What a difference a year makes…


Well – it’s been so long since I blogged that wordpress looks different so it will be a surprise what this looks like once published!

I have been lazy, and busy, but mostly lazy, though making a person and taking care of said small person is surprisingly time consuming!

Which is all the more reason why I must start doing this again, I need to be even more organised in the kitchen I realise as evenings are much busier than before… and this really has been a useful place for me to keep coming back to recipes which worked for me!

However, today I will start with dessert – providing nourishment for a small person has made me crave all kinds of sugar and I’ve started baking more than before, now I’m no Sylvia but since she is fecking off for a few months if I keep practicing maybe by the time she gets back I’ll almost be as skilled as her.

Probably not.

Mary B gave me Brenda Costigan’s cookbook a few years ago.  I have a few wonderful Avoca books, Nevin Maguire, Jamie Oliver and I’ve made stuff from them all, though I mostly like to browse them.  But I realise that I’ve made more from this book than anything else, it’s been really useful so I recommend it!

Blackberry Sponge

Fresh or frozen blackberries can be used, or fruit of the forest which seems to be a bit easier to find her in Brussels (thank you Colruyt).

Just make sure the filling is hot when putting the sponge on top as this will help to cook the sponge underneath more quickly!


  • Fruit Filling:
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 350g frozen blackberries or fruits of the forest
  • 25-50g caster sugar, or to taste


  • 110g butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • few drops vanilla essence
  • 110g self raising flour

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream


  1. Preheat oven to 190.  Lightly grease a wide ovenproof dish (1.2 ltr capacity) and place in the oven to heat.
  2. For the fruit – blend the cornflour into the orange juice and put into a saucepan with the fruit.  Stir over the heat until it comes to the boil and thickens slightly.  Sweeten to taste with the sugar but leave the flavour quite tart to make a nice contrast with the sponge.  Keep hot.
  3. For the sponge – using a hand-held electric beater, beat the butter in a bowl, add the sugar and beat well.  Beat in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla essence and a little of the flour each time.  Then stir in the rest of the flour.
  4. Pour the hot fruit into the hot dish.  Drop small spoonfuls of the sponge mixture in an even layer close together all over the fruit filling.  It won’t be possible to spread the sponge over the fruit but don’t worry, it will spread out itself during the cooking.  Stand the dish on a baking tray in case any juice bubbles out at the edge.
  5. DSC_0277 DSC_0283
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, until baked right through.  The sponge should be golden and springy to the touch, but it’s very important to check that the centre is cooked -pierce the centre with a knife, and if no doughy particles cling to it, the sponge is cooked.
  7. Serve hot or cold with a lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

Sadly I have no photo of it ready-to-eat as I was too busy …. eating it.

I would like to thank the Academy, and Sylvia for inspiring me to get going with this again, but most of all this little guy for snoozing long enough to allow me to write this….



Slow Cooker Chicken Curry & Lemon Cheesecake

I hope I still remember how to work WordPress – it has been too long since I posted anything – *hangs head in shame*

I’ve been busy preparing to move apartments – I will be very sad to leave the beautiful Chatelain which has been my home for so many years – but looking forward to a change and being closer to friends….and hopefully discovering lots of cool new places on the other side of the city…. watch this space!  (not too closely though, as it’ll probably be another age before I post again – #worstbloggerever)

I recently bought a Crock Pot/Slow Cooker – I love it, it’s like a magical machine that makes you dinner while you do other things – freakin genius!

I’ve made  a few things and will post in due course – but this is my most recent (and I remembered to take photos – don’t get too excited, as soon as the food was ready to eat I forgot about photos so there are no ‘finished product’ photos.

Once again – #worstbloggerever


Slow Cooker Chicken Curry


  • Small handful coriander leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1-3cm knuckle of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1tbsp garam masala
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1-3 chillies, depending on personal taste
  • 1 stick of lemon grass, peeled (I omitted this as I don’t like lemongrass… though I might include it next time!)
  • 50g red lentils
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 3tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • zest of lime (I also added juice of 1/2 the lime too)
  • Chopped coriander


  1. In a food processor add ginger, garlic, chilli, olive oil, coriander, garam masala and tomatoes.  Whizz until you form a paste – though mine was quite watery due to the tomatoes so I wouldn’t have described it as paste – but it turned out fine! (Store in fridge or freeze until needed).
  2. Remember to cut the vegetables and chicken into equal size so you get a more even cook.
  3. Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker apart from the Greek yoghurt and lime.  If the curry is too thick, add a little water.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours ( 6 was plenty for me), or on high for 3-4 hours.
  5. About 30 an hour before serving I felt it was a bit watery so I added some cornflour (about 2 tsp mixed to a paste first with some of the cooking liquid).
  6. 20-30 minutes before serving, stir in Greek yoghurt, chopped coriander and zest of lime.
  7. Stir and serve on a bed of rice (I used basmati).

