Win a FREE Copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Cookbook: My Father’s Daughter

My Father's Daughter

My Father's Daughter

I was just having a look around Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, and I love it.  I knew I would love it because I’ve always loved her, from my first date (Shakespeare in Love) to Goop to Glee.  She gave Cee Lo a run for his money.  But as for the book, really the book, I love that the recipes are unpretentious and without gimmick–they just look like good food that she makes at home in London.  Fish tacos.  Chinese duck.  Chicken and dumplings.  And I love the balance–there’s a “no-fry” French fry recipe, and a deep fried French fry recipe.  There’s Gruyère, but also Vegenaise (my mother would LOVE her).  There’s no guilty food or healthy food–just lovely food made good for you at your discretion.

But more than that, I actually love the writing of it.  Each recipe is forwarded by a little blurb about her family, or her memory of what inspired the dish, or what friend or relative first served it up, and it is all very raw and honest and real, with her casual bantering inflection bubbling up through the prose.  When she writes of her father’s pancakes that the recipe “is so truthful to his pancakes that it’s almost hard for me to eat them, I keep expecting him to walk into the kitchen,” my throat caught.  Because that is what food is to me, and all of us.  The little memory, through tastes and smells and sights, that we can recreate from our happy past, when sometimes not all the parts of that past are still here.

I am if nothing else, like Gwyneth, my father’s daughter.  Our birthdays are days apart.  We are the same size.  We think the same things, like the same things, cry at the same things.  We are both weepers!  And great seafood aficionados.  And New Yorkers.  We like music and food.  We share these things, and talk about them, all the time.  It is from that love, that I know many daughters have, that made Gwyneth’s book so palpably poignant, because I get it.  My father taught me to cook too, even though he is a gourmand who can’t boil water.  We stuck a fatty piece of steak under the broiler 25 years ago, and it ignited like the great fire of a small New York kitchen, and we’ve never cooked together since.  But we have dined together extensively, all over the world, and we talk about where we’re going for dinner over the New York Times crossword puzzle at breakfast.  And the hours in front of the Food Network that we have both logged–well, I think it’s safe to say my father is the reason you are reading this.  I think his equivalent to Bruce Paltrow’s perfect pancakes is the great New York Eggplant Parmigiana–that dish will forever mean my dad to me.

I have one copy of this truly beautiful and heartfelt book to give away to one happy reader.  Leave a comment about the one thing your dad taught you to make, or to eat, or to love, and I will choose at random among the comments.  I can’t wait to hear all your stories.

This giveaway has closed and the winner has been contacted.  Thank you so much for all your comments.  They are wonderful!

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17 Responses to Win a FREE Copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Cookbook: My Father’s Daughter

  1. Julie says:

    I want a free copy of this!!

    My father taught me to make his spicy version of eggs benedict. We used to make it together for a special breakfast-in-bed for my Maman, like mother’s day, her saint’s day, or my parents’ anniversary. She seemed to enjoy them, but spending time with my Dad in the kitchen was the best part (and for a little kid, this is the most complicated recipe in the world and thus takes FOREVER to make). After we brought it up to her, he would make me some too, for being such a good little helper. This was a true treat as I spent my childhood eating eggbeaters (ick!) and poached eggs with homemade hollandaise are still the most decadent things I can think of :)

  2. Yana says:

    The only two things I ever saw my Dad make (that can be qualified as cooking) are also egg related. Omelet with spicy tomatoes and an egg fried inside a hollowed slice of bread. Limited as his repertoire was, he always behaved like an expert chef while making those dishes. He explained the reason for each step and ingredient, and why you do this and never that, and I was mesmerized every single time. And results were always delicious.

  3. Garrett says:

    Martini. Up. Olives.

  4. Jen/YVR says:

    The father-figure in my life is my grandfather, who, along with my grandmother, raised me from the time I was just a few months old. He is just the best person I know. But he’s not much of a cook. He is very much of the old school – he would be out working on the farm they lived on during the day, and my grandmother would make the meals. But he does have a few specialties, some of which are less special than others – potato sandwiches, anyone?
    When my grandmother would go away for a few days when I was a kid, she would always cook up a storm before she left, making sure there was a freezer full of stew and chili to tide us over. Would we ever get to it, though? Nope. Potato sandwiches, sliced meatball sandwiches, and fried bologna & mustard sandwiches always made an appearance. But the real treat, the food that was so special because it only came out when it was just me & papa, was his mother’s potato pancakes. They were simple – just finely shredded potato, an egg, a bit or flour, and some salt, fried in lots of oil. Some we ate with just a sprinkling of salt, others with sour cream, and usually a few with both sour cream and a drizzle of Roger’s Golden Syrup. Papa would let me shred the potatoes until my arm got tired, and then he would take over. And he always fried them, even when I got old enough to be trusted at the stove. That was him taking care of me.
    I’m fortunate enough to still have this wonderful man in my life, and don’t have to rely on memories alone, but I know that even when I don’t have him with me anymore, every time I make those pancakes, it’ll make me think of those rare times it was just me & papa.

