In praise of the do-nothing weekend

Georgina Hayden, author of new book Stirring Slowly, knows how to do a weekend right – it's all about switching off, kicking back and cooking a damn fine roast

Added on

By Georgina Hayden on

I adore Sundays, what’s not to love? Everything is a bit slower, a bit calmer, I relish having a day at home. Whilst we never set an alarm, I still can’t remember the last time we slept in later than 8am.

Whoever is up first will make the coffee – weekdays it’s my husband Pete, so on the weekends it’s usually me. Because there is more time, it's stove top coffee made in our treasured Italian moka and heated milk in a little copper pan; little things that make us happy. I’ll take the coffees back to bed and there’ll usually be some gem of a song playing for me when I return – recent treasures have been ‘Oh Carolina’ by Shaggy or 90’s rave. We’ll wile away an hour or so drinking coffee and reminiscing over music, before we think about breakfast.

Pete is king of eggs, and Bombay omelette (recipe below) is one of his longstanding favourites, so breakfast is over to him while I tidy and gear up for The Archers omnibus (the Helen and Rob storyline has me hooked). The beauty of this recipe is that while the base tends to stay the same you can tweak it depending on what you have to hand; we usually have baby spinach, so a handful in the middle of the omelette is perfect with a squeeze of lemon or lime. However if there is an avocado ready to go, or some cooked greens, they’ll get chopped up and served alongside it too.

After breakfast we’ll take our time getting ready and potter down to Winchmore Hill green. This won’t be before midday, in order to justify more food when we get there. The green is less than a 5-minute walk from our house and has the sweetest farmers market every Sunday. The greengrocer is the first stall in the market and we’ll stock up on whatever’s in season, at the moment lots of stone fruits, berries, beans, courgettes. Then there is the butcher, baker, dairy stall, all the essentials.

Join us

Sign up to receive the latest stories straight to your inbox every morning with our Today in Three email


Whatever has happened over the past 6 days, Sunday’s are the time to reflect on that. Meet me, and you’ll quickly clock that I am a talker, I love a chat. Find me in the kitchen, cooking, baking, I am the complete opposite, I’ve even (uncharacteristically) been described as ‘quiet’

After that, it’s whatever takes our fancy; usually some sort of pastry based good for Pete (you can take the boy out of the North…), and 9 times out of 10 I’ll head to the dumpling man. If I can douse food in chilli and soy sauce, I’m there. There are picnic benches at the back of the market, a musician will be playing something familiar and we’ll sit down and devour our treats. Once we’ve finished, we’ll head to the newsagents, pick up the Sunday papers, then run any other errands and pop into our favourite local shops.

The last stop will be the wonderful Greek deli by our house. It’s well stocked and between there and the farmers market, it means there’s no need to go to a supermarket – my idea of hell on a Sunday. I love visiting the deli, it’s all so familiar; fresh Greek koulouri bread, Cypriot ingredients lining the walls, homemade koiftethes and bags of fresh vineleaves. It reminds me of my family, our restaurant and that I’m overdue a trip to Cyprus.

Back home, Pete is in charge of the record player and garden/ DIY and I’ll head straight to the kitchen. Sunday dinner will have been shopped for, so around 2pm I’ll crack on with prepping. Our current favourite is the Harissa Butter Chicken with Cracked Wheat from my new book Stirring Slowly, followed by homemade ice cream and fruit from the market. I love how simple the chicken recipe is and I don’t feel like I’m short-changing anyone on a proper roast or flavour.

I’ll make ice cream by infusing homemade custard or cream with whatever has inspired me that week, whether it’s freshly picked fig leaves, scented geraniums or simply rippling in homemade jam – ice cream is our favourite type of summer pud. We’ll stop for a brew mid afternoon and if we’re are lucky we’ll have a visitor or two join us. We have close friends and my family living nearby and I love it when people pop in.

On Sundays we like an early dinner, so I’ll time it for around 6pm. When the chicken is ready I’ll leave it to rest for 10 minutes before shredding the meat into all the sticky, spiced buttery juices and serving it with the cracked wheat. I’ll dress a green salad with tonnes of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and if it’s nice, we’ll take it all outside, with a bottle of wine. Ice cream will come much later, stretching it out as long as possible.