It was felt by my dinner guests that there was something missing (I forgave them after) – so I’ll include the lemongrass next time, and I might add a teaspoon of ground coriander too – and see what happens!!!

And now for dessert……

Curry and Cheeseckae-2

Lemon Cheesecake with Speculoos Base

This was kind of a combination of about 3 recipes…

For the Base…

  • 160g Speculoos biscuits
  • 75g butter
  1. Melt the butter and crush the biscuits, then add them to the butter and pour into a round tin, preferable with a removable base.
  2. Now – the recipe for that base said to cook this for 8  minutes at about 160degrees. Which I did, and it worked out ok, but I’m not sure if it was necessary – next time I’ll just chill the mixture once it’s been placed in the tin…. trial and error!

For the filling

  • 700g Marscapone Cheese
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  1. mix the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and zest and caster sugar and icing sugar together in a bowl until well combined. Do not mix the mixture too much as this will cause it to split. Taste the mixture and add more sugar, to taste.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the tin on top of the chilled biscuit mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the Topping

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 350g frozen fruits of the forest
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
  1. Put the orange juice and frozen berries into a saucepan.  Cook gently to thaw, then add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
  2. Blend the cornflour with a dribble of water and some of the hot liquid from the saucepan.
  3. Mix well, then stir the cornflour mixture into the berries in the saucepan.
  4. Bring to the boil, stirring to thicken.  If a thicker consistency is required, more cornflour can be added (in the same way).


Barbecue Gingered Chicken

It is BBQ season after all isn’t it??

I am a fan of marinades and I’ve used this one a good few times – there is chicken currently bathing in it in my fridge as I write.

This is from Barbecues and Grilling by Anthony Worral Thompson – a great book that I’ve had for a while but I really want to start making a few more things from it in the coming weeks, so if they work I’ll stick them up here!


  • 4 chicken breasts with skin on, if preferred
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with a little salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade mixture.
  2. Set aside the chicken breasts in a shallow dish and spread the mixture over them.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferable overnight.
  3. Remove from the fridge up to 30 minutes before cooking
  4. Cook the chicken on the barbecue grill, skin-side down first, over high heat for 7-8 minutes.  Then turn and cook on the other side for a further 7-8 minutes, basting occasionally with the marinade juices, until lightly charred and firm to the touch.

I actually cut the chicken breast into strips…. voila!



Running to Stand Still: Toasted quinoa, lentil and poached salmon salad

My first reblog (aka steal)… made this last night, delish. My favourite part was when the quinoa popped! Thanks Sylvia!


In his book, Notes on a Small Island, Bill Bryson, who I revere and adore, laid claim to the title “Lord Lather of Indecision”. If you haven’t read it yet, sort that out. I’d loan you mine, but it is precious because SIGNED COPY:


Anyway, my point is that if I had a title, it would be something along the lines of Princess Procrastinate of Dither. Decisions do not come easily to me and I will avoid making them in as many ways possible (for example). However, the big birthday of the year is just around the corner and I need to put down the book and start making decisions. What to do, where to go, what to say, what to think. Ideally, I would have a very bossy opinionated Personal Assistant to say “Do this”, “Apply for that”, “Go there”, “Talk to him”, “Stop doing that”, “Wear this”…

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A trip to Terschelling and a Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Well I recently mentioned the event I attended at The Hotel organised by Brussels Food Friends.  It was really enjoyable and inspiring (who isn’t inspired whilst eating cake?).  I won’t say much more about it as it was written about much more eloquently than I could by several others already so READ ALL ABOUT IT as they say…here, and here, and here.  And if anyone is interested in attending the next one watch this space!

