Friday, 29 April 2016

French Food Friday...Saint Emilion au Chocolat

photo and recipe from here

I am not sure what happened to the days between Monday and today and only hope that next week moves at a slower pace...

St-Emilion is a medieval town near Bordeaux and is a 45 minute drive from where we live. The town  is  famous for its macarons. They are more rustic than their modern Parisian counterparts, consisting of a single almond biscuit without ganache. The town’s legendary Macarons Nadia Fermigier shop inherited the closely guarded 17-century recipe of the local Ursuline nuns, which has been handed down through the generations. This classic dessert from the region layers the macarons with chocolate mousse, which was once only a specialty of French restaurants.

Makes 4-6
butter 125g
sugar 125g
milk 1 teacup
egg 1
chocolate 250g
macaroons 12–16
rum or brandy a little
Cream the butter and the sugar until they are well amalgamated. Scald the milk and let it cool, then mix it with the yolk of the egg.
Melt the chocolate over the fire, with a very little water, then stir in the milk and egg mixture, then the butter and sugar. Stir this cream carefully until it is absolutely smooth.
In a souffle dish arrange a layer of macaroons, soaked in a little rum or brandy; over these pour a layer of the chocolate cream, then put another layer of macaroons and so on until the dish is full, finishing with macaroons. Leave the dish in a cold place for at least 12 hours.
bonne fin de semaine ! Leeann x

Monday, 25 April 2016

my latest finds...

Bonjour mes belles,

Yesterday morning we got up  early and headed for a couple of vide- greniers that were taking place.
April marks the start of the vide-grenier "season" and would you believe that there are 52 vide-greniers taking place in our region next Sunday? It is impossible to visit all so it is a matter of selecting the ones that you think are going to be best based on previous years and hoping that you find some fabulous trésors.

At the first one that we visited yesterday we did not find a lot so headed to the next one which was only 10kms away.

I found this fabulous chair which is going to be my next project, it has no seat so I will need to create one and then have to find some fabric. It is an antique music chair and I think that it is perfect for a bathroom.

I love the patine that it has accumulated with age and my plan is to leave the paintwork as is apart from giving it a gentle clean....

One of my other finds, is this fabulous fronton. My plan is to paint it and either use it above a door or transform it into a ciel de lit and hang it above a bed.

I also found some fabulous antique photo frames that I have not had time to photograph. I am toying with the idea of restarting my online shop again in Autumn and it gives me an excuse to buy lots of lovely french objects. It is either this or start another restoration project but I am not sure that I am ready to tackle another house restoration just yet.....

Have a fabulous week, here we have beaucoup de soleil....
Leeann x

Friday, 22 April 2016

French Food Friday...Orange Blossom Madeleines

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Yesterday I made my normal madeleine recipe which French Boyfriend adores but today I am in the mood for a change and I have a bottle of orange blossom water in the cupboard that I have not used in a while.

Orange Blossom Madeleines

Makes: 2 1/2-dozen regular, or 7 1/2-dozen mini madeleines

•2/3 cup sugar
•3 large eggs (preferably at room temperature)
•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
•1 1/2 teaspoons orange blossom water
•1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
•10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
•powdered sugar, for garnish.

1.Place the sugar, eggs, and salt in a mixing bowl and whip on medium-high speed until very pale and thick.  Stir in the orange blossom water.  Add the flour and melted butter alternately, folding gently so the batter loses as little volume as possible.  Refrigerate the batter (covered), for 45 minutes or until thickened.

2.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a madeleine pan generously, and lightly dust with flour, knocking off any excess.  Scoop the batter into the prepared pan (1 tablespoon per well for standard-sized madeleines, 1/2 teaspoon per well for mini-madeleines).  Bake standard-sized madeleines for 12-14 minutes, mini-madeleines for 8-9 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.  (If you have only one pan, bake in sequence, keeping the remaining batter refrigerated.)

3.Cool in the pan for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar, for garnish.

très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

dreaming of far away places...

photo from here

I blame French television as they seem to be obsessed with Egypt at present. Last night we watched Tut starring Ben Kingsley  and as a result I have been thinking about Egypt.

I last visited Egypt 10 years ago whilst living in Dubai and loved both Cairo and Alexandria.

Alexandria was full of French antiques and I purchased a fabulous chandelier whilst shopping as one does...

Unfortunately I did not have time to visit Luxor but I am planning to do so on my next visit along with a cruise on the Nile.

French boyfriend still needs convincing but I am sure that after watching a few more programs he will want to visit...

Back to dreaming I go, Leeann x

Monday, 18 April 2016

H&M Home...

I am loving the H&M home range as they have some fabulous items for the house and they are well priced.

