Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.
The Great Dixter Cookbook
The Great Dixter Cookbook
Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.
Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.
Gather | Great Dixter
Gather | Great Dixter
Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.
Superfood Classics | Toast Hash
Superfood Classics | Toast Hash
Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.
The Kinfolk Table
The Kinfolk Table
Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.
Toast. Hash. Roast. Mash
Toast. Hash. Roast. Mash
Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.
The Kinfolk Table | Toast Hash
The Kinfolk Table | Toast Hash
Five favourite cookbooks for those people that hate cooking. Lolly shares her review of the best cooking books that have inspired her in the kitchen.

Five Favourite Cookbooks {For Someone That Hates Cooking}

Author: Lolly Gautier-Ollerenshaw

Today’s post is a touch unexpected. Well it will be for those readers who know me very well…in fact I can almost hear them snorting into their morning coffee. Why you might ask? Because it’s a (now well known!) fact that I absolutely can’t stand cooking.

Ok so maybe that’s a touch melodramatic but it’s not something that I look forward to at all. I’m not sure why this is..perhaps it’s because I see food as a fuel more than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I love well cooked and flavoursome food and will appreciate a Michelin starred meal as much as the next person but I don’t necessarily plan my day by my meals and there have been times when I’ve forgotten to eat after I’ve had breakfast altogether. Ste is the same; he’ll eat with gusto when something is presented to him but there has been many a time when he too doesn’t really fancy consuming anything and that suits me just fine.

Lately though I’ve been trying my hardest on the chef front. Those of you who are regular readers of Rock My Family will know that Hector isn’t exactly enamoured with eating either. This wasn’t always the case. He was a fantastic baby post-weaning and ate everything presented to him – it was around this time I became a bit of a demon in the kitchen…pureeing and blending like a woman possessed. And then suddenly around the 2 year mark he decided that he wasn’t going to eat anything that was outside of the remit of dairy, fruit and beige (with the exception of pasta). Arghhhh!

Refusing to be deterred I’ve now doubled my efforts to try to encourage him to embrace all things food but with an internal lack of gourmet inspiration and experience I’ve turned to those in the know to guide me in my cooking exploits and it’s these authors that have kept me sane when I simply cannot imagine devising another culinary combination.

I thought I’d share them with you in the hope that you might also recommend some of your own in the process…

The Great Dixter Cookbook

I thought I’d start with my latest purchase, that of The Great Dixter Cookbook which marries my passion for gardening with my love for excellent photography. The book isn’t strictly just a cookbook, instead seasonal recipes jostle alongside planting guides from the garden of Great Dixter – a historic house and garden located on the borders of Kent and Sussex which belonged to Christopher Lloyd who was a highly influential gardener and writer.

There are seventy seasonal recipes from the kitchen garden with a number actually taken from the Lloyd family’s personal kitchen notebooks. Dishes include English classics such as chicken and leek pie and apple crumble as well as more contemporary recipes such as crispy kale with sea salt and shakshuka. According to the book’s author – Aaron Bertelsen – the Tomato Tart is the best of the lot. Definitely one for those who like to read a cookbook as you would a more conventional book.

Superfood Family Classics

It was the lovely Lottie who first sang the praises of Jamie Oliver’s Superfood Family Classics which is pretty much as it says on the tin…a series of recipes using superfoods for the family. So I took her advice and purchased it for myself late last year.

I’ve actually found this book to be invaluable for the last four months or so. I’m cooking for two veggies…(three if you count me too although I do have a bit of meat every now and again) and I confess that I’ve become a bit of a dry well when it comes to mocking up new recipes. Jamie’s cookbook whilst not strictly a veggie cookbook has a huge proportion of mostly veggie recipes which was music to my ears.

The Pilaf recipe in the ‘traybakes’ section is a firm favourite in my house…with the exception of Hector of course, as is the leek and potato soup and the Tarka Daal definitely scored major brownie points with my sister’s boyfriend too. There’s a handy guide at the bottom of every recipe detailing all the stats you would ever need about salt and sugar content and quite a hefty section at the back with tips, tricks and advice on nutrition too. The photos of the Oliver family that adorn the front and back of the book are a lovely touch. I particularly love the breakfast section at the front which is perfect for lazy Sundays when it’s been pouring with rain and there’s not much else to do other than make a smoothie or two.

