Sunday, 28 February 2016

Bonjour from a very warm Auckland in NZ

Bonjour from a very warm Auckland,

As you know we are in New Zealand visiting family and it is a bit of a culture shock.

We have come from a small medieval village where it is very cold to a fabulous modern house in a very warm Auckland that is situated by the sea.

The first "shock" is that there are kiwi accents everywhere which is odd for me having spent almost 25 years away from New Zealand. The second is that everyone is super friendly which is quite a contrast to France where the people are reserved and less smiley. 

It is rather an odd feeling being a tourist in the country that you were born in and I am slowly getting used to the feeling. 

That said, we feel at home as there is an antique shop not far from where we are staying that sells lots of lovely French items, there are many french objects in the house where we are staying and we have also found French food in the local supermarket. 

We ran into a French family at the ferry terminal which we found amusing as the parents live not far from us in SW France and the children have taken NZ citizenship.

We are looking forward to a fabulous week of sightseeing and French Boyfriend is loving being in such a country that has just a laid back approach to life and yet at the same time has an energy that simply does not exisit in Europe.

Wishing you all a semaine fabuleuse......Leeann x

p.s. The photo was taken in the garden where we are staying, how lucky are we?

Friday, 26 February 2016

French Food Friday...Salted Caramel Banana Muffins

recipe and photo from here
Bonjour mes belles,

Sorry for the lack of posts this week but we spent most of the week travelling to New Zealand.

This weeks recipe is half French/half kiwi as New Zealanders are known for their love of muffins and you will find them in many patisseries in France.

 Salted Caramel Banana Muffins Recipe

Servings: makes 12 regularly-sized muffins


Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp fleur de sel(fine sea salt)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups smashed banana(about 4 medium-size bananas)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Salted caramel sauce


For the salted caramel sauce:
Add sugar to a medium nonstick saucepan and place over medium heat. Allow the sugar to slowly melt, without stirring, until it begins to bubble. When bubbling, keep a close eye on the pot and remove from heat as soon as it turns golden.
Carefully pour in cream (it will bubble up fast so wear an oven mitt if possible) and whisk vigorously until smooth. Add salt and stir to incorporate. Reserve on stovetop for later use.

For the Muffins:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your muffin pan by spraying amply with nonstick cooking spray.
*Cupcake liners can be used as an alternative to ensure perfect removal from pan.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add the vanilla and bananas and mix until just incorporated.
3. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix using a rubber spatula, being careful not to overwork the batter.
Spoon batter into muffin tins so it comes up 1/3 of the way. Drizzle a teaspoon of the salted caramel sauce in the center, trying to keep it away from the edge to prevent burning during baking. Spoon another layer of batter on top so each tin is 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the muffins are golden and a cake tester comes out of the center clean.
5. Let cool on a wire rack until room temperature. Run a palate knife around the side of each tin to help loosen, then flip over to release the muffins. If it appears they are sticking, run the knife around one more time, getting underneath to help loosen them.
6. Using a small spoon, drizzle the salted caramel sauce on top.

au revoir from a very sunny Auckland, Leeann x

Friday, 19 February 2016

French Food Friday...Cranberry, coconut and white chocolate friands

Recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

It is time to get out your friand pan or if you do not have one, a muffin pan will do.

As you know I love cranberries and this recipe is one that I am sure fellow cranberry lovers will enjoy....

Cranberry, coconut and white chocolate friands

Makes about 10
13/4 cups almond meal, sifted
1/4 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
140g melted butter
5 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup cranberries (frozen is fine or dried will do)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp white chocolate bites

In your mixing bowl, beat together the almond meal, icing sugar, plain flour, baking powder and butter. Then add the egg whites and beat until a smooth batter. Fold in the berries, coconut and chocolate. Spoon into greased and lined friand tins to three-quarters. Muffin tins can also be used. Bake at 180C for about 25 minutes. Dust lightly with icing sugar.

très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

In the mood to shop, shop, shop..

photo from here

Bonjour from a very sunny SW France,

I have just about finished all my cleaning duties, after which, I am planning on doing some serious shopping.
French Boyfriend has had a run on antique French chandeliers and as none left in the shop. I have decided that I would like another one as I am in the mood to decorate.

I can think of nothing nicer than spending an afternoon shopping for chandeliers....

à très bientôt, Leeann x

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Friday, 12 February 2016

French Food Friday...Lychee champagne cocktail

photo and recipe from here

Lychees are not French but the champagne is and  I will be making these for our romantic candlelit dinner on Saint Valentine's day.....

