Friday, 27 March 2015

French Food Friday...Chicken liver & pineau pâté

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

We have had a couple of dinner parties this week and this is a recipe that always goes down well with our guests.
A rich, sweet pâté recipe using pineau - a sherry-like aperitif  that is made in nearby départements of Charente and the Charente-Maritime.
It is popular within the region of production, it is less well known in other regions of France and somewhat uncommon abroad.
It is a fortified wine  made from a blend of lightly fermented grape must and Cognac eau-de-vie. If you use sherry, you will end up with the same result.

Chicken liver & pineau pâté

Serves 6-8 as a starter
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins + chilling time


  • 500g chicken livers
  • 100g butter
  • 100g unsmoked lardons or chopped streaky bacon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
  • 5 tbsp pineau or sherry
  • herb sprigs to garnish, rosemary, thyme or bay
  • toasted brioche or raisin bread and cornichons, to serve

    1. Rinse the chicken livers and cut away any dark patches and small stringy threads. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat 25g of the butter in a frying pan until foaming, then add the lardons or bacon and fry until crisp. Add the garlic, chicken livers and thyme and fry briskly for about 5 mins, until they are evenly browned. They should be nicely browned on the outside, but pink inside and should feel squashy when pressed.
    2. Add the pineau, salt and pepper, then bubble for a few mins. Remove from the heat. Blitz the mixture in a food processor until smooth, then spoon into a jar or dish. Smooth the top.
    3. Melt the remaining butter, put a herb sprig or bay leaf on top of the pâté and pour over the butter, leaving the sediment behind. Leave to cool, then chill until set.4 Serve spooned from the dish with toasted brioche, a bowl of cornichons and a little sea salt.
    très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

    Monday, 23 March 2015

    a fabulous mix...

    photo from here
    Bonjour mes belles,
    I hope that you had a fabulous weekend. I just stumbled across this photo and felt that I had to share it with you. Love the mix of old and new and think that the two matching French chandeliers are the perfect finishing touch.
    très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

    Saturday, 21 March 2015

    bon week-end...

    Where ever you are, what ever you are doing,
    wishing you a très bon week-end à tous....
    Leeann x

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    French food Friday...Reynaud's Black and White Layer Cake

    Chocolate galore! Reynaud's black-and-white layer cake
    photo and recipe from here
    Bpnjour mes belles,

    I hope that you are having a fabulous week. I am in the mood for some chocolate and this week's recipe comes from one of my favourite chocolate recipe books written by Joanne Harris who is the author of the bestseller Chocolat.

      Reynaud's black-and-white layer cake

    Purists – like Mayor Reynaud in Chocolat (played by Alfred Molina in the film), who tries to force the free-spirited Vianne out of his village – believe white chocolate doesn’t count as chocolate at all. This means you can enjoy this layer cake with only half the guilt.

    Serves 8–12

    For the ganache
    500ml (18fl oz) double cream
    500g (1lb 2oz) white chocolate, broken into small pieces

    For the cake
    Butter, for greasing
    190g (7oz) self-raising flour
    40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
    200g (7oz) soft butter, cut into small cubes
    200g (7oz) golden syrup
    1tsp baking powder
    4 eggs, beaten
    125g (4½oz) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
    50ml (2fl oz) shot of strong espresso

    To make the ganache, heat the cream in a saucepan until just simmering. Remove from the heat and add the white chocolate. Stir until melted. Leave to cool and thicken. This will take at least an hour – you can put it in the fridge, but stir regularly. It needs a spreadable consistency, like heavy whipped cream.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Butter two 20cm (8in) non stick cake tins and line the bases with parchment.

    Beat the flour, cocoa, butter, golden syrup, baking powder and eggs quickly with an electric mixer until creamy.

    Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then pour it and the espresso shot into the cake mixture and blend until even.

    Divide between the tins and bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, until a knife inserted into the centres comes out clean.
    Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn the cakes out on to a cooling wire, peel away the parchment and leave until cold. Slice each cake in half horizontally, making four layers. Spread a spoonful of ganache in the middle of a serving plate. Stick one layer on top.

    Spread with a layer of ganache, top with another cake and repeat until all layers are used.

    Finally, top the cake and sides with ganache. Leave to set for at least 30 minutes in a cool place.

    très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x
    p.s. Enjoy the eclipse wherever you are in the world.

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    a fabulous combination...

    photo from here

    I am not sure about you but I love the idea of mixing old with new and this is what we are doing on our latest project.

    This photo is a fabulous example of how you can mix the two styles.

    By doing this instead of having everything the same; all old items or all new items you create the "wow" factor as it is not expected.

    Yesterday another of my chandelier purchases arrived, all I have to do now is decide where to put it.....bathroom, bedroom or lounge.

