Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The brocante bug..

I think that the brocante is one of those things where you either love it or hate it, there is nothing in between. It rerminds me of when we moved to India and people said the same thing about Mumbai.
It was one of the best years of my life and I learnt a lot from living and working in India. We lived in the Taj Mahal hotel and it was there that I came to appreciate the work and love that goes into running a hotel.

Back to the brocante bug...French Boyfriend & I spent Sunday in beautiful Bordeaux. There were antiques partout as there was the weekly flea market taking place along with the  Antiques fair that takes place twice a year at the Place des Quinconces, which is one of the largest city squares in Europe (approximately 31 acres or 126,000 m²)

The weather was fabulous, not a cloud in the sky. There was over 200 stands and it is a great place for anyone looking to buy good quality antiques or vintage objects.

 Whilst in Bordeaux I stopped at my favorite shop to buy some of my favorites...half of which, managed to survive the trip home.

Bordeaux was recently voted the place to be and it really was buzzing on Sunday.

We are both looking forward to returning to this fabulous city to carry out another of our favourite past times, "shopping". 
This is a word that the French love to use and it makes me smile when I hear it mixed in with French.

à demain, Leeann x

Friday, 25 November 2016

French food Friday...chutney de figue

recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I defrosted a large quantity of figs and realised that I would have to do something quickly but what, I asked myself. I am not a huge fan of fig jam but I love fig confit. The trouble is that we eat a lot of fig confit and I feel like a change so I decided that I would try and make chutney.
Yesterday I made a batch using the recipe below which has rasins and onions in and it has turned out okay.
I have another couple of kilos of figs that are taking up a lot of space in the congélateur so I am thinking about making a port and fig chutney which we could eat with cheese or pork. It may even make for an unusual gift for our French friends depending on how it turns out.

Here is the recipe that I used yesterday and once I have tried the other one, I will let you know. Note you can use dried figs if you do not have fresh ones.

Fig Chutney

brown sugar: a generous cup (250g)
figs: 8 large (about 2 1/2 pounds / 1kg)
malt vinegar: 2/3 cup (150ml)
cider vinegar: 2/3 cup (150ml)
onions: 9 ounces (250g), chopped
golden raisins: 9 ounces (250g)
salt: 1 teaspoon
allspice: 1 teaspoon
black peppercorns: half a teaspoon, cracked
coriander seeds: 1 teaspoon

Warm the sugar in a bowl in a low oven. Coarsely chop the figs, removing any tough stems as you go, then put them in a large stainless steel or enameled saucepan. Add the vinegars, onions, raisins, salt, allspice, cracked peppercorns, and coriander seeds, then bring to a boil. Simmer for thirty minutes, until the onions and fruit are soft.
Stir in the sugar. Bring slowly to a boil, then turn the heat down so that the chutney bubbles gently. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, with the occasional stir to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thick and jamlike. Bottle in sterilized jars while hot and seal.
Makes a couple of jars. Note when I made it yesterday I had 6 jam jars worth so it depends on the size of jars that you are planning on using.

bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Monday, 21 November 2016

The hunt is on...

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend. Yesterday was lovely and sunny and a perfect day to be hunting for tresors.  The Dordogne was looking particularly splendid yesterday, basking in the lovely sunshine.

As you know Autumn is one of my favorite seasons and you will understand why after looking at these photos.

A lovely day for a walk along the river or in our case, a browse in one of our favourite antique warehouses...
The shop is overflowing with treasures and you never know what you may find...
Looking at all of these fabulous garden objects makes me wish we had a garden. 

Inside the warehouse is literally overflowing with treasures and I love the fact that you never know what you are going to stumble across as you move between the aisles of furniture. 

Arranging objects is an art form and one that the French Antique dealers do well and have been doing for a very long time.
I love this sign and forgot to ask how much it was but I will ask when we return at the end of the week.

So many tresors and unfortunately we did not have a lot of time to spend here but our next visit will be a more leisurely one as we will have more time and space in the car...

Excellent lundi et merveilleuse semaine à vous tous Leeann x

Saturday, 19 November 2016

French food Friday...Linzele

 recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Sorry for the lateness of this post but I hope the delay is worth it. I am not sure about you but I have started to prepare for Christmas. This recipe was recommened by a friend who lives in Alsace as these biscuits are a speciality in this part of France.

Linzele ou boules de Linze

For 25 biscuits

- 250g of flour 
- 75 g of sugar 
- 125 g ground almonds
- 125 g of butter 
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 tsp baking powder 
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of  cocoa powder 
- 75g of raspberry jam

MethodIn a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and ground almonds. 
Mix well and make a well.In the middle, pour the soft butter and the beaten egg mixture. Mix well until a ball is formed. 
Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.Preheat your oven to 180°C. 
Remove the dough from the fridge and form balls of about 20g. 
Place on a baking sheet lined with a sheet of baking paper.
Flatten balls with your finger forming a hollow. Garnish with a little raspberry jam.
Bake and cook for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.You can store them in a metal box.

très bon week-end à tous, Leeann x

Thursday, 17 November 2016

attention to detail...

Bonjour mes belles,

French Boyfriend is busy sourcing stock for the shop and I love it when he gets new items in. 

New in is an antique set of drawers, each drawer is lined with this fabulous toile de jouy fabric. 

Love the attention to detail and the  way that the edges have been finished off with ribbon and studs. I normally line mine with wallpaper but I may have to try this as it really looks fabulous...

à demain, Leeann x

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Chateau de at first sight!

