If you are familiar with Nigel Slater, you will have a pretty fair idea of what you are going to get here. If you have already seen/ already own Tender Vol 1, you will have an even clearer picture of what to expect. In common with Slater's other books you get infectious enthusiasm, beautiful writing, inspiring recipes, and encouragement to innovate. In common with Tender Vol 1, each chapter is dedicated to an ingredient with a bit about how to grow it, the varieties and Slater's experience of growing it in his own garden, as well, naturally, as the recipes. The difference, of course, is that this time his topic is fruit rather than vegetables.
In addition to the inevitable inclusions - apples, blackcurrants, gooseberries, plums, rhubarb etc, there are some less common fruits, figs, quince, whitecurrants, medlars.
As you might expect there are a lot of puddings in here (in fact you could probably cook a lifetime of puddings from this one book), plus a number of meat recipes, including a significant number of pork and game recipes. Less anticipated, the book also has quite a few salads, and through the inclusion of chestnuts, walnuts, amongst others, the recipes stretch to some interesting vegetarian options as well.
Some example recipes which give an overall feel for the contents of this mighty, 1200 page volume are:-
Pheasant with apples and cider
A deep cake of apples, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Spiced apricot couscous
Roast partridge with blackberry pan juices
Casserole of parsnips, chestnuts and mushrooms
Figs with gorgonzola
Celeriac and grape salad
Goats cheese and thyme scomes to accompany a pear
Mackerel with rhubarb
What else to say? It's a Nigel Slater cookbook, it's excellent, I recommend it.
on 24 October 2010
Not just about baking and cooking, Nigel's informative and personal narration about his garden is fascinating
(even for those like me who really enjoy looking at gardens more than getting dirty). Each chapter focuses on one fruit so its very good for seasonal cooking. His quick look ups in each chapter about what tastes good together throws up some suprising and enjoyable combinations. I have never tried a recipe that did not work from Nigel Slater's books and so far tender ii is turning out to be just as reliable. The lamb and apricot recipe is especially warming.
on 24 September 2010
I've just been given this as an anniversary present and it is a little slice of heaven. I've not cooked a thing from it yet (only had it a few hours!) but I am inspired. We have inherited some fruit trees, brambles crawl over the fence as does a random grapvine and we've got spaces that beg to be used next year for (low maintenance!) fruit.
The layout of this book is sumptuous but practical, the advice and recipes are typically low key but precise and gently guide you. I have been dipping into Vol 1 Tender: Volume I, A cook and his vegetable patch this year, and it doesnt matter honestly if the produce comes from you own garden, the neighbour's glut, the farmers market or the supermarket. My gardening is haphazard, well-intentioned amateur style and has to fit into a pace of life that doesnt have a lot of space for pottering - but even a clutch of herbs, the occasional courgette and some salad leaves are hugely satisfying and falling off a log easy to achieve. If you can't / won't / don't grow a thing it's ok. You may be inspired to do so, but you'll definitely enjoy the simple flavours and delicious marriages of taste that Nigel creates in his book.
Not only that, it looks so perfect next to volume one on the shelf I am in a heaven of symmetry and feeling-luckiness!
on 17 September 2010
Five years in the making, and a year after the publication of Voume 1 (A cook and his vegetable patch), this book is a labour of love. Care and affection has gone into every detail of this book. Physically, from the typeface, photography and even the way it feels in your hands, this is a work of art. Then there is the nurturing of the author's small urban garden to produce the fruit itself. This book is not a gardening book and doesn't claim to be, but as each fruit is introduced - from Apples to White Currants - there are a couple of pages of growing advice. Here Nigel Slater highlights the different fruit varities that prosper in different parts of the UK, including the north and Scotland (something many food writers fail to do). However, it is the recpies contained in this volume that bring joy. There's 500 pages of them (I like the fact that Volume 2 starts on page 625 and includes an index to both volumes). Despite the luxurious vibe of this book, the recipies are accessible, comforting and the ingredients lists generally short. The focus is on fruit, and with fruit being creation's way of giving us sweeties before the innovation of Spangles, many of the recpies are aimed towards the pudding end of the menu. However, this is not a book for fruitarians, and there are plenty of savoury combinations, such as lamb and apricot or black pudding and apple. Finally there are the fruits you might not have heard of, like quince and loganberries, which might encourage you to the nearest farmer's market. There's no chapter on any of the citrus fruits, but these acid bombs are thown into the pan in so many of the recpies that they needn't feel left out. This book will make you feel good, and it will make you popular too.
on 6 February 2014
“Tender” Volumes 1 & 2 by Nigel Slater
I received these sister books for Charismas this year and spent some pleasant hours reading through both of them. Because the general comments I have to make pertain to both volumes I will post this review twice, under each volume.
