Friday, 30 September 2011

French Food Friday...pain au chocolat

This week's recipe is for one of my favourites and I love them when they are still warm from the oven.......c'est délicieux!

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (one 17.3-ounce package/490 grams), thawed, each sheet cut into 12 squares
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 water (for glaze)
4 x 3.5-ounce/100gram bars bittersweet or milk chocolate, each cut into six 2x3/4-inch pieces

1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Brush top of each puff pastry square with egg glaze.

3.Place 1 chocolate piece on edge of 1 pastry square.

4. Roll up dough tightly, enclosing chocolate. Repeat with remaining pastry and chocolate.

5. Place pastry rolls on baking sheet, seam side down. (Can be made 1 day ahead.

6. Cover pastries with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate remaining egg glaze.)

7. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush tops of pastry rolls with remaining egg glaze. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until pastries are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon appetit.....

Thursday, 29 September 2011

what is it....

{photo from here}

that we love about old frames and toile de jouy? It is a love affair that continues and I guess will continue for many years to come.

If I have the choice between an antique and a new frame, the antique frame always wins and the same applies to pieces of old toile de jouy.

Hence I am taking a box of frames and pieces of very old toile de jouy fabric with me to the brocante taking place this Sunday.

Also coming along for the ride is an antique mannequin which I am secretly hoping no one buys as I have become attache to her, a few chandeliers, wall lights with lots of crystal, antique napkins and a few other goodies that I need to dig out of my easy task as the garage is full at present.

Did I mention that I found some new tresors yesterday.......fabulous old roll of toile de jouy wallpaper which I had to have but forgot to negotiate the price down, globe de marriage which I simply adore as I have been searching for one for a very long time plus some fabulous antique petite lamp shades and a set of old prints in black frames.

I promise to take camera and have charged the battery, I am now hoping that the weather cools down a bit as the forecast is for sun and 30 degrees.

I am off to start packing my tresors carefully into boxes....

A deamin mes belles, Leeann x

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fab French in Cosmo Australia

Merci beaucoup Cosmopolitan Australia for including a piece about Fabulously French and what French style means to me. Note this is a copy that the lovely Bree kindly sent to me but for anyone interested I can email you a pdf which is easier to read....

Leeann x

Monday, 26 September 2011

I need lots of this...

{photo from here}

Pourquoi you may ask? Well we are busy preparing for an antique show which is taking place at the weekend and I have a feeling lot's of energy is going to be required.

The morning started with call from French boyfriend, stating that no stand had been reserved for us and that he had sorted it all out and we now had a stand.

Thought that this was a little odd as I had an email confirming that WE had a stand. Note the WE part as you can probably guess the rest........darling boyfriend had asked if there was a stand in his name as opposed to checking both of our names.

A couple of hours later when we are in the car, heading off to organise the hire of large van for weekend, I remark that it was odd that there was not a stand in either of our names.

A rather large silent pause, after which he replies yes there was a stand under my name but he told them it was no longer required as Madame & Monsieur XXX would be having a stall.

Enough said but feel that it may be a long week...........Leeann x

p.s. photo comes from a local company who sell chocolate and also have a chocolate museum!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

NZ 37 FR 17...

{ Photo from here}

How does the saying go......a picture paints 1,000 words. Especially when the French rugby team have just lost to the New Zealand rugby team.

All I want to say is Bravo NZ and to my darling French aren't seen nothing yet.

Leeann x

Friday, 23 September 2011

French Food Friday...Chocolate Cheesecake

Another week has speed past tres vite and before I knew it, it was jeudi soir...

Here is a little something for the weekend!

Double Chocolate Cheesecake

Recipe taken from THE FRENCH KITCHEN by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde
(ISBN 0-385-60476-9) an absolutely fabulous cookbook, in my humble opinion.

It's a bit time consuming to make, but I can asure you, it is well worth the effort.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Chilling time: minimum 3 hours
Serves 6

200g chocolate chip cookies, crushed
half teasp. cinnamon
100g butter, melted
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa type stuff)
1 tblsp. Tia Maria liqueur (or Kahlua)
100g white chocolate
1 vanilla pod
225ml creme fraiche
75g unrefined demerarararara sugar
225ml double cream (!)

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the chocky chip cookie crumbs & cinnamon, and combine well. Tip into a 22cm push-up-bottom (not an instruction!) TIN. Spread the mixture evenly with the back of a spoon and 'tamp down' a little to compact it, then chill it in the fridge until set.

