“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”

“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”

“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”

“Saltimbocca” from “A Bird in the Hand”



Nicholas (11): Yum.

Maureen: I agree. Full of yum.

Tim: This is hardly something new, though. We used to make this all the time when we lived in Chicago.

Maureen: Life in Chicago– a lifetime ago, or in quantifiable terms, 16 years ago. That probably was a Silver Palate recipe. We made a lot of good dinners from that back then.

Tim: But we usually made it with veal.

Maureen: Yes, but this is good too, and much easier to source the ingredients. I should keep this in mind for when we’re on holiday and we’re trying to figure out what to make that’s quick and easy and doesn’t require any exotic ingredients or spices.

Nicholas: I would definitely want to eat this again.

Maureen: Agreed. This is a perfect weeknight dinner, too, because it’s so quick to make. Boiling the new potatoes took twice as long as making this.

Tim: I’d give it a score of 8 out of 10. I would eat it again.

Nicholas (incredulous): Only 8? Surely it’s a 9.

Tim: Don’t get me wrong. I liked it. I just didn’t think it was all that creative.

Maureen: Honestly, you don’t know how good you have it here if you’re only giving it an 8. We’ll have it again and maybe you’ll give it a higher score next time.

“Saltimbocca” from “A Bird in the Hand”

Cookbook of the month, April 2015, “A Bird in the Hand” by Diana Henry

Kirstin: I had such a lovely chat with her on Twitter. She’s such a nice person.

Maureen: I saw that. She made some good recommendations, too. We really liked her last book a year ago.

Kirstin:  I really like Diana Henry. I’ve got all of her cookbooks.

Maureen: Are you worried about eating a lot of chicken this month?

Kirstin: We eat a lot of chicken anyway, about three times a week, so I’m not worried.

Maureen: I’m slightly concerned it will call for weird ingredients, but I will persevere.

Kirstin: I’m happy to find odd ingredients for Diana Henry because I know the end result will be worth it.  I”m looking forward to the flavours after the bland month we’ve had.


Cookbook of the month, April 2015, “A Bird in the Hand” by Diana Henry