“Tender” deals with the use of vegetables and fruit in the kitchen, some of which Nigel has grown in his own garden. They’re not really gardening books, though Nigel discusses his garden, but most definitely are cookery books with some very luscious recipes to inspire one to both grow food, and to use that food in the kitchen. They are “coffee table books” rather than “kitchen table books” in that they inspire and engage enthusiasm rather than being straight “How To” recipe books. They also seem too “posh” to risk making mucky in the kitchen. They are the sorts of books which provoke garden-longings and culinary adventures where the cook will find his or her own way based on the inspiration between the pages. I rarely follow recipes slavishly, being somewhat maverick in the kitchen, so this sort of approach suits my psyche. I will try some of the recipes, but I will probably adjust them to suit the produce I have available at the time. The recipes in these books strike me as lending themselves to this sort of cavalier treatment.
Volume 1 deals with a short introduction to Nigel Slater’s garden and an A to Z of vegetables, Volume 2 deals with an introduction to the fruit in his garden, and then an A to Z of fruit. Both books are weighty two inch thick tomes and appear to cover the majority of fruit and vegetables which can be grown in the UK climate and which have been either home grown, purchased from farm shops, foraged, or from friends. Every entry seems to be based on Nigel’s own wisdom and this, to me, is important in such a book. I want that personal experience, not some reiterated conglomeration of information gleaned from the work of others or “common knowledge”.
Each A to Z entry has an introduction to the fruit or the vegetable, some remarks about their garden-worthiness, then some remarks about their use in the kitchen, and recipes.
The photographs leave me in two minds. Not all the recipes are illustrated, but those which are, are accompanied by well composed and luscious photographs. Those images alone are enough to inspire and make me want to cook the dishes. Something as simple as a photograph of elderflower fritters looks yummy. But some of the photographs seem to be self-indulgent “mood” photographs. And this mood seems gloomy, earthy, almost furtive and frankly under-exposed. Now I ought to like this, tending towards the same myself, disliking over-brightened garish photos, but I’m not sure that I do. For example, p 24 Vol 1, there is a photo of pots of courgette plans, and that seems underexposed, lacking in sunshine and uninspiring. P 30, in the asparagus section, there is a photo of backlit sweet peas. The flowers are the main focus of this photograph, the rest of it fading to dark colours, so the photo is really “about” the sweet peas, an arty-f**ty style of photograph which bears no relation to the topic in hand. Sometimes the depth of field annoys me, because there are out-of-focus blurs to the front pulling my eye away from the subject, for example, a courgette flower p 266. I gather from the text that Nigel Slater is an earthy-mood sort of man, and so these photos do convey that emotion quite well, but some of the photos just didn’t inspire me. But that’s just personal taste, not a matter of quality.
Another bugbear I have with the photos is that there is a thumbnail at the start of each subject – a great idea, except that the thumbnail often bears no relation to the subject. For example, the thumbnail for Peppers is nasturtium flowers. The colour tones quite well with the facing rather good full page photo of peppers in varying degrees of ripeness, but what’s wrong with having a photo of peppers growing on the plant itself as a thumbnail? Another example is a viola thumbnail for spinach, yet for Jerusalem artichoke, the thumbnail is the Jerusalem artichoke flower, and for onions, there’s an onion flower. There’s a rose thumbnail for plums and for redcurrants, yet quince blossom for quince flowers. It seems to lack logic, could be misleading, and it’s almost as if Mr Slater lacked a suitable photo for some thumbnails and shoved any old photo in instead, so long as it looked good.
Niggles. I found the peculiar font for “ct” rather distracting. The other major niggle is the indices. There is an index at the end of each volume, but the one at the end of volume one is scant and confusing. I used it to try to look up artichoke soup, but failed to find it. However, artichoke soup was listed in the Volume 2 (Fruit volume) index, which looks like the main index to me. I feel the main index would have been better divided between each volume appropriately, perhaps losing a couple of the irrelevant mood photos, such as the sweet peas, the dahlia and one or two of the frozen brassica photos, to accommodate them, if pages were short.
None of the niggles were enough to lose a star over, so I give this five stars and I’m delighted to have received both volumes for Xmas.
I'll admit to being a fan of Nigel Slater and have most of his books. I love his style of cooking - nothing complicated nor anything too fussy - just fresh ingredients, simply cooked.
Although you might expect a book devoted to fruit to be primarily filled with desserts and sweet dishes, there are plenty of savoury dishes here too, particularly recipes involving game or pork. Examples include gammon with damson gin sauce, roast duck with damson ginger sauce, slow-roasted loin of pork with quinces & marsala, and roast partridge with blackberry juices. There are also accompanying dishes such as a lovely apricot pilaf or celeriac & grape salad.
