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Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,029 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Ten Speed Press (first published September 17th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Yuki Shimmyo
Sep 14, 2011 Yuki Shimmyo rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Yuki Shimmyo by: NPR; Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food
...There is the "do-it-and-dust-it" cook, who does it purely to get something on the table with which to fill the belly, and then there is the one who takes delight in unfolding a cabbage leaf by leaf, rubbing his or her hands over the rough skin of a russet apple, or sniffing a freshly cut lemon. The person who finds satisfaction in choosing the right knife and picking the right pot, who enjoys the scent of ingredients and the feel of food in his or her hands. Chopping, slicing, stirring, tasti ...more
Jun 05, 2015 Mickey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is food porn at its finest. I just about drooled on every page of this book. Slater's writing is vivid and I could easily visualise both his garden and the dishes he made from its bounty.
Cathy Smith
Sep 03, 2011 Cathy Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always been riveted by Nigel Slater's prose about cooking. I've loved his earlier cookbooks like Appetite and his Guardian column. He brings a unique combination of pragmatic instruction and lyrical and sensual writing. I believe there is no food writer like him. He is one of the first --and best --to avoid exact recipes and instead to write about the experience of cooking any given dish, as well as the experience of eating the result. (I do see Slater's influence in the focused, energetic ...more
Apr 11, 2011 Clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-porn
The two volumes of tender (one for fruit and one for veg) aren't just recipe books, they give basic instructions on how to grow different varieties. It hadn't even occurred to me that I could mail-order seeds. I know, I know! I am the least green fingered person I know, but these books make even me want to do something - like grow tomatoes on the windowsill in pots!

You can sit and read Nigel's descriptions of aubergines or apples and it makes your breath catch. He harnesses every single sense on
Nov 06, 2011 Liz rated it it was ok
Last year I was given two British cookbooks (The Vegetarian Option and Plenty) for Christmas, and with the addition of Tender, I'm wondering if British chefs are all the same. Like the other two, this book has absolutely gorgeous food-lust photography and is written in a distinctive part self-deprecating, part snooty know-it-all voice. This book is ostensibly about vegetables, but unlike the other two is not constrained by being purely veg. All three books share a common recipe technique: slice ...more
Richard Cytowic
Apr 24, 2012 Richard Cytowic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those quirky books I'm never sure about until I plunge into its pages, much like plunging my freshly-picked yellow beans into the pot at a roiling boil. Funny, and with beautiful photos. Of course, if you're dabbling in your own garden——or merely fantasizing about such——then another dimension sets in. A good read indeed.
RH Walters
Sep 16, 2012 RH Walters rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sampled
Due back at the library before I could finish, but as with Slater's other books, the prose and manner are incomparable. For cooking beets, "cook until flesh is easily pierced, as one would a vampire." A lot of his recipes call for cream and bacon, but as he frequently mentions the rainy weather, I forgive him.
Apr 15, 2014 Sabriel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking, pretentious
The prose was a huge turn off. I have cooked from his Food Diaries before and that went quite well, so bought both volumes online without reading up on them too much. I find his tone incredibly patronizing, for example when he talks about apples he never gives an introduction to different heritage varieties so a novice might be able to follow what is going on and what category an apple is in, but he just throws around names and more names, seemingly just to show that he knows more apple varietie ...more
Aug 07, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most beautiful books I have ever owned. Every vegetable is treated with the utmost respect from growing to harvesting to eating. A must for the vegetable lover and for those who aren't quite sure about veggies yet. Gorgeous!
Jul 28, 2010 Philippa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
Makes me want a patch of my own, quite desperately. Love Nigel Slater's writing, as always - it's as delicious as the food he cooks.
Apr 22, 2016 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking
My wife and I saw this on the shelf of a newly-opened independent bookstore. She was intrigued by the cover and title, and we pulled it off the shelf to look it over. We were quickly intrigued by the text and enamored of the photography, and the book found its way to the checkout counter on our way out. Further reading on both our parts have confirmed that our purchase was a good one. The text is funny and witty, and the recipes are more guidelines with room for improvisation and experimentation ...more
Good stuff, but occasionally he includes wildly annoying and unnecessary narratives along with/before recipes. But there are some good recipes here (most made more complicated than absolutely necessary, so if you are short on time, read through carefully and if you cook much you will probably notice places where you can save yourself some time).

Weird index too: if you think you saw something and cannot find it in the index, check the table of contents instead. There's a strange non-overlap going
First, the upside: This book smells wonderful! The paper is very high quality! The artfully composed photos are lovely!

Now for my opinion on the writing: I hate to say it, but stringing together adjectives, repeatedly, just isn't that scintillating to me. Especially when the pervasive underlying tone is arrogant. Bless his soul, but I can hardly relate to anything this man has to say.

I am further perplexed by his gardening choices. His box hedges and ivy covered walls certainly are gorgeous, but
Sep 19, 2014 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a perfect book for me, combining gardening and cooking, two of my favorite things. Nigel Slater’s writing must be what the term “food porn” was coined to describe. I was watching a baseball game one evening, leafing through this book, brought home from the library that afternoon, when this paragraph had me craving boiled cabbage. (Boiled cabbage! – of all things!) “The words hang heavy, wretched with disappointment. In reality, few things edible cheer me up more than a plate of cabbage f ...more
I loved the first two Nigel Slater books I read/cooked from, but this just didn't feel quite as brilliant to me... It could be because, as a student, I don't have a garden and so half the waxing lyrical about the joy of growing your own was lost on me and my central London room. It could also be that my tastes just aren't as sophisticated as Nigel's, with his apparent love of having meals that totally focus on one veg (don't get me wrong, I love my veg, but not really in the way he is eating it ...more
Julie Davis
Feb 17, 2014 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
Nigel Slater transformed his back yard into a garden. Not a fantastic, provide everything he eats garden ... but the sort of garden that someone who doesn't mind some failure does. And, of course, someone who likes to cook and eat. So we reap the benefit of his observations about gardening overall and then specifically about all sorts of vegetables. With recipes.

