Monday Reviews- My Father’s Daughter

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Monday Reviews:

I’ve been married for almost four years now (where has the time gone?). Something Nick and I have gotten into the habit of doing is talking about our future kids. How tall will they be? What will we name them? Will they be outgoing like Nick or quiet like me? Around the time I bought my first cookbook, Nick and I really started to focus on where our food comes from. We planted a garden and started focusing on eating local and organic produce and meats. Part of that reason is for our own health benefits but the other part is we want to set a good example for our kids. Is that weird? I’m not even sure when we’ll have children but I’m already worried about whether they will get enough vegetables. Yep, that is weird. Oh well. I want to set a good example for them from the beginning and I know that starts with my diet. I can’t remember how I stumbled across Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, “My Father’s Daughter”. I think it may have been my cousin Angela who introduced me to it but it has quickly become my go to cookbook for dinners with friends and lazy nights in front of the TV.

The thing that strikes me about this book is how much passion is in it. From the introduction, to the pictures, to the recipes themselves, you can tell Gwyneth has poured her heart into this cookbook. The recipes themselves are mostly based on fish and white meat and most can be turned into vegetarian or vegan meals. Gwyneth approaches her recipes as a working mom, so the food is accessible, unfussy, and comes together quickly. Alternately it is still elegant and delicious. Her love of cooking and eating with her children is what I hope I will strive for when I have my own.

I make this soup when I’ve enjoyed one too many treats and need something light but still filling. It is full of kale and onions and makes a great lunch.

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Recipe from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

White Bean Soup (version one)

(Serves 4)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, stems and fronds removed for another use, bulb thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Pinch red chile flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 14oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 pints vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch kale
  • Course salt

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the fennel and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and garlic, turn the heat as low as it can go, and cook for ½ hour, stirring here and there. A little color is okay, but you really want the vegetables to get soft and sweet. Add the chile flakes, oregano, and pepper and cook for a minute. Add the beans and stock, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, add salt to taste, and let cook on low heat for 1 hour. Stir in kale leaves and let cook for 7 minutes, or until just cooked. Ladle into four bowls, drizzle with your very best olive oil, and serve.

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Monday Reviews- 5 Ingredient Fix

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Monday Reviews:

I have noticed a problem. I talk (type?) too much. The story behind this cookbook was a page long before I was halfway through. Oops! I guess minoring in English will do that to you. I love writing and food and I get a little carried away sometimes. So let’s get started.

“5 Ingredient Fix” changed my whole cooking philosophy. Before this book I used to waste so much time with complicated ingredients and recipes. This book taught me how to simplify meals using only 5 ingredients. I doubt I would have ever picked this book up off the shelves if I hadn’t seen the show first. In an episode called “Cook Once, Eat Twice” Claire (in my kitchen I’m on a first name basis with the chefs) made Pork Roast with Hard Cider Gravy and Parsnip-Potato Mash. It looked so good I immediately looked the recipes up on my computer and made it for dinner that night (can you tell I’m a little impulsive?). It was amazing. I couldn’t believe only 10 ingredients could make an entire meal that was also delicious. I ordered the book the same night.

“5 Ingredient Fix” covers it all, from breakfast to cocktail hour to dessert and is laid out very simply. The five ingredients are at the top of the page with the instructions below and two tabs are listed on the side of the page. One states: “What makes this recipe really sing” where she introduces the recipe with a couple of sentences about why she likes the dish. The other tab says “What to toss in if you have it”. This gives you a more options if you want to go above the 5 ingredient limit. The directions are clear and easy to read and the photographs are lovely. Looking through this book I realized just how many of her dishes I have made, some of my favorites are, Lemon-Tarragon Chicken Soup, Spaghetti Squash with Basil Butter, Edemame Hummus, and Pecan Cheese Straws.

The only downside to this book is the time factor. Since you are only using 5 ingredients, you have to work a little harder to bring out the flavors. This is usually achieved in this book by roasting, which can add about 45 extra minutes so keep that in mind. However I think the extra time is well worth it and would recommend this book to anyone who craves simple, delicious food.

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I make this soup whenever I’m feeling under the weather. I usually have the ingredients on hand and the mix of roasted garlic, hot soup, and lemon always makes me feel better.

Recipe from 5 Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson

Lemon-Tarragon Chicken Soup

(Makes 4-6 servings)

  • 1 large head garlic, cut in 1/2 horizontally through cloves
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus thin slices for garnishing
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for garnishing
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, preferably organic, cut into bite-size pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the garlic halves, cut side down, on a sheet of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking sheet. Add 2 tablespoons chicken stock and wrap the foil around the garlic, keeping the cut sides flat on the sheet tray. Roast until the garlic is very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.

Squeeze the soft garlic from the head with your fingers into a large saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup of the stock to loosen the garlic paste and put the pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining stock, lemon juice, and chopped tarragon; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken. Cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 9 to 12 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with thin slices of lemon and a sprinkle of fresh tarragon leaves.

“What to toss in if you have it: You can add just about any vegetable to the soup; chicken breast cooks quickly, so there are no worries about overcooking vegetables in the broth. Broccoli, peas, fresh corn kernels, celery, and carrots would all be great additions.”