upon hearing his cancer diagnosis went out for hot dogs and after an excruciating throat surgery wanted to go straight to Mr. Chow. I think that he equated his beloved morning coffee with two sugars to being "normal" and never embraced the idea of cutting anything out even if it would have made a difference in his health in the long run.
But all the information that I gathered did make a big personal impact. I learned about how the body can heal itself from almost anything. I learned about the physical and environmental effects of pesticides. I went strictly organic, local, and macro and eliminated dairy, sugar, meat, liquor, gluten, all (I think) in a bid to heal my father by proxy. Of course I couldn't cure him, but I found that my body felt really good. I loved eating this way and I stuck to it for years, although sometimes, damn, I just wanted a slice of coffee cake or a martini with olives.
When I was pregnant a few years later, I could not eat a bowl of brown rice for love or money. I wanted grilled cheese sandwiches and Baskin-Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream, and, well, you can guess what won out. But when my daughter started eating solid food, the pendulum swung and again I focused on organic and whole foods. I did not want her to ingest pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives and I still don't. In fact, sometimes I wonder if my father would still be alive today if he hadn't grown up eating so much of that stuff.
Through this process my father and daughter had unwittingly taught me the importance of balance. Could I use some butter and cheese and eggs in my cooking without going down some kind of hippie shame spiral? Yes. Of course I could. I would go back to eating chicken, but only once in a while and it would be free range and organic. I would support my local farmers always, but if I needed some tomatoes in winter to slowly roast for soup, I would go to the supermarket.
This idea of balance became just an easing up on myself, which is something I find challenging to this day. On a broader scale, I try to remember this balance when I think about being a working mother. How do I cook for my family, do the school run, work on my projects, exercise, and not lose out on a great film project? I can't. And that's okay. Because my instincts have been shaped by a man who knew that family was everything. And my family will always be where I strive most for success. Making a home, cooking with love, and bringing everyone together are my tangible ways of achieving that kind of success.
My father, even through his deteriorating health in the aftermath of his cancer surgery, when his beloved red wine burned his throat and he struggled to chew and swallow, showed me 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.
And there it is. It's what I believe in. In these pages you will find recipes for simple, (mostly) healthy, delicious food. This is the food I cook for my family and friends, over and over again, the food that never fails me. This book is meant to channel the ethos of my father by sharing the greatest gifts that he imparted to me. Invest in what's real. Clean as you go. Drink while you cook. Make it fun. It doesn't have to be complicated. It will be what it will be.
MY CHILDREN'S MOTHER
Including my children in all aspects culinary is very important to me and always has been. When my daughter, Apple, was born in 2004, I always had her strapped to my chest in one of those BabyBjörn things and later on my hip in the kitchen while I stirred and chopped, one handed at that! Soon she was sitting up and I had fantasies of an extra-high high chair on wheels so she could be out of harm's way but privy to the action as I steamed and pureed her baby food. She was always trying to get a glimpse inside the pot, fascinated by the sounds of simmering and frying, or reaching to hold the big wooden spoon, mystified by its meaning (drumstick? teething device?).
Children are inherently curious about the process of cooking—it's mysterious and vaguely threatening, and seemingly for adults only. Fire and knives, no wonder my son is obsessed with it all. He, like my daughter, loves nothing more than helping me cook a meal. The trick is to let them participate as long as they are interested; eventually they wander off and busy themselves with something else, but lately they've been staying with it.
I believe it is the fact that I am carefully letting them do things that seem beyond their level that keeps them so interested. Whenever I am holding my son so that he can add salt to a sauce or stir something (with a long handle from a safe distance), I regularly think of some parenting advice my father gave on one occasion. His theory was that children positively respond to being trusted with something that they don't expect you to trust them with. And when they are trusted and complete something successfully, not only is their self-esteem buoyed but so is the connection between parent and child. Thus is my willingness to allow them to partake in some of the more adult tasks, with very careful supervision.
The three of us regularly engage in cooking together and doing this is one of my all-time favorite activities—all immersed in a project together, having fun, and making dinner! It is a multitasker's dream, genuine quality time spent while checking something off the list.
It is my belief that children should know about food, should learn how to handle and prepare it. I think of it as a life skill no less important than any other… maybe more so as it will enable them to take control of their health as they get older. They have become well versed in their own likes and they often have opinions about how things are done.
Here are some of the ways that I include them in the process, ways you might be able to incorporate into your routine.
1. Go to the farmers' market or supermarket together. Give your children their own baskets and ask them to pick out vegetables or grains or fish that look interesting to them, anything that is fresh or dried, not processed. Look up recipes using the ingredients they have selected and have them choose something appealing to them. Easy books that focus on ingredient-driven, simple preparations are great (like River Cafe Cookbook Easy, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, and Alice Waters's The Art of Simple Food, or look at epicurious.com or other foodie websites). If they are old enough, have them assist in the washing and preparing of the food. My kids beam with pride when they have had an impact on a family meal.
