Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch

A comprehensive, deeply personal, and visually stunning guide to growing and cooking vegetables from Britain’s foremost food writer, with more than 400 recipes and extensive gardening notes.

In the tradition of Roast Chicken and Other Stories comes Tender, a passionate guide to savoring the best the garden has to offer. An instant classic when it was first published in the UK, Tender is a cookbook, a primer on produce, and above all, a beloved author’s homage to his favorite vegetables. Slater’s inspired and inspiring writing makes this a book to sit with and savor as much as one to prop open in the kitchen. The chapters explore 29 vegetables and offer enticing, comforting recipes such as Potato Cakes with Chard and Taleggio, a Tart of asparagus and Tarragon, and Grilled Lamb with Eggplant and Za’atar. With wit, enthusiasm, and a charming lack of pretension, Slater champions vegetables—through hands-on nurturing in the garden and straightforward preparations in the kitchen—with this truly essential book for every kitchen library.

Guest Reviewer: Alice Waters on Tender
Alice Waters is the visionary chef and owner of Chez Panisse and the author of ten cookbooks, including The Art of Simple Food and In the Green Kitchen.

This lovely book is a celebration of the senses: Nigel Slater describes a carrot with such attention, tenderness, and humor that it feels like he is introducing a dear friend to his readers. He understands the perfection of a runner bean in midsummer, and explores its flavor in a way that is pure, honest, and delicious. His prose is a pleasure to read–full of life and enjoyment of the table–and the photography makes it a lush and beautiful book.

Even as he delivers a collection of elegant, simply constructed recipes, Slater also taps into the reasons we engage with food–reasons both sensory and philosophical. “The idea of planting a seed, watching it grow, then eating the result instantly does away with much of the baggage that goes hand in hand with our modern food supply,” he writes. In Tender, we have the rare insight of a cook who knows not only the kitchen, but also the garden. Slater is passionate about every moment in the process of growing, cooking, and consuming food, and he starts with the essential notion of “reading” a plate–which is to say, pondering the where and why of the food we prepare. He weaves this notion effortlessly into his chapters, whether he is discussing his favorite varieties of eggplant (which he grows in deep clay pots against his warmest wall) or sharing his love of walking around the garden on a summer night when peas are in season: “To burst a pod of peas and eat them in the dark is a sweet joy.” Tender is full of small but irresistible observations like this.

$ 21.65


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0 thoughts on “Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch

  1. 38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A perfect all around savory cookbook, May 4, 2011
    By 
    K. Gill “In the Kitchen With” (Nashville) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch (Hardcover)
    Tender confirms all the reasons I think Nigel Slater’s work is fantastic. His writing is excellent, his recipes are diverse and simple. The photography in his books captures the mood of the ingredients, dishes, and meals perfectly. His food is really the kind that you’d put together for yourself or friends dropping by– nothing pretentious, few ingredients, great satisfaction. I used to think the Kitchen Diaries was the jewel in his crown, but now Tender has moved in alongside it. Can’t wait for Tender II– the Fruit!

    Nigel Slater is well known and loved in the UK. I have for years saved clippings of his recipes from the Guardian, where I was first introduced to his work. His recipes just seem so intuitive and easy. Nothing is about measuring really, it’s all about what tastes good. Working through his recipes, you realize what cooking is all about– marrying flavors to fit your palate. So you don’t really have a sense that if you don’t follow the recipe to a T, it won’t come out. You know that you’ll be happy to sit down with a plate of food you pulled together from what you had, just the way great home cooking should be.

    You’ll clutch this book close to your heart, and want to share its beauty and perfection with everyone you know who loves food!

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  2. 27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    A unique perspective, July 11, 2012
    By 
    Dan Perlman (Buenos Aires, Argentina) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This is an odd vegetable book. It’s one man’s story of his relationship to growing vegetables and cooking them. As such, despite its main subject matter, in some ways, it’s not a book about vegetables, but about the life of a gardener and cook. The author definitely has his prejudices, and various vegetables are dismissed out of hand as either too difficult to grow in a home garden, or simply not vegetables that he likes to eat. He’s also got a very old-fashioned British perspective on what constitutes a meal, and while I realize that the book was not intended as a vegetarian or vegan cookbook, by midway through and from that point on I found myself despairing of encountering a recipe that didn’t involve butter, cream, cheese, bacon or sausages in one form or another and, in quantity, oft-times more than the vegetable. Anything to cover up the taste it seemed – and in some cases he was upfront about that, one that stood out was a comment that amounted to, “no one would eat eggplant for its taste”. A similar curse was laid upon the humble cauliflower. So, overall, an interesting book to read, more so probably if you’re a gardener than if you’re looking for cooking tips or recipes.

