Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Tender

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 gardening anecdotes Slater provides serve merely as charming and interesting backstory points of references for the recipes versus practical, actionable advice. The recipes he’s provided are quite varied, ranging from ordinary preparations most of us are familiar with such as roasted asparagus to more unusual ideas like Slater’s Beet Cake or his Curried Tomatoes. Of course I skew to that which is novel and exciting so I had to try my hand at the Beet Cake. It’s really quite extraordinary and quite nutritious as well, as far as quickbreads go. Plus the orange blossom glaze takes it to a whole other level – perfect tea cake for a party. This is one way to serve your kids beets without them catching on. Very clever recipe.

My only criticism with Tender is minor and completely unrelated to the quality of the recipes: many of the “vegetables” featured (such as eggplants, tomatoes, etc) are actually fruits. How’s that for nitpicky?

We should all be eating more vegetables and Tender features many novel preparations to keep things interesting at the dinner table.  A word to the wise for vegans – while this book focuses on vegetables, many, many of the recipes feature dairy or small quantities of meat.

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