The Kinfolk Table

The Kinfolk Table was the first fancy cookbook I owned which I bought almost as soon as it came out back in 2010. Much like The Great Dixter Cookbook, the book is filled with exquisite photography so it is as much about the food as the aesthetics of the presentation itself.

I’m not sure how many of you read Kinfolk magazine but this cookbook is by the creators of the periodical who have collated the profiles of 40 individuals who love to entertain, and who have each provided one to three of the recipes they most love to share with others, whether they be simple breakfasts for two, one-pot dinners for six, or a perfectly composed sandwich for a solo picnic.

Generally I’ve found the recipes in this book to be the most convoluted out of all the books I own but they are extraordinarily tasty. Really tasty…so perhaps when I have a little bit more time on my hands I might bash out a few dishes like I used to for Ste…

Toast. Hash. Roast. Mash

I’ve not read Dan Doherty’s first book, Duck & Waffle: but I know it was included in the ‘Best Cookbooks of the Year’ selections in Observer Food Monthly, BBC Good Food and Red magazine to name a few. Toast. Hash. Roast. Mash is Dan’s latest offering and features those recipes he cooks at home for family and friends – informal, easy comfort food. The recipes are centred around eggs, hash, pancakes, toast, simple savoury dishes and sweet bakes; essentially brunch food that you can eat all day. Recipes include Ricotta, Pear & Honey on Toast, Smoked Salmon, Horseradish & Sour Cream Hash, Mexican Eggs and a whole chapter devoted to food to defeat a hangover, including the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich. And with a child that adores cheese…this can only be a good thing.


Gather is another utterly exquisite book… sublime photography and a slightly different organisational way of approaching a cookbook make this title stand head and shoulders above the rest. Gill Miller – the author of the book has made the idea of ‘gathering’ the premise of the tome by splitting it into sections centred around different environments such as ‘field’,’shore’,’orchard’, ‘garden’, ‘woodland’ and so on.

The concept speaks to the romantic in me whereas the simplicity of the recipes goes hand in hand with the pragmatic mama that doesn’t have much time…I’ll definitely be whipping this out this weekend as the chocolate rye brownies and salted pollock are calling my name.

Do you have any cookbooks that you really love? Do you hate cooking as much as I do? Are there any titles out there that you think I need to know about? Why not share in the comments box below….

  • The Kinfolk Table
  • Superfood Family Classics
  • The Great Dixter Cookbook
  • Toast. Hash. Roast. Mash

Header image styled for The Wedding Shop

Author: Lolly
Lolly is a self-professed frustrated florist and styling maven with an endless passion for all things pretty.
Follow Lolly on instagram @graceandgable
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28 thoughts on “Five Favourite Cookbooks {For Someone That Hates Cooking}

  1. I love to cook. For me it is not the eating but the preparation of the food. I find it relaxes me after work. My only regret at the moment is that I don’t have as much time as I’d like when it was the two of us. I don’t follow recipes at the moment, its more a throw it in the pan what can I prepare in 20 minutes or less once Zach is in bed so that we can eat before 8. Cookbooks I have owned for years are the Delia one as her recipes are so precise and accurate. I do loo very the BBC food site though for when you want to know what to cook with the random items left in the fridge.

    1. Oh Helen I envy you…I hate the preparation of the food. The smell of garlic-y/oniony fingers after chopping, the tediousness of cutting. My sister’s boyfriend says he finds cooking relaxing too and it makes me so jealous. That something that has such a fundamental purpose in our lives can be a total joy for some people but unfortunately not for me. Thanks for the tip on the random items in the fridge though…I’ve often found myself in this situation so will check that out.

  2. I also hate cooking. I have an almost robotic routine that I follow every week to feed the family without having to think. I hate knowing that I spent an hour cooking and it’s gone within minutes. The soothing noises of ‘angry toddler in playpen’ whilst I’m preparing it don’t exactly help, nor does the knowledge that my 9 year old will argue and moan his way through it for about an hour 😄 The routine is boring and means we eat heavy stodgy food in summer because those are the only
    Recipes I know. I think I’ll take a look at the Jamie Oliver one! One thing that has been nice is a monthly subscription where we are sent spices/flavourings and recipes. I don’t cook them though, strictly husband’s territory.