Lychee champagne cocktail


  • 425g canned lychees in syrup
  • Champagne


Blend 425g canned lychees in syrup until smooth. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze until solid. Scoop the frozen lychee into Champagne flutes and top with Champagne or sparkling wine.

très bonne fin de semaine à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

it's mardi gras time...

Today marks the start of the mardi-gras across France....

The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From here, the traditional revelry of "Boeuf Gras," or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies.

Mardi-Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”) is originally a catholic event which marks the end of the “week of the seven fat days” which were known as “jours charnels” (meaning carnival) in the old days. Before Ash Wednesday, the start of the fasting period of Lent, people celebrated in many diverse ways as it was their last chance until Easter to eat meat.

The word “carnival” derives from the Latin “carnelevare” meaning “to take out the meat”. Indeed, meat was banished from the table during the whole period of Lent, as was sugar, ingredients containing fat, eggs and dairy products. If in Europe, the religious observance of Lent is followed by a rather small group of people, the celebrations around Mardi-Gras are still an opportunity taken by many to enjoy outdoor feasts, masquerade processions, masked balls, parades, pageants, jugglers, magicians and stilt walkers. This is what French people call “le Carnaval”.

Let the party begin.....Leeann x

Saturday, 6 February 2016

bon week-end...

Bonjour from a very sunny SW France,

Just stopping by to wish you all a très bon week-end...

amicalement, Leeann x

Friday, 5 February 2016

French Food Friday...Chocolate and Cointreau self-saucing puddings

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I have not made a self saucing pudding in quite some time and  I think that these may be perfect for a romantique dîner pour deux.
Yesterday I realised  that valentine's day is a week away so I am starting to think about what I am going to make. French Boyfriend prefers eating chez nous as opposed to eating in a restaurant which I am not sure is a good or a bad thing....

Chocolate and Cointreau self-saucing puddings


  • 100g of unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced
  • 175g of plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder


  • 6 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 100g of soft brown sugar
  • 400ml of water, boiling
  • 30ml of Cointreau

To plate

  • 1 tub of vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4 and grease 4 ramekins

2. Cream the butter and sugar together, and then add the eggs, orange juice and zest. Mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together and then fold this into the butter mixture
-100g of unsalted butter
-150g of caster sugar
-2 free-range eggs
-2 oranges
-175g of plain flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-2 tbsp of cocoa powder

3. Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins and use any leftover to make small additional puddings

4. For the sauce, mix the cocoa powder and brown sugar together and sprinkle over the ramekins

5. Pour 100ml boiling water over the mixture in each ramekin, and then place the ramekins into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Add the Cointreau evenly to the ramekins, then bake for a further 5 minutes

6. Serve with a large dollop of vanilla ice-cream

très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Thursday, 4 February 2016

the secret ingredient...

Today is market day in our village and I could not resist buying a bouquet of mimosa.

It has the most stunning fragrance and as I write this, the parfum is wafting from the hall into our kitchen.

Did you know that it is one of the "secret ingredients" used to make chanel no.5?

It is all thanks to Australia as the mimosa tree arrived in France from Australia in the mid-19th century as a decorative plant for gardens and still forms a luxurious forest on the Tanneron hills west of Grasse. 

You can read more about the fabulous mimosa plant here.

à plus tard, Leeann x

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

simply adorable...

Today I am busy giving French Boyfriend a hand in the boutique, every time that I visit it changes and a lot of the stock disappears before I get to see it.

 I just had to share this photo with you, the two girls are adorable in this photo and I would love to know all about them. If only they could speak......

à demain, Leeann x

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Bonjour fevrier...

Bonjour mes belles,

A brand new month to play with, how very exciting. I have decided that this month is the month to reorganize and get rid of any items that are sitting around.

Speaking of reorganizing, how do you like my new dressing table?

I was en route to my bank when I stopped at our friend's depot de vente.  Popped in for a quick look and came out with this dressing table.

I applied a couple of coats of Annie Sloan Old White chalk paint and all is required now is to sand the edges a bit and then apply some wax.

The small drawers are the perfect place to store makeup and I have the large drawer under the table, which will no doubt come in very handy should I need additional space.

Back to the reorganizing I go, I have piles of magazines everywhere  so these are next on my "hit list".

Bon début de semaine à vous tous, Leeann x

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