Friday, 29 August 2014

French Food Friday...Individual plum tartes tatin

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Apologies for the lack of posts this week, it has been another busy week.

I am happy that August is coming to a close as it is always a hectic month for us and I cannot wait for September when things return to normal.

It is the start of the harvest season here in SW France and it is a nice time to be here as there really is an abundance of fruit available locally.

I love plums and am always on the lookout for a new recipe and this is exactly the recipe that I was looking for. A simple but chic dessert.....

Individual Plum Tartes Tatin

Makes: 12
Preparation time:  25 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

You will need
100g sugar
50g tbsp butter
6 ripe plums
60g golden marzipan
Plain flour, for dusting
375g all-butter puff pastry (thawed if frozen)
Custard or whipped cream, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Put the sugar and butter in a small saucepan and warm over gentle heat, until the sugar dissolves and then allow it to caramelize and turn golden brown, taking care that it does not burn. Remove from the heat immediately and put a spoonful of caramel into each hole of a greased 12-hole muffin pan.
2. Cut the plums in half, and remove the stones. Place one plum half, cut-side up, in each hole of the pan. Break the marzipan into 12 pieces of equal size and roll them into balls. Place one ball into each plum, where the stone was.
3. On a flour-dusted surface, roll the pastry out to a thickness of three millimetres. Stamp out 12 rounds with a round nine-centimetre cutter. Cover each plum with a pastry round, pressing the pastry tightly into the holes. Bake the tarts in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and the plums are soft. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes, then remove each tatin with a spoon and invert. Serve the tatins warm or cold with cream or custard.
...bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Monday, 25 August 2014

bonjour d'Eymet

Bonjour mes belles,

I could not resist taking a photo of this fabulous 2CV that was parked outside of the old chateau in our village.

Today was a fabulous day, nice and sunny and perfect for commencing work on our new project which involving knocking down walls and removing an existing bathroom.

The difference was that it did not involve me and I for one was happy as it meant that I could concentrate on looking after our guests.

Very satisfying to finally start work on OUR new baby as it has been a long time in the making....
We have just opened a nice cold bottle of champagne, la vie en France est pas mal....
très bonne semaine à toutes et tous !  Leeann x

Friday, 22 August 2014

French Food Friday...Hot chocolate soufflé

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I am not sure about you but I am in the mood for some chocolate.
Here is the just the thing to kick off the weekend...

Hot chocolate soufflé

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

You will need
Unsalted butter, for greasing
125g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tsp dark rum (optional)
2 tbsp crème fraîche
4 eggs, separated, plus 2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
Icing sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6 and grease six ramekin dishes. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl. Stir in the rum, if using. Remove from the heat and add the crème fraîche, then the egg yolks.
2. In a large, clean, dry bowl, whisk all the egg whites and the salt to soft peaks. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.
3. Fill the prepared ramekins to the top with the mixture, then clean the rims using your finger and thumb. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until nicely risen. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
For a delicious party trick, serve your soufflés with an ice-cream drop. Before you make the soufflés, scoop out six balls of good-quality vanilla ice cream and place on a freezer-proof plate.
Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. When serving the soufflés at the table, drop an ice-cream ball into each soufflé.
Recipe: Chocolat by Eric Lanlard for Taste of London
....bon appetit à tous, Leeann

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

bonne semaine à tous....

Bonjour mes belles,

It is a lovely sunny morning here in SW France and the forecast is for lots more to come. The mornings are cool so perfect for an early morning country walk and the afternoons warm and sunny....perfect for sight seeing.

I am hoping to do a bit of sight seeing myself when we take a couple of days off in September as we are off to stay in a fabulous medieval chateau, which just happens to be for sale.....just need to win the lotto between now and then.

Passez une très bonne semaine, Leeann x

Saturday, 16 August 2014

nice day for a wedding...

Bonjour mes belles,
What a fabulous surprise it was this morning to be greeted by lots of lovely paper lanterns swaying in the breeze, in front of the village church and chateau.

It is as if, a magic wand was waved and this is the result. All that is missing is the magic fairy dust....

très bon week-end  à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 15 August 2014

French Fooid Friday...Crèmes brûlées aux nectarines blanches

recipe and photo from

Bonjour mes belles,

It is nectarine season here in SW France and we have an abundance of fruit as per normal so this recipe is going to come in handy this weekend as I am in the mood to cook.

I think that French Boyfriend will be needing a sugar fix as he is having a stand today at our village brocante and it is always a long day, fingers crossed that it will not be a scorcher like last year.

Receipe appears in French and then in English...

