Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween...

 

I have just finished preparing the treats for our petit visitors who normally arrive around 6pm looking fabulously scary ....
 
Happy Halloween à tous, Leeann x
 

 
 


Friday, 30 October 2015

French Food Friday...chicken Normandy


recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Since I am fresh from my visit to Normandy I thought that we would have a Normandy inspired recipe this week....


Chicken Normandy Recipe
Yield: Serves 4.

In this recipe we brown the chicken on the stovetop, then braise the chicken in the oven, and then finish on the stovetop. You can make the whole dish on the stovetop if you wish. In step 6 just simmer the chicken on the stovetop (uncovered if skin-on, covered if using skinless chicken pieces), until cooked through and tender, 15-30 minutes. The reason to do it in the oven is to produce a crispy skin.

 
Ingredients
4 Tbsp butter
2 cooking apples, cored and sliced into wedges (you can peel or not)
Flour for dredging
4 whole chicken legs (with thighs)
Salt
1 large onion, peeled, sliced lengthwise (root to top) into wedges
1/2 cup brandy (apple brandy or Calvados if you have it)
2 cups apple cider (the cloudy type)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup cream

 

Method

1 Sprinkle salt over the chicken pieces and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

2 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large, oven-proof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apple slices and sauté until they turn a little brown around the edges, turning occasionally. Sprinkle the apple slices with a little salt. Set aside on paper towels to drain.

3 Dredge the chicken in flour and place the pieces in the sauté pan, skin side down. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Fry until golden, about 3-5 minutes on medium to medium-high heat on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
4 Add the onions and increase the heat to medium-high. Spread the onion slices out in an even layer to cover the pan. As the onions cook they will release moisture that will help deglaze the pan of the browned bits from the chicken. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until they just being to brown, about 5-8 minutes.

5 Add the brandy to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any remaining browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the brandy boil until it has reduced by about half. Add the cider and bring it to a boil.

6 Sprinkle in the thyme. Add just a pinch of salt to the cider. Arrange the chicken legs in the pan so the skin faces up and is not submerged by the cider-brandy mixture. Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

7 Remove the pan from the oven. (Watch out for the hot handle! I like to run an ice cube over the handle as soon as I remove the pan, to help bring the handle temp down quickly and prevent a bad burn if I forget the handle is hot.) Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside. Place the pan back on a stovetop burner on high heat. Add the apples and boil down the sauce by half.

8 When the sauce reduces to the point where it's a little syrupy, add the cream and turn down the heat. Taste for salt and add some if needed.
To serve, spoon some apples and onions on the plate, top with sauce and a piece of chicken.

très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

it's the season....


Bonjour mes belles,

For those visiting France for the first time at this time of the year, you may think that France is obsessed with the chrysanthemum as they appear to be every where you look.

This weekend is all about Toussaint, a Catholic holiday honouring all Saints. It is a time when French pay respect to their deceased relatives.  All Saints' Day, the 1st of November, sees families gathering to visit cemeteries to clean and decorate tombs.  The majority of which, are decorated with chrysanthemums.

The tradition of using chrysanthemums is a relatively recent one, dating from 1919 when the then President, Raymond Poincaré, declared that all war memorials should be decorated with floral tributes. 

As one of the rare flowers still in bloom in November it became the flower of choice for cemeteries, with hundreds of thousands of widows laying blooms at their fallen husbands' memorials. The chrysanthemum is now known as the widow's flower and is forever associated with Toussaint and death.  

With such connotations, chrysanthemums are not usually given at other occasions and there has been many a case where an innocent foreigner has unwittingly caused offence (or at least surprise) by offering a hostess these colourful flowers!

So if you are ever in France around this time of the year, you will know not to offer a chrysanthemum as a cadeau, chocolates are always a nice gesture and the French are known for their love of chocolat which explains just why there are so many chocolate shops in France.

à demain, Leeann x 


Monday, 26 October 2015

a new week...


Bonjour mes belles,

Apologies for the lack of posts but as you know, we spent the week in Normandy last week and most days we were out and about which meant that I barely touched my laptop.

The colours were glorious and life really does move at a gentler pace in this lovely part of France.


I feel in love with the handsome beast that you see on the right hand side of the photo, he was scared to get really close as the fence is electric....

He was such a beautiful colour and he was quite a character as we found out....

I can see why a lot of Parisians choose to live here, it reminded me of a French version of the Cotswolds....just wish that it was not a 6 hour drive from here we live in the south west of France.

What we also loved was the fact that the region has lots of fabulous antique shops and is second to Isle sur la Sorgue in terms of antiques. We are already planning a return trip for next year.