The sweet stuff though is wonderful. There are several cheesecake recipes such as cherry cheesecake or the fab creamy cheesecake with a sharp damson sauce to temper the richness. There are a number of meringue recipes too - chestnut meringue, another meringue with a warm berry compote or with red berries & cream or a rosewater meringue with blackcurrants & cream. Simple fruit dishes include peaches with lemon verbena, or baked with maple syrup & vanilla, or grilled with mascarpone vanilla cream (easy but delicious). Or perhaps raspberries in elderflower jelly, cassis jelly with blueberries & crème fraiche, slow-baked figs with orange & vin santo, pear & lemon water ice or iced apricot & blackcurrant terrine.
Baked dishes include apricot & pistachio crumble, Jam roly poly, a beautiful cake with apples, blackberries, hazelnuts & cinnamon, pear & pecan tart, little Christmas tartlets of candied peel & nuts and chocolate & chestnut terrine (another rich dish).
This book and its companion vegetable volume are just so useful, even more so if you have an allotment or good kitchen garden.
This is a beautifully produced book, heavy and satisfying in the hands, with gorgeous text inlaid in the cloth binding and absolutely sumptuous photography. The text, too, has all the delights we are used to with Nigel Slater - his very sensual writing, driven by appetite and always happy to have just a little bite more. It's an encyclopedia of fruit recipes, really, with more than twelve hundred pages on offer.
It would make a particularly good present for someone who loves fruit puddings, as (as another reviewer has already noted) this is a fairly sweet-toothed book - again, knowing Slater, not THAT much of a surprise. There are jams and jellies, pickles, stuffings and roasts, but in the main, the most part of the book is puddings. Some very simple, like raspberries poached in eau-de-vie, and some more complicated, according to taste.
However I did find myself wondering how many of the recipes I'd ever get around to making. For one thing, the very size and comprehensiveness of the book does render it slightly unwieldy, and a purchaser needs time on their hands to work their way through and decide which dishes they fancy. And for those of us swearing off puddings after Christmas, this book is almost a form of torture.
The person who could use this book best would of course be someone with their own fruit trees, who must cook through every glut and who could try every recipe. In the mean time, once the diets are over, I'm looking forward to treacle tart with russets.
on 25 July 2011
Having been a Nigel fan since his days at Marie Claire, I have, on occassion, strayed. However, I have now bought enough cookbooks to know that, unless you cook to impress your friends with towers of this and that and ingredients sourced from obscure regions of the world, then you really only need one author. Nigel Slater cooks like I want to cook, he eats like I want to eat and he makes the whole process totally enjoyable. This is Nigel Slater at his best,using the ingredients we find in our gardens or at the local market to make divine food. Don't bother with any other author and if you enjoyed volume 1 you will love this....
on 3 October 2010
What more can I say. I already have Volume 1 Tender: Volume I, A cook and his vegetable patch
& this is obviously the second half of one book.
As a grower of fruit & veg this is a pure delight, as I can just delve in & find something delicious to make with whatever is to hand.
Well done Nigel!
Nigel Slater has been called Britain's best food writer, and reading his Tender Volume II it's easy to see why. It bears witness to his gifts as a writer of sensuous, sumptuous prose. Anyone stumbling across this passage out of context, for example, might mistake it for a Booker Prize entry: By mid-September, 'the garden darkens to the colour of ginger cake, here and there a shot of saffron, brilliant ochre or darkest crimson. The colours, I would guess, of the Vatican at prayer.'
This isn't just Keatsian or Cider with Rosie sensuality, though. The book offers practical tips on culinary and horticultural matters, plus the benefit of his experience and taste. A baking apple that 'leaves the Bramley standing' is the Peasgood's Nonsuch, with its 'cloud-like froth and deep flavour'. The damson tree to plant, he urges, is the Farleigh, for its rich flavour, despite its modest-sized fruit. (Slater is fond of the plum family: 'Should plum crumble be on my lips when I die, then I will go a happy man.') But the author doesn't pretend to be an expert on everything and refers us to others where necessary - like Morgan and Richard for all things apple.
To risk making this review read like a Press Release for Fourth Estate, I'd suggest that at such a hefty on-line discount, this one really is a peach of a book on just about every level. Although our Nigel can seem dangerously addicted to cream and crankily obsessive at times (apparently, two of his little rituals are 'trying to maintain an unbroken length of peel while paring a Bramley [and] sucking a Murray mint all the way through without crunching') his candour, wit and wisdom give his books charisma and depth. And surprises. It was in these pages that I learnt that walnut shells play a part in the manufacture of dynamite!
It's usually imaginative recipes and photography that sell food books. Here, we find beguiling prose as well. (And even the rather stylish typeface is strangely alluring!) All in all, Tender II provides the most compelling arguments for converting lawn to fruit patch.