Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds (Hardcover)
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ONE OF BON APPETIT'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • The acclaimed author of To Asia, With Love explores how food connects us to our loved ones and gives us the tools to make vegetarian recipes that are healthful, economical, and bursting with flavor.
"A love letter to vegetables and almost a memoir through recipes, this truly special book speaks to the soul as much as to the stomach." —Nigella Lawson, author of Cook, Eat, Repeat
"Gorgeous, down to earth, vegetable-driven dishes that strike the most delicious balance between fresh and exciting, and cozy and approachable.” —Molly Yeh, Food Network host and NYT Bestselling author of Home Is Where the Eggs Are and Molly on the Range
Heritage and food have always been linked for Hetty Lui McKinnon. Tenderheart is a loving homage to her father, a Chinese immigrant in Australia, told in flavorful, vegetarian recipes. Growing up as part of a Chinese family in Australia, McKinnon formed a deep appreciation for her bicultural identity, and for her father, who moved to Sydney as a teenager and learned English while selling bananas at a local market. As he brought home crates full of produce after work, McKinnon learned about the beauty and versatility of fruits and vegetables.
Tenderheart is the happy outcome of McKinnon’s love of vegetables, featuring 22 essential fruits and vegetables that become the basis for over 180 recipes.
- Miso Mushroom Ragu with Baked Polenta
- Carrot and Vermicelli Buns
- Crispy Potato Tacos
- Kale, Ginger and Green Onion Noodles
- Broccoli Wontons with Umami Crisp
- Soy–Butter Bok Choy Pasta
- Sweet Potato and Black Sesame Marble Bundt
About the Author
Hetty Lui McKinnon is a Chinese Australian cook and food writer. A James Beard Foundation finalist, she is the author of four other cookbooks, including the much-loved To Asia, With Love (2021), the award-winning Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day (2019), Neighbourhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes from Home and Abroad (2017), and Community: Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen (2014). Hetty is also the editor and publisher of multicultural food journal Peddler and the host of the magazine’s podcast The House Specials. She is a regular recipe contributor to The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Epicurious.com, and ABC Everyday; and her recipes have appeared in Food52, the Guardian, The Washington Post and more. Born and raised in Sydney, she now resides in Brooklyn, New York.
"Tenderheart delivers on everything we have come to expect and love from the force of nature that is Hetty Lui McKinnon: gorgeous, down to earth, vegetable-driven dishes that strike the most delicious balance between fresh and exciting, and cozy and approachable. What Tenderheart also reveals are the beautiful stories about Hetty’s family and upbringing that will have you reaching for the tissues before opening up the pantry. Prepare to be utterly moved by this book." –Molly Yeh, Food Network host and NYT Bestselling author of Home Is Where the Eggs Are and Molly on the Range
"A love letter to vegetables and almost a memoir through recipes, this truly special book speaks to the soul as much as to the stomach. I loved it more than I can say!" –Nigella Lawson
"Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy!" –Dorie Greenspan, author of Everyday Dorie
"At its core, this is a book about vegetables and how to treat them in the kitchen with the love and respect that they deserve. However, there is a deeper parallel story here, told through Hetty Lui McKinnon’s personal journey of love, loss, and grief -- and how transformation through healing and grace makes us evolve as people and teaches us how to be better humans." –Nik Sharma, James Beard Award-nominated author and photographer of The Flavor Equation and Season
“[When] I don’t know what to cook for dinner, I can always cook something of Hetty’s. . . . She’s a beautiful writer. . . . Come for the recipes, stay for the stories. Delicious!”
—Emma Straub, on NBC's Today Show
"[Hetty Lui McKinnon’s recipes] prove that vegetarian cooking is anything but boring. The book is an ode to her late father, a fresh produce supplier who passed away when she was just 15 . . . . Incredibly touching and relatable. . . . What I appreciate most about Tenderheart is how McKinnon highlights different ways to use Asian vegetables beyond how they’re typically prepared: stir-fried, poached, or stirred into a casserole. . . . If you’re looking for creative ways to eat more vegetables, Tenderheart is a great place to begin." –Genevieve Yam, Bon Appetit (23 Best Cookbooks of 2023)
“A very moving book about family love and how everyday cooking is built into that. Hetty McKinnon is never sentimental. She truly understands how to nurture - deliciously - with vegetables. When you cook out of this book you can’t not think of that. You feel as if every dish is you make is a tribute to this approach to life.” – Diana Henry
"Stunning. . . . The combination — fresh produce given powerful injections of flavor from smart pantry ingredients — is the backbone of virtually all of her cooking."
—Joe Yonan, The Washington Post
"This approachable tome of vegetarian recipes will teach you how to make fruits and vegetables taste really, really good. The dishes are doable for just about every culinary skill level and use few ingredients—many of which are inspired by Lui McKinnon’s Chinese Australian upbringing. . . .
