Kirstin: I make this a lot, having originally made it in January 2013. It’s a simple recipe that everyone likes, and can be made in winter or summer. You just can’t go wrong with a teriyaki sauce and I love that this is a homemade one. I have actually taken a picture of this recipe on my iPad so that this recipe even comes with us on holiday. That’s how reliable it is. Finding mirin in France, is a whole different problem!
Kirstin: This book has been sitting on my shelves for a good long while now and while I wasn’t convinced before, I am now!
Maureen: I got it as a Christmas present from my friend Anne. Brave woman, giving me a cookbook since I have more than 130, but I was willing to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised that there were some really good recipes in it. But there also were a few that just didn’t work. Just like many cookbooks.
Kirstin: Tthat salmon teriyaki has actually been requested by Ella on a weekly basis since I first made it. That makes it worth the price of the book, if you ask me!
Maureen: The vegetarian chilli was a real winner. I’m definitely going to make it again. The roasted chicken was also good. It annoyed me, though, that she had so many recipes using lobster, tuna and dover sole. Maybe in your life, Gwyneth, but not in mine. If only I were millionaire movie star married to a millionaire rock star.
Kirstin: She talks about her family a lot. There’s also a lot of pictures of her in the book, which may or may not have been necessary.
Maureen: Isn’t it strange she doesn’t once mention her husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay? She talked about her parents ad naseaum and even talks about her children, but he doesn’t feature at all. It’s almost as if he got a proof of the book, took a red pen, and crossed out all references to himself.
Kirstin: I agree. That was strange.
Maureen: I hear Gwyneth has a new book out later this year.
Kirstin: I might be tempted to have a peek at it and who knows, maybe even buy it!
Maureen: I’m not so sure. If it calls for more lobster and tuna, the answer is no.
“Notes from my Kitchen Table” by Gwyneth Paltrow: Our Conclusion
- Overall Grade (A- F): B (Kirstin) C (Maureen) Some real winners and some losers. Not an outstanding cookbook, but not a disaster either. Average.
- Best recipes: Vegetarian chilli and roasted chicken (Maureen) Salmon teriyaki (Kirstin)
- Grade for Photography (A-F): C Not particularly inspiring, unless you want to see lots of pictures of Gwyneth. Bit sure where her husband is in any of the shots either! That was very curious.
- Any disasters? Kirstin: No! Not one. But the recipes weren’t all that adventurous. Maureen: Yes. The roasted cauliflower was burned to a crisp by following her directions. The idea was a good one, so I’ll try it again purely on instinct.
- Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Maureen: Bookshelf. If it hadn’t been a gift, it might have headed to the chairity shop. Kirstin: Bookshelf. I might photocopy the salmon teriyaki recipe and leave that on the shelf.
Maureen: Tomato soup! My favourite.
Tim: Yuck. No thank you. (As he eats the leftover vegetarian chilli instead.)
Maureen: I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Tomato soup is great. What do you boys think?
Andrew (13): It’s OK. It’s not my absolute favourite, but it’s feeding me.
Nicholas (9): I’m really not in the mood for this. I want something I can chew on.
Tim: That’s exactly how I feel, Nicholas. You know, when I was out today, getting my lunch, they had tomato soup on the menu and I thought, “That’s not a meal. That’s just hot liquid.”
Nicholas (with great drama): I really don’t like this.
Tim: We don’t need the drama, Nicholas. If you don’t like it, go make yourself a bowl of cereal instead.
Maureen: I don’t understand. I thought you liked tomato soup, Nicholas.
Nicholas: Not today, I don’t.
Maureen: This is good, but you have to realise that I love all forms of tomato soup. It brings back my childhood when we ate a lot of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and even collected the labels for our school so we could get school equipment.
For the past six months or so, we’ve been trying to become more vegetarian. This can be difficult for us, given that we are omnivores, but we are tying to do it just the same. For me, this means I’m generally trying to be vegetarian at lunch, except for the times when we have leftovers for dinner. For the rest of the family, this involved the introduction of “Meat Free Monday.”
We’ve had good success with Meat Free Monday since September. When it was first launched by the McCartney family in 2009, the boys declared that it would be “impossible” for us to do Meat Free Mondays. At the time, that was true because Monday was “Hot Dog Night” after racing back from a full afternoon of swimming lessons. But that’s no longer true, so now we are trying in earnest. For the most part, we are following it. There are the odd Mondays when it doesn’t happen, like the time we had to eat some Sausage of the Month sausages we had bought at Dring’s over the weekend but wanted to eat before they went off. But for the most part, we are on board.
I made Gwyneth’s vegetarian chilli not for Meat Free Monday, however, but for a dinner party we had last weekend in the midst of London’s snowstorm. The vegetarian chilli was a big hit, both at the party, and then again as leftovers on Meat Free Monday. Not only is the chilli vegetarian friendly, but it’s vegan friendly too, which is healthy for us, but handy for my vegan friends too.
