Gwyneth and I

Gwyneth Paltrow and I have become friends. We bond in a sort of “we’re both health freaks but sometimes we eat double fried french fries because that’s what real foodlovers do”. Actually, Gwyneth doesn’t know about our relationship at all. She’s too busy cooking for Moses and Apple, so she doesn’t know that I now own her cookbook Notes From My Kitchen Table.

It was Miss E who cheered me up one night at The Queens pub in Primrose Hill. Over our sausage and mash and burger meal, she handed over the cookbook and said she thought of me when she saw the spelt chocolate brownies. Aren’t I lucky to have a wonderful friend like that?

The cookbook does indeed remind me of my own way of thinking when it comes to food. I’d like to support my local farmer’s market (but frankly, how often does cash get in the way and I head to Tesco instead?), eat organic and know where my food comes from. Gwyneth seems to have all that under control. The recipes, although I haven’t tried any yet, seems easy and fresh if you’re an amateur cook.

Part of why I especially like Notes from my Kitchen is that Gwyneth weaves much family history into the recipes, she particularly talks a lot about her father who died of throat cancer a couple of years ago. The way she associates pancakes or a special BBQ sauce with her dad, is exactly the way I think about my grandma.

Because certain dishes only grandma could make. Ham hock with swede mash or a fantastic fudge and almond cake just don’t taste the same if I would make them. Not that I would even dare to try.

Gwyneth does try though, and has a nice repertoire of primarily Mediterranean or American (those are actually the least interesting ones)-inspired dishes, often with healthy agave syrup or veggie treats her vegeterian daughter Apple likes. I guess that’s the legacy of a macrobiotic fanatic. I thought I’d include a short recipe that tickled my fancy. I seriously hope I don’t infringe on any copyright laws…

For another take on this book, a review can be read here.

Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano
serves 4

Ingredients:
350 g spaghetti
Coarse salt
1 lemon
100 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated plus extra for serving
½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-5 tablespoons of pasta water, to thin
Handful fresh basil leaves (from 4 leafy stems)

Boil the spaghetti in salted boiling water, according to the packet directions.

Meanwhile, using a Microplane grater, grate the zest from the lemon into a large mixing bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl.

Add the Parmesan, pepper and a pinch of salt and mix in the olive oil to form a wet paste.

When the spaghetti is perfectly cooked, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the cooking water to the lemon and cheese mixture. Add the spaghetti to the bowl and toss thoroughly, adding another tablespoon or 2 of pasta water if necessary so that the sauce coats each strand. Roughly tear in the basil leaves.

Serve each portion with a sprinkle of coarse salt, a grind of black pepper and a few gratings of extra Parmesan.

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