The Covid Era
The Danny/Gwyneth Project, but make it pandemic
3 years later……….
Welcome to the Covid era of the Danny/Gwyneth Project, my probably lifelong journey to complete every recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks. When I last updated this dear old blog, my beloved dog Antony was still alive and Covid didn’t exist. FUNNY HOW THINGS CHANGE.
Efforts to resume this stupid project have come and gone throughout the pandemic. I frequently get the urge, because I hate having this incomplete (and also the days in Covid are oh so long and aimless), but then I remember how truly hard it was to find and source the ingredients for these recipes pre-pandemic, and I get overwhelmed by the thought of hunting down whatever a “halibut frame” is by going in and out of a dozen Omicron-infested shops in the city, and then I give up and have an edible and shelve the project again.
And yet, here we are again. Throughout the past year, I did, in fact, cook three Gwyneth recipes that went unblogged, so let’s rectify that now.
The first was Grandad Danner’s Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies, a mercifully normal recipe, which was only made difficult via — as always — my own kitchen idiocy. First of all, it took walking to four grocery stores to find peanut butter chips, which really should not be that difficult to find! Shame on Flatbush. Even worse, the only ones I could find were Reese’s-branded, which you just know sent a shiver down Gwyneth’s perfect spine the moment they were added to my cookie batter.
Even more idiotically, I guess I kind of forgot that brown sugar can, like, fossilize on you? So when I got home from my exhausting shopping trip and started to bake, I discovered this:
After getting some help via Instagram friends, I learned you can sometimes soften the block by microwaving it alongside a bowl of water. This felt and still feels insane to me, but you know what? IT WORKED. Over a decade since I started this project and I’m still learning and growing ❤
After that, it was just a matter of slopping all the stuff together in a bowl, rolling the batter into balls, and baking. Normal cookie stuff. And they came out… sickening! And I mean that in the bad way, not in the fun, gay way. These were nauseatingly, sickly sweet, with a gloppy mouthfeel that made you chew like a dog trying to lick peanut butter off of its back teeth. I’ve never been a big fan of peanut butter cookies, if we’re being honest, but these were maybe the worst I’ve ever had. Look, I’ll give Gwyneth credit for including an honest-to-god unhealthy cookie recipe in her cookbook, but in the future she really should stick to what she’s best at, which is anything but this.
The worst part? The recipe was for THIRTY COOKIES. I was able to offload some to my friend Annie, but even half a dozen of these cookies is too many cookies. I’m so thankful I never have to do this recipe again in my godforsaken life.
The other two recipes I completed were equally nauseating: The Wedge with Blue Cheese Dressing. I love a wedge salad, but blue cheese dressing can really be hit-or-miss with me, so I was apprehensive.
The hardest part was, as always, sourcing ingredients, namely my dear old friend VEGENAISE. Since Gwyneth introduced me to the brand over a decade ago (yikes we all got old), the vegan mayo business has exploded, making it paradoxically easier than ever to find vegan mayo but harder than ever to find Vegenaise-brand vegan mayo. I could have settled for any one of the other brands available at one of my neighborhood grocery stores, but I absolutely must stay as true to the recipes as I possibly can, so I persevered and somehow found a jar of the good stuff.
The dressing recipe is very simple: thinly slice a shallot and mix it with sour cream, Vegenaise, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (she tells you to use the “picante or mountain kind, not the dulce” but I literally don’t know what the fuck she’s talking about so I just got the only kind I could find), red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Nothing too shocking, everything’s going fine. Until… hold on, what’s this? 1/3 a cup of COLD WATER? Why would I possibly want 1/3 cup of cold water in my salad dressing!!!!!!! What purpose could that possibly serve???? AM I LOSING MY MIND???
Will it surprise you to learn that the resulting dressing was watery? And not just “hmm, I wonder if we can thicken this up a little” watery. The dressing was, essentially, shallots in a dirty puddle. I’m so so so sorry for what I’m about to show you:
To make “The Wedge,” you just take your nasty Vegenaise shallot water and pour it over a wedge of iceberg lettuce, feeling free to add “super ripe” tomatoes and thinly sliced onions if you want. The resulting “salad” is one of the worst things ever created, a wedge of watery iceberg lettuce drowning in vegan sewage runoff.
“If there is a wedge with blue cheese dressing on a menu anywhere,” Gwyneth informs us, “a Paltrow will be ordering it.” And if it’s this wedge with blue cheese dressing, a Danny will be diarrhea-ing it out within minutes.