Just before 9pm, when all the pottering, cooking and eating for the day is done, we’ll sit down on the sofa, watch a box set or read our books and get ready for the week ahead. But by that point I’m pretty relaxed, I completely zone out in the kitchen and I can’t think of a better way to finish the week.

Whatever has happened over the past 6 days, Sunday’s are the time to reflect on that. Meet me, and you’ll quickly clock that I am a talker, I love a chat. Find me in the kitchen, cooking, baking, I am the complete opposite, I’ve even (uncharacteristically) been described as ‘quiet’. By the time I sit down I might as well have done a yoga class. We all need down time and when I am at home, in my kitchen, that is mine.

Head over to @Thepooluk Instagram this Sunday where Georgina is taking over our account and snapping her perfect weekend.




  • Serves 2 (multiply/halve as needed)
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 2 small vine tomatoes
  • 1/2 a bunch of coriander
  • 1 green chilli
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 a lemon 2 knobs of butter
  • Peel and finely chop the onion. Halve the tomatoes, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard, then finely chop the flesh. 
  • Finely chop the coriander stalks and leaves. Halve the chilli, deseed and finely slice.
  • Whisk the eggs together until well combined, then season generously and whisk in the onion, tomatoes, coriander, chilli, turmeric, garam masala and cumin.
  • Put the spinach leaves into a bowl, squeeze just enough lemon to coat, toss together, then leave to one side.
  • Melt half the butter in a medium non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and ladle in half the omelette mixture.
  • Swirl the eggs around for 2 minutes, pushing them to the middle and tilting the pan so that all the mixture has a chance to set.
  • Leave it for a minute, then slip the omelette on to your serving plate. Top with half the dressed spinach and fold the omelette in half. Serve straight away, and repeat with the remaining butter, omelette mix and spinach.



Serves 4

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • A bunch of coriander
  • A bunch of parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 80g butter, at room temperature
  • Olive oil
  • 1 x 1.6kg chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 425ml fresh chicken stock
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 350g bulgur wheat
  • Greek yoghurt, to serve
  • Preheat your oven to 190°C/gas 5.
  • Peel the garlic. Halve the preserved lemon and remove the seeds.
  • In a dry frying pan toast the cumin and coriander seeds until lightly toasted. Place in a food processor along with the paprika, preserved lemon, harissa, half the coriander and parsley (stalks and all) and the garlic.
  • Season well and blitz to a paste. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until smooth.
  • Use your hands to carefully prise the chicken skin away from each breast, to create a pocket.
  • Slash the skin on the thighs and rubthe butter all over – under the skin mainly and all over the top.
  • Halve the lemon and pop it into the chicken cavity, then place in a small snug-fitting roasting tray.
  • Put it into the oven and roast for around 1¼ hours, or until golden and crisp but cooked through – check that the juices run clear around the thigh area.
  • Baste the chicken a couple of times during cooking with the buttery juices in the tray.
  • When the chicken has about 20 minutes left to cook, start the bulgur wheat. Heat your chicken stock in a medium pan. Meanwhile peel and finely chop the onion, and deseed and finely chop the tomatoes.
  • Pour a glug of olive oil into a saucepan and put on a medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, until soft.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the bulgur wheat. Stir for a minute, then add the hot chicken stock and season lightly.
  • Bring to the boil, pop on the lid, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 8 minutes, until the wheat is cooked through and fluffy, then remove from the heat.
  • Cover the pan with a tea towel and put a lid on top to keep it warm. Chop the rest of the coriander and parsley leaves and stir through the bulgur wheat.
  • When the chicken is ready, leave to rest for 10 minutes, then squeeze over the lemon from the cavity and carve it up – you can carve traditionally or shred the meat into the buttery juices to keep the meat insanely moist. Serve with the bulgur wheat and tangy thick greek yoghurt. 

Extracted from Stirring Slowly by Georgina Hayden, published by Square Peg in hardback at £20.


Tagged in:
food honestly
Chicken and Turkey

Tap below to add to your homescreen

Love The Pool? Support us and sign up to get your favourite stories straight to your inbox