Book Review: Hetty Lui McKinnon’s Tenderheart

Tenderheart: A Cookbook about Vegetables and Unbreakable Family BondsTenderheart: A Cookbook about Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds by Hetty Lui McKinnon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure I’ve done a book review of a recipe book … but why not? On Goodreads, I see that it hasn’t been released in North America yet, so my review there is the first one up!

I’d seen Hetty’s name and recipes in the New York Times and elsewhere, and when I heard about the Australian book launch, I thought it would be interesting to go, and to get a copy of this book. It was a great event, and a great introduction to her. I bought the book. There is so much to love.

I’ve wanted to eat less meat and more vegetables for a while, and it’s THIS BOOK that has moved my husband and I in this direction and not as a chore but as a pleasure. The book is divided into chapters on different vegetables, and so it’s a great reference. But more than that, comparing it with other recipe books, this one excites me. There are a few recipes for those who want to tackle a more complicated project, but most are quite easy. But they tend to each teach me a different cooking technique and how to use different ingredients in different ways. They often use Asian ingredients that I’m interested in trying out or like to use (Korean spices, say, or Asian seaweed, or kim chee). We’ve made SO many of these recipes now.

The other thing is that the book feels deeply personal, in a beautiful way. She has dedicated the book to her father, and the photo of him even looks a little like my Dad, the son of the owner of a vegetable and produce shop in Vancouver! She also writes about developing the recipes during COVID lockdown, resulting in dishes that are humble, made with easily accessible ingredients, and yet elevated by her expertise and experience. This is really delicious stuff, and will touch your heart as well as fill your belly. I highly, highly recommend it.

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