Crèmes Brûlées aux Nectarines Blanches

  • Couverts : 4 personnes
  • Temps : Préparation : 15min / Cuisson : 40min / Repos : 4h
  • Difficulté : Très facile
  • Calories : 605 par personne
  • Saison : Été
  • Origine : Europe, France



    • 2   nectarines blanches
    • 4 œufs
    • 4 jaunes d'œufs
    • 50 cl de lait
    • 20 cl de crème liquide
    • 130 g de sucre en poudre
    • 40 g de cassonade
    • 20 g de pignons de pin


    Préchauffez le four à 150° (thermostat 5/6).
    Faites chauffer le lait avec les pignons de pin puis ajoutez la crème.
    Dans un saladier, fouettez les œufs entiers avec les jaunes d’œufs et le sucre en poudre. Versez le lait et la crème en mélangeant bien.
    Épluchez les nectarines, ôtez le noyau puis coupez la chair en dés.
    Versez la préparation dans des moules en porcelaine en ajoutant les dés de nectarines.
    Posez les moules dans un plat creux rempli d’un fond d’eau chaude et enfournez 35 minutes environ en vérifiant la cuisson avec la pointe d’un couteau.
    Sortez les crèmes du four, laissez-les refroidir 1 heure à température ambiante puis 3 heures au réfrigérateur.
    Saupoudrez uniformément les crèmes de sucre cassonade et passez-les quelques minutes sous le grill du four. Servez aussitôt.


    White Nectarine Crème Brûlées 

    Servings: 4 people
    Time: Preparation: 15 minutes / Cooking time: 40min / Waiting: 4h
    Difficulty: Very Easy
    Calories: 605 ​​per person

    Season: Summer
    Origin: Europe, France

    2 white nectarines
    4 eggs
    4 egg yolks
    500 ml milk
    200 ml of cream
    130 g caster sugar
    40g brown sugar
    20g pine nuts


    Preheat oven to 150 ° (thermostat 6.5).

    Heat the milk with the pine nuts and add the cream.

    In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the egg yolks and sugar. Pour the milk and cream in the bowl and mix well.

    Peel nectarines, remove the core and cut the flesh into cubes.

    Pour the mixture into the porcelain moulds then add the diced nectarines.

    Place the moulds  in a shallow dish filled with a layer of hot water covering the dish and bake about 35 minutes, use with the tip of a knife to check that they are cooked inside.

    Remove from the oven, let cool for 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerate 3 hours.

    Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar cream and place for a few minutes under the grill. Serve immediately
    ......bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

    Monday, 11 August 2014

    I like a bit of leopard now and then....

    photo from here
    Bonjour mes belles,

    There is something about Monday's in France that I am learning to love. When I first arrived, they used to frustrate me as it always seemed that the shop I wanted so desperately to visit, was closed.

    Fast forward 7 years and I have got used to shops being closed on Mondays and now use Monday as a "cleanup" from the weekend.

    Monday mornings seem sleepy as if to say "go slowly, take a deep breath"....pace yourself.

    This morning is a good example, guests are all still sleeping and I am using the time to work on some decoration ideas for our new project.

    One of my favourite places to search for inspiration is pinterest and it is there that I found the fabulous photo of the leopard print chair.  Not sure that it really goes with my grey/white/rocaille style theme but it made me smile when I saw it.

    Every girl needs a little bit of leopard and I have some French Sole pumps that have a touch of leopard plus a couple of other items that I love using to jazz up a simple outfit.

    Back to my sleepy Monday, I must go but feel that a nespresso maybe in order....
    Wishing you all a semaine très douce, Leeann x

    Friday, 8 August 2014

    French Food Friday...

     photo from here
    Bonjour mes belles,

    I cannot believe that it is already Friday! It has been a busy but productive week and I am looking forward to the week-end as we have a medieval festival taking place in the village on Saturday and it is one of my favourite events of the year.

    This week's recipe is one that I have posted before and I am posting again as it appears to be one that you all like.

    Nothing beats a good baguette   apart from a good croissant, that is....

    Makes: 4
    Preparation time: 45 minutes plus rising time
    Cooking time: 15 minutes

    You will need:
    600g all-purpose white wheat flour
    400g water
    1 ½ tsp instant yeast, 2 tsp dry yeast, or ¾ cake fresh yeast
    1 tbsp salt

    1. Make a pre-dough on the first day. In a bowl, mix 200g of the flour, 200g of the water and half a teaspoon of the instant yeast (or ¾ teaspoon of the dry yeast or ¼ cake of the fresh yeast). Cover with a clingfilm and allow to rest for 12 to 24 hours.

