Gwyneth Paltrow: from screen siren to domestic goddess

Harriet Walker
Wednesday 22 December 2010 01:00

The culinary and celebrity worlds have been drooling in anticipation of the release of Gwyneth Paltrow's first cookbook since the Hollywood actress appeared on the cover of US Vogue back in August prepping some grub in her New York kitchen.

It's been a long wait: My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness was announced way back in February 2009, and will finally hit shelves in April. This week we discovered what the book will contain after the influential US food blog ran extracts from its cover sleeve.

The collection of simple dishes celebrates food at the heart of the family. Paltrow, 38, is known for having been close to her father, the director Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002. It's pretty earnest stuff (see the extracts, right) and the book's intimate tone will no doubt endear it to readers who enjoy gobbling up the homely offerings from celebrity chefs such as Sophie Dahl and Nigella Lawson.

But does Gwyneth Paltrow know anything about food? She blogs about it and has filmed a gastro-tour of Spain with the chef Mario Batali, but is more usually associated with the rather extreme Hollywood sect of macrobiotic dieting (a regimen that avoids processed foods and relies on pulses, vegetables and nuts).

Her book presents a softer edge – more organic and seasonal food for the family than lofty lecturing and endless bowls of brown rice (which, she said in an interview in 2007, made her "want to throw up").

But she has been accused in some of the snarkier corners of the foodie blogosphere of ladling on the self-importance in some of her latest musings.

"In the past 10 years, cooking has become my main ancillary passion in life," she writes, rather paradoxically.

But who would doubt the latest Hollywood Renaissance woman to strut and fret beyond the stage? The Oscar-winner is a singer (in her new film Country Strong), a dancer (in a guest appearance on the television series Glee), and a matchmaker (she revealed this week that it was she who had introduced the actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, to his new country singer girlfriend, Taylor Swift).

And if the book's a hit, who knows? Perhaps she'll do a Paul Newman and launch a range of salad dressings, too.

Extracts: An A-lister's recipes for life – and the kitchen

* Paltrow may not have given up all of her macrobiotic diet ideals just yet, as she indicates in the introduction to her seasonal crumble: "This recipe really utilises the sweetness of the fruit, cutting down on added sugar, always a good thing." And later: "More often than not when I prepare desserts, I am thinking about keeping the sugar intake low, as well as limiting other ingredients that don't do us any favours."

* But even she recognises the allure of meals that are light on the washing-up: "It's a one-pan dish and easy cleanup!"

* "In the last 10 years or so, cooking has become my main ancillary passion in life."

n "I can still hear [my father] over my shoulder, heckling me, telling me to be careful with my knife, moaning with pleasure over a bite of something in the way only a Jew from Long Island can, his shoulders doing most of the talking."

* An A-list existence hasn't tempted Paltrow away from the finer things: "When I was growing up, the tomato soup I had was Campbell's, and how I love it to this day."

* Paltrow's love of cooking kicked in when she had her first child in 2005: "The stove is really the epicentre of my house — I am never far away from it and most of the time there is something atop it, simmering away for my family."

* Being a mother is a key factor in the kitchen, and healthy eating is high on the agenda, perhaps unsurprising given that Paltrow's daughter is called Apple: "I am constantly thinking about ways to give my children something filled with as much nutritional value as possible."

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