Gwyneth Paltrow’s hunger for furikake (this Japanese seasoning sounds a little like “fee-ur-cake”) is just one of the ways Gwyneth is different from you and me. She has her own fab-lifestyle website, Goop.com. Her staff calls her “GP” (and I am just now realizing where the name Goop came from, so yes, Gwyneth is smarter than me). She sells $27-an-ounce Moon Dusts to sprinkle in smoothies. (Yes, she’s much, much smarter than me.)
But does Gwyneth Paltrow really live better than you and I? When her new cookbook, “It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook” (Goop Press, $35), landed on my desk, I had to find out:
Just how easy is it to be Gwyneth?
While she’s gluten-free and sort-of vegetarian (no red meat, but lots of chicken, eggs and even pancetta – pork apparently is white meat in her world), she loves wine, snacks and big dinners.
When it comes to her cookbook that promises easy weekday recipes, you have to pick carefully.
I settled on a day’s worth of dishes: Ginger Chia Pudding, Asian Avocado Toast, Bibimbap Salad (only 19 ingredients, plus the furikake makings), Beet Chips, Tikka Masala Roast Chicken with Indian Creamed Spinach and Roasted Cauliflower With Curry and Lime, and avocado-based Chocolate Mousse with Cashew Cream.
First stop: Whole Foods.
Now, my pantry is more eclectically stocked than most: I already had Korean gochujang (a pepper paste), coconut oil, rice vinegar and the spice blend called garam masala. I still had a 28-item shopping list, including brown rice syrup, Vegenaise, chia seeds, liquid stevia and tandoori spice.
Shopping took 1 hour 20 minutes, including five requests for help from employees. (Tip: Vegenaise is in the refrigerator section, not on the shelf with the other vegan mayos. Luckily, it’s right above the kimchi.)
Even hitting store brands and sales, my bill for a single day of food came to $129.16. Good thing I skipped that manuka honey at $26 to $44 a jar.
Back home, I was ready for a pick-me-up, so I started the Asian Avocado Toast at 9:55 a.m. I quickly discovered the times given on recipes are a bit of a cheat. Many claim “less than 30 minutes,” but involve things that take separate cooking, like poaching eggs and making furikake. “Under-30 minute” toast took closer to 40 minutes.
Still, it was tasty.
Again, it involves cooking rice, prepping a blender sauce (7 minutes 50 seconds), cooking mushrooms, mung beans and spinach separately, poaching another egg and shredding carrots. My score: 36 minutes, 40 seconds.
It was tasty, though. Even my vegetarian-averse spouse loaded up a bowl, easy on the kimchi. We’re still consciously coupled because I don’t make him eat much kimchi.
Apparently, you need a $350 blender (on the cookbook’s equipment list) to make cashew cream. In my Breville, no slouch at high speeds, it came out more gritty than creamy, and weirdly salty. But the chocolate mousse chilled up with a dense, smooth texture and only a hint of avocado.
Beet chips, shaved thin on my mandoline, had mixed results. Some got crispy, others stayed leathery. The crisp ones were tasty if you don’t mind potato chips with a beet aftertaste. Then again, Gywneth advocates snacking with wine. After a glass or three, you might be fooled.
The chicken involved spatchcocking – cutting out the backbone, and don’t we do that every day? – so add poultry shears to that equipment list. With the side dishes, it took 1 hour, 53 minutes. Not short by “super-busy weeknight” standards, but for a Saturday night, it’s doable.
The cauliflower was tasty and I’d make it again. But the Indian creamed spinach was more Cincinnati than Calcutta – nice but underseasoned.
The best dish of the day turned out to be the overnight Ginger Chia Pudding. If you like the soft pop of things like bubble tea and caviar, you’ll love chia pudding. You just put seeds in a jar with coconut water, coconut milk and coconut sugar and refrigerate overnight. It gets a creamy/crunchy texture, perfect for a morning commute.
From shopping to cooking, my day as Gwyneth was occasionally tasty. But it was often more work than promised, and it takes a hefty amount of money.
It’s all easy? Sorry, Gwyneth: That’s a load of goop.
Photos: Kathleen Purvis