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

Friday, 27 February 2015

French Food Friday...Croustade aux Pruneaux et Pommes

recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

This week's recipe is perfect for me as I have the prunes and apples and my plan is to "borrow" some of French Boyfriend's Armagnac that I bought him for Christmas.

As you already know we live in an area that is famous for having the best prunes hence they are easy to find and ours come from a producer 5 kms from where we live and they are delicious. Much nicer to buy fresh when they have come out of the oven to buying in a packet in a supermarket. We are fortunate that the French continue to support local producers and we know where each item on our plate comes from.

Croustade aux Pruneaux et Pommes


1 cup/250 g/8 ounces prunes
1/3 cup/75 ml Armagnac
4 to 6 tablespoons butter
4 baking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
4 to 6 tablespoons sugar
Squeeze lemon
6 to 8 sheets phyllo pastry
Ice cream, for serving, optional


Soak the prunes in Armagnac overnight (or perhaps use preserved prunes in Armagnac from a gourmet shop, which have even more flavor because they'll have macerated longer). Drain, pit and roughly chop, reserving the liquid.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saute pan and add the apples until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle over 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sugar and continue cooking to caramelize, about 10 minutes more. Pour on about a tablespoon of the reserved Armagnac, flambe, and boil until the flames die out and the liquid has disappeared. Remove from the heat and taste. Depending on your apples, the mixture may need more acidity. If it does, add a squirt of lemon to taste. Stir through the chopped prunes.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Set the ring part of an 8-inch/20 cm springform pan on a baking sheet.

Prepare the pastry: Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan or microwave. Working with one phyllo sheet at a time, prepare as follows: lay one sheet of phyllo on a clean surface and cut into three strips crosswise (not lengthwise). Brush one of the three strips with melted butter, sprinkle with a little sugar and a few drops of Armagnac. Lay another strip on top and repeat. Lay the final strip on top and brush with butter. Your single sheet of phyllo is now a three-layer-thick strip. Lay it in the centre of the ring mould so that it runs from the middle out, and up and over the edge of the ring, like the spoke of a wheel. Continue with the remaining strips, laying them in around the ring slightly overlapping so that there are no openings.

Spoon the prune and apple filling into the bottom of the mould. Fold the pastry strips up in over top, twisting somewhat as you go so that the top is a rustic landscape of papery peaks and valleys totally covering the top of the tart. Brush quite generously with butter and scatter over a scant handful of sugar. (You may have some butter and sugar left over once you're done. If you do, use them for something else. The same goes for the Armagnac, of which you will have a lot left: use it in fruit salad or let a piece of pound cake drink it up...or serve it in tiny glasses with dessert.)

Remove the spring form ring, leaving the formed croustade on the baking sheet. Bake until the pastry is fully cooked and golden, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, slide onto rack and cool. Serve with ice cream on the side or all on its own.
très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Market purchase...

Bonjour from a showery SW France,
I purchased 3 hyacinths at our village market last Thursday and my lovely flower man advised that they would have pink flowers.
When I bought them it was not easy to tell as all each had was a green stump of buds.
Almost a week later and they are starting come into bloom and they smell gorgeous.
Just what I need to brighten up a rainy day in SW France...
à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 23 February 2015

fabulous and very French...

photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

When I saw this photo, the words fabulous and French came to mind....

très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 20 February 2015

French Food Friday...Easy Madeleines

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you have had a nice week. Mine has been busy and has involved playing nurse as French Boyfriend has come down with flu or as the French call it grippe and this is the worst strain in 2 years. I decided that he starting cheering up so I thought that some baking may help. Started by making cheese scones which he did not like one bit.

I thought that a batch of madeleines may go down well but was interrupted by a local French lady who wanted to make a reservation and was well impressed when I opened the door wearing an apron.

The French are laid back when it comes to cooking and appear to be experts in whipping up a cake whilst carrying out other tasks at the same time.

It gave me a bit of a shock as I thought that it was our expected guests arriving earlier than anticipated.  Back to the cooking I went whilst French Boyfriend watched cautiously...

Nothing like a French man watching over your shoulder, at a time when he is normally at work and I surprise him with the finished article when he arrives home.

Note this is the first time that I used this recipe and the only tips that I would add, are as follows...

Stir in the melted butter last of all and be careful not to overfill the moulds as they should only be 3/4 full.
I rested the mixture for only 20 minutes as I was in a hurry but if you have the time, rest the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours as this aids in creating the humps which they are known for.

Lastly I left them in the oven for 10 minutes but suspect that 8 minutes would have been sufficient.

They went down a treat with French Boyfriend and I am planning on making more later this morning.


Bake a batch of these buttery little French cakes to have with a cup of tea or coffee.

Equipment and preparation: You will need a 12-cup madeleine tray.

2 free-range eggs

100g/3½oz caster sugar

100g/3½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 lemon, juice and zest

¾ tsp baking powder

100g/3½oz butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing

Preparation method
1.Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Brush the madeleine tray with melted butter then shake in a little flour to coat, tapping out the excess.

2.Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a bowl until frothy. Lightly whisk in the remaining ingredients. Leave to stand for 20 minutes before carefully pouring into the prepared madeleine tray.

3.Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture has risen a little in the middle and is fully cooked through. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly. These are best eaten within an hour of cooking.

très bon vendredi à tous, leeann x

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

can you keep a secret...

I have bought one of these fabulous  montgolfière style chandeliers to hang in the lounge of the new project that we are working on.  It arrived today and is bigger and heavier than I thought that it would be.

To make matters worse it came in a very large box so I am not sure how to break the news to French Boyfriend that I have purchased yet another chandelier....hence this needs to be a secret entre nous!

I love a bit of bling don't you?

à demain mes belles, Leeann x

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

the first thing I saw..

photo from here

...when I logged onto pinterest this morning, was this this fabulous photo of some stunning peonies, my favourite flowers.
Too good not to share.....I am sure that you will agree.

très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x