    1. So glad I’m not the only one Jade! And yes there have been many weeks where I fall back into the same old recipes that I know and that I know that at least will keep Ste fed happily. I think part of the reason I’m not enamoured with cooking is because Hector just won’t eat it; life was so much easier when he ate everything and in turn that inspired me to try new recipes and to be more adventurous. When you know that your efforts in the kitchen are going to be met with ‘yucky’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘don’t like it’ you feel defeated before you even begin!

  3. You might like “The Abel and Cole Cookbook: Easy, Seasonal and Organic”. There are lots of veggie recipes and there are lots of ideas in the front of the book for substitutions you can make if you don’t have/like something. There aren’t too many precise measurements (instead the author favours proportions – a mug of this, half a mug of that). We work out what the best quantities are for us and then stick a post-it in the book so we remember for next time. The seasonal approach is great as by the time we’re getting a bit bored we’re moving on to a new season. We’ve bought multiple copies as gifts! Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s books are great but very faffy, so perhaps best left to those that enjoy cooking (I don’t, but my husband does, thankfully!).

    1. Ooooh thanks for the recommendation Laura! I like the sound of not so precise measurements and of course the seasonal approach too. I’ll check it out right now!

  4. Dan Doherty’s Toast Hash Roast Mash is a firm favourite over here – his Shakshuka recipe is so easy, flavoursome and just generally ADDICTIVE.

  5. It’s a little bit cliché but I love the Deliciously Ella cookbooks – her recipes are firm favourites in our house and made more so by the fact that a lot are slow cooker friendly! We love the sweet potato, aubergine and chickpea curry and the fajita bowls.

    For a more fancy kind of day I really rate The Weekend Cookbook by Catherine Hill – every recipe just works! The nectarine tart is a thing of wonder!

    1. My mum likes the Deliciously Ella cookbooks Kate and the curry you’ve mentioned sounds delicious. Again something that we would definitely eat but which Hector of course would turn his nose up at. I’m going to take a look at The Weekend Cookbook now!

  6. Hi Lolly, I enjoy cooking but have to say as a mama of 2 under 2, running a business and a life- I don’t have much time to do it. This is heart breaking for someone who DOES enjoy being in the kitchen, so I’ve actually really enjoyed finding shortcuts and time savings exercises in some of my favourite cook books to still create beautiful meals but in a fraction of the time:
    Jamie Oliver’s Superfood Family Classics- I’m an absolute JO fangirl- I have every single one of his cookbooks, (in fact Lauren Coleman once gave me all of her spare JO cookbooks when we used to work together- SCORE!) His Superfood Family Classics is incredible, and the 7 hidden veg sauce is an absolute god send. Great if, like us, you have a child who has all of a sudden decided they don’t like anything that’s remotely healthy for them….my daughter loves pasta and sauce and I bulk cook this hidden veg sauce, freeze it and then dump it in a saucepan at dinner time, add in some fresh pasta and voila- she demolishes it, blissfully unaware that there are some SERIOUS veggies packed in.
    Gizzi Erskines’- Skinny weeks and weakend feasts – Not only is this book written like a magazine, with beautiful imagery, a conversational tone to it and easy to follow instructions- but it really helps me balance out my diet throughout the week. As the title suggest, Gizzi offers some excellent (and VERY easy to prepare) meals for the week and then some more elaborate dishes to devour at the weekend….It’s a great cookbook if you’re looking to improve your culinary skills too as she really helps you build your repertoire and skill set throughout the book.
    Gino Di Campo’s – Vegitalia – A fantastic book for vegetarians, and one that you immediately read and makes you feel like summer! Not necessarily an ‘easy-how-to’ – but definitely inspirational, healthy cooking.

    Anyway, to reiterate, I love cooking, almost as much as I love eating (which is why I nearly live at the gym in my limited free time.) However another tip I would offer to anyone looking to improve and enjoy honing their cooking skills- Once a week, cook dinner with a cheeky little drink in hand (I’m a red wine or G&T fan- not together, obvs!) If your children are distracted (I take this opportunity to use ‘Nanny TV’ whilst I’m cooking for 30 minutes) – I use the iPad to catch up on my favourite TV Shows whilst cooking- it actually makes it a really really enjoyable bit of me time and the output is great because you also get to whip up a delicious meal for your family at the same time!