Thank you Sylvia for suggesting it – look how happy we were:

Sylvia and Jane (1 of 1)

So yes I started this blog to try and get Mary to give me recipes – she is a busy woman so they have been few and far between, but I’m hoping to get a few more from her! After a while I just thought why not use it as a place to keep recipes I have used and liked, so I remember to make them again and they don’t get lost in space and time…

Another thing I’ve wanted to do is keep a record of places I’ve been in case

a) I ever want to go back or
b) somebody else is interested in going

I know I am very lucky with the amount of travelling I get to do, if it isn’t with work it’s with Belgium GAA, one is free, the other is not – but both are filled with activities that are not very touristy such as … well … work and playing sports.  It does mean you get a taster of a place and that you might like to go back to some time in the future so it’s important to keep a list of places you stayed, restaurants you visited etc so it sounds like you know what the hell you are talking about if/when you ever do go back, or indeed recommend it to somebody else!

Of course, on the odd free weekend I do just travel for pleasure, and that’s what we did a couple of weeks ago when we went to the island of Terschelling in the north of Holland.

You need to get a ferry to the island, and these ferries go from Harlingen, which is about a 3 hour drive from Brussels (more if you decide to go on the day when the Trade Unions are protesting in Brussels…)

From Harlingen, which is a cute little town itself, you can take the ferry which is run by this company: Rederij Doeksen.  Their logo is a smiling seal – I liked.

There is a fast ferry and a slow ferry, we got the slow one over as we arrived too late for the fast (snel) ferry, it takes 2 hours and the fast one just 45 minutes.  I’d suggest calling the Ferry company to get the times as the website said something different to what was actually running.

Here is the slow ferry…

Boat (1 of 1)

Once you get there, there is a bus service which seems to run very efficiently and cost less than 2euro each way.

We stayed at the Walvis Vaarder Hotel.   It was lovely I would highly recommend it. Especially for the amazing open fire in the bar, the funky font used for the room numbers and the tasty local cheese:

2014-04-05 23.31.47  2014-04-05 20.38.47 Island (2 of 2)

We hired bikes for a very reasonable price and cycled all day in the sunshine!

Island (1 of 2)

As it turned out this was taking place while we were there: http://www.fjoertoer.nl/.  We weren’t 100% sure what it was but it involved alot of walking during the night, and alot of jolly Dutch people!

We managed to catch the fast ferry back on Sunday and were back in Brussels at a very civilized hour so I had time to make Jamie Oliver’s Chicken and Mushroom Pie.  Now, this is from his 30 Minute Meals book.  I’m doooobius as to whether it is possible to make any of them in 30 minutes, he tells you to do things ‘quickly’ alot, and also suggests using the food processor for everying including chopping mushrooms and spring onions.

Now this might be quicker to do, but it takes alot longer to wash a food processor than a knife!

All the same, it is still quick and easy to make… and tasty


  • 4 x 180g skinless chicken breasts
  • a knob of butter
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • 150g button mushrooms
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard
  • 1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche (I used fromage frais)
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/3 nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  1.  Cut the chicken into 1cm strips.
  2. Heat a pan with some olive oil and the butter, add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes
  3. Roughly chop the spring onion and mushrooms (in a food processor if you want to: eye-roll)
  4. Chicken Pie (1 of 6)
  5. Add to the pan with 1 heaped tablespoon of flour and stir.
  6. Add  2 teaspoons of mustard, 1 heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche and 300ml of chicken stock and stir well
  7. Pick the thyme leaves and stir into the pan with a few fine gratings of nutmeg and some salt and pepper.
  8. Simmer for about 10  minutes
    Chicken Pie (3 of 6)
  9. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of pastry
  10. Use a small knife to lightly crisscross and score it.
  11. Take the pan of chicken off the heat, tip the filling into an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pastry.
  12. Cover the filling with the pastry sheet, tucking it in at the edges, then brush with the beaten egg.
  13. Cook at 200C for about 15 mins.

Chicken Pie (5 of 6)

Jamie serves it with some peas and mashed carrots which are very tasty, I might stick them up at a later date.

I stir-fried some brussels sprouts, courgette, brocolli, corn and caramelised onion – it was an experiment and it was tasty!

Chicken Pie (4 of 6)

Chicken Pie (6 of 6)

The Story of the Travelling Brownies…

Well – it’s been a while. Too long.
Too busy? Too lazy? You decide!

