“Roast chicken with peaches, honey and lavender” from “A bird in the hand”

Kirstin: We have a LOT of lavender in our garden. It is one of the very few plants that I can manage to keep alive, year after year. Lavender surrounds our Outdoor eating area and it is just coming into bloom. It smells just wonderful. Anyway, as I was searching for our weekly roast chicken recipe I spotted this one. As the title suggests it has lavender, honey AND peaches which felt like all the summer feels in one dish. I wasn’t sure the children would go for it, but it turns out that I should not have had any worries; they LOVED it. They even negotiated between them who would have the last piece of chicken and cleared their plates. There is also a little white balsamic vinegar mixed in with the honey, when combined with the added lavender flavour is as special as it sounds.

But I’d best get on this again because the lavender won’t last forever! And the peaches won’t be as sweet. Oh how I love summer…

“Roast chicken with peaches, honey and lavender” from “A bird in the hand”

Our Verdict – A Bird in the Hand

Anna: We’ve done loads this month!

Kirstin: This was a bit of a winner of a book I felt.

Anna: Yes. I was inspired for sure. A I think my feelings overall are similar to her other book.

Kirstin: I thought this was better than that.

Anna: I agree. I just feel that if someone else was cooking these recipes for me I’d enjoy them more.

Kirstin: That’s just the recipes you chose. Try the anchovy one. It was really good.

Anna: I definitely will. I made a couple of other things that I didn’t get a chance to write up, with the roast chicken leftovers and they were great.

Kirstin: Me too!

Anna: What was your favourite?

Kirstin: The Orvieto chicken I think. It was lovely to see an old friend.

Anna: I am looking forward to doing the polpette again.

“Deliciously Ella”
Overall Grade (A- F): A (Kirstin) B (Anna)
Best recipes: Kirstin: Orvieto chicken. Anna: Polpette.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A.
Any disasters? No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Bookshelf!

Our Verdict – A Bird in the Hand

“Chicken with Rice, Sweet Potato and Pepper Stuffing, Coriander and Coconut Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

Nicholas (11): Chicken again?

Maureen: I know. I’m starting to feel the same way.

Andrew (15): Chicken is always good, but we’re having a lot of it.

Maureen: This is what happens when you do a chicken-focussed cookbook. It reminds me of the movie “Take this Waltz” where Seth Rogan plays a cookbook author who’s doing a chicken cookbook. He has a party for his family and they all complain that they’re having chicken again. Spoiler alert: by the end of the movie, his wife has left him, but it’s not because he only makes chicken.

Tim: This is nice, though.

Maureen: Everybody seems to be devouring it, that’s for sure.

Nicholas: Yes, I like it.

Andrew: Me too.

Maureen: Although we’re having chicken AGAIN, I like that this is different from the usual roast chicken that we have. I don’t ever really stuff the chickens, but this is nice, with the rice stuffing.

Tim: Is this gravy?

Maureen: No, it’s not. It’s what you’re getting instead of gravy, and she calls it coriander and coconut sauce. You make it with coconut cream. Yum. I like it because it’s a bit different. Should I make this again?

Tim: Sure. Why not.

Nicholas: Make it again, but not any time soon. I’m getting a bit sick of chicken.

Maureen: I know what you mean.

“Chicken with Rice, Sweet Potato and Pepper Stuffing, Coriander and Coconut Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Hot Italian Chicken with Peppers and Chilli” from “A Bird in the Hand”

Tim: Whoa. This is spicy.

Maureen: Yes. It really is. And if we’re saying that it’s spicy, that’s really something because we love spicy food. I had to put a lot of chilli flakes in this. [Pauses to find recipe.] Actually, it’s only three teaspoons of the chilli flakes, but it tastes like there’s a lot more than that in there. What do you boys think?

Nicholas (11): I like the chicken, but it’s very spicy.

Andrew (15): It’s probably too spicy for me.

Maureen: Well, it’s progress, of a sort. A few years ago, you would have pushed your plate away and refused to eat any more.

Nicholas: Well, we are older.

Maureen: Yes, older, but not necessarily more mature.

Tim: Would you make it again?

Maureen: I probably would, because it’s a good weeknight dinner, as this is basically a tray bake, albeit one with loads of chilli flakes. When I make it again, I’ll add less chilli flakes. The boys might like it better then.

“Hot Italian Chicken with Peppers and Chilli” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Chicken with Anchovies, Lemon and Rosemary” from “Bird in the Hand”


Kirstin: I made this for the kids one night while Tom was away. It was delightfully simple and I was able to potter around the kitchen as I cooked it; it’s always lovely to have easier recipes like that. Plus those anchovies really did a depth to the flavour, as Diana Henry says in the description; the confit of onions was sublime. Would I make this again? Absolutely. But I’ll make sure Tom is around next time!

“Chicken with Anchovies, Lemon and Rosemary” from “Bird in the Hand”

“Vietnamese lemon grass and chilli chicken” from “A Bird in the Hand”


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Peter: Where’s the rice?

Anna: There is no rice. Just stir-fried greens.

Peter: But there’s rice in the photo.

