few people are more polarizing than gwyneth paltrow, and i’m really not sure why. i realize that i am one of a handful of people that genuinely likes her, but that’s not the reason i bought this cookbook. i bought it because it seemed to be full of recipes that i would actually make, also because it was endorsed by the master of italian cooking himself—mario batali.
i selected several recipes to make for the week and asked papa fritz to provide honest feedback. he and i had different opinions about a few recipes, but on several we agreed completely. here’s the rundown:
1. broiled salmon with homemade teriyaki sauce (p. 177). the teriyaki sauce was very easy to make and used ingredients that most people (who cook asian-flavored food on even a semi-regular basis) would have in their pantry/fridge. i didn’t marinate the fish as long as she suggested, because we live a hectic lifestyle. however, it was still delicious and moist. the actual cooking was very fast (7 minutes!) and the sauce reduced alongside the broiling of the fish. i served this with rice and broccoli. this dish was good, though not earth shattering. papa fritz liked it, but commented that it didn’t taste too different from bottled teriyaki sauce. this could be taken both ways, but at least i knew what was in the sauce, having made it myself. also, i can see this being an advantage for those who need to remain gluten-free and are unable to find gf teriyaki.
2. ten hour chicken (p.176). everything about this recipe intrigued me. the ease of prep, the bright flavors, and mostly the low, slow cooking process. essentially you put the chicken in breast down and cook at a low temp for 9.5 hours, then flip it and increase the heat to finish it off. i made this on a day when my mother in law was home with the baby (so that i didn’t worry about the house burning down), but it could just as easily be made on a weekend when you are going to be home all day. this chicken was awesome. moist and flavorful, and bright with the lemon and garlic. the last 30 minutes at a high heat really crisped up the skin (my favorite part of a chicken, if i’m being honest) which was the perfect touch. i served it with roasted potatoes and green beans. it was a complete hit with the entire family, fritz totally dug on the leftovers for many days.
3. whole wheat pasta with purple sprouting broccoli (p. 130). so, i was unable to find purple sprouting broccoli (not a huge surprise), but i used broccoli rabe per gp’s recommendation. the sauce in this dish (which is really a riff on a bagna cauda) is one of my favorite sauces in the world. i use it to make garlic bread, but sub melted butter for the olive oil. anyway, i digress…the dish was lovely, but i did need to make twice as much sauce as she called for in order to even taste it against the pasta. therefore, it was less than healthy, but it was delicious. the broccoli rabe was nice and bitter. i love bitter greens. papa fritz agreed with me, so this dish was a hit.
4. broccoli and cheese soup (p. 54). i despise blue cheese with every fiber of my being, so i subbed a nice aged irish cheddar (which she recommended). this soup was surprisingly easy to make on a weeknight, really quick if truth be told. i thought it was really good, however, papa fritz wasn’t sold. he didn’t like the texture and thought it needed more cheese and/or cream. to be fair he is accustomed to the panera broccoli soup that is like 12,000 calories per cup, and this is meant to be a healthier version. despite my explanations, he was unmoved. however, fritz liked it.
5. asian portobello burgers (p. 102). so the concept here is marinate and then cook portobellos low and slow on a grill, and then serve them on a bun as a “burger”. i was a little concerned that this wouldn’t be “meaty” enough for my meat lover husband, but these went over like gangbusters. he loved them, and so did i. the asian mayo she shares a recipe for is really easy, and totally makes these burgers. i toasted the buns and that prevented them from getting soggy too quickly. this was hands-down papa fritz’s favorite meal of the week.
so, to recap, we liked 4 out of the 5 dishes (for the most part), and only one was slightly lackluster. those are good odds! there are several other recipes in this book that i would like to make. do you have a copy of this cookbook? if so, what are your favorite dishes to make from it?