Nice to have a break as this week is another busy one guest wise and I have a new sofa arriving. I am smiling as I write this as the sofa was supposed to be arriving next week and I got a call last Friday to say that it is arriving this Thursday.  The guests may get a shock when they return from spending the day sightseeing to find a different looking lounge.....

Wishing you all a fabulous week.....Leeann x

p.s. Looking forward to the rugby world cup on Saturday, go the all mighty All Blacks!

Monday, 19 October 2015

love this patine...




Bonjour mes belles,

French Boyfriend and I are out and about this week sourcing stock for the shop.

When I saw this door, I just had to take a photo. The patine is amazing and I love the colour...fabulous and very French.

Wishing you all a semaine fabuleuse, Leeann x

Friday, 16 October 2015

French Food Friday...French Pumpkin Pie


photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

At the time I thought that it was a fabulous idea to buy a gorgeous looking 5 kilo pumpkin.



As a result of this impulsive purchase, we have been eating a lot of pumpkin this week.

I have made a tagine, soup and this fabulous tart. There is still a bit left  but I am sure that it will get put to good use as I have found a fabulous recipe where you bake it in the oven with honey and nuts.

French Pumpkin Pie

serves 8

Ingredients

6 tbsp. butter
3 lb. kabocha squash or cinderella or cheese pumpkin, seeded, peeled, and diced
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
34 cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
14 cup shelled pecans, chopped
2 (7 1⁄2-by-14 1⁄2–inch) sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

Instructions

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin and apples, and cook, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add sugar and vanilla beans, and scrape browned bits from bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon. Cover skillet, and cook until pumpkin and apples are very soft and jammy but still holding their shape, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, discard vanilla beans and stir in pecans.
 
Preheat oven to 350°. Roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry into a square on a lightly floured surface. Using an 11" tart ring as a guide, cut out a circle and set aside. Roll out remaining sheet of pastry into a square; then ease pastry into the tart ring, and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Trim edges to overhang by 1⁄4". Fill pastry with pumpkin mixture; then lay reserved pastry circle over filling. Tuck edge of top pastry between filling and bottom pastry, and brush surface with egg. Fold overhanging bottom pastry back over top pastry. Bake until deep golden, 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
 
très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Thursday, 15 October 2015

fabulously inspiring...


photo from here
 
 
Wow I love the grand salon in Chateau Vendeurve.
 
It really is so stunningly French....
 
amicalement, Leeann x

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Bonjour Miss Mustard Seed...


On impulse this morning I decided to repaint the mirror frame in our dining room. It started off Farrow and Ball Charleston grey then I repainted it with Annie Sloan Old White.

Both Maison No.20 and No.26 are a shrine to Farrow and Ball paint and I adore it and use it when ever I can.

Back to the mirror frame, it has been white now for almost a year and I decided that it was not really doing it for me.

I had a rummage around and found some Miss Mustard Seed samples that a friend had sent me as a result of going a MMS paint course.

Decided that I would give "Trophy"  which is a lovely grey colour, a try and I am very happy with the result. It took two coats and does not give a newly painted look instead looks like it has always been this colour.



I am now thinking about painting the bookcase in the dining room the same colour so I am searching for a European stockist to order the paint from....I think that I have my painting mojo back!

à demain, Leeann x




Monday, 12 October 2015

belle semaine à tous...



Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you had a fabulous weekend, our was a lovely sunny one which enabled us to get out and about. We even managed a bit of sight seeing in between hunting for antiques which I will tell you more about later in the week.

On Saturday we took some photos on the way back from our picnic lunch.

The vines are looking fabulous at this time of the year....

 
 
You can see why Autumn is my favourite time of the year...the colours are stunning and the weather is perfect, not too hot and not too cold.
 


Rows and rows of vines everywhere you look....



French Boyfriend commented that the rouge colour of the leaves is very similar to the colour of the wine produced by the grapes that come from these particular vines. Nature at her finest!



I had better go as it is the magic hour here at France, lunch time and FB is about to serve...I do love a man who cooks.

belle semaine à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 9 October 2015

french food Friday...Cheese-topped Dauphinois Potatoes

 
photo and recipe from here
 
 
Bonjour mes belles,
 
I hope that you have had a fabulous week. Ours has been a fun one with French Boyfriend selling up a storm in the boutique whilst I have been spending the week shopping. Shopping is one of my preferred past times and I am enjoying shopping for me as opposed to shopping for bathroom fittings, kitchen etc.
 
