Can we talk about Gwyneth Paltrow without mentioning her conscious uncoupling? Apparently not. But I’m going to try. Because this is a cookbook review, not a Gwyneth review, and you want to know if the recipes are all good (oh sorry, that’s her last book) and all easy like she says. You already know they’re all gorgeous and it’s true, the photography is stunning. It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook is Gwyneth Paltrow’s third cookbook and the first one I’ve tried, this one the answer for those who “find themselves in the kitchen at the end of their overextended day and [want to] be able to prepare something delicious and quick.”
The book is co-written by Thea Baumann, GOOP‘s food editor. She advises readers not to expect five-ingredient recipes that can be made in under 20 minutes, but rather “recipes that are beautiful and sometimes unexpected, while also comforting, satisfying, and realistic for anyone and everyone to make.” And I’m with her for the most part — the comforting, satisfying, beautiful and unexpected — but the realistic I don’t know. I can’t see myself stocking my pantry with champagne vinegar, dried shiitakes, and kuzu root to use on the regular. That said, none of the four recipes I tried required these things and were all quick, easy and delicious (yes!). Can I see myself putting them together on a typical weekday? No, not really, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy trying them and won’t make them again. Is it obvious that I’m torn? Let me tell you what I made.
First, the pan bagnat — the niçoise salad in a sandwich Gwyneth discovered while working in France some years ago and recommends for “the perfect summer picnic lunch, best eaten outside on a warm day, preferably with a glass of chilled rosé in your hand.” But if that’s out of the question (as it is for most of us! hello!) “it’s still pretty delicious eaten in the car while waiting for your kids to finish soccer practice.” (Or as my husband did, over the sink after a long day running on fumes and coffee.) This sandwich is the bomb. Stuffed with argula, tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, fresh basil, eggs cooked to semi-soft perfection and all kinds of other delicious goodness, it’s like a picnic in your mouth, without the picnic and the rosé and the blasted ants marching away with your watermelon like they do in cartoons. There’s some chopping to do, sure, and the eggs to prepare but this sandwich comes together in well under 30 minutes — maybe 15 with the eggs, max. It’s all easy and all good.
Next, socca pizzas with burrata and shaved veggies (with a side of pretty
weeds flowers my daughter picked from our front yard). Socca are these delicious and versatile little pancakes made with chickpea flour that take no time to cook and make a healthy base for a pizza topped with zucchini, asparagus, mint, creamy burrata cheese and fresh lemon zest. Again, quick easy and deelish but maybe a little too fancy for everyday. The fella and I liked it but the kids wouldn’t come near it with a 10-foot lightsaber. And burrata isn’t cheap. The only container in the grocery store — and not a fancy grocery store — was $13 for a 250-gram ball! Curiously, I halved the recipe for the socca and still got six pizzas the full recipe made (using the same 1/4 cup measure of batter it called for) so that must be a mistake in the book.
I couldn’t resist including two pictures. It’s just so pretty.
And I totally understand if you can’t tell what this is, but any shots from the side were sooooo unappetizing. It’s spring veggie ramen, only when you look at the jars from the side the noodles look like worms in dirt. (Ewww.) I haven’t had ramen since university 20 years ago and this was a vast improvement on what I remember. Although I’m not sure what we had was what we were supposed to be eating. The ingredients call for 1/2 a cup of tamari in the broth, but it’s nowhere in the directions (instead there’s ponzu). I used tamari, but I suspect the citrus base of the ponzu would make it taste quite different. Whatever, it was still good. And all easy (heh heh). On top is sliced shiitake mushrooms (again, pricey!), baby bok choy, scallions, snap peas and fresh lemon zest. There’s also supposed to be a soft-boiled egg on there but I stuffed the jar too full of the other things so there wasn’t any room.
There isn’t much in the book in the way of desserts (think coffee granita, balsamic-macerated berries with cashew cream and coconut puddings with kuzu), but the chocolate truffles rolled in chia seeds looked tasty and easy so I gave them a go. And they were both delicious and quick, only there’s a mistake in the recipe or they’re meant to be crazy small. The recipe says it make 16. I got four before I pinched some off to make six. But sixteen! Maybe if you’re a mouse. (And mice probably aren’t supposed to eat chocolate.)
What else to I want to make? A bunch of things. The cauliflower mac ‘n’ cheese looks good (Lily asked if I could make it without the cauliflower), as do the seared scallops with watercress and asparagus, the singapore rice noodles and the chicken and zucchini noodle pho. There are over 125 recipes in all, most (as you’d expect) with little sugar, fat or gluten. I love the book for the inspiring photography and the recipes I tried. I don’t know that it’s the most affordable to cook from for every day, but it is a gorgeous book to have in your collection.
What do you think? Would you try some recipes from It’s All Easy?
Hachette Book Group Canada sent me a copy of It’s All Easy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.