I like Slater's informal style and also his honesty about personal quirks. For example, he is determined to be organic and yet frustrat
Jennifer Parks
Jul 11, 2013 Jennifer Parks rated it liked it
Nigel Slater is an iconic food personality in the UK. From what I understand, he’s a bit like the British version of Julia Child. I picked up a copy of his cookbook Tender, A Cook and His Vegetable Patch a couple summers ago at the Strand in NYC. It’s a thick volume on growing and cooking vegetables, which each vegetable given it’s own little chapter. I’m not much of a gardener, and our soil and weather conditions here in the States are different that those in the UK, so in my case, the gardenin ...more
Aug 30, 2013 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 cons ...more
Sophie James
Jan 25, 2016 Sophie James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How did it take me so long to get here? I could go on about this book and probably will, ad infinitum, because it is precisely what I needed and now have. As an allotment holder and as someone who regularly drags home muck covered vegetables, this is my cook's bible. NS talks us through his own veg patch, how it started, what he has planted, what worked and didn't. Charlotte potatoes, Purple Dragon carrots, sorrel. Not fussy nor precious. Just what we want. Bloody gorgeous.
May 15, 2014 Norma rated it it was ok
I was wooed by the introduction. Enticed by the marriage of gardening book and cook book. But about half way thru I was done. I haven't tried any of the recipes but I do like that they are more like outlines because I will never be able to get the amazing cheeses and other interesting ingredients where I live. And I realized that no matter how beautiful the description, beets will still just taste like dirt to me!
Jan 12, 2014 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbooks
too pretentious for my tastes. each chapter - of which they are organized by vegetable, which i can appreciate - begins with a diary about growing the organic seeds you got from your friend/seed hawks, then continues with ten ingredients that mix well as seasonings (chervil, mustard seed, anchovy, gin), how to pick from your city garden, all the varietals available (none at your local supermarket), and how waiting more than a day after eating freshly picked vegetables ruins their flavors (who ea ...more
Jan 02, 2012 Deb rated it really liked it
Nigel Slater's passion for his garden and for the vegetable-centric dishes that come from it are combined with hundreds of delectable recipes in this large, beautiful book. This one has been sitting beside my bed for a while now and has many sticky tabs marking the recipes I want to try. The writing is beautiful and it makes a great reference for cooking vegetables. I look forward to Ripe, his companion book on fruits to be released here in April.

Here's a link to his A Rich Root and Cheese Soup
Sydney Young
Jan 10, 2012 Sydney Young rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
This book is a gorgeous and comprehensive review of twenty-nine vegetables that can be grown in a small space. It appeals to my gardener / cook's heart, and I am so glad that I bought the hardcover edition.

My husband/cook was happy to try out the Hungary-inspired Stew recipe, and when he did we were highly entertained by these directions:

“Bring everything to an enthusiastic simmer . . . “ and

“Bake, unpestered, for a good hour and a half.”

I can't wait to spring another recipe on him, and am onl
Jan 02, 2015 Susy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book for those who love to cook and garden. I really appreciate how the book is arranged by vegetable with planting tips and recipes to follow.
Marie Jose Nieuwkoop
Jun 04, 2014 Marie Jose Nieuwkoop rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking
Beautifully organized cookbook when in need of something different en not too difficult to cook.
Like "The Silver Spoon" only this time it's just vegetables.

Sep 14, 2014 jen8998 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive look at vegetables, how to grow and cook them. Recipes are yummy and easy to make.
Dec 15, 2014 Sasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as evocative and delicious as Ripe.
Oct 07, 2013 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Nigel Slater's "Tender: Volume I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch." It was a great start-of-fall cozy read. The recipes are approachable and easily adaptable to be vegetarian (but maybe not vegan - I personally like real cheese too much). He includes lots of suggestions for flavor pairings with herbs, spices, etc. The photos are very "organic" and beautiful. Overall, I wouldn't say it is a "must have," either for the gardening aspects or the cooking aspects, but it is a nicely done comb ...more
That was disappointing. I expected more from a book that is recommended alongside Yotam Ottolenghi's marvelous book on vegetarian cooking 'Plenty'.
Mar 22, 2012 Gail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of veggies and/or gardening
Recommended to Gail by: cookbook club
Shelves: cookbooks, to-buy
Great book! I like his style of writing. His recipes are a little heavy on the cream, blue cheese and anchovies and seems to really like boiling things, but it is a very appealing approach to British cooking. The gardening tips probably aren't very helpful for those in the States, but it really makes you want to get out there and try gardening yourself. Nevertheless, it is a must read if you love veggies and/or gardening.
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Nigel Slater is a British food writer, journalist and broadcaster. He has written a column for The Observer Magazine for seventeen years and is the principal writer for the Observer Food Monthly supplement. Prior to this, Slater was food writer for Marie Claire for five years. He also serves as art director for his books.

Although best known for uncomplicated, comfort food recipes presented in earl
More about Nigel Slater...

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“Pamper a tomato, overfeed it, overwater it and you will get a Paris Hilton of a tomato.” 5 likes
“...I have become more interested than ever in the effect of a diet higher in 'greens' than it is in meat - both in terms of my own wellbeing and, more recently, those implications that go beyond me and those for whom I cook.” 4 likes
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