This is the story of a batch (love that word) of Brownies that made it’s way from Brussels to Paris and back to Parc du Cinquantinaire, where I then paid 2Euro to taste them. (DISCLAIMER: I may have tasted a crumb whilst in Paris – but celebrating winning the Six Nations Championship will work up an appetite).

Since circa 2007 Belgium GAA and FC Irlande  have been joining forces to help the people of Brussels, Irish and otherwise, celebrate our national day, and raise a few bob to help the running of our clubs in the process.

On whichever Sunday falls closest to the 17th March (AKA St Patrick’s Day) the kind, or foolish people in the Ecole Militaire allow us to use their terrain de foot in Parc du Cinquantinaire.

It started off with a few games of Gaelic Football, hurling, camogie and soccer with a bar and some food being sold along the sidelines.  Obviously Guinness was involved, and large green hats.

St Patrick's Festival-018 St Patrick's Festival-019St Patrick's Festival-096 St Patrick's Festival-009

Luckily for us, the people of Brussels seemed to like this and every year, as the rain kindly stayed off for most of the day, their numbers increased.  We added things like bouncy castles, kids games, cake and sandwich stands, more green things – this year was amazing – there was even a stage with excerpts from ‘Annie’, Irish dancers, and musicians.

Unfortunately I spent the Saturday in Paris and was only able to join the festivities around lunchtime where I got snap happy with my camera:

St Patrick's Festival-024 St Patrick's Festival-033 St Patrick's Festival-054 St Patrick's Festival-075 St Patrick's Festival-092

Paris was a total drag, like totally. It was sunny, people were smiling, Ireland won the Six Nations Championship, we celebrated with a street party thanks to the French Police kindly closing it on our behalf.  WORST WEEKEND EVER.  As you can see below, I was not a happy camper.

Rugby Paris 2014-27

Anyway, I still wanted to contribute to the Cake stand in Parc du Cinquantinaire – so I chose something that would last (as I was assured by Sylvia that brownies were the way to go.  It was to be my first attempt, and twas a success (IMHO).

So I made the Brownies Friday  night, packed them into my overnight bag and brought them with me on the Thalys to Paris.  They survived, one disappeared circa 3am – a certain Colin Byrne was suspected, but I turned a blind, green-tinted eye as I fell into bed with dreams of Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney (drool) and Gordon D’arcy’s mighty fine beard.

Sunday morning, bright and early, they were packed into the bag (note: they did spend their time in Paris in a fridge!) and duly delivered to Sylvia’s cake stand.  Then I gave her 2Euro and bought one right back 🙂

Malheuresement I didn’t take any photos of the actual brownies – rookie mistake.  But here is the rest of the delights on display and the dedicated volunteers selling their wares!

St Patrick's Festival-049 St Patrick's Festival-050

So after all that, I only got a little taste BUT I was very impressed – if I do say so myself.

So here is the recipe – if only so that I remember to make them again!

Avoca Brownies


  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g dark chocolate (55 per cent cocoa minimum)
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g rich dark brown sugar
  • 110g plain flour
  • 80g nuts (hazelnuts/pecans/walnuts  – I only had hazelnuts and slivered almonds so I improvised with these)
  • icing sugar


  1. Melt the butter and the chocolate in an ovenproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and pale – this will take about 10 minutes and can be done in a mixer with the whisk attachment. I did it by hand – be prepared to work  hard!
  3. Stir in the chocolate/butter mix.
  4. Fold in the flour and nuts.
  5. Pour into a greased and lined cake tin (30cmx20cmx5cm) and bake for 30-35 minutes at 170C/Gas mark 3.
  6. Remove from oven, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to cool.
  7. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar


