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

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….

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  • The Kinfolk Table
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  • The Great Dixter Cookbook
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  • Superfood Family Classics
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