It’s been a long housebound week for the sweet peas…..and for the sweet peas’ parents.  Leo finally woke up without a fever today only to be felled by pinkeye.  For those of you that know my eldest son—either in person or via this blog—-just stop to think for a moment about what a delightful task it would be to put drops in his eyes….


Most of the week has seen Leo on the living room couch looking like this:


or this:


or when he was feeling REALLY good like this:


Poor Owen is bursting with energy and misses playing with his brother.  Thankfully he’s spent some time down at his friends Parker and Dema’s house but it’s been a long week for everyone.

I have a wretched cold but have managed to do a bit cooking.  Tried a couple of recipes from a new Nigella cookbook that I got for Christmas and was pretty pleased.  I did the Brandied Bacony Roast Chicken and the potato/mushroom gratin—-served it with a crisp salad.  Even though the gratin is quite simple it really stood out on the plate.  I will definitely be making that again and it was wonderfully simple.  I really liked the chicken but I think next time I will make it with mashed potatoes so I can make a gravy out of the wonderful juices.  All in all I was quite pleased.  Christmas dinner was actually good too—I made my Six Hour Roast Pork and served it with mashed potatoes, sauteed swiss chard and a bit of cranberry sauce.  We had planned to make the Ginger Marscopone cake but never got around to it so Ernie is in the kitchen right now putting it together for this evening.

Brandied Bacony Chicken
from Nigella Express

1 chicken approximately 2 1/2 – 3 pounds (I can never find chickens that small…)
2 strips bacon
1/4 cup brandy

1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees
2.  In a small skillet cook the bacon over medium heat until it’s crisp and the pan full of gorgeous bacony fat, about 4 minutes
3.  Take the pan off the heat, the bacon out of the pan and straight into the cavity of the chicken, sitting the chicken in a roasting pan as you do, breast side up
4.  Pour the brandy into the still-hot frying pan with the bacon fat and let bubble for a few minutes and then pour over the chicken.
5.  Roast for 45 minutes making sure the juices run clear between the leg and body.  Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

My chicken was quite a bit bigger so I used 3 slices of bacon, upped the brandy a bit and let it cook probably an addition 10-15 minutes.  The flavor is subtle but very nice.  As I said, I think not using the pan drippings is a waste so next time I will make a gravy…..

Potato and Mushroom Gratin
from Nigella Express

3 average sized or 1 1/2 lbs baking potatoes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups milk
3 T white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter
2 t garlic infused oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms sliced thinly

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and butter a shallow baking dish or gratin
2.  Bring the sliced potatoes, milk, wine, salt and pepper to a boil in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, and leave at a simmer while you get on with the mushrooms
3.  Melt the butter and garlic oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about three minutes
4.  Pour the mushrooms and their garlicky, buttery juices intothe pan of potatoes, stir to mix, and pour straight into the gratin dish.  Bake for 45 minutes until piping hot and crisp on top.

Very simple flavors but really good.  My grandmother used to make scalloped potatoes and I adored them but I’ve never been able to find a recipe that reminded me of them.  Many of the scalloped potatoes recipes that I find call for lots of cream and cheese, etc.  I think she just used milk and a bit of flour dusted over each layer and some butter… this actually reminded me of it—-just good brothy essence of potatoes…with the added earthiness of the mushrooms….definitely the winner on the plate last night…..



4 thoughts on “Sweet Pea on a couch and some recipes…..

  1. Sorry your sweet pea is under the weather. I do hope he’s fully recovered by the time you read this. And thanks for sharing some great Nigella recipes.

  2. Hey, both the chicken and the gratin sound delicious. I’m gonna try both, but the gratin especially. I also like the fact that it’s not drowned in cream (I have an Ina Garten recipe like that, with tons of heavy cream, and it’s great, but sometimes you want it lighter). I think you’re right that women used to make scalloped potatoes (as we called them before we got haute) with just milk, flour, dots of butter — and they were great. I’ve never been able to get that to work just right, though.
    Sorry about your cold. I’ve had a nasty one this week and haven’t been back to work yet! Ugh. Not a GREAT way to start the year.

  3. We made the mushroom potato gratin the other night. D asked for seconds. E said, “These are very good potatoes, Mommy!” I got up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep until I had a leftover spoonful. Thank you for posting the recipe and the inspiring picture!

  4. oh I’m so glad you liked them!! I’m hoping they are just as good next time I make them because I just loved them—-somehow you realize how much many potato recipes are masked by richer flavors….