Bonjour mes belles,

Whilst in Normandy we got to visit a chateau that I have been wanting to visit for a very long time. Chateau de Vendeuvre is has been on my "wish list" ever since I stumbled across their fabulous website.

Fortunately for us it was the school holidays, which meant that the chateau was open daily as opposed to just on Sundays afternoons in October.

You are not allowed to take photos of the interior but you will find a lot of photos of the interior on their website.

The attention to detail is amazing in each room and the collection of minatures is one of the biggest in Europe. We also loved the display of pet beds, which were amazing and very luxurious.

photo from here

Here are some photos that I took out of the exterior and the fabulous gardens....

I particularly loved the unfusiness of the gardens and how they draw your eye to the chateau.

The chateau has a lake complete with swans,the gardens have a special tranquility about them and there is even a magical grotto.

A magical and special place and if you visit Normandy, this is a must do. Note the chateau is closed to visitors for the winter months.

très bon week-end à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 11 November 2016

French Food Friday...Fleur de Sel Caramels

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Apologies for the lack of posts this week but it has been a crazy week and everything appears to be happening at once.

It must be something to do with the super moon, we are looking forward to seeing this next week.

I have also started to think about Christmas and what I am coming to make for the festive period.

I love caramels but have to be careful as I have already lost a temporary crown whilst eating one.

Hence this recipe comes with a health warning...

Fleur de Sel Caramels

Sweet, simple and oh-so-delicious homemade treats! You will love this Fleur de Sel Caramels recipe!


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • parchment paper or wax paper, for wrapping


Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan (or loaf pan) with parchment paper, then brush the paper lightly with oil (or lightly cover with cooking spray), allowing the paper to drape over 2 sides.
In a deep saucepan (6 inches diameter by 4 1/2 inches deep) combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the caramel is a warm golden brown color. Don't stir - just swirl the pan to mix. Watch carefully, as it will burn quickly at the end!
In the meantime, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon fleur de sel to a simmer in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, set aside and keep warm.
When the caramelized sugar is the right color, very slowly add the cream mixture to the caramel while stirring - it will boil up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Very carefully (it's hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate until firm.
For rolled caramels:
When the caramels are cool, use the parchment paper to pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Starting at 1 end, roll the caramel up tightly until you've rolled up half of the sheet. Cut the sheet across and then roll the second half tightly. You will have 2 (1 by 8-inch) logs. Sprinkle both logs lightly with fleur de sel, cut each log in 8 pieces. Cut parchment papers (or wax paper) in 6 by 4 1/2-inch squares and wrap each caramel in a paper, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
For square/cubed caramels:
When the caramels are cool, use the parchment paper to pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Then use a large knife to carefully cut the caramel into squares of your desired size.

bon fin de semaine à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 4 November 2016

French food Friday...Calvados Rice Pudding

recipe and photo from here

I am still in Normandy mode so I am planning of stealing some more of French Boyfriend's calvados to make this very yummy desssert.

I first made a similar dessert a few years ago, and this now takes on a whole new meaning having stayed in the area where calvados comes from.

Calvados Rice Pudding

  • Serves 6 people


600 ml milk 
600 ml pouring cream 
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped  
240 gm caster sugar 
6 egg yolks  
240 gm short-grain rice, such as carnaroli   
 Calvados apples 
200 gm caster sugar  
6 Granny Smith apples, cut into wedges 
 80 ml Calvados (see note)


  • Heat milk, cream, vanilla beans and seeds, and half the sugar in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add rice, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and stir occasionally until thick and rice is tender (15-20 minutes). Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale. Remove rice mixture from heat and whisk in egg mixture, return to heat and stir continuously to lightly cook eggs (5 minutes). Remove from heat, set aside and keep warm.
  • For Calvados apples, heat a large frying pan over low-medium heat, scatter sugar over base and cook until caramelised (6-7 minutes), stirring only the caramelised edges. Add apples, deglaze with Calvados and cook, turning to coat, until apples are tender and caramel is dark (6-7 minutes). Serve immediately with rice pudding.
Note Calvados, a brandy made with apples, is available from select liquor stores.If you cannot get this, ordinary brandy will do.

bon fin de semaine à tous, Leeann x

Thursday, 3 November 2016

French caramel anyone...

I can honestly say that should you visit Normandy, you will not be short of gift ideas as there is something for everyone and most of the products are made locally so you are really taking home something that was made with love and is local.

Not only do the products taste good  they all look amazing thanks to the time and effort that the French put into their displays....the devil is in the detail as we all know.

                                              à plus tard, Leeann x

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

In love with Honfleur...a few photos!

Bonjour from a foggy Eymet,

Finally here are some photos from our recent trip to Normandy. It is a 7 1/2 hour trip from where we live as opposed to only a couple of hours if you live in Paris.

It was the first time that I had visited Honfleur and I loved every minute that we were there and fortunately for us, the gite that we rented was only a 10 minute drive from Honfleur so we were able to visit on a regular basis.

We purchased lots of seafood from the local poissonnerie...

Ate a few gateaux....
Drunk and cooked with quite a lot of calvados, it seemed rude not to....

Became addicted to this local delicacies, very yummy when heated for a few minutes in the oven! 

Loved the variety of shops and galleries on offer and just the ambiance in general...
Cidre was everywhere we looked and now wish that I had bought a couple of cases but there is always next time, this gives us an excuse to return.  

We also ate a lot of cheese and I have never seen so much cheese in my life, unfortunately I forgot to photograph the cheese....

A great place to visit and a must for any of you planning a trip to France.

à demain, Leeann x

Gluten free

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