Gwyneth Paltrow whips up easy family recipes

Gwyneth Paltrow is many things, actress, mother, singer and now she's adding cookbook author to her resume. On "The Early Show" she prepared some dishes from her new book "My Father's Daughter." A labor of love, Paltrow spent the last three years writing, testing and tasting, and the result is a beautiful book filled with delicious, easy recipes that celebrate family and togetherness. 


Enjoy all our "Early Show" recipes!

Recipes:

Macaroni & Cheese (a few ways)

I grew up looking forward to the nights we had mac and cheese; my mother would pop the supermarket frozen kind in the toaster oven and the bubbling American cheese would go all brown on top. My brother and I used to fight over the crispy bits. In this more Italian-leaning (and preservative-free) version, the ultimate comfort food gets an elegant makeover. I love to serve this in ramekins for individual portions, adjusting the flavors at the end for each member of my family.

1 pound elbow macaroni (preferably with ridges)
8 ounces mascarpone
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup tightly packed grated Parmesan cheese, plus
1/2 cup for topping
1/2 cup milk
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted
Butter

Preheat the oven to 400°F and turn it on to convection if that's a possibility.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package. Meanwhile, stir together the mascarpone, nutmeg, and 1 cup of Parmesan in a small saucepan over a medium flame until the cheeses melt together, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and salt and pepper to taste and keep the sauce warm over a low flame.

Drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the bread crumbs. At this point, you can put the macaroni in a large baking dish, scatter the bread crumb topping over it, dot it with the butter, and bake it for 15 minutes and it will be great.

Or you can do any of the following variations, which can be done in 4-ounce ramekins to make individual servings:

4 VARIATIONS:

1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup Taleggio cheese,broken into small pieces

1 Put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, then pour the macaroni over the sauce, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes.

2 Mix the mozzarella with the macaroni before pouring into the baking dish. Top with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes. This is also particularly nice with the tomato sauce base as in number 1, above.

3 After you pour the macaroni into the baking dish, tuck in tiny bits of the crumbled Gorgonzola, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes.

4 After you pour the macaroni into the baking dish, put a layer of Taleggio on top, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes.

Hot Niçoise Salad

One cold, wintry day in London, I was dreaming about salad niçoise - one of my favorites. It didn't seem right to be eating something so crispy and chilly in the dead of winter, so I devised this hot version. It's a one-pan dish and an easy cleanup. Perfect for when you are having friends for Sunday lunch or dinner, but you don't have hours to prep.

1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup niçoise olives (preferably pitted)
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
1 yellow Roasted Bell Pepper (page 31), roughly torn into strips
1 red Roasted Bell Pepper (page 31), roughly torn into strips
1 dozen olive oil-packed Spanish anchovies
4 6-ounce tuna steaks
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 organic large eggs
1 lemon, halved

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Steam the green beans for 4 minutes. Immediately toss them together in a large roasting pan with the tomatoes, olives, and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, crushing the tomatoes slightly with your hands. Tear in the basil and push the mixture around the perimeter of the pan. Nestle the peppers and anchovies in and around the vegetables. Lay the tuna steaks in the middle of the pan and coat each with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and rub with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Crack each egg into a small ramekin and tuck the ramekins into the corners of the pan. Drizzle each egg evenly with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stick the whole thing in the oven for 12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set and the tuna is cooked through but still moist. Pull the pan out, squeeze lemon over everything, and serve.

You can arrange the whole thing early in the day and then throw it in the oven right before dinner.

Chicken & Dumplings

This is probably the homiest dish in the book. I absolutely love to make this; it's an uncomplicated one-pot dish that you can prepare in the morning and keep on the back of the stove building deep layers of flavor. The chicken falls off the bone and the biscuit-like dumplings are light and delicious. I was seven when my mother filmed "The Great Santini" in Beaufort, South Carolina - one of the happiest times in my childhood. I spent afternoons running around the marshes and would come home to freshly baked biscuits by Neetha Polite, the lady who was looking after us. The biscuits in the recipe are inspired by her. When I make this, it vanishes - there are never any leftovers.

1 organic whole chicken
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small leek, roughly chopped
1 slice duck bacon, finely diced
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock
2 cups water
1 cup unbleached all purpose or white spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon half and half
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash and dry the chicken. Discard the back and cut the chicken into 10 pieces. Aggressively season the chicken pieces with coarse salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in the largest, widest oven-safe pot you have (at least 12 inches in diameter, with a lid) over medium-high heat. Thoroughly brown the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary (7-8 minutes per side), and remove to a plate, leaving the fat in the pot. Add the vegetables, duck bacon, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot and cook for 15 minutes over medium low heat. Return the chicken to the pot. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and water, bring to a boil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a circle of parchment paper, and put the lid on top. Cook the chicken in a 400°F oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, half-and-half, and fine salt together in a bowl. Take the pot out of the oven, discard the parchment, and scoop large spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture on top of the chicken mixture - you should end up with about 10 dumplings. Cover the pot and put back in the oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and a bit more ground black pepper. Serve immediately, being sure to spoon plenty of the juices over each portion.

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