Gwyneth Paltrow is much talked about these days. But it ain’t her Hollywood rah-rah, or the World’s Most Beautiful Woman’s status that has a glam gang all abuzz about the Oscar winner – it’s her latest cookbook which arguably (according to the current issue of Star magazine) ”inspired wide-spread negative reviews and even outrage”. In ”It’s All Good” (title of the book) Gwyneth shares 185 recipes which make her and her family feel healthier. Giving up dairy, sugar and gluten (Elimination diet) in favor for other ingredients made her the dart board of criticism. And while Joanna Blythmanand other investigative food journalists and experts on causes of obesity say that ”Paltrow’s low-carb diet makes perfect sense”, majority of the reviews have been cynical, petty, snarky and everything else but … honest? Well, I guess there is no such thing as a bad press!
As a passionate cook, I am a big fan of many of her recipes as well as of those from the reality show ”Spain on the Road Again” with her and Mario Batali. Ultimately, ”we are what we eat”, and whatever are Mrs. Paltrow’s cooking, writing skills or her ability to be ”out of touch or mean”, the proper nutrition is written all over her face. Not to mention the fortune she must have paid to doctors, nutritionists, trainers and cooks to keep that stay-young body of hers. If I can benefit from all that at a fraction of cost by buying her ”It’s All Good” for $17.50 + tax (bookstore member’s price), this book is definitely a keeper for me.
So please indulge me, while I showcase the good-for-you Gwyneth Paltrow’s Chicken Burger – Thai Style recipe from her new cookbook. It is very basic, healthy, delicious and good for the whole family. It is also surprisingly versatile: once you begin preparing this Asian-inspired burger mix, it might strike you that it’s very close to the wonton stuffing mix (as it happened to me). As a result, I made two dishes instead of one, turning the leftovers into a flavorful wonton soup, which my gluten-tolerant family members devoured with pleasure.
The burgers can be grilled or pan-fried. I tried both versions and discovered it was important to add some binding ingredient into the grilling version (unless you freeze the burgers for about 15 minutes before grilling). So I added some crumbs to the burger recipe (please feel free to use gluten-free crumbs to keep the recipe dietetically intact). Otherwise, there were no other modifications to the recipe.
We had these burgers with roasted/grilled bok choy, ratatouille, cucumber & radish salad, and quickly improvised avocado salsa. Excellent way to lighten up your BBQ fest, while still enjoying your meal big time!
As for the wonton stuffing, I added a few drops of sesame oil and some soya sauce into the leftovers of the mix; and used commercially bought wonton skins and my homemade chicken stock. Place a teaspoon of chicken burger mix in the center of each wonton skin. Moisten all 4 edges of wonton wrapper with water , then pull the top corner down to the bottom, folding the wrapper over the filling to make a triangle. Press edges firmly to make a seal. Bring left and right corners together, overlap the tips of these corners moisten with water and press together. Continue until all wrappers are used. Bring the chicken stock to boil. Drop wontons in for 5 minutes. Garnish with minced green onions and other greens of your choice (parsley, coriander, basil) and serve with some soya sauce and lime wedges on the side.
CHICKEN BURGER – THAI STYLE
1 lb (454g) ground chicken (preferably dark meat)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely minced
1 tsp. red chilli flakes (or more or less, however hot you like it)
2 tsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp canola, grapeseed or safflower oil
In a large bowl, mix ground chicken with garlic, cilantro, shallots, red chilli flakes, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 4 burgers, each about 3/4-inch thick. Heat a grill or frying pan over medium heat. Rub each burger on both sides with a bit of oil and grill for about 8 minutes on the first side and another 5 minutes on the second, or until nicely marked and firm to touch.
Adapted from: ”It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow with Julia Turschen, Grand Central Life & Style Hachette Book Group, April 2013.