  5. Let’s begin saying that my father isn’t the best cook. He can hardly boil potatoes without screwing them up, somehow. But the one thing he can cook, and showed me how to do it, is roast a chicken. I know, typical male being king of the meats in the kitchen all the way back to the caveman.. and it’s true with my dad! It’s something about roasting meat over a flame that bring men together and bond. Give my father a chicken and it’ll taste absolutely amazing, whether it be in the oven or on the grill. He even jerry-rigged this neat rotisserie onto the grill for during the summer, too! :)

  6. Julie R says:

    My parents divorced when I was ten and I stayed with my father. I am such a daddy’s girl, also. Our Sundays turned into experimenting days. He developed awesome recipes for chili dogs, sandwiches, brats and sauerkraut, among many other things. But one of my favorite recipes was his Red Beans and Rice. The flavor was perfect and the kitchen always smelled great when we made it. We made it with butter and sausage that was perfectly spiced in that the whole dish was not too spicy. Creole seasoning went into the mix and then we would eat it with a great crusty bread. It made for a perfect Sunday afternoon.

  7. IslandEAT says:

    I enjoyed your post, which made me think about what my late father had taught me about food.

    As I don’t recall ever having seen him make anything to eat (my mother didn’t cook much of the time, either), I did learn to appreciate the wide range of cuisines available in greater Chicago. My father appreciated good value. family-run restaurants of just about any origin, as long as it was well-prepared, authentic, and good to eat. He knew more than seven languages, so he enjoyed trying out various places to keep up with the (spoken) ones he had studied or picked up.

    I actually learned much more about cooking from my grandmother, many of whose recipes I tried to re-create last year on my site.

    Thanks for the “provocative” question,

    Dan

  8. carol says:

    my dad wasn’t much of a cook, but he made a mean fried rice :) he basically took all the left over banchan (korean side dishes) my mom had in the fridge and mixed it in with some rice and fried it up with some hot pepper paste :) delicious! I make it for my husband once in a while and he loves it! ^__^ but the thing my dad taught me to love is our family, no matter how busy he was he always made sure we knew we were his priority. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have asked for a better dad…

  9. Kate V says:

    My father inspired my love of cooking. Even though we aren’t a religious family we love traditions, even some that are not part of our ancestral culture. My father was raised by an Irish American mother who loathed cooking and never let her family forget her disdain for the chore. Growing up my father described her food in such evocative terms as “hamburgers like hockey pucks, roast chicken like saw dust, eggs so burnt and dark it was hard to tell what was bacon and what was not…” that I will never forget why he took up cooking as a hobby.

    Every year from the time I was little my dad would spend hours (he is a perfectionist and likes to take his time go get things right) in the kitchen making potato latkes around Hannukkah. Our timing was usually off since we wanted to wait for a good night when we had time and big appetites, and because the religious background of the holiday held little meaning for us as lapsed Roman Catholics. His latkes became legendary. I brought leftovers to school for lunch and my Jewish friends were astounded at how he mastered the recipe. Golden brown and crisp around the edges, light and perfectly seasoned in the middle, these were one of my favorite Winter traditions.

    The past two years my dad has passed on the tradition to me. The first year he stood directly over my shoulders inspecting every step to make sure I included all his secrets for the perfect, not too heavy, greasy, dry, salty, or bland latkes. The next year I remembered most, but not all of his steps so I needed his help. He was so proud of how they came out and my family happily gobbled up the results.

    For my family, like many, holidays has always been about food. We are non-observant, non-religious ethnically diverse and embrace holidays from other cultures and religions by trying their food, making it our own, and for my dad, perfecting it. I look forward to making the latkes on my own next year, although I have a feeling no matter how good I get at them, he’ll still stand over my shoulder to make sure I’m doing it right. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Next up: learning his superbly rich, yet “l0w-fat” gravy and roasting method for Thanksgiving Dinner. I have some big shoes to fill (literally – he’s a tall guy!) but the process of learning his recipes not only brings us closer together but passes down our family’s unique, incredibly random traditions.