    2. If you are using instant or fresh yeast, put the remaining 400g flour, the remaining 200g water, the remaining 1 teaspoon instant or ½ teaspoon cake fresh yeast and all the salt in a big bowl. Add the pre-dough. Mix the ingredients together, then scrape them onto the counter.
    3. If you are using dry yeast, put the remaining 400g flour in a big bowl and make a well. Sprinkle the remaining one and a quarter teaspoons dry yeast in the well and add 100g of the water. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. You may or may not get a beige sludge on the top of the water, but don’t worry – what is important is to dissolve the yeast. Add the remaining water, all the salt, and the pre-dough. Mix the ingredients together, then scrape them onto the counter.
    4. Knead well for 10-15 minutes adding water by hand to keep the dough soft and pillowy. Pop the kneaded dough back into the bowl and cover with a dry tea towel. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
    5. With the dough still in the bowl, pretend the blob of dough is a clock. Starting at noon, gently pinch about one centimetre of the edge of the dough and pull it up and out, stretching it as far as you can without breaking it. Don’t worry if you do, just try not to. Fold that pinched bit over the blob of dough and gently lay it down. Repeat this action all round the blob of dough.
    6. Cover again and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough this way once more in the bowl. Cover again and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Pull the dough out onto an unfloured surface. Stretch and fold it once as you did in the bowl. Roll it into a loose sausage. Cover with a dry tea towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
    7. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Stretch and fold each portion and shape them all into loose balls. Cover with a dry tea towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
    8. Stretch and fold each portion again and roll up into tight sausages. Cover and allow to rest for five minutes. Meanwhile, either grease baguette proofing pans, or heavily flour a tea towel and place it in a roasting pan with deep sides. Please make sure the tea towel comes well up the sides of the pan.
    9. Pick up one sausage and move it away from you. Roll it toward you as follows:  start with your hands together in the middle of each sausage, thumbs completely touching; roll toward you as you move your wrists – not your hands – apart – so that the fingertips of the index finger of each hand meet and then the fingertips of the middle finger of each hand meet. As you do that, the palms of your hands travel effortlessly over the surface of the dough, stretching it out without applying any downward pressure. Once that has happened, you can move your hands apart as you roll; pick up the dough, move it away from you and roll again as above. Do this as many times as you need to get the length you would like.
    10. Be aware that long baguettes are harder to handle than short ones, so if you are a novice, you may want to opt for shorter ones at first. Don’t use any downward pressure, just gentle outward pressure. A true baguette is the same diameter from end to end and is not pointy. Repeat with the rest of the sausages of dough.
    11. Lay the baguettes one by one in the prepared proofing pan(s) or on the towel in the roasting pan, making sure there is a deep fold in the towel between each baguette so that they do not stick together as they rise. Remember, they will double in size. You may need to use a second towel as you go and that is fine. If you do not have enough baguettes to fill the roasting pan, wedge them together with something like an upturned loaf pan or a book so they rise up and not out.
    12. Flour the tops of the baguettes, cover with a dry tea towel and allow to rest for 30–45 minutes or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 230˚C/gas mark 8.
    13. If you are using proofing pan(s), make slashes in the tops of the baguettes with a sharp knife or scissors and spray with fresh water from a plant sprayer to help achieve a crispy crust. Transfer the pan(s) to the oven. If you proofed the dough on tea towels, gently pick up each baguette and lay it down on the prepared baking sheet. Make slashes in the tops of the baguettes with a sharp knife or scissors and spray with fresh water from a plant sprayer to help achieve a crispy crust. Transfer the sheet to the oven.
    14. Bake the baguettes for about 15 minutes until golden brown. To check whether they are done, tap the bottoms of the baguettes. If they sound hollow, they are done. If not, pop them back for another three to four minutes or so. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.

    ....bon appetit à tous, Leeann

    Tuesday, 5 August 2014

    bonne journée à tous....

    Bonjour à toutes et tous,

    je vous souhaite une très bonne journée.....

    Leeann x

    Monday, 4 August 2014

    Latest find - 1825 Toile de Jouy

    Bonjour from a very sunny SW France,

    I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Our was a magical one, which involved dinner at my favourite restaurant on Saturday night. There is nothing nicer than sitting on a terrace near the water, watching clouds darken in preparation for a storm, that fortunately for us, arrived soon after we left the restaurant.

    Sunday morning was an early start as there were a couple of vide-greniers taking place plus an antiques show in the nearby village of Issigeac.

    I found this fabulous piece of antique toile de jouy. Wonderfully rare and beautiful, this antique French toile textile is a pattern attributed to Normandy and called " Marie Stuart reine d' Ecosse " Marie Stuart Queen of Scottland. This toile has the most wonderful scene of her excape from Lock Leven castle . This toile was printed in the first quarter of the 19th century, c1800-1825.

    It has a few small holes and marks but in general is an very good condition for it's age and the colour is lovely and dark.

    It would look fabulous framed and hanging on a wall and would make a fabulous talking point.

    I will be listing it on the shop later today as I have quite a lot that I need to get done this afternoon. It is going to be another busy week with guests coming and going and also trying to stock up the shop which is looking a bit empty at present, due to the fact that French Boyfriend has sold all of our larger pieces of furniture, that we were using to display objects on.

    très bonne semaine à toutes et tous, Leeann x

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