    As you know I am addicted to chandeliers but I am sure that there are much worse addictions to have...although French Boyfriend may think otherwise.

    The conversation normally goes along the lines of, "How much did you pay? Does it work?" and you can guess the rest.

    I need a light for the stairwell and unfortunately the ceiling is VERY high so I need something that hangs low so that I can change the light bulb/s.

    On that note I will leave you, à très bientôt, Leeann x

    Wednesday, 18 March 2015

    busy getting dirty...

    Bonjour mes belles,

    What have I have doing? One must ask and it is a question that I ask myself daily.

    Yesterday I spent 4 hours cleaning this stone wall. Each piece of stone was black and had to be individually cleaned. A very dirty job and I was pleased when I had finished.

    Whilst  I was doing it  I could hear my  father telling me that anything that boys can do, we girls can also do.  Merci to my darling Dad as it was this that got me through this task and the kiwi in me that refuses to give up when things get tough.

    Not a huge restoration project by any means, but it has had it's moments and I will be happy when it is finished and I am at the hanging chandelier stage....

    Tomorrow the wall is being pointed which means that it will look cleaner with the surface of the stones being left as highlights, if that makes any sense. I will post a photo when it is finished.

    We found this wall when we  gained access to the attic and it now has a new life as a feature wall, on the mezzanine floor.

    I like to think of it as a piece of living history...

    à demain, Leeann x

    Monday, 16 March 2015

    Fabulous and very French...Gemma Bovery Film

    Bonjour à tous,
    I hope that you had a fabulous weekend. Mine was spent up a scaffolding tower painting, 6 metre high walls are no fun to paint as I am finding out. I was perched on the tower whilst French Boyfriend was moving me around, not an east apparatus to move and I am not a fan of heights but the base coat is done with  two additional coats to go. 
    We watched the Gemma Bovery film samedi soir and we both really enjoyed it.
    I first read about it on the alliance française film festival website which had this to say about the film...
    When an English couple named Gemma and Charles Bovery move into a small Normandy town, Martin Joubert, the baker and resident Flaubert fan, can’t believe it. Here are two real life figures who seem to be replicating the behaviour of his favourite fictional characters right before his eyes.

    This charming retelling of the classic Madame Bovary story is a visual feast, from the picturesque countryside to the so-good-you-can-almost-taste-it patisserie. Gemma Arterton is the playfully updated version of France’s most famous heroine with Fabrice Luchini as the smitten baker and film’s narrator. Complications ensue when Gemma meets a dashing aristocrat - just as the plot unfolds in the book.

    Skilfully directed by Anne Fontaine, who also made the similarly sumptuous Coco Before Chanel, Gemma Bovery is based on the popular graphic novel by Posy Simmonds. Balancing real sensuality and hilarious one-liners, this is an endearing film about the dangers of stirring passions, with Arterton radiant as the titular bored housewife and Luchini delightful as always in the role of the comically obsessed baker.
    What is there not to like about this film....a beautiful girl, a charming French man, fabulous French house filmed in the stunning French gets a thumbs up from me.
    It made me want to move to Normandy and I am sure that it will you. On that note, it is back to reality I must go...
    très bon semaine à tous, Leeann

    Friday, 13 March 2015

    french food friday...Pesuure Cooker - Pears Poached in White Wine, Lemon, Cinnamon & Star Anise

    recipe and photo from here

    Pears poached in White Wine, Lemon, Cinnamon & Star Anise

    Special equipment: Pressure Cooker.
    Pressure cooker setting: 1

    Ingredients Required

    6 Pears, firm but ripe, peeled
    200g Sugar, caster
    400ml Water, cold
    400ml White wine, dry chardonnay
    1 Vanilla pod split in half
    5 Lemon, slices, 2-3mm, rind on
    2 Cinnamon sticks
    3 Star anise

    Cooking Method

    Place all the ingredients into the pressure cooker and top with the pears.
    Cover with the lid and place on a high heat on pressure setting 1. Once the steam begins to come out of the pressure valve, turn the hob down to its lowest setting and set your timer for 10 minutes.
    After this time, remove from the heat and turn the valve to the release setting, wait for all the steam to die down before you remove the lid. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours up to 24 to allow the exchanges of flavours between the citrus, herbs and peaches. With a slotted spoon, remove the peaches onto a plate and serve.

    très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

    Wednesday, 11 March 2015

    fabulous and very French...

    photo from here

    Bonjour mes belles,

    I am in need of some fabulous eye candy as I appear to have a hand permanently attached to a paint roller. On a positive note I am happy to say that after a few hundred metres and 3 or 4 coats, you certainly get the hang of it.

    Unfortunately I am not the most patient of people and all I want to do is start hanging things on the wall and place furniture but we have a few weeks to go before we are at that stage.