2. Melt the dark chocolate in one bowl, and stir in the Tia or Kahlua.

3. Grate the white chocolate into another bowl, and stir the seeds of the vanilla pod into it.

4. Beat together the creme fraiche and demerara sugar until blended, then add the double cream and mix until smooth.

5. Divide the mixture into 2 bowls: Add the melted dark chocolate and Olcohol to the mixed creams in one bowl, and add the grated white chocolate and vanilla seeds to the other. (Are you still following?!)

Spoon the two chocolate mixtures on to the chilled biscuit base, and lightly mix with a fork to obtain a marbled effect.

Chill for minimum of 3 hours before serving.

Slide a knife round the inside edge of the tin to release it a little, push up bottom from underneath et voila you have something very yummy!

Bon appetit a tous......Leeann

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

a cage with a difference...

La Cage - Maison...
This impressive carved wooden cage dates back to the 19th century and was found in the North of France.

It looks just like a real house, it has kept its original tones and is embellished with a balcony, a door and even a staircase. It was not uncommon at the time, the owners make a request of a cage in the image of their home.

What a fabulous idea, now I just need to find someone to make me one....

Leeann x

Monday, 19 September 2011

Wine inspired....

It is harvest time in SW France which is a great time to be in France. I was lucky enough to take this photo before the luscious looking grapes disappeared.

We have some antique linen in stock which has been dyed "lie du vin". It is a beautiful dark purple colour and looks lovely and warm - which makes for a perfect dinner setting. Love this antique napkins which have the monogramme "R E" on them.

They are extra large and would make a fabulous table cloth for a small table or the centre of a table should you wish to not use as nakins.
You will find them here.

Wishing you all a fabulous week/Je vous souhaite à tous une semaine fabuleuse....Leeann x

Friday, 16 September 2011

French Food Friday.....

This week we are taking a break from the skinny theme, and indulging in some healthy pears with some also very healthy chocolate....

About Poires Belle Hélène

This classic French recipe were invented Paris in the 19th century and were named after an opera by Offenbach. What a romantic introduction for this French dessert par excellence, a true classic, found in at least half of the restaurants of the Hexagone. It only takes a few minutes to assemble this dish if you use ready-made ingredients; it is actually not much longer to prepare half of them from scratch (the poached pears and the melted chocolate). You can even make crème Chantilly and toasted flaked almonds for a deluxe version on very special occasions.

About Poires William liqueur

A pear flavoured liqueur. Liqueur is a class of spirit that is usually sweet and often served after dinner. It is produced by either mixing or redistilling spirits with natural ingredients such as fruits, plants, flowers, or chocolate. Sugar must be at least 2.5% of the contents by weight.

Serves 8

8 ripe, firm pears
225 gm / 8 oz golden caster sugar
1 lemon, pared zest and juice
2 vanilla pods

For the sauce

315 gm / 11 oz dark chocolate with 70-75% cocoa solids, broken into small pieces
200 ml / 7 fl oz double cream
3 tablespoons Poire William liqueur

To serve

425 ml / 15 fl oz double cream, whipped, and sweetened to taste with vanilla sugar or good-quality vanilla ice cream
110 gm / 4 oz toasted flaked almonds (optional)

1. Pour 1.5 litre / 2½ pints water into a saucepan with a base diameter of 23-cm / 9-inch.

2. Stir in the sugar, lemon zest and juice, along with the vanilla pods.

3. Bring to simmering point and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.

4. Meanwhile, using a potato peeler, thinly pare off the outer skin of the pears but leave the stalks intact. Then slice off a thin little disc at the base of each pear so that they can sit upright. Carefully remove a little of the core from the base of each pear, using the pointed end of the peeler.

5. Put the pears into the hot syrup in the saucepan and cover with a piece of baking parchment, which needs to cover the liquid to make sure the pears are submerged.

6. Simmer the pears in the syrup for 20 minutes, then, using a small skewer, test them to see if they are tender. If not, cook for a further 5 minutes and test them again.

7. Leave the pears to cool in the syrup, or they can be stored in the syrup in an airtight, polythene container in the fridge for a couple of days.

8. To make the sauce, put the broken-up chocolate, cream and liqueur into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water, then, stir constantly as the chocolate melts until the sauce is smooth and glossy.

9. To serve, drain the pears and serve them with the hot chocolate sauce, and some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or, serve the pears with crème Chantilly – whipped cream, which has been sweetened with vanilla sugar – and scatter toasted flaked almonds over the top.

Bon appetit a tous.....Leeann x

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

a normal day in SW France...

My day has gone something like this......

1. Have a visit from an antique dealer friend who arrives with prospective present for antique dealer boyfriend's birthday - decide that it will be fine but need something else to go with it which brings me onto task 2

2. Accompany friend to another friend's antique shop where I see perfect present for boyfriend so buy it and between the two of us manage to carry it back to my garage where I try and hide the best that I can.

