Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bienvenue Autumn...

Salut mes belles,

I am not sure about you but Autumn is my favourite time of the year and I adore Autumn in SW France.

It is as if the hands on the clock move at a slower pace,  giving us the time to admire nature at her best.

The days are still hot here but the mornings are cool and the evenings are drawing in so perfect for dinner by candle light.

We are looking forward to a fabulous Autumn and for those of you in the same part of the world, hope that it is fabulous one for you....

amicalement, Leeann  

Friday, 19 September 2014

French Food Friday....Summer Tomato Tart scented with basil

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Yesterday there was an abundance of tomatoes on the market and I used a few to make ratatouille and am planning on using some to make this fabulous tart from my favourite French chef; Raymond Blanc.

Ingredients For the tart bases
125g  All-butter puff pastry (*1)

For the filling
½  Medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp  Extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
½ tsp  thyme leaves
2 pinches  sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
30 cherry tomatoes, halved
6  Baby mozzarella balls, thinly sliced
8  Black olives, stoned and cut into thirds
8  Basil leaves, roughly torn
Cooking Method

Planning ahead

The puff pastry rounds can be shaped in advance, placed on a baking sheet, covered and frozen or refrigerated.

To prepare the tart bases

Cut the puff pastry into two equal portions and shape into balls. Roll each one out on a lightly floured surface to an 18–20cm round, 2mm thick. Place the pastry rounds on a lightly floured tray and freeze for 5 minutes. Transfer the pastry rounds to a peel or flat tray lined with greaseproof paper. Trim to neat 16cm discs, using a sharp knife and a plate as a guide. Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the pastry about 1cm in from the edge, making a shallow indent, to create a border. Place in the fridge and leave to rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the onion

In a small pan over a low heat, soften the onion in the extra virgin olive oil with the thyme leaves, salt and pepper for about 8 minutes; do not allow the onion to colour. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then set aside to cool.

To prepare for baking

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/Gas 8. Place a baking stone or baking tray on the middle shelf to heat up.

To assemble the tarts

Take the puff pastry rounds out of the fridge. Spread with the onion mixture, within the border, and top with the tomato halves, packing them tightly together and overlapping them slightly (*5). Brush the tomatoes and the edges of the puff pastry with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

To bake the tomato tarts

Carefully slide the tomato-topped puff pastry rounds onto the preheated baking stone or tray in the oven  and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the tarts from the oven and distribute the sliced mozzarella and olives over the tomatoes. Bake for a further 2 minutes to melt the mozzarella, then remove and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

To finish and serve

Garnish the tomato tarts with torn basil and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Spoon over a little of the pistou, if serving, and hand the rest around separately.

...bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

a morning well spent...

Salut from a very sunny SW France,

Here is the result of yesterday's upholstery class. The part that took me the longest to complete was removing all the tacks and it is not my most favourite of tasks.

After the lesson I finished another identical pad for a matching chair and started work on French Boyfriend's antique dog bed which to me looks like a tiny foot stool but happy that it is small as I am hoping that it will not take long to complete...

I am looking forward to spending the winter months tackling a range of upholstery projects and learning more about this fascinating skill.

We are very lucky to have such a fabulous and very patient teacher so I am making the best of this opportunity.

Meanwhile French Boyfriend is busy hunting through his stock of items that he wants recovered so think that I will be needing quite a few lessons.

à très bientot, Leeann x

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

just the way I like it...

photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

Just rushing out the door to my upholstery lesson but thought that I would share this  photo with you.

I am in the mood for cosy and this looks like the perfect place to be cosy....

à demain, Leeann x

Friday, 12 September 2014

French Food Friday...le gâteau magique

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

This weeks recipe is for le gâteau magique and the reason that it is called this is because it is a cake with three components, part cream, part flan and part génoise.

English version follows below....

Comment on fait ?Facile à préparer, la liste des ingrédients se résume à cinq composants de n’importe quel placard de base : beurre, sucre, farine, œufs et lait. Après avoir mélangé au batteur 4 jaunes d’œufs avec 150 g de sucre, on ajoute 125 g de beurre fondu, 115 g de farine, 1 c. à soupe d’eau, 50 cl de lait et les 4 blancs montés en neige en dernier. On obtient une pâte très liquide et très différente : une consistance de type pâte à flan, avec sur le dessus, une mousse à base des blancs en neige. Ensuite, il ne reste qu’à l’enfourner pendant 1h à 150 °C. Et abracadabra, la magie opère… à la sortie du four, trois couches distinctes apparaissent !

Let the magic begin...
Easy to prepare, the ingredients list consists of five components of any basic wardrobe: butter, sugar, flour, eggs and milk.


4 eggs 
150 g sugar
125g of melted butter,
115g flour,
1 soup spoon of water

  1. Make the batter by mixing 4 egg yolks 150 g sugar, then add 125g of melted butter, 115g flour, 1 soup spoon of water and the egg whites beaten stiff last of all.
  2. A very different and very liquid paste is obtained: a dough-like consistency to the bottom with the top, a foam based on egg whites.
  3. Place in a round cake tin.
  4. Bake for 1 hour at 150 ° C. And abracadabra, magic happens ... out of the oven, three distinct layers appear!

For a variation add cocoa powder or berries, anything that takes your fancy......

Wishing you all a magique vendredi, Leeann x

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

so french...


Bonjour mes belles,
I hope that you are having a good week. Any spare time I get this week is being spent on sourcing taps, sink etc. and it is taking far longer than I thought...I am now taking a break from this exciting! task and I will resume my search tomorrow.
Thought that I would share a couple more photos that I took last week on our "wee break" to the mid Pyrenees. 
There is something timeless about old French doors and windows and no matter where you go in France, you will find some charming examples just waiting to be photographed....

so many beautiful textures and so very inspiring....
à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 8 September 2014

my current obsession...

photo from here
.....is the bathroom in the new project that we are about to commence shortly.
We spent the whole of Saturday looking at a variety of floor tiles, shower trays etc. along with what seemed like half of France.
French Boyfriend and I joined the queue and waited paitiently for the next available assistant in the bathroom shop.
Finally our turn arrived and we were informed that our choice was not available due to the fact that the Italian factory that made the tiles had burnt down. Decided that it was not very polite to ask why they were still on display and asked if he had anything similar.
After looking at a few samples we decided on some imitation stone tiles and we placed the order and paid the deposit and advised that we would call Monday if we required additional.
Saturday night I happened to glance at the order and to my horror saw the word BEIGE.
Started to panic and had visions of a truck load of BEIGE tiles arriving outside my front door. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against BEIGE but it goes not feature in the colour scheme for our new project.
 As soon as the shop opened this morning we placed a call to the salesman who amended the order and I can now rest easy. I wish that was true but now have to place the order for the shower tray, bathroom lighting, heated towel rail etc. so suspect that this obsession maybe around for a while.
Back to the bathroom catalogues I go.....
très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x
 p.s. I have the bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge just in case the process starts to get overwhelming and I need something to calm me down!