It was hale and hearty, which is what you need in a cold January. By using three different kinds of beans, it was very filling. It also had a nice kick to it, but that might have more to do with my liberal inclusion of chilli flakes, and less to do with the recipe. I would definitely make this again, and might even use this version more often than our usual meat chilli recipe.
Maureen: It’s a new year. We’re going to try to keep to Fish Friday in 2013.
Tim: I think it’s a good idea. There’s no reason not to, given that we have a great fishmonger, called conveniently The Fishmonger— just up the hill.
Maureen: We just need to form the habit of doing it, and then we’ll do it and not even think about it. Like Pizza Night on Saturday, which we’ve been doing since 1995. Or Meat Free Monday, which we started in earnest last year.
Tim: Meat Free Monday didn’t go so brilliantly this week, since we decided to have the Sausage of the Month from Dring’s for dinner on Monday.
Maureen: Well, that’s true. But we just moved Meat Free Monday to Tuesday this week. No biggie. So what do we think of the fish stew?
Sorry for the foggy lens. That was due to the steam rising up from the dish. At least you know it was hot!
Tim: I love it. Though you know I love stuff like this.
Maureen: What about you boys? Please bear in mind that I made it nice and easy for you to eat– I took all of the fish that were in shells out of them. So all you have to do is eat.
Nicholas (9): What’s this called?
Maureen: Well, I call it lemon spaghetti, but it’s got an Italian name. (Finds cookbook to see what the official name is.) It is Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano. Just like I said. Lemon spaghetti.
Andrew (13): It’s pretty good.
Maureen: I agree. I like this. Though I”m not really sure it merits its own recipe in a cookbook. I could do it in four sentences: Cook spaghetti. Make sauce by grating lemon and adding a massive amount of cheese, some olive oil and a splash of pasta water. Mix spaghetti into sauce and put basil leaves on top. Enjoy.
Nicholas: I would eat this again.
Maureen: I’m not surprised you would. But like I said it’s not like the wheel has been reinvented or anything. Saying that, it’s not nearly as boring as I thought it would be. It’s very nice.
Cook’s Note’s: Gwyneth advises that 350 grams of spaghetti would feed four. I’m here to tell you that 350 grams of spaghetti would not feed the four people in our house, particularly when one of them is a teenage boy and the other is his younger brother who loves spaghetti. Just make the whole packet of spaghetti (500 grams) and augment the sauce of cheese, olive oil and lemon accordingly.
NIcholas (9): The chicken was very, very, very, very, very good.
Andrew (13, surprised he agrees with his brother): It was very good! Nice and tender.
Nicholas: Can I have some more chicken?
Maureen: You have to finish your cauliflower and your brussel sprouts first.
Nicholas: But the cauliflower seems burnt.
Maureen: You’re right. It does seem burnt. It was much better before. Gwyneth totally got the timings wrong on that one. We loved snacking on it when it was only 10 minutes in a 200C oven. But she said it should go back in for 25 more minutes at 235C. Big mistake.
Kirstin: I didn’t take any decent pictures of this because it smelt so yummy and I wanted to start eating it.
Tom: It was superb. Especially all those burnt bits!
Georgia: I loved it too. I have smoked salmon with my lunch every day now.
Kirstin: That sounds very healthy, Georgia.
Georgia: I’ve missed baked salmon though.
Ella: This is the best fish ever.
Miles: Is it pork? Because it smells like pork.
Kirstin: No, this is fish Miles. We’re having pork tomorrow.
Miles: Well, it’s yummy anyway.
Kirstin: This may be the recipe that keeps this book on the heavy rotation shelf.
Ella: Can we have noodles with it next time please?
Kirstin: Sure. Because there will be a next time!
Maureen: What do you think?
Andrew (13): It’s good.
Nicholas (9): It’s just like any other macaroni and cheese that we’ve had.
Maureen: But it’s more crunchy on top.
Nicholas: Yes, that’s true.
Maureen: And there’s a LOT less cheese than we usually use. I think Gwyneth wants us to be healthy!
Nicholas: You can tell there’s less cheese, I think.
Tim: It seems very dry.
Maureen: I agree. It needs more… something. Probably cheese, but more sauce would not go amiss either.
Maureen: Would you want me to make this again, or have one of the other versions we’ve had. The one we love is the New York Times macaroni cheese, and the others we’ve liked very much were the ones from Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.
Nicholas: We could have this one occasionally, but it’s not the best one.
Andrew: I’d say we should have one of the other versions that we like more.
Maureen: I agree. I think this one is crunchier, which is nice, but it doesn’t have enough cheese and it’s not creamy enough. I’d rather make one of the other versions. I appreciate that Gwyneth wants us to eat healthier, but that just doesn’t apply when you’re talking about mac and cheese.