3. Decide I need a sweet fix so pop to shop and guess what is next door to the shop.....another antique shop. I think that you will guess the rest......instead of coming home with just a bag of bon bons I end up bringing an antique manequin with me.

4. Finish ironing a sheet which is supposed to be stock for the shop, instead whilst ironing I think....this would make a fabulous curtain for my bedroom. So I get big ladder out of the garage and up I climb to remove existing curtains. I then pin the sheet carefully where the pole will go.French boyfriend arrives so I ask him to give me a hand to remove gently but I tell him in English, he does not understand and then tells me that I should have told him in French! Manage to repin, fold carefully and take to my lovely sewing lady who advises that it will be ready Friday afternoon.

And to think that it is only 4:30 is funny how some days you get a lot of things done and other days nothing at all.

All I need to do now is keep boyfriend out of the garage until his Birthday on Monday....

A tres bientot, signed a très occupé Leeann x

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

love this song....toi et moi

There is something catchy about this song that I simply adore....

Lyrics :

Moi et toi/You and me

I would like to go
To the sea
Lying on the sand
Take a little air
And smell the spray
Stay again
Stay until
The body is salted

We would stay just you and me
Near here or over there
Without worthy and faithless rules
When you want, we will go
All the colours of the sky
A fill of bottles
Rhum, wine, honey
When you want, we will go

Hidden by the dunes
Between sky and sea
Steal a little peace
Choruses to the nave
Of course you’ll be there
Me snuggles against you
I would tell you this dream
When you want, we will go

We would stay just you and mer
Near here or over there
Without worthy and faithless rules
When you want, we will go
All the colours of the sky
A fill of bottles
Rhum, wine, honey
When you want, we will go

If we live hidden
If we live damned
And if time is counted
We frustrate our shames
Over there you can lie
Over there you can cheat
Over there we can dirty, over there
We can…be just you and me

[Chorus] (x2)
We would stay just you and me
Near here or over there
Without worthy and faithless rules
When you want, we will go
All the colours of the sky
A fill of bottles
Rhum, wine, honey
When you want, we will go

Leeann x

Monday, 12 September 2011

where does the time go?

{image courtesy of the very fabulous Rodney Smith}

I cannot believe that it is already Monday, the weekend whizzed past as has 1/2 of Monday.

So many things to do, I wish I could turn the hands of the clock back in order to gain a few hours or even a few days? What do you think - good idea or not?

Leeann x

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Who's a clever girl then...

Last night we attended the vernissage/opening night of a fabulous art exhibition, which included ceramic sculptures, made by my lovely and very clever neighbour; Hayley-Jay Daniels, which was being held in a fabulous Chateau in the nearby village of Duras.

Her fabulous sculptures, looked perfectly at home, against the medieval walls of thick stone and fabulous wooden windows and doors.

I think that the hands should be a permanent exhibition as they certainly made the old chimney come alive again....

An to think that all of these fabulous scultures are made in ceramic, the detail is incredible...

In this photo, you can see more of the room and even catch a glimpse of Jay alias "the lovely lady in red".

And here she very lovely and talented neighbour. Felicitations Jay, on a great opening night and I am sure that this is such the tip of the iceberg.

We cannot wait until you start offering classes and both of us would like to enrol but think that I maybe best suited to making pots....

Felications encore et beaucoup de bisous, Leeann et Guy

Saturday, 10 September 2011

bon week-end a tous...

{photo from here}

Bonjour from a very sunny SW France. Just a quick note to wish you all a tres bon week-end where ever you are in this very interconnected world of ours..

Leeann x

Friday, 9 September 2011

French Food Friday - Madelines

{photo from the Skinny French Kitchen}

Continuing on with the French Food Friday theme, this weel we have another fabulous and of course very French Recipe from Harry Eastwood's "Skinny French Kitchen'.



•1 tbsp Vegetable oil for brushing
•4 Medium free-range eggs
•0.5 tsp Salt
•100 g (3.5oz) Caster sugar
•100 g (3.5oz) Plain flour, sieved
•1 tsp Baking powder
•80 g (2.8oz) Ground almonds
•0.5 tsp Vanilla extract
•0.5 tsp Almond extract
•50 g (1.8oz) Butter, melted

1.Preheat the oven to 210°C/410°f/gas mark 6 and brush a little vegetable oil inside the madeleine moulds.

2.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and sugar until bubbly. Next, add the remaining ingredients and mix into the eggs with a balloon whisk.

3.Spoon the mixture into the madeleine moulds, filling them only three-quarters of the way up.