Anna: I think I’m going to give up making Asian food. The last few times just haven’t worked. This isn’t a disaster, but it’s really not very exciting. Which I suspect is due to my cooking, more than the recipe.

Peter: It could do with a bit more kick. Maybe the chillies aren’t that hot?

Anna: Maybe. But I’m not getting lemon grass either. And I had to start this last night so it marinated overnight. That’s two days of effort. Not much effort, but more than my usual repertoire of meals requires. This is why I don’t cook new things any more.




“Vietnamese lemon grass and chilli chicken” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Chicken Rye Schnitzel with Mustard Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

IMG_6651Cooking this recipe is hardly testing out the cookbook because as soon as I read the ingredients and the method, I knew my family would love it.

I was right.

What’s not to love? Chicken pounded down, then breaded and fried. To top it all off, a creamy mustard sauce. Yum.

Unfortunately I did have to deviate somewhat from the printed recipe as despite my best efforts to make rye breadcrumbs, they didn’t work out. The bread wasn’t stale enough, so I didn’t get bread crumbs in the food processor, but something more akin to bread mush. I ended up using some sourdough breadcrumbs that I had in the freezer that worked just as well.

For us, this is a delightful variation of the firm family favourite, chicken parmigiana. Only in this case, there’s no tomato sauce or mozzarella cheese.

Would I make it again? Absolutely. It received a universal thumbs up from around the dinner table.

Would you like to make this? Sure you would. Click through on this paragraph to get the recipe, which was printed in the Telegraph.

“Chicken Rye Schnitzel with Mustard Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Chicken pot-roasted in milk, bay and nutmeg” from “A Bird in the Hand”


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Anna: We’ve been having lots of things cooked in milk recently. It was lamb on Easter Sunday. Today it’s chicken!

Peter: It’s nice and moist, but I’m not entirely sure it’s that different from any other roast chicken I’ve had.

Anna: The leg came away from the body really beautifully. But I do agree with you. Louis, what do you think?

Louis: It’s great!

Isabella: More. Peeeees!



“Chicken pot-roasted in milk, bay and nutmeg” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Buttermilk Chicken with Chipotle Slaw” from “A Bird in the Hand”

IMG_6707Maureen: Huzzah! Our first barbeque of the year!

Nicholas (11): Well, it is warmest day of the year so far.

Maureen: And we also found a bazillion bags of charcoal when we cleaned out the shed, so that also drove the decision. But mostly it’s to celebrate the return of barbeque weather. What do you think?

Tim: It’s good, but I don’t think the chicken is that much better than any other marinated chicken we’ve done.

Maureen: I know what you mean. I’m surprised by the taste. I thought it would be very different to this. While it’s good, it’s not that different from any other marinated chicken we’ve put on the grill. What about the coleslaw?

Tim: It’s good.

Maureen: It might have been better if I had sliced it in the food processor, like I usually do, but I thought I could cut it thinly enough by hand. I was wrong. Should I make it again?

Nicholas: I think it’s good.

Tim: I think it’s good, but not substantially better than other barbeque chicken we’ve had.

Maureen: I’m with you. I’m a little disappointed. I had high hopes for this. It was good, but it wasn’t great.

Top tip: You have to marinate the chicken 24 hours before cooking it. I used an old and reliable tip from Nigella when I was marinating: I put everything into a zip-lock bag, which made it easier to flip and move the chicken around in the marinade during the 24 hours it was in it.


“Buttermilk Chicken with Chipotle Slaw” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Chicken Orvieto” from “Bird in the Hand”


Kirstin: Tom and I have very fond memories of this recipe from it’s previous incarnation in the Alastair Little book. We used to love Alastair Little.

Tom: And his restaurant. We even spent an evening in Orvieto looking for somewhere that made this recipe. But it turns out it was just inspired by a cooking class he did there.

Kirstin: But it was a lovely evening. On our honeymoon, in fact. This has taken me 3 hours where I was mostly on my feet.

Ella: The obvious solution would be time travel.

Tom: Is it even more of a faff than Zuni chicken?

Kirstin: It’s a different kind of faff. And I have to admit I had the two recipes out to compare them. So at one point I did add a little water to the pan as Mr Little recommends.

Miles: If you were standing for 3 hours then you lost 300 calories.

Kirstin: Nice! Also, we don’t eat liver in this house. So I used crumbled up skinless sausage as I used to in the Alastair Little recipe.

Tom: So that was already a deviation from the original Alastair Little recipe.

Kirstin: Yes. Because chicken livers are just grim.

Ella: Also because you couldn’t liver with yourself if you ate some.

Tom: That joke was just offal, Ella.

Kirstin: Do you like it?

Tom: I love it but maybe not for an everyday evening meal.

Kirstin: Indeed. I should have started earlier, but the light was perfect for taking portraits and we got a little bit carried away. And then there was the nice light in the kitchen too…

Tom: I think it would be great for special occasions.

Kirstin: The gravy is amazing too, isn’t it? And the addition of pancetta is great with the potatoes too, isn’t it? Remember all those years ago, pancetta was incredibly difficult to get hold of. I’m definitely putting this recipe back into heavy rotation. Thank you for the reminder Diana Henry.

“Chicken Orvieto” from “Bird in the Hand”