I Cooked Like Gwyneth Paltrow & Here's What Happened

When I read that Gwyneth Paltrow was coming out with a new cookbook titled It’s All Easy, I cringed. It’s not because I don’t love Gwyneth — I really do! It’s just that, well, sometimes her version of what is doable is not realistic for the rest of us. I mean, remember all the flack she got for her last cookbook? It was even hard to read!

Was Gwyneth’s version of “easy” going to be another chance for the press to mercilessly slam her? I really hoped not. Then I got the press release, and I got even more worried, because it promised that the 125 recipes in the book could be made in “the time it would take to order takeout.” This sounded like a big promise to me. But my competitive side also saw the seed of a challenge being planted (and I love a challenge). I decided to pick up Gwyneth’s gauntlet, and see if her recipes really could be made in less time than it took to order from a delivery app and have a hot meal show up at my door.

Click through to see who won the three-day challenge — Gwyneth Paltrow vs. NYC delivery.
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Photographed by Ditte Isager
Rules Of Engagement
In preparing for this challenge, I took time to be strategic about which recipes I chose. To be clear, this was NOT a way to tilt the balance in favor of Gwyneth. I have a tendency to rush ahead with shopping and cooking without reading through a recipe, and that has bitten me in the ass more than once. With this in mind, I carefully chose Gwyneth’s bacon avocado toast, miso clams, and chicken piccata.

I also wanted the food shopping to be part of the time equation. So I read through the recipes, wrote up my shopping list, and timed how long it took, including transit to and from home. I then took that number (27 minutes, 34 seconds) and split it in three. That means that each recipe had just over 9 minutes on the clock before the challenge even began. I got even more worried about Gwyneth’s promise that this would all be “easy” and faster than takeout.
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Photographed by Ditte Isager
Day 1: Bacon Avocado Toast
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 slice of your favorite bread
2 tbsp almond butter
1/2 to 1 avocado, depending on size
1 slice of bacon, pan fried or cooked until crispy in the oven

Instructions
Toast the bread, spread it with the almond butter, arrange avocado slices over the top, and finish it with the crispy bacon.

Excerpted from the book It's All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow. Copyright © 2016 by Gwyneth Paltrow. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elettra Wiedemann.
Bacon Avocado Toast vs. Super Speedy Sushi

To give Seamless a fighting chance against this quick recipe (which GP notes is ready in “under 30 minutes” — I certainly hope so!), I ordered from my local sushi place. These guys are so incredibly fast with their sushi deliveries that it has made me suspicious in the past — how the hell do they do it? Do they have some kind of implant in my brain that signals to them whenever I am even thinking about sushi? Do they have sushi drones circling over my neighborhood? I still don’t know for sure. I placed my usual lunch order and got started on GP’s toast.

The total cooking and assembly time was 5 minutes 44 seconds. If you think the idea of avocado, bacon, and almond butter on toast sounds strange, I am right there with you. I took the first bite and was like, Hmmm...I think I like it? By the last bite I was like, GIVE ME MORE. Seriously, it’s my new favorite dish. And my usually speedy sushi? Get this: They showed up 3 hours and 14 minutes later! By then, not only had I cooked (and cleaned up) an entire GP recipe, I also answered all my emails, and filed two stories for work.

GP: 1
Delivery: 0
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Photographed by Ditte Isager
Day 2: Miso Clams
Serves 4

Ingredients

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (5-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups sake
3 pounds of small clams, such as manila or littleneck, cleaned
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 tbsp of white miso, dissolved in 3 tbsp very hot water
6 scallions, thinly sliced

Instructions
Combine the garlic, ginger, and sake in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the aromatics have flavored the sake and most of the alcohol has cooked off. Add the clams, cover the pot, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the shells start to open; add the butter and miso and stir to dissolve. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Excerpted from the book It's All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow. Copyright © 2016 by Gwyneth Paltrow. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elettra Wiedemann.
Miso Clams vs. Thai

I almost died from food poisoning from bad fish in November last year, so I haven’t been a huge seafood person since then. But since GP told me this was one of her favorite recipes in the whole book, I felt like I had to try it. Before I got cooking, I ordered Thai food from a place I hadn't tried before.

Immediately after I clicked the “submit order” button, I got cooking; 20 minutes later, I had a big bowl of clam soup that tasted SO DELICIOUS that I nearly forgot about my four days of 104-degree-fever-and-throwing-up hell last November. The Thai order showed up a respectable 46 minutes after it was ordered, but by then I had slurped up my soup and even toasted up a piece of sourdough bread to soak up every last drop of the umami broth — SERIOUS YUM.

GP: 2
Delivery: 0
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Photographed by Ditte Isager.
Day 3: Chicken Piccata
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 pounds of chicken cutlets, pounded into 1/4 inch thickness
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp neutral oil, or as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup capers
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Instructions
Use a paper towel to dry the cutlets well and place the flour on a large plate or in a shallow bowl. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, season the cutlets generously with salt and pepper, then dredge them, one at a time, in the flour before placing them in the hot saute pan.

Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side. When the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through, transfer it to a plate or serving platter and cover to keep warm. Repeat until all the chicken has been cooked (you will most likely have to do this in batches).

Add the lemon slices to the pan, cooking until browned and slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the capers, butter, lemon juice, and a large pinch of salt and cook for 1 minute. Taste for seasoning, add the parsley, pour the sauce over the chicken, and serve.

Excerpted from the book It's All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow. Copyright © 2016 by Gwyneth Paltrow. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elettra Wiedemann.
Chicken Piccata vs. Local Burger Joint

For this final round, I decided to switch it up a bit. I asked my boyfriend to choose whatever takeout he wanted and deal with ordering while I tackled the chicken. We even said, “ready, set, go.”

On "go," I started pulling everything onto the kitchen counter to begin prepping and cooking. I assumed he was going to go on Seamless and peruse the countless options. I’ve so got this, I thought smugly. But instead, he picked up the phone and called our local burger joint, which is literally 50 feet away from our front door. Shit. I started rushing around like a maniac, determined to beat the delivery person. This recipe was easy, but not as 1-2-3 as the previous ones.

I was on the second to last step and the doorbell rang. My boyfriend walked into the kitchen with a satisfied smile on his face and the plastic bag dangling from one finger. Ugh. To GP’s credit, though, the two last steps of this recipe take a total of 2 to 3 minutes (browning lemon slices and then melting butter). But with the 9 additional minutes from the food shopping, I had to hand this one to the burger joint.

GP: 2
Delivery: 1
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Photo: Courtesy of Elettra Wiedemann.
I think it’s fair to say that Gwyneth is the clear winner here. Her recipes were easy to follow and were faster (or almost as fast as) delivery. Many of the ingredients were things that I already had in my pantry (like almond butter and capers) or were well priced and easy to find at my local market. She clearly adjusted since It’s All Good and has become more thoughtful about what is doable and accessible to her followers.

Throughout the week, I tried a couple more of her recipes and they turned out great, as well. My favorite so far are the socca pizzas — they’re so brilliant, so easy, and so delicious. We loved them so much that we ate them on three back-to-back nights, plus I impressed some new friends with them for lunch. GP, you win all around.
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