4.Put the madeleine tray flat in the freezer for ten minutes and refrigerate the remaining mixture for the next batch. It is important to chill the cake mixture at this stage, since it’s the contrast between cold and hot that gives you the characteristic little bump.

5.Once chilled, cook in the middle of the oven for ten minutes.

6.Remove the cooked madeleines from the oven, unmold and wash the mould before repeating the process of greasing and filling the moulds, freezing for 10 minutes and cooking.

7.Store in an airtight container for up to three days, or freeze in an airtight box.

Harry’s tip – If you want to try different flavours, omit the extracts and replace with grated orange or lemon zest. You could also substitute a couple of tablespoons of flour with cocoa powder to make chocolate madeleines.

Bon Appetit a tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

well dressed mannequin...

{image from here}

When I saw this photo I thought wow. It contained all the things that I adore...vase with flowers,wooden parquet style floor, fabulous bath and the object that I adore the most - the fabulous and oh so well dressed mannequin complete with fur and strings of pearls.

I bought one similar a few years ago and no matter what I dressed her in she never seemed complete. Hence I have a feeling that she will be getting a new wardrobe this Autumn. All I need to do now is find a fabulous fur and lots of pearls.....any ideas as to where I can find them?

Leeann x

Monday, 5 September 2011

old but new at the same time...

I hope that you had a new weekend. We had a fabulous weekend and manged to go to two markets and 4 vide greniers and also visited a couple of new Salon de thés - hence today I am feeling a little jaded.

At the first vide grenier, I inquired about a gorgeous soupiere which has a lovely blue and white toile de jouy pattern on it. I was pleasantly surprised when the vendeur advised that she was selling the whole set. I paid and advised that I would return to collect.....needless to say French Boyfriend was not too happy to hear that I has purchased 3 cartons of china -all of which were rather heavy.

Next purchase was 3 lovely vintage Vierge Marie Statues which easily fitted into my basket.

{two of the statues that I found yesterday}

We then headed for the next vide grenier, which was being held in a field. For some reason I prefer these to the ones held in the centre of the village - why I am not exactly sure.

At the first stall that I stopped at, I was mesmorised by many chapelets (rosaries) hanging on a stand. The vendeur advised that they were old but new as they were found in an old shop hence they have never been used. They really are stunning and all are different in terms of colour, size and crosses.

Other finds of the day included stands for putting your knife on, which I have realised that are necessary as if you do not have them on the table, the french place the used knife directly on the table cloth as the French do not change cutlery between courses hence putting the used knife on the tablecloth is normal practise.

A lovely jewellery box which will perfect for storing my lovely chapelets in......

Another tresor was a rather large and very heavy candelabra and from the same dealer this lovely applique which I adore.

I plan to update the online shop with the new stock, later today but have a few things to do in the interim.....unfortunately work comes before play!

Très bonne semaine a tous..... Leeann x

Friday, 2 September 2011

bon week-end a tous...

{photo taken by moi, Bordeaux 2011}

Wishing you all a "tres bon week-end"...Leeann x

French Food Friday...

Continuing with the French food Friday theme, here ia another recipe from The Skinny French Food cookbook, written by Harry Eastwood.

This one is a favourite of mine, as duck is a particular favourite of mine. Note I did not really eat a lot of duck before but as a result of living in an area of France reknown for its duck and having a French boyfriend who lives on duck, I have come to enjoy the taste of it.

Serves 6 (473 calories per serving)
6 duck legs, skin on and bone in, weighing 250g each
a little salt, for the skin
For the marinade
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves


Preheat the oven to 220C/200 fan/425F/gas 7 and put a full kettle on to boil.
While the kettle is heating up, bash up all the marinade ingredients in a mortar and pestle.
Place the duck legs skin side up on a wire rack over the sink and pour the boiling water over them. You will see the fat visibly tighten and shrink. Next, pat the skin dry and sprinkle a little salt over it. This will help to make it crispy.
Spread the marinade mixture on the flesh side (i.e. the underside) of each of the duck legs and sit them, skin side up, in an ovenproof baking dish.
Put in the top of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 120C/100C fan/250F/gas ½ and move the dish down to a rack in the bottom of the oven.
Cook the duck for 3 hours in total. Serve hot from the oven.

TIP If the skin is not crispy enough, I like to give the duck legs a 3-minute blast under the grill at the end. What’s magical about this recipe is the combination of crunchy skin and melt-in-your-mouth flesh.


Bon appetit et un tres bon week-end a tous, Leeann x

Friday flowers

Bonjour mes belles, Apologies for the lack of posts but I have a few projects on the go this week and everything appears to be all happ...