This weekend I invited one of my closest friends, Joella, into my kitchen to test out Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Easy. The book is a collection of simple recipes that will feed a family and can be made quickly on a weeknight. Imagine a book for home cooks who are also busy parents and have a million tasks to accomplish after work.
I’m a fan of Gwyneth so before we dive in I’ll admit I’m biased. I loved The Royal Tenenbaums and Shallow Hal, I scroll through Goop from time to time, and I think conscious uncoupling is the most rational way to handle a split.
…And I envy her friendship with Mario Batali who I used to watch on TV all the time as a kid.
Upon opening the book there were some recipes that jumped out at me immediately. The chicken piccata, which we did make, looked stunning. The photographs in this book are top notch and create a whole atmosphere for the reader. I love that she included shots not only of the food but of her home, her interactions – her lifestyle.
I strongly agree with her statement that food doesn’t need to be complicated to be good. Several of her recipes are ones my nonna always makes, or ones I gravitate towards on weeknights. I pretty much never eat out unless I’m so exhausted Bran feels I’m at risk of fainting. And that is a very rare occurrence. I just love to cook, it’s what I do. I look forward to it at the end of the day, I often plan what I’m going to cook the night before, and I feel very satisfied when I hear murmurs of approval when others eat my food. Joella also cooks at home all the time, especially since she’s striving to incorporate more protein into her diet.
So let’s jump right in. We made three recipes from the book: Jessica’s coconut latte, lemon and herb pasta with cherry tomatoes, and chicken piccata.
We began with this recipe because we needed a little pick-me-up after work and before we poured the wine. How delicious does a coconut latte sound? I love that this recipe didn’t have to be altered to suit my allergies in any way. Very simply coconut oil, sugar, and espresso, all ingredients I already had on hand. We both loved the rich flavor of this drink and I actually went on to make Bran and myself one on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Once we were woken up we poured some wine and got ready to start cooking. Joella chose the soundtrack for the evening. We listened first to Koop Island and then some early Norah Jones (a favorite of both of ours). Our strategy was to begin the chicken and pasta in unison and hope they also finished cooking at the same time.
Chicken in a delicate lemon and herb sauce with capers and lemon slices. I’ve had this dish many times before or variations of it using white wine or some broth. We sauteed the chicken breasts after dredging in flour, then added lemon slices and juice, capers, and Earth Balance vegan spread instead of butter. Again it was super easy to use substitutes for allergens, the only allergen being butter. The chicken was tender and saucy and we ate the entire plate. I could easily see myself recreating this meal some other time or especially if I had a group to feed. We served it on a bed of arugula.
Lemon and Herb Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes
Once again, this recipe was conducive to eating allergen-free. We just left out the parmesan but stuck to the recipe otherwise. It was a lot of food. You could easily serve a whole family with this dish and then have some leftover for lunches. It’s Sunday night and I still have a container full in my fridge. My only negative comment is that I felt like I needed a paella pan to simmer the pasta and tomatoes together. Joella also had a point of criticism as she thought it could have been more flavorful. It’s likely that the parmesan would have made up for that. In future I’ll add more garlic and some lemon.
We created a warm, cosy atmosphere to suit the book and meal. Then Jo got very tired of waiting for me to finish taking photos and we finally sat down to eat.
And we then we dug in! In a big way. It was somehow already 11:30 and we were starving, although we have a habit of talking so much when we’re together that we always lose track of time. Clearly this night was no exception. After scarfing down a huge helping each we settled in to watch the new season of Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.
What we loved
This book really is great for anyone living with food allergies like myself.
There were tons of beautiful photographs that inspired me to cook.
Gwyneth gave us a window into her life which made the book feel very personal.
The recipes really were easy and used accessible ingredients.
Portion sizes were ideal for serving a family.
There are a ton of recipes in this book. A ton!
Accessibility of ingredients: 10/10
Flavor level: 8/10
Stunning photographs: 10/10
Covetable lifestyle and killer interior design skills: 15/10
Jessica Seinfeld’s coconut latte: priceless.
It’s All Easy sells for CAD $42.00. It’s hardcover bound with dust jacket and is available at Indigo in store or Indigo.ca