    Anyway, sorry for the essay- enjoy exploring your culinary side! xxx

    1. Lauren, I was wondering where they went! Glad you’re getting use out of them 🙂
      Jamie’s sweet potato chilli has become one of our repertoire after it was mentioned by one of our lovely readers x

      1. I love them so much Lauren, honestly, I’m the type of person who reads a cookbook in bed instead of a Novel!! I’ve added to my collection too with all of his latest releases…but I’m now scouring your posts to find any kind of storage/bookcase inspiration- as I’m seriously lacking this in our new build….

        I eagerly await the next article- because they’re all amazing!! #fangirl


  7. I’ve started following a more Paleo-ish diet after having my little boy and love a book called Fitter Food: A Second Helping, loads of the paleo-style books are a bit over complicated and this one is really simple to follow, has quick meal ideas and good snack options, plus there are some amazing dessert ideas. Try the BOSH brownies – amazing!!

    I also use my Smitten Kitchen cookbook quite a lot, definitely not paleo but full of some amazing recipes if you have friends or family over and want to impress and it’s a beautiful book.

    Finally the Mary Berry Foolproof Cooking has some nice midweek meal options and is another good go to.

    1. Thanks Lynne for all those tips. A lot of my crossfit friends follow a Paleo diet so I’m familiar with the concept. As you say I always saw it as a bit of a faff so it’s good to hear that there are simpler approaches out there. I’d not heard of Smitten Kitchen either so will be checking that out too xx

  8. This post is music to my ears. One of the things I’m most proud of in my home is my ever growing collection of cookbooks. I have over 300, although it’s nowhere near Nigella, who I think I read has over 4000.

    The Great Dixter cookbook is on my list to buy (helps that my husband gets staff discount at Waterstones!). And I love Gather by Gill Meller. If you like that then I highly recommend anything by Diana Henry; simple, classic ingredients turned into inspired recipes. And Gatherings by Flora Shedden (remember her from GBBO?) is also very good and along the lines of Gill’s laid back approach.

    1. It’s definitely worth every penny Lucy! Seems like we have similar tastes although with over 300 books (WOW!) there’s bound to be some crossover. I’m off to check out Diana Henry now and also Flora Shedden!

  9. I quite enjoy cooking (and eating!!) but both me and the husband can get properly fed up of deciding what to eat every day.

    I’ve found the River Cottage Toddler Cook book amazing, pretty much all the recipes are designed for families (so a recipe will do 2 adults and 2 kids usually) and are split up seasonally and are really tasty. Some are a bit faffy but they are worth it (the falafel are delicious!) and a lot are vegetarian.

    Have you tried a food box subscription? we’ve had Hello Fresh boxes a few times and you get to keep recipe cards after so you can make them again, you can also specify dietary requirements.

    Id love to be able to forget to eat occasionally (I bloody obsessed with eating!)

    1. We’ve actually got the River Cottage Toddler book Vicky and I do like it. I used it a lot more when Hector was younger and have incidentally forgotten all about it so I’m off to dig it out again now!

      1. I’ve bee assured by various friends with older children that they do generally grow out of the beige dairy phase!

        We’re still lucky that at almost 20 months Felix still eats pretty much everything we give him! I’m hoping it lasts…but I’m preparing myself for the beige love!

  10. Great post. Some of these cookbooks look beautiful. I am completely the same, I hate cooking. I hate spending an hour in the kitchen after a long day of work, to me it feels like a waste of time, however, I do LOVE my food. So I am forever looking for quick simple delicious dinners that I can prepare in under 30 minutes and that are also semi-healthy. I find Madeleine Shaw books the best for this. Most of her meals you can whip up in 20-30mins and they look impressive, as though you have just spent hours in the kitchen! I would definitely recommend! I always find Jamie’s food taste’s great but seem fairly complicated/need lots of ingredients. Perhaps I will give this book a whirl xx

  11. Mmmmm cooking and more importantly eating!!! Like many others I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver, his recipes are so simple and he always seems to use things I just have in the kitchen anyway. I also like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Chelsea Winter, who was a winner of the New Zealand version of masterchef (don’t let that put you off!). her recipes are amazing – she has a website but its hard to get her cookbooks over here
    I’ve heard good things about the River Cottage Baby and toddler cookbook but I haven’t tried it myself. From what I understand tis more geared towards things you can all eat together as a family that younger ones will enjoy 🙂

  12. This post made me laugh Lolly. I actually love cooking, but like a few of the other commenters, as mum to a two year old I don’t have the same amount of time that I used to. I’m developing quite the array of shortcuts, from frozen chopped garlic (actually, all manner of frozen veg), to those pouches of ready cooked rice and grains, the slow cooker and freezer favourites.

