COOKBOOK REVIEW: Modern comforts with an Asian flair

"The Honeysuckle Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Feel-Good Recipes to Live Deliciously" by Dzung Lewis (Rodale, $27.99)
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"The Honeysuckle Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Feel-Good Recipes to Live Deliciously" by Dzung Lewis (Rodale, $27.99)

“The Honeysuckle Cookbook: 100 Feel-Good Recipes to Live Deliciously” by Dzung Lewis (Rodale, $27.99)

“Have you ever heard of a spring roll bar?” Dzung Lewis asks in “The Honeysuckle Cookbook: 100 Feel-Good Recipes to Live Deliciously” (Rodale, $27.99). Can’t say I have, but I’m intrigued.

The author tells us how her Vietnamese immigrant parents would throw parties at their Santa Clara, California, home with rice papers, peanut sauce, piles of homegrown herbs, and various other fixings set out for guests to assemble themselves. The spring roll recipe that follows, along with its gorgeous accompanying photograph, shows how anyone, anywhere, can re-create this lovely scenario with little hassle or skill, prompting me to bookmark it for a later date.

She’s already won me over with her West Coast-inspired Salmon and Corn Chowder and Thai Shrimp-Fried Rice spiced with red curry paste and fish sauce. I’m hankering for more.

Lewis had a stable but unfulfilling career as a financial analyst before following the advice of her half-Korean husband, Nick, by launching Honeysuckle, a YouTube channel, to “find my voice through food.” For more than a decade, she’s uploaded videos revolving around the California-fresh, Asian-influenced meals she cooks inside their L.A. home for her family that now includes two toddlers and a border collie, whose adorable faces appear in these pages.

Like her videos, “The Honeysuckle Cookbook” reflects a breezy, upbeat style drawn from family traditions and the modern, melting-pot flavors that surround her. There are chapters devoted to morning rituals built around steaming cups of fanciful coffees and teas; quick breakfasts of overnight oats and chia puddings jazzed up with fruits, nuts and flavorings; main dishes and sides that employ seasonal ingredients and handy tools such as sheet pans and multipots; and fun-loving desserts like Chocolate-Cherry Blondies and a banana cake based on the one cut at her wedding, and served each anniversary since.

“I’ve tinkered with the recipe over the years, taking down the sweetness in the frosting, but our fondness for its velvety lusciousness only grows,” she writes.

From the soft pinks of the table settings to the four pages of sentimental thank-yous at the end, I’m finding this sweet reality show of a cookbook as comforting as a cup of Sweet Lavender Latte or Rose Milk Tea.