Cooking With Gwyneth … if You Can Stand It

Gwyneth Paltrow and I used to have a deal. She acts. Icook. (OK, so she never actually knew about this deal, butstill.) Lately, however, she's encroaching more and more on my territory, withher online GOOP newsletter that often includes meal ideas and cooking videos,her Spanish food-focused TV show with new BFF Mario Batali (It should have beenme, Mario! I'm positive I'd eat more paella than she does!), and now, by dolingout "delicious, easy" recipes via her brand-new cookbook. I'm not theonly one who's a little irritated by a skinny blonde millionaire with aburgeoning country music career billing herself as a culinary expert. The foodblogosphere hasn't exactly been kind to the 38-year-old actress, noting that astarlet raised by celebrity parents in Hollywood can't possibly relate to theaverage American's nightly quest to put a semi-healthy dinner on the table(without a drizzle of $60 olive oil) and shouldn't be lecturing about themerits of a hard-to-actually-implement macrobiotic lifestyle.

But, love her or hate her, Paltrow's new book,My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family &Togetherness isn't bad. In it, the mom of two shares how cookingmakes her feel close to her father, Bruce, who passed away nearly a decade ago,and explains that her whole healthy eating kick stemmed from her search forhealing foods to help him after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1998. Hey, youcan't fault a gal for trying to save her dad's life, whether or not you believein her methods.

As for recipes, Paltrow manages to keep plenty of thempretty uncomplicated, with basic takes on meal staples like tomato sauce,dressings, pastas, and veggie side dishes involving a reasonable number ofingredients. In other words, you can actually make this stuff, believe it ornot. Warning: Just ignore the book's over-the-top perfect mommy photos. (Sorry,but I don't know many parents who stand around the kitchen all day gazinglovingly at their well-behaved kids). And her occasional high-horse advice(Make treats from scratch! I always use organic vegetable oil!) may get on yournerves. But if you just focus on getting a new batch of recipes for yourweeknight arsenal out of the deal you'll barely notice when she tells you thatlight agave nectar should be a kitchen essential. Trust me.

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