2. Make a kitchen garden. Go to your local nursery for young plants or peruse the Internet for seeds you can order. Kids love the process of watching things grow, especially when the choice of herb or vegetable was their idea. Plant veggies or herbs in a patch if you have a garden or even in pots by a sunny window or on a fire escape. Watering plants and checking their growth with a ruler is always fun. Get little veggie- and herb-picking baskets for them and have them do the cutting and picking themselves. (You will be surprised how well baby scissors work on a bunch of chives.)
3. Talk about the seasonality of the food, why and how things grow in different temperatures. Get a list of what grows when, starting with the season you are currently in. Narrow down the list to three or four of the fruits and vegetables in season and talk about appealing ways to cook them. Go to local farms or join a co-op where you can pick what is growing. Do a bit of history on a food that is not native to your area and ask your kids to think about how it gets to your kitchen from where it has come from.
4. Make treats from scratch. Kids love carbs carbs carbs and so they should, they are delicious. In my kitchen we love to deep-fry French fries, so I make sure we do it often enough to satisfy cravings, but not every day or even every week. I always use organic vegetable oil and potatoes to try to convince myself that the French fries are healthy. Maybe not, but at least I know where the main ingredients are coming from. I try to alternate less healthy cravings with healthy options as well: baked sweet potato fries still taste great with ketchup and are a much healthier alternative to deep-fried potatoes. Whole wheat pasta and brown rice are easily dressed up with a flavorful sauce. For sweet treats, the homemade version will always trump a store-bought variety, which will always contain preservatives and other unsavory ingredients. And always let the kids lick the bowl in reward for their concentration and hard work!
"I love cooking because your hands get really messy, but then you wash them, and they get really clean."
5. Expose your kids to the flavors of other countries and cultures. One fun way to do this is to ask your kids about what they think children are eating in a far-off land. Do some research about popular dishes and see what sounds interesting to them. Then make a menu plan and cook a meal with a theme from, for example, Mexico, Japan, or Thailand—the options are endless—and you can try a different country every week. You can even listen to music from the country for extra inspiration.
6. Have your kids measure out ingredients. It's a great way to hone developing math skills. If something calls for a cup of flour, I often hand my daughter a one-third-cup measuring cup and ask her how many of these she needs to put in the bowl to add up to one cup. You can make this as challenging or simple as suits your family.
how to use this book
To help you decide which recipes to make depending on your schedule and who you are cooking for, I've added icons to each recipe. Here is the key:
There are also notes on some recipes: "Make It Vegan" or "Make It Kid Friendly" that offer you flexibility depending on your and your children's preferences.
trust yourself I am not a professional cook. I am an amateur and a lover of all things culinary. I learned to cook with trial and mostly error. Over the years I have learned three essential things: control your heat–watch the fire carefully, flavors are usually diminished by things cooking too quickly (though there are exceptions)–trust yourself, and taste as you go. When you approach a meal with fear that it's going to be terrible, it probably will be. Approach it like it is going to be delicious. And don't forget the importance of the seasoning–that last pinch of salt or squeeze of lemon–especially when you're preparing simple, ingredient-driven food–can be the most important step.
Oddly, some of the most exhilarating creative moments I experience take place when I stand in the kitchen faced with the task of making dinner when I wasn't expecting to. For the cook who comes home from work and hasn't had time to go shopping, the importance of the well-stocked pantry is paramount. The pantry for me isn't just dried and canned goods. I make sure to have fresh things with a good shelf life—garlic, onions, shallots, root vegetables, as well as homemade prepared items I always keep in my fridge—Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (here), Basic Tomato Sauce (here), along with celery, leeks, and carrots, and herbs wrapped in damp towels. With a well-stocked pantry, great meals can be completely spontaneous.
ESSENTIAL FOOD ITEMS TO KEEP IN YOUR KITCHEN
Olive (I especially like extra virgin olive oil from Spain and Italy.)
Canola (good for baking and dressings)
Safflower and peanut (good for frying)
Grapeseed (great for dressings)
Toasted sesame and hot pepper sesame (good for flavoring)
Mostly I use red and white wine vinegar, but a variety, including balsamic, rice wine, sherry, and champagne, is lovely to have on hand.
Condiments and Sauces
Vegenaise (My most often-used and beloved ingredient. It can be found at most grocery stores and all health food stores–unfortunately not yet in London. Regular mayo is fine and works, but Vegenaise is a healthier alternative.)
Coarse, seeded mustard
Cholula hot sauce
Sriracha (commercial or homemade, see here)
Miso (white, barley, and red)
Unsweetened peanut butter
Good jams and preserves (including ginger, raspberry, blueberry, and apricot)
Real Vermont maple syrup
- On Sale
- Dec 12, 2011
- Page Count
- 272 pages
- Grand Central Life & Style