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Nigel Slater's TENDER... wow. A "Must Get"

I recently purchased Nigel Slater's TENDER, his version of a number of books such as Alice Water's CHEZ PANISSE VEGETABLES where the book is divided into vegetables for easy reference when you have a vegetable you want to cook. A number of things make this book stand out in an amazing way, however:

1) it is gorgeous. The pictures, as well as the layout, are beautiful. If nothing else, it would be a terrific coffee table book.

2) Incredible info. Each vegetable has not only excellent recipes but a ton of information about the vegetable, how to grow it or harvest it or store it... each one has a lot of wonderful cooking information even before you get to specific recipes.

3) The recipes are incredible. I've only done a few so far but I am not sure I've ever had a cookbook where the first 6 or 7 things I cooked all were home runs. Just last night with some friends we did a 'farmer's market' dinner, everyone hit their market on Sunday, brought their fresh vegetables and we cooked up a bunch of great dishes, I tried two more from TENDER that were amazing.

The first was a simple pea puree. I love english peas, had some fresh but the idea of a puree never appealed. Well, I figured I'd try it. You drop the peas and some mint in boiling salted water for a few minutes, drain, then puree with olive oil and more salt. We literally stood over the bowl with spoons. It was that good.

Even better was a recipe where you halve large bell peppers (I used red and orange) and fill them with cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper. You roast them an hour then pour over a fresh basil puree. It was so simple yet the flavors were perfect. And it was a gorgeous presentation.

Anyway, I wanted to throw this out to everyone. Summer is the perfect time to start in with this book!

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  1. I couldn't agree more. I have the UK editions of both volumes of Tender (vol 2 is about fruit), and they are both amazing books. The photos, the recipes, and perhaps most of all, Nigel Slater's writing. As a gardener, I also love reading about his experiences growing the fruit and vegetables, as well as how he cooks them. He really gives each vegetable a "personality".

    1. I think "Tender" is OK - better if you're also a gardener - but not as good probably as any of his other books.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        I have most, although not all, of his other books. I like them all - in particular Appetite and the Kitchen Diaries. But to me Tender is the best. Of course, I am a gardener, so perhaps that explains my bias.

        1. re: MelMM

          The ones I use most are his early ones - Real fast Food and 30 Minute Cook. But I also like the seasonality of Kitchen Diaries.

      2. The Victory Garden Cookbook is exactly like you describe. It is an old book and looks like it just has been published again. It is described as "encyclopedia of information for both gardeners who cook and cooks who like to garden" here http://www.amazon.ca/Victory-Garden-C....

        I have Slater's Real Food but it never inspired me to make anything:(

        3 Replies
        1. re: herby

          That's a classic. Slater's book is far less authoritative and far less detailed on the gardening. It's quirkier, more personal. Slater's book is more fun to read, and prettier to look at, but less useful as a gardening manual.

          1. re: MelMM

            I love recipes in The Victory Garden too, not just the gardening, storage, etc. information. Everything I make out of it tasted great.

            1. re: herby

              The Victory Garden cookbook is an iconic classic that everyone who cooks, eats vegetables, and maybe gardens a bit or more, should have at their fingertips. Can't say anything bad about that book at all.

        2. Hi TomP Thanks for the post - I've been curious about that book. The cherry tomato/pepper thing sounds great. I can't find it online - any chance you could provide a little more detail?

          2 Replies
          1. re: waver

            As with most Slater recipes, they're simplicity itself and there really isnt much more to add to Tom's description.

            Halve the peppers; cut the tomatoes in half; add a couple tomatoes to each pepper half; season and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 200 for 45 - 60 minutes. The basil puree comes from putting a couple of handfuls of basil in the blender with 70ml olive oil and blitzing (for 4 servings). Simple

            1. re: Harters

              Sometimes it surprises me when sometime so simple tastes so damn good :) We did use extremely fresh ingredients.

          2. Will this book be of use if I don't own a garden? I love Nigel Slater' writing but I'm not sure if I'll be able to make the most use of the book.

            2 Replies
            1. re: pearlyriver

              Yes. There's a good set of recipes as well as the veg growing parts. That said, I find it the least interesting and useful of his books (and I have all of them, except Thirst, which was of zero interest)

              1. re: pearlyriver

                Tender and Kitchen Diaries were the Cookbooks of the Month last September 2011...
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/804904

                There was also a Companion Thread for his other books...
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/804902

                I'm a gardener but don't really rely on his notes about that, although he does have inclusive information about each vegetable. Tom cooked many recipes that month. Here are a few of the recipes we liked:
                Goat Cheese and Beet Salad with (Toasted Hemp and Poppy Seeds), Pg. 48, USA Ed.
                A Salad of Carrot Thinnings, Pg. 124
                Black Cabbage and Bacon - A fry up, Pg. 275
                Roast Potato Salad with Rosemary and Garlic, Pg. 449

                Well, there are many but you get the idea...