Last week I ordered 3 of these coloured glass vases and love the idea of coloured glass.

I also ordered a set of small clear glass vases which are perfect for displaying single flowers.

Spring is in the air and there is nothing nicer than having lovely fresh flowers in the house. I am now off to do some spring cleaning as we have lots of lovely sunshine today and there is a slight breeze in the air.

Bon lundi et très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 15 April 2016

vendredi fleurs...

Bonjour mes belles,

Merci à Kayo, my gorgeous Japanese friend for these beauties.
The lilacs smell amazing and I have placed them in the hall. Makes me wish I had a jardin...

Wishing you  all a vendredi fabuleuse, Leeann x

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Look what I found...

....a fabulous vintage sunburst mirror.  The problem is that I am thinking of having a group of them above the sofa, hence I now need to find a few more....

photo from here

I am not sure whether finding the mirror was a good thing as I have a feeling that the few extra that I need will be costly but fingers crossed I find some at a good price.

Off hunting I must go.....

à demain, Leeann x

Friday, 8 April 2016

french food friday - Raspberry Frangipane Tart

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour à tous,

Raspberries  are a favorite of mine and it is raspberry season here in SW France. Note if you cannot get fresh raspberries, frozen will be fine.

Raspberry Frangipane Tart

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-10

for the pastry
  • 200g flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water
for the filling
  • 150g butter, room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2ml almond essence
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 50g flour
  • 200g raspberries
  • 5 tablespoons raspberry preserves/jam

  1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles chunky breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolk and with the motor running, add the ice water, spoon by spoon until the pastry comes together and forms a ball.
  3. Remove from the processor and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge and allow to chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
  5. When the pastry has chilled, roll out to fit your tart dish and line the bottom and sides.
  6. To make the frangipane filling, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  7. Add the essence, eggs and egg yolk and mix until combined.
  8. Fold in the ground almonds and flour and set aside.
  9. Spread the raspberry preserves over the pastry (to cover the bottom surface) and dollop on the Frangipane mixture.
  10. Spread and smooth the creamy filling and dot the surface with the fresh raspberries.
  11. Place the tart in the oven and allow to bake for 30 minutes.
  12. When the tart is baked, remove from the oven and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Monday, 4 April 2016

my favourites...

Bonjour mes belles,

The weather here has been fabulous and we have sunshine again today. I am slowly slipping back into my French life and it is though we have never been away and yet as a result of the holiday I feel that I appreciate things that I previously took for granted.

On Saturday afternoon there was a gentle tap on the front door of our petite maison where I was busy spring cleaning. It was our lovely French neighbor with a stunning bunch of peonies. She said that she remembered that I loved them and these were from her garden.

Such a lovely gesture  and I was happy that I had been busy baking in the morning so was able to give her some home made cakes and also some chocolates that I had bought for her whilst in New Zealand.

It is moments like this that I treasure and  make life that little bit extra special....

Talking of special, yesterday morning was spent hunting for antiques and catching up with fellow dealers. French Boyfriend loved telling everyone about our trip to New Zealand and I did not even have to utter a word. I found a fabulous mirror that needs a bit of restoration and I will take a photo  to show you later in the week.

Wishing you all a semaine fabuleuse, Leeann x

Friday, 1 April 2016

French Food Friday...french almond cake

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I am in the mood for baking and blame our holiday in New Zealand as afternoon tea is currently all the rage there. I have never seen so making cakes in my life and that is saying something as the French are known for their cakes...

I love this recipe as it is quick and perfect when you need a cake in a hurry!

French Almond Cake

An incredibly delicious cake and it's incredibly easy! One-bowl, no-mixer, just-a -few-minutes-to-throw together!

Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup almond flour (meal)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup sunflower oil, grape seed or canola oil
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar plus more for sprinkling, if desired
  • ½ cups sliced almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray, rub inside surface of pan with a paper towel to cover evenly with the spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and spray parchment paper lightly. Set aside.
  2. Place almonds in a small baking pan. Spread to a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes or until just beginning to turn pale golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the orange juice, powdered sugar and extracts in a small bowl for the glaze. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Cover and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended.
  5. Add the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and extracts, mixing to just combine.
  6. Add the oil and stir well. Don't worry, at first it will seem to separate, but keep stirring till smooth. This might take 2-3 minutes.
  7. Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch in the center and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil if getting too brown near the end and cake is still not done. Be careful not to over bake. Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes; then turn it out of the pan onto the rack.
  8. While cake is still warm, using a pastry brush, gently pat the glaze all over the cake. Just keep going over the cake till the glaze is gone. Some of it will drip off, but most of it will soak in. Sprinkle almonds over top of cake while glaze is wet and pat gently. Allow cake to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve.

              très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

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