One of my favorite things to do on lazy, quiet weekends is to make a den/nest out of as many duvets and quilts as I get my hands on, in front of the fire, and then serve picnics of delicious food to the members of the nest! Most of this weekend was just me and the boy - perfect - and I cooked up lots of yummy treats for us. Here are just some of them.

Saturday was all about smoked duck salad, using some of the smoked duck breast we'd picked up at Chiswick Farmer's Market the weekend before. Here's what I did with it:


1 smoked duck breast
1 baby gem lettuce
1 pack of baby spinach
Handful cherry tomotoes
Handful frozen peas
2 spring onions
1 avocado
1 free range egg
Few chunks of blue cheese
Dressing - made from 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, 1/2 part mustard, blue cheese crumbles, salt and pepper - whisked together.

Put 1 pan on to boil. Once boiling, add the frozen peas, and then remove them after 45 seconds with a slotted spoon. Leave to drain. Add your egg to the pan of boiling water, and leave for 5 and a half minutes.

Spread the lettuce and spinach over a plate and sprinkle with chopped tomatoes. Add the peas, chopped spring onion and chopped avocado. At this stage pour half the dressing over the salad.

Thinly slice the duck breast (I leave the fat on so people can choose whether to remove it themselves). Lay the duck breast over the salad and sprinkle with cubes of blue cheese. Remove the egg from the boiling water, peel and cut into quarters, to put around the duck. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the duck salad. Serve with a thick slice of bread.

We were joined in our nest/den by friends on Saturday evening, and as we had company (and new pots and pans) I couldn't resist making a big beef and beer pie for everyone. I won't put the recipe up again, as you can find it on my blog here. But it was better than ever this time, and I think that has a lot to do with the excellent beef I ordered from Oxen Park Farm, Devon (www.oxenparkfarm.com - if you want to get in touch with them about ordering meat then email info@oxenparkfarm.com for a price list - they're great value and the meat is really, really good, so do drop them a line! They deliver to London, and I imagine most places in the UK).

For Sunday tea I made a quick banana cake that went down a treat, served with shop bought vanilla ice-cream, which I mashed with chopped stem ginger and its syrup, then refroze before serving.

And then for supper we had these, unexpectedly delicious sticky chicken thighs. They're best if you marinate them for 2 hours first, so remember this if you want to make them.


4 free-range chicken thighs
3 tbsp agave nectar/syrup
2 lemons, juice and skin
10 cloves garlic
1 star anise
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp paprika
1 red onion
1 bunch of thyme

To make the marinade, mix the agave, juice from both lemons, 3 crushed cloves of garlic, the star anise, fennel seed and paprika together. Put the chicken thighs in the dish that you will cook them in and tip the marinade over the chicken. Wedge the lemon rinds between the chicken pieces with a few whole cloves of garlic and chunks of red onion. Pop the bunch of thyme in between them all.

Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 190C fan, or 210C if you don't have a fan oven.

Cook the chicken for 40 minutes in total - skin side up for 20 minutes, then skin side down for 10 minutes, and skin side up for the last ten minutes, just to give it a really sticky, crispy finish.

Serve with parsley mash and greens. And don't worry about cutlery for eating the chicken - they're just like chicken wings but a bit bigger!!



  1. Just about the greatest salad ever..

  2. Sounds like a perfect cold weather weekend - bliss !

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