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  3. 31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    An Engaging, Gem of a Book, August 10, 2011
    By 

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    This review is from: Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch (Hardcover)

    Tender: A cook and his vegetable patch Ten Speed Press 2011 )is the latest book by Nigel Slater, author of The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater, and Toast; The Story of a Boy’s Hunger . He is one of my favorite English food writers. In fact, I am always drawn to English food writers (Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, Tamasin Day Lewis) because of their reassuring tone and engaging, conversational voice.

    These writers view food through a different lens than other food writers. To them, food and cooking is not static, or a black and white formulaic topic, but a subject so beguiling that it merits thoughtful consideration. The best of the lot don’t just teach us how to cook but share with us their vision about food and cooking: they muse, debate, decide, select, and present us with situations that gives us the confidence to realize that, yes, I can cook like this, too. This approach shows us that after one has learned the basics of good cooking, that the need to follow recipes exactly-to-the-letter is less valuable than learning to develop one’s instincts in the kitchen.

    Nigel Slater’s writing is very welcoming. For him, the process of selecting the foods and ingredients at market, and ready-ing himself to cook, and the steps involved in constructing and then cooking the dish are an important part of his engagement with the food. I think that under his influence, all cooks can find some area in the kitchen that they could pay more attention to.

    His voice is personal, and spoken in an intimate and joyful way from writer to reader, cook to cook. His musings consider numerous variables: he wants the reader to find these details as important as he does. For example, from the March 7th notation in The Kitchen Diaries he writes: “I have no idea what I had in mind when I bought the two lamb chops that are now sitting on the kitchen worktop. Actually they are leg steaks and there’s enough for two. Whatever it was, the flash of inspiration must have got lost on the way home. In the fridge are mixed salad leaves – arugula, baby spinach, and some baby chard – and a bunch of mint. I might be able to rescue a few leaves from the bunch of basil that has got to close to the back of the fridge and burned on the ice. There is also the unusual stuff in the fridge and cupboards. I put the chops into a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of light soy sauce and a crushed garlic clove and let then sit for twenty minutes. I get the broiler hot and chick the chops on it, a couple of minutes on each side. Whilst the meat is cooking, I toss the salad leaves into a bowl. Then I knock up a dressing consisting of a couple of small, hot red chili peppers, finely chopped, the juice of half a ripe lime, a tablespoon of dark soy, a handful of shredded mint leaves and a wee bit of sugar. I slice the lamb into pencil-thin strips, and while it is still hot, toss it with the salad and dressing, then divide it between two plates. The mixture of sizzling meat, mellow, salty soy and sharp lime juice is startling, especially with the green leaves that have softened slightly where they have touched the lamb. The few juices left on our plates are stunning, and we mop them up with crispy white rolls.”

    This is not a traditional recipe but it shows us that thinking about food and how to combine simple ingredients at hand easily creates a tasty dish that shows off the main element of the dish – the lamb. It is the personal voice, spoken in an intimate and joyful way from writer to reader, cook to cook, which makes the reader pay attention to details they failed to notice before. He never mentions that the food is good – we know it is because of the words he chooses to describe the lusciousness of the moment. The casual mention of the greens that have softened slightly where they have touched the lamb is but a tiny detail, yet it is a significant one, noticed and appreciate by a passionate and observant eater.

    Slater has (and shares) a deeply-rooted connection to things `real’ that drives his relationship with food. His books ( as well those of other English, Irish and Scottish writers ) contain a lot of detail, and they have a special way of discussing the `this and that’ kitchen topic – be it butchery, cheese choices, seasonal fruits, etc, that includes the reader in the discourse and process. It is as if we are guests in their kitchen and are privy to some of their private thoughts and kitchen notes. It’s a bit more right- side of the brain, subjective thinking and writing rather than left-side of the brain, objectivity.

    We are given lots of explanations, too, in casual discourse, because details are important to these writers. Information might be about where the meat came from, how the animal was slaughtered, what farm raised it, the pros and cons of which vegetables to consider using in a seasonal vegetable casserole, the merits of different varieties of…

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