Porridge Brown Bread

I’ve been a bit neglectful of late, but I’ve had this in draft for a while so it’s time to get it out there!
I don’t know where my Mom got this from, but looking at this post I realise that I should probably have called it something more apetising like ‘Oat Bread’ or something, but she always calls it Porridge Brown Bread because… well that’s what it’s made from.
Are oats called porridge before you make them into porridge though? Don’t answer that.
This is really very tasty, it’s more filling than regular Brown Bread, and it also keeps better for longer.
  • 1 Large carton of Natural Yogurt (500 ml)
  • Fill this empty carton twice with Porridge Oats
  • 2 Teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons of Oil  (Corn Oil or Rapeseed – I only had sunflower, it was grand)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (my addition)
  1. Add 2 Tubs of Porridge Oats to bowl
  2. Sieve in Bicarb of Soda and salt, then stir in the Oil and finally mix in yoghurt, stir it in well.
  3. Prepare tin and drop mixture into the tin shake tin to settle the mixture.
  4. You can top with Seeds and also add some to the mixture if you like.
  5. Bake at 180 degrees for 50 -60 minutes. Like most breads, the timing is hard to get right, and will depend on your oven, but longer is better, it is very moist, and while the outside might look well done sometimes the inside is still wet, so check with a knife/skewer.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire tray.

Spelt Bread


One of the many things I tried to help with my excema was to cut out (or down on!) wheat.  

Mary B made it first and then gave me the recipe which is originally from the Cornucopia recipe book…which I have since bought!  It’s a vegetarian restaurant in Dublin (I’ve never been) and Gaye Godkin recommended their book for lots of recipes using pulses and veg etc, I haven’t made much from it so I must experiment with a few more recipes!

I’ve made this bread a few times however, I’m not an expert on bread but I have realised that every oven is different so it generally takes a few tries before you know the best temperature/time for your oven and bread.  I need to bake this for 5-10 more minutes than  the recipe says so I leave it in for over an hour and the most recent batch seems to have worked out well!

I cut half of it into slices and have put them in the freezer so I’ll let you know how well that works!  It’s very tasty, the molasses give it a good flavour, though I couldn’t find the blackstrap version here in Belgium – if you can even better.  It’s also very filling!


  • 425g spelt flour
  • 40g (3tbsp) sesame seeds*
  • 40g (3tbsp) sunflower seeds*
  • 40g (3tbsp) pumpkin seeds*
  • 15g (1tbsp) poppy seeds*
  • 15g (1tbsp) linseeds*
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt (heaped)
  • 550ml water
  • 1tbsp treacle (blackstrap molasses) – optional
  • 2lb (900g) loaf tin)

* If you don’t have all 5 different seeds, you can use whatever seeds you have – just make up a total of 150g of mixed seeds.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and brish the bread tin with oil, or line with baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt and all the seeds and combine thoroughly.
  3. Form a well in the centre of the mix
  4. In a jug, combine the water and treacle, stir well and then pour it into the well in the centre of your dry mix.
  5. Use a spoon or your hand to bring all the ingredients together evenly.   Make sure that the treacle is evenly distributed, not clumped in sticky pockets.
  6. Use as little mixing as possible to achieve an even mix.  It should be of a very sloppy consistency.
  7. Transfer the mix to the oiled tin and pres down evenly – I also run a knife down the centre of the mix.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 60 minutes, until well risen and evenly browned.
  9. Run a knife around the edge of the loaf, turn out onto a wire rack and tap the base with your finger.  If it makes a hollow sound, the bread is cooked.
  10. Cover with a tea towel and leave to cool completely on the rack before cutting.

Catalan Fish Casserole


This dish was a bit of an experiment but I’m delighted with how it turned out …

I have mild excema and in an attempt to improve it I went to see a nutritionist last year as recommended by Mary B.  Her name is Gaye Godkin and she is excellent, I’m not so excellent though – I followed her recommendations (which really were not difficult) for some time but I’ve slipped back into my old ways of late so I must start eating more sensibly again!

She recently posted this recipe on her Facebook page – though with no instructions or measurements just basically ‘made a sauce with x y z then added a bit of this and that’.  It looked lovely though and I fancied something light – obviously I added some wine and bread to my meal, not very light or healthy but they did compliment the dish perfectly 🙂

I gave it a go – below is what I used, it was very easy, and really really tasty. I didn’t use chickpeas on this occasion – Colin had a bad experience with them recently and he’s not over it yet, but I might slip them in next time!

It was my first time using fennel (I had to google how to chop and prepare it… the shame).  I wasn’t sure about it, I’m not normally mad on aniseed so I only used about 1/3 of a bulb, but there was not a strong flavour from it in the final dish so I’d definitely add more the next time!  The guy in front of me in the supermarket queue got very excited when he saw it, told me how much he loves fennel and that he would often eat it raw. I’m not quite there yet….


