Years ago, I had a friend who went to the same private school as Gwyneth Paltrow. My friend was several years younger than the actress, but one of her middle school yearbooks contained Gwyneth's senior picture. In the black and white photo, the Oscar winner smiles up at the camera, blowing a bubble with her gum. The photo is quirky and irreverent, and Gwyneth looks...well she looks like the prettiest girl in your high school. Beautiful enough that everyone notices her, but not so beautiful that you don't catch yourself stealing the occasional glance at her lunch tray or her makeup bag thinking that if you ate that or wore that, you'd look like her too.
Between her Glee appearances, her Goop newsletter, and her new cookbook, Gwyneth Paltrow seems to be everywhere these days. And this month, everywhere includes the cover of Bon Appetite Magazine. The decision to put Gwyneth on the cover caused quite the stir amongst some food bloggers and Bon Appetite loyalists who claimed that Gwyneth isn't a food expert, that her shift from macrobiotic eater to homestyle cookbook author is disingenuous, and that the cover of food magazines should be reserved for, well, food.
I for one look at Gwyneth's new cookbook like a peek onto her lunch tray. Sure, she may not be a professionally trained chef, but I'm intrigued by how other people cook and eat. I can't resist those "what's in my fridge" magazine features, and I can get lost in the archives of The New York Diet for hours. Make that how a celebrity with superior access to tools (wood burning pizza oven) and teachers (Mario Batali) cooks and eats, and I'm hooked. And Gwyneth clearly does both things very well.
As for the abandonment of her macrobiotic eating program, well, lets just say that if I had a dollar for every time I vowed to stick to Vegan Before Six or to cut down on sweets only to find myself tempted by a turkey sandwich or seduced by a Snickers bar mere hours later, I would be a rich lady. My point is that the way that I eat isn't consistent throughout the years or months or sometimes even the days, and if someone were scrutinizing my every bite, I'd probably seem like a bit of a hypocrite too. To me, the fact that Gwyneth tried a crazy diet and abandoned it in favor of a more balanced lifestyle makes her real. As does her latest Goop newsletter, in which she admits to getting drunk and forgetting a pizza in the oven, thereby burning it to a crisp.
In short, I'm on Team Gwyneth. And, judging from the fact that one of the most popular recipes on this blog is a super old post on Gwyneth's Carrot Ginger Dressing (complete with a cringe inducing picture from the days before I knew anything about food photos), I'm guessing that many of you are too. (That dressing is amazing by the way, and I still make it all the time). So when I found myself with fresh buttermilk as a result of my butter-making adventure, I decided to whip up Bruce Paltrow's World Famous Pancakes, from Gwyneth's cookbook.
People. Regardless of your thoughts on Gwyneth, you should make these pancakes. They are incredible. Light, fluffy and tender, they were so delicious that I may have eaten one straight from the skillet, before it ever made it to the plate. Those that were not gobbled up while standing over the stove were topped with maple syrup and strawberry sauce. You can't argue with that.
Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce
Adapted from My Father's Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow
This is scaled down for one large serving. You can find Gwyneth's original recipe here
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
heaping 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
milk or water for thinning batter
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside. In a medium pan or cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour the melted butter into a small bowl, and return the pan to the stove. Once the butter has cooled slightly, whisk in the buttermilk and the egg. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and whisk until just combined (better to have small lumps than to over mix your batter).* If your batter is too thick, add a tablespoon of two or milk or water (which I used as I was out of milk) to thin it out (the thinner the batter, the more delicate the pancakes). Ladle batter into the greased pan or skillet working in batches of 2-3 pancakes at a time. (Note that if you use a pan other than the one you used to melt your butter you will need to grease the pan first). When the top of the pancakes are covered with bubbles (after about 2-3 minutes), flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes or so, until pancakes are cooked through and golden. Transfer to a plate and keep warm until it's time to serve.
To make the strawberry sauce, puree the strawberry mixture in a food processor or blender. Heat the puree in a small saucepan before serving.
*Note that Gwyneth says these pancakes are best if you let the batter rest in the refrigerator overnight, but I didn't plan ahead so I made them right away and still found them to be delicious.