  10. betsy says:

    My dad is not much of a cook, but I have learned from him how to make the most delicious smoked salmon, lots of brown sugar and soy sauce.

  11. Christy says:

    Ker, your post prompted me to comment, as this is something that is really near and dear to my heart, as it obviously is to lots of others as well. I remember once walking past you and your dad having your traditional dinner on the UES (I think you were having mussels?) and I thought about my favorite food momenta with the ever-entertaining George Franklin. My absolute favorite memory is from when I was very little and we had just moved to Michigan. Every morning I would get up as crazy early as him, probably around 5:30 or 6 am, so we could sit at the breakfast table together while we ate our Kellogg’s cereal. It was the only time I would see him and it was our special time together. Whenever I have certain cereals, I think of those mornings.
    As for actual cooking, my dad is a slyly good chef, but not one who did a lot of it. So, when he did dust off the apron, we knew we were in for a treat. Like a good Southern boy, he made a mean fried chicken and delicious breakfasts complete with eggs scrambled in the bacon pan, buttery grits and English muffins with jam. Now that I’m older, my favorite thing to do is to make that big breakfast for a group at the end of a fun weekend at our lake house. It’s not Kellogg’s cereal and best served not at the crack of dawn but instead the lazy, late start of a Sunday.
    Thanks for the suggestion to take a trip down memory lane. I think you, Mr.English, the Gershlet and I all need to take over the Michigan lake house and try these dishes out! In honor of George Franklin. And Tony the Tiger :)

  12. Rachel says:

    The one dish I will forever associate with my dad is the very simple, almost bland crackers & gravy (I’ve also heard it called just “cracker gravy”). There is absolutely nothing healthy or refined about 15 saltines crushed and mixed together with about 3 ladle-fuls of chicken or pork gravy, but I’ve eaten it for as long as I can remember. My dad grew up eating it, because my grandfather’s family lived off it during the Depression. It’s a small connection I have to my grandfather, who passed away when I was 13. I’ll never forget how my son’s face lit up the first time I let him try a tiny bite when he was about a year old, and now whenever I fix gravy with a meal, he asks for “crackers & graby” too.

  13. Kerry says:

    A comment from my uncle, sharing a glimpse of my grandfather. I wish I could have been there…

    On Sunday mornings, we would get up early and he would cut up some onions and put them in a saute pan on a very, very low flame. Then we would go to the appetizing store in Bayside, get some lox, bagels, cream cheese, pickled herring, etc. My dad would flip a coin with the proprietor – double or nothing – if he won he paid nothing, if he lost he paid double. Then we would go next door to the Adrian bakery and get some jelly doughnuts. When we got home the onions would be perfectly golden – then he would add the lox and eggs. Wonderful dish, more wonderful memories.

  14. Dianne says:

    My father was from France, too (Pau in the Pyrenees), and I remember him making crepes for us from time to time. It wasn’t an everyday thing, maybe once every few months, but when it happened, he had to triple the recipe because we’d gobble it all up as fast as he’d make them. One of my earliest memories was a crepe making morning when I was three or four and my middle sister was a year and half or two (I’m the eldest) and Mom and Dad were in the kitchen making the crepes (Dad made them and Mom filled them). We’d run from their bedroom (where we were watching cartoons) to get a crepe, then run back to the bedroom and jump up and down eating the crepe at the same time. Not sure why we’d jump up and down but that’s what we did. Back and forth we’d go until the crepes were all gone. I just made crepes this morning for the family I’ve been teaching basic–really basic–French to twice a week and the kids enjoyed it. Thursday is our last day and we’ll have Quiche Lorraine and make Macaroons. As I typed this out, my dad’s memorial tree’s leaves are swaying gently in the wind. He passed away in February 2007 from Pancreatic Cancer (not hereditary–from exposure to radiation working on microwave towers in Paris back in the late 1950′s).

  15. cat says:

    my father was never much of a cook. but when I was a child, he made a very loving ritual out of taking the family to go out to eat phở, a very traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, every sunday night. he’s since passed away, but I am still comforted by the remembrance of this simple and delicious family tradition.

  16. Lauren Puschaver says:

    My dad called his pancakes “world famous”. Even though they were made with Bisquick, to me they were like gold! My dad past away a few months after Gwyneth’s dad. We both lost our dads young and they were not able to share their amazing pancakes with their grandkids! Through stories and recipes my kids will know all about their grandfather and his world famous pancakes!

  17. Cathy F. McDonald says:

    My Dad loved hot tamales. Therefore, I would make them and freeze them in bags of 6 so he could reheat when he wanted them!

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