Unfortunately French Boyfriend is not an enthusiastic as moi when it comes to shopping hence I am developing a more speedy approach.
Enough about shopping, let's get down to business. As you know food is taken very seriously in France and a lot of the day is talking about food.   
 
It is getting cooler here in SW France and Autumn has arrived. Autumn provides the perfect excuse to spend more time in the kitchen and it is my favourite time of the year.
 
This week's recipe is a favourite as it involves cheese and potatoes and is very yummy...

Cheese-topped Dauphinois Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 750 g King Edward potatoes or other floury potatoes
  • 150ml chicken stock               
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Knob of butter

Method
  • Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Peel the potatoes and rinse under cold water, then dry and slice very thinly by hand or with the slicer attachment on a processor. Put the stock into a large jug and mix with the cream.
  • Arrange a layer of potato over the base of the tin, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then pour over a little of the stock mixture. Continue in the same way until the potato and liquid are used up. Dot the butter over the top and cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until soft around the edges but still firm in the middle. Remove the foil and cook for a further 25–-30 minutes or until golden and tender. Leave to cool, then chill – overnight is best.
  • Choose a lipped board or tray that’s bigger than the roasting tin (so it will catch any juices) and place on a worktop. Carefully tip the roasting tin upside down on to it and remove the paper. Cut the potatoes into even-sized servings, arrange on a greased or paper-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle the cheese on top.
  • Reheat in an oven preheated to 200C/gas mark 6 for 25-30 minutes or until golden and piping hot.

très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

simple mais chic...


photo from here


Simple but oh so chic....I adore everything in this fabulous photo.

à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 5 October 2015

never say never

photo from here

Five minutes ago, I was thinking I am going to take a break from renovating for the next 6 months and then I saw this photo....I just need to convince French Boyfriend that it is a good idea.

Think that it may take more than a sexy dress and a bottle of champagne but I will try my best....


très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

French food Friday...Chocolate marquise with lime and coconut sorbet



photo and recipe from here


First of all I would like to say Happy Birthday to my darling Dad in NZ, miss you lots and hope you have a lovely day.


At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people

You'll need

8 egg yolks 
180 gm caster sugar 
250 gm butter, coarsely chopped 
200 gm dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped 
80 gm Dutch-process cocoa, sieved, plus extra for dusting 
600 ml pouring cream, whisked to soft peaks                                       
 
Lime and coconut sorbet 
100 gm white sugar
25 gm liquid glucose 
200 ml coconut cream 
50 ml lime juice                                       
 
Chocolate biscuits 
110 gm (½ cup) caster sugar 
60 gm softened butter 
1 egg 
80 gm dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids), melted 
150 gm plain flour 
 Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Method

    • For lime and coconut sorbet, combine sugar, glucose and 100ml water in a small saucepan over low heat, stir to dissolve sugar, bring to the simmer, then set aside to cool. Stir in remaining ingredients and refrigerate until flavours develop (overnight). Churn in an ice-cream machine, then freeze.
    • Whisk yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes), transfer to a heatproof bowl and whisk over a saucepan of simmering water until warm and thick (3-4 minutes). Meanwhile, melt butter and chocolate in a separate heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, add cocoa and stir to combine. Fold one-third of yolk mixture into chocolate mixture to combine, fold in remaining yolk mixture and set aside to cool (8-10 minutes; mixture may become a little grainy). Fold in cream in batches until just combined. Pour into ten 180ml dariole moulds and refrigerate until firm (4 hours).
    • Meanwhile, for chocolate biscuits, beat sugar and butter in an electric mixer until pale (2-3 minutes), add egg and beat to combine. Stir in chocolate, then flour and vanilla, place on a sheet of plastic wrap, roll into a 4cm-diameter cylinder and chill until firm (1 hour). Remove plastic wrap, slice into 5mm rounds and place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake until crisp (10-12 minutes), cool, crumble coarsely and set aside.
    • Dip chocolate moulds in hot water, loosen with a knife, invert onto serving plates, scatter with chocolate biscuit crumbs, dust with cocoa and serve with lime and coconut sorbet.
 
bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

a smile...


photo and words from here
 
 
A smile makes you master of yourself.

- Thich Nhat Hanh, in “Moments of Mindfulness”.
(Image: Claudia Tremblay)
 
 
I just had to share this with you. This comes from Thich Nhat Hanh who established the thriving budhist community, not far from where we live.
 
You can find more information about the community here.
 
très belle journée à tous, Leeann x

Perfect Picnic Weather...

Bonjour from a very sunny SW France, Yesterday was like a summers day albeit a chilly start but it quickly warmed up to 24 degrees.  P...