    I’ll definitely be buying a few of your cookbook recommendations as I love a nicely bound recipe book! Judging by your list, I think you’d like Yottam Ottolenghi (if you haven’t already got some of his titles). I love Jerusalem and Plenty, and they’re very veg-heavy if you have vegetarian leanings. Nigella Express is also one I keep going back to – it’s great for quick family dinners.

    Have you tried getting Hector to help you cook? I sort of think if you allow kids to see and feel all the food, it gets them ‘used’ to it. In my head, this will eventually lead to them eating it. I can’t say it’s worked for me yet, but I’m hoping I’m laying the foundations and will reap benefits in a few years time… 🙂

  13. I enjoy cooking and really like trying out new recipes but the problem is that my other half is quite fussy. He’s got better over the years but we either end up eating the same thing over and over again (and I get so bored of making it, it puts me off eating it!) or I have to sub in an alternative option for him (which is just a bit of a faff when you’ve got limited kitchen/hob/oven space).

    However, our go to cookbooks are JO’s superfoods family classics (we used the 7 veg sauce in lasagne when we didn’t have any tinned tomatoes and it really added a new level of flavour!), Joe Wicks Lean in 15 (nice and quick for after work) and I also like Fearn Cotton’s Cook Happy Cook Healthy – it’s not the most fanciest of food but it’s good classics that go down a treat with us!

    I also love Pintrest for recipe ideas. A lot of them are US sites so you have to do a bit of converting but a really good source when I’m getting a bit bored of the usual.

    The one thing I wish I was better at with cooking was knowing what flavours go together. I’m awful at making something up on the spot as I haven’t got a clue at combining textures and flavours. My dad is an absolute whizz in the kitchen and knows exactly what goes with what and what a sauce is missing and what to add in to give it that kick! He says it’s just practice but I swear it’s magic lol!

  14. My son also eats more when he has helped make it, he is only 2 and a bit, but getting to put the pre chopped stuff in the pan and letting him stir it things like that help. He absolutley adores baking and my cakes have been turning out tremendous since he has been my sous chef!!
    We also have the river cottage toddler book, which has some great stuff in. Also a big fan of Jamie’s, the 15 minute and 30 minute meal books are great – though they do take more than the suggested time!!
    Some of my fave meals at the moment are coming from my weight watchers cookbooks believe it or not!! Tonight’s offering is peanut pork with wild rice

  15. I hate cooking too, I find it so incredibly boring and get zero enjoyment from it! However I love eating! Luckily my husband likes cooking so he does it all and I enjoy the eating part 😄 If he’s ever not around and I have to cook I literally go buy a pizza or that pasta you boil in 2 minutes and add a sauce out of a tub! I do feel bad though that I’m not in the kitchen whipping up culinary delights for the kids… however my 2 year old is very picky and she won’t eat most of what’s presented to her anyway so it feels like a waste of time. I must try harder though…. it’s a source of mum-guilt for me! x

  16. I am the opposite in that I LOVE cooking and have been known to take a day’s holiday to prep for a dinner party… In my child-free days that is anyway! Nowadays I look for the quickest, tastiest things to eat, that I can also make in small portions to freeze for the toddler. I heartily recommend Smitten Kitchen if you are not familiar (, she makes all sorts of delicious food, and does some excellent food which can easily be adapted to make them toddler friendly meals such as butternut squash pancakes, broccoli fritters (if you are easy on the garlic). She has a book as well but to be honest the blog is brilliant.

  17. I love cookbooks! My favourites are Tommi Miers “Mexican food made simple” and Emiko Davies “Firenze.”

    They are totally different and are treated totally differently by me- Firenze is like a picture book of Italian goodness and is very precious. The Mexican book has grease stains on the pages I use most and is distinctly dog eared.

    Another favourite is “One Good Egg” which is like a diary over a year- its full of family recipes and might make a good gift for your parents with their chickens? (Am I remembering right?)

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