  • 1 – 1.5 Tin Tomatoes
  • Tomato Puree
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 stock cube (I used chicken but I guess veg or fish would be better!)
  • 1/2 Fennel Bulb chopped
  • 2 Carrots chopped
  • 2 small onions (or 1 large) chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped or crushed – my crusher wouldn’t work 😦
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Chorizo/Salami/Seranno ham – a few slices
  • 10-12 raw shelled tiger prawns
  • 1 fillet cod – cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 fillet salmon – cut into bite sized pieces or any fish you have
  • 1 tin butter beans (or 1/2 tin butter beans 1/2 tin of chick peas)
  • sweet paprika
  1. Saute the onion and add the carrot, fennel, 2 cloves of garlic and celery – fry for another few minutes
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes and about 300-400ml of stock (depending on how thick you want the sauce), 2 tsps of tomato puree and 1/2 tsp of sugar
  3. Simmer until veg is cooked then blend to a smooth sauce.
  4. Fry off the chorizo or whatever you are using and add it in with the butter beans and/or chick peas, let it simmer for another few minutes before adding the fish and prawns along with the last clove of garlic, parsley, corriander and fennel leaves plus some sweet paprika (I forgot to add this!).  Simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until fish is cooked.

Chicken and Brocolli Gratin

How is it mid-November already? This year is flying, though I say that every year – is that what happens the older you get?

I have just spent the weekend in France – and why not? It’s only 2 hours down the road, we stayed in a very nice, small Chateau (well on the grounds of one anyway!), ate a 6 course meal, went champagne tasting and came back to Brussels with plenty of bottles clinking in the back of the car.


Our fancy meal was fancy, there was St Jacques (I’m not a big fan unfortunately), fois gras – the cooked version, pidgeon, frogs legs – you name it.  Probably not my favourite but you only live once!  I only took a photo of the pidgeon and frogs leg, and the dessert – which was very tasty 🙂

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The following day, the sun came out and we found the Route de Touristique Champagne – it was beautiful:

DSC_0371 DSC_0372 DSC_0375

Apart from that, the day consisted of jambon-fromage croissants, croque-monsieurs and champagne tasting, after which we weren’t able for another big meal so instead got some (more) cheese, charcuterie, baguettes etc and enjoyed that with … some more champagne 🙂


The weekend consisted of alot of cheese and bread in various forms so I thought it was time to eat some veg in preparation for the week ahead….

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I think the first time I enjoyed broccoli was in this particular dish, it’s very tasty and a great way of getting your greens in.

It can be made various different ways – using a whole chicken, or just chicken breasts – having tried both I think the whole chicken option is better, there is more flavour.

It can be made cheats-style by using tinned soup for the sauce – mushroom or chicken are best, and the condensed version I think also works best.  This has alot of flavour but be sure to use good quality tinned soup as the cheaper ones can be very salty.

I went back to basics yesterday and made a sauce from scratch – I went by the Avoca recipe but also added some curry as this always gives an extra nice flavour!



  • 1 whole chicken (or 6 chicken breasts)
  • 1 Spanish Onion or 2 normal onions peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks chopped
  • a few sprigs parsley and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 300ml double cream
  • 120g Roux (60g flour 60g butter)
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 head of broccoli divided into florets
  • 25g butter
  • 75g cheese grated (cheddar or another strong cheese)
  • 150g breadcrumbs


  1. Place chicken in a large saucepan with the onions, carrots, celery, herbs, peppercorns and enough water to cover.  Bring slowly to the boil then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked ( about an  hour for a whole chicken, 20 minutes for chicken breasts)
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and leave to cool.  Strip the meat from the bones, tear up into large bite size pieces and set aside.
  3. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 600ml. (I actually left the veg in, and put the chicken bones back in whilst doing this – I didn’t boil all the way down to 600ml as I had alot but I let it boil for about another 20-30mins.  Next time I might add a 1/2 a stock cube at this point for extra flavour).
  4. Add the cream, (at this point I also added a heaped tsp of curry powder) return to the boil then whisk in the roux a little at a time to form a thick sauce.
  5. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water until just tender, then drain and refresh under cold water.
  6. Stir the chicken and broccoli into the sauce and season to taste.
  7. Pour this into an oven proof dish.
  8. Melt the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and cheese.  Spread over the chicken dish.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180degrees C for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling.