“Let me guess what it is,” my husband said as I entered the front door with my bulky brown bag. This is the 4th or 5th time in the last few days.
As a food writer, I write and review cookbooks. That means the publisher will send you an advance copy of the cookbook. many Lots of really great books. (I know, I know. If I could get one, it would be a great job.) But kitchen shelf space is limited, so what I keep is actually useful. Rent must be paid in the form of If I don’t cook with it, read with it, or get the proverbial spark of joy out of it, it’s going to be a pile of freebies.
I tell you all this because I feel the need to make clear how special it is to feel when a Hetty McKinnon cookbook arrives at your door. her latest work, Tenderhearts: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Ties Will be permanently stored on my kitchen shelf next to her 2021 winner With love to Asia. I read her books when I want a warm, informative voice telling stories that inspire me on what to build next. When I want to eat something innovative and surprising, I follow her recipes (no gimmicks though, that’s the key difference!). And I can say that my whole family, by extension, takes an embarrassing amount of joy from all this. Her book includes “capital-K Keepers”.
Hetty grew up in Australia as the daughter of Chinese immigrants and credits her father Ken Lui with sparking her deep love of vegetables. He worked at the farm market, and Hetty’s fondest memory of him was on the way home with boxes overflowing with flower greens and glossy eggplants and plump apricots for her family. (“I’m still looking for an apricot in its youth”). and her neighbors. She still lost him when she was 16. This book is her tribute to the role he played in her own life and career.
In the foreword she writes: “Throughout my adult life, I have had this memory of my father, a generous ‘fruit and veggie person’ … when I stopped eating meat in my teens, I had this memory. I found solace in my choices, a quiet satisfaction in centering on the fruits and vegetables that supported me as a child… Now, my boundless love for vegetables translates into meticulous attention to detail. It’s one of the ways I honor my father’s legacy by cooking vegetables every day.”
Her recipes are innovative yet practical. Here’s a quick salt-and-vinegar kale chip with fried chickpeas and avocado. This joins my weekday dinner lineup.
And vegetables are the star of every dish…
I especially love her vegetarian interpretations of iconic meat dishes, such as Cantonese char siu, where roast pork is replaced with eggplant…
…and her cabbage carbonara-style recipe uses miso instead of bacon as a flavor accent. Last night, I was able to finish successfully with a round of applause from her family.
Cabbage carbonara style
Excerpt from tender heart.
It’s for 4 people.
From Hetty: “Obviously, this isn’t a classic carbonara. It doesn’t have pork in it, but it does have sweet, earthy cabbage that simmers down to a jam-like consistency. I’m an egg.” Add a little pasta water to the mix to loosen it up, this will warm the eggs and keep them from scrambled when poured over hot pasta.”
5 large eggs (see note below)
2 and 1/2 tablespoons white miso
1 3/4 ounces grated parmesan, pecorino, or cheddar, to serve
sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large cabbage (about 1 lb 5 oz, finely sliced (discard core))
1 yellow onion (finely sliced)
4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta
1 bunch parsley leaves (about 2 1/2 ounces), finely chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a bowl, mix 3 egg yolks (see note), 2 whole eggs and miso paste until smooth. Add cheese and plenty of black pepper and stir.
Heat a large, wide Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add oil, cabbage, onion, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and simmer almost gently (stir every 3-4 minutes), 8-10 minutes, until cabbage is tender, wilted and beginning to turn golden brown. increase. Reduce heat, add garlic and 1 teaspoon sea salt and stir. Keep the heat low while the pasta is cooking.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and set the timer to 2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time listed on the package. For example, if the recommended cooking time for al dente is 10 minutes, set the timer to 8 minutes. When the pasta is ready, use tongs to pull the pasta straight into the pot with the cabbage. Leave the pasta water in the pan without draining. Then add 1 cup (120 ml) of pasta water. Increase heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes to finish cooking the pasta. Remove pan from heat and let cool for 30-60 seconds.
very gradually Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) pasta water to the egg mixture to loosen. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the warm pasta and continue to stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the egg mixture is gently cooked and turns into a creamy sauce. When ready, top with parsley, cheese and black pepper.
Note: You can use more or less eggs in this dish. The number of eggs used affects the thickness of the cream. If you want a richer dish, you can add yolks or whole eggs. Experiment until you find your own creamy sweet spot. Leftover egg whites can be stored in a ziplock bag and frozen for up to 3 months. Pavlova and other meringues use thawed egg whites.
Nice book, congratulations. Hetty!
PS 5 ways to upgrade your roasted vegetables and how to get your kids to eat their veggies.