Packed with interesting-yet-approachable ways to use vegetables, this delicious book of true comfort food represents everything we’ve come to expect from Lui McKinnon’s coveted recipes." —Ali Francis, Bon Appetit (12 Best Vegetarian Cookbooks of All Time)
"Multiple times while reading and cooking through Tenderheart, Hetty Lui McKinnon’s brilliant new volume of produce-forward cooking, I remember thinking, Now this is how you write a cookbook. Blending a deep and pathos-filled personal history with a truly interesting approach to vegetarian cuisine (chocolate-eggplant brownies? pea and kimchi falafel?), it’s a crowning achievement in a career spent working in plant-based recipes. . . . If you love vegetables and Asian-influenced cuisine, you’re probably already a huge fan of Hetty McKinnon (or are soon to be)...The opening sections are some of my favorite literature I’ve read this year, full stop; this book makes me want to trick out the crispers of my fridge at full force and cook for everyone I know." —Adam Rothbarth, Vice
"[McKinnon] has written a vast collection of endlessly adaptable, always approachable recipes that front-load vegetables not as replacements to meat but as stars in their own right." —Danielle Cohen, The Cut
"Author of four best-selling cookbooks. . . McKinnon has a knack for flavoring familiar dishes with simple yet intriguing twists. And her latest project, Tenderheart, uses these twists to help you appreciate vegetables at their core." —Anikah Shaokat, Epicurious
"[Tenderheart] will be forever filed on my kitchen shelf, next to her 2021 award-winner To Asia With Love. I read her books when I want a warm, instructive voice telling me stories that point me toward what to make next; I cook from her recipes when I’m craving something innovative and surprising (but not gimmicky, an important distinction!); and I’d say that my whole family, by extension, gets an embarrassing amount of joy sparked from all of this. Her books are capital-K Keepers." —Jenny Rosenstrach, Cup of Jo
"McKinnon (To Asia, with Love) returns with a cookbook that is deeply personal and uniquely vegetarian. Organized by the star vegetable, recipes are easily homed in on based on season or garden glut....A variety of flavors can be found throughout the distinctive dishes, such as fennel and black pepper ice cream and Broccoli Forest Loaf, which are equally whimsical and comforting. McKinnon’s voice is very friendly and will be familiar to fans of her writing as she invites readers on her journey to explore ingredients and raise up vegetables....Home cooks will love the versatility and innovation she delivers, whether they are vegetarians or not, while readers will revel in the sweetness and beauty of her story...Calling all vegetarians and veggie lovers; this is the inspiration you have been looking for. —Sarah Tansley, Library Journal
“In the stunning pages of Tenderheart, Hetty McKinnon takes readers to the origins of her love for vegetables, teaching us to view them the way she does: brimming with memories and the intractable things life inevitably brings our way—loss, resilience, determination, and joy. At the center of each recipe is McKinnon’s father, Wai Keung Lui, known in Australia as Ken, and the man who Tenderheart is named for: a generous and affectionate caretaker who made a livelihood working in a wholesale fruit and vegetable market, had a love for photography, and shared with McKinnon a passion for food. The stories McKinnon weaves about food and family—through her recipes and the narratives that she welcomes us into—allow her father to live on. A wonderful, moving tribute to the people and tastes that indelibly shape us. I will be cooking from Tenderheart for years to come.” – Kat Chow, author of SEEING GHOSTS
"I love Hetty’s recipes for how brilliantly accessible, thoroughly researched, touchingly personal, and vibrant and fun they always are. . . . Tenderheart delivers mightily on recipe expectations with a whopping 22 chapters and 528 pages. . . . Her touching reflections, and the artful way she has infused the book with his presence, makes this hefty collection of useful recipes much more than just a cookbook: it’s a uniquely personal and moving work of memoir, too." —Lukas Volger, Family Friend by Lukas Volger
"Few people understand the healing qualities of food better than cookbook author Hetty McKinnon. All of her cookbooks are deeply personal and [Tenderheart] serves as an ode to her father, who she lost as a teenager, through vegetables." —Leslie Stephens, Morning Person
"In the pretty pages of Tenderheart, McKinnon weaves her love story for vegetables with playful, assertive recipes that honor her late father and explore the gentleness of love, human resilience and unbreakable family bonds." —Hira Qureshi, The Philadelphia Inquirer (9 must-read cookbooks for your summer cooking)
"[Tenderheart] offers an abundance of brilliant recipes as well as brief but thoughtful essays on family, grieving, rituals, and, of course, the 22 vegetables featured in this collection. McKinnon brings a global perspective rooted in Chinese culture and the flavors of her family into every page of this beautifully photographed (by the author herself) and well-written cookbook and memoir. . . . For fans of McKinnon's work or those just discovering her, Tenderheart is sure to delight with mouthwatering dishes and beautiful reflections on the many legacies that can be found around a dining table." —Sara Beth West, Shelf Awareness
"Even though it’s 525 pages long, [Tenderheart] contains zero (that’s 0) recipes that I do not want to make. . . . Rather than turn vegetables into something else, McKinnon puts them centerstage and shines a beautiful spotlight on them." —Emily Nunn, The Department of Salad
"Tenderheart is such a precious cookbook, at once unique and utilitarian." —Anne Helen Petersen, Culture Study