    Some things in life are worth waiting finding another chandelier or two! Dreams are free and the more time I spend painting, the more money I have to spend on fabulous items, the power of positive thinking but boy am I getting sick of painting.

    Anyone want to come and lend a hand? I could pay you with champagne....

    à demain, Leeann x

    Monday, 9 March 2015

    a petit tour with photos...

    Bonjour mes belles,

    Yesterday was a lovely sunny day so after déjeuner, we jumped in the car and visited a couple of neighbouring villages. I have already posted these photos on facebook but these are for those of you that do not use facebook.

    First up was Issigeac, a very charming medieval village not far from Eymet...

    Issigeac is known for its busy market, held on a Sunday morning hence it is always lovely and calm in the afternoon, perfect for exploring this fascinating village. 

    What makes it particularly charming is the face that it has not been over restored and you can still find houses that have been closed for many a year and have an allure that you do not find in restored houses. 

    This building is no longer a hotel but I love the fact that the old lettering still remains...

    The village contains a mixture of building styles from the 14th through to the 20th century which adds to it's charm and there are many fine examples of 14th century buildings that have been painstakingly restored, like the one that you can see in the right of the photo below.

     What a fabulous name of an antiques shop, the cat that sleeps. The last time that I visited the owner had a basket full of tiny kittens that he was giving away hence the cat must have found time to do more than just sleep...
    We then drove on to the fabulous village of Beaumont-du-Périgord, which was very sleepy but perfect for taking photos as the streets were practically empty...

    The village square has been recently restored and is looking fabulous. 

    This cafe looks like the perfect place to stop and watch the world pass by...

    As you can see from the above photo,it really was lovely and peaceful.

    I particularly liked the look of this restaurant and I hope to visit again when it is open.
    In Beaumont, each house in the village, has a number that comes complete with crown as Beaumont was a royal bastide.  

    Beaumont was founded in 1272 by Lucas de Thanay, Seneschal of Guyenne, on behalf of King Edward I of England.
    The street signs are equally as impressive, as you can see from this fine example.
    I hope that you enjoyed the photos, I unfortunately need to get back to work.
    très bon début de semaine, Leeann x 

    Friday, 6 March 2015

    french food Friday...Chocolate Almond Souffle

    photo and recipe from here

    Bonjour mes belles,

    I am not sure what happened to the days between Monday and today as I cannot believe that it is already Friday.

    As a result of a very busy week, I am in need of a chocolate fix and think that this will do nicely...

    Chocolate Almond Souffle
    Prep time:
    Cook time:
    Total time:
    Yield: 8-10 servings
    • 7 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
    • ⅓ cup strong coffee
    • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups milk
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
    • ½ cup pulverized toasted almonds, or almond meal.
    • 6 egg whites
    • ⅛ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • Powdered sugar (for serving)
    • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
    2. In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and coffee. Set the bowl over a simmering pot of water for at least 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let the chocolate rest while you make the rest of the recipe.
    3. Grease the inside of soufflé dishes with baking spray or butter. You will need 8 6-ounces dishes or 4 10-ounce dishes.
    4. Into a medium saucepan, add the flour. Whisk in the milk, little by little, until a smooth cream forms. Then add the rest of the milk and whisk to combine. Add in the butter and place the saucepan over medium-high heat, Stirring continuously bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, keep stirring for additional 2 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk for another minute to cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolks, one by one. Add in the smoothly melted chocolate and whisk to combine. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract and pulverized almonds. Whisk to combine all.
    5. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. With the mixer going, sprinkle in the granulated sugar and beat until stiff shining peaks form.
    6. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the side of the bowl with the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, delicately fold the chocolate into the egg white mixture. Once combined, pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dishes. Fill each to just below the inside rim. Place soufflé dishes onto a baking sheet and place into oven. Reduce oven temperature immediately to 375 degrees and bake for about 25-30 minutes. When soufflé is well risen and cracked, quickly sprinkle the surface with powdered sugar. Continue baking for another 5 -10 minutes. The soufflé is creamy in the center when a cake tester inserted into the cracked tops comes out slightly coated. Optional: you can continue baking for a few more minutes if you want the center to be fully done and the souffle will stand up well.
    7. Serve immediately with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
    ...très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

    Monday, 2 March 2015

    bonjour mars..

    Bonjour mes belles,

    I am happy to say au revoir to February as it was a cold and wet one for us.

    March is a much nicer month as the days are warmer and sunnier, flowers start appearing everywhere and the villages become alive again.

    In terms of antique fairs there have not been a lot over the past month or so and understandably so, as who wants to freeze to death whilst trying to sell your wares. Hence March sees the start of the antique season and I am so looking forward to hunting for tresors.

    Fingers crossed it is a good month for finding tresors...

    très bon semaine à tous, Leeann x

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