Friday, 31 March 2017

French Food Friday - Gordon Ramsay's Lemon & Poppyseed Madeleines

This week's recipe comes from one of my favourite non-French chefs: the fabulous and often controversial Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay's Lemon & Poppyseed Madeleines
3 medium eggs 80g caster sugar 1 tbsp honey 80g plain flour – plus extra for dusting 40g ground almonds 75g unsalted butter , melted, plus extra for the tin
1 tbsp poppy seeds
Rind of one lemon  zested 

  • Use either an electric beater or a whisk to beat the eggs, sugar, and honey  together in a bowl until the mixture is pale and thick enough to leave a ribbon trail.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into another bowl. Gradually fold into the whisked eggs until evenly incorporated.
  • Stir in the poppy seeds and the lemon zest.
  •  Slowly slip the cooled butter down the side of the bowl and fold in very gently and carefully. Cover and set aside.
  • To bake the Madeleines, heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Generously butter, then flour, the Madeleines or bun tins. Spoon the batter into the tins and bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of the tins.
  • When the Madeleines are golden and baked all the way through, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 2 minutes. Tip out of the tin and bake another batch, if you need to. 
 You can see Gordon in action here, making the madeleines.

bon fin de semaine à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

changing the clocks

On Sunday the clocks went forward which meant that we lost an hours sleep.

End result when we arrived at the first vide-grenier of the day, there was not a lot of action as most of the would be sellers were just getting out of bed.

Despite this fact, we found a few tresors, some of which have already been added to the shop.

This Louis XVI style frame caught my eye and the fact that it contained a photo of an adorable baby is a plus.

It is now Tuesday morning and all of the clocks have been changed in the house.  They will stay untouched until October when we change them this really neccessary I ask myself?

très bon semaine à tous, Leeann

Friday, 24 March 2017

French Food Friday....4 hour baguette

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour from a showery SW France,

This week the weather has been mixed; sunshine one day and showers the next...Spring has well and truly arrived.

Last weekend I discovered this recipe and I decided to give it a try. I was impressed with the results and yesterday gave it a 2nd attempt. I did not have any plain bread flour so I used multi cereal and I am happy with the result.

I think that the secret is in the flour so make sure that you use the best bread flour that you can find.

After my first attempt, I found a French blog that mentioned a way to speed the rising process up. She heats the oven to around 30 degrees and leaves the baguettes to rise for around 30 minutes.

I must admit that I have used this method myself when making hot across buns as it is often hard to find a warm place if the sun is not shining.

Makes 3 baguettes
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115° F
  • 1 teaspoon (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups (14 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (3/8 ounces) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (note: if using a fine-grained salt like table salt, fine sea salt or other brands of kosher salt, you will need to use a smaller volume)
  • Canola oil, for greasing bowl
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  1. Whisk together water and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove bowl with dough from oven, and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.
  4. Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
  5. Uncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame, or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving. 
 bon vendredi à tous, Leeann

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Who needs a watch?

When I lived in Istanbul I loved the cry of the mosques. They sound so exotic and for me, they were a reminder that I was  living in a fabulous foreign country.

Here in France we have the church bells which I sometimes take for granted. Normally I am up before the first chimes of the day but this morning I had a lie in. As I laid in bed I though to myself, I wonger what time it is? A couple of minutes later, the church bells started, two,  three, four, five; six, seven, eight and there they stopped.

Then they start ringing loudly and continuously for a few minutes as to to say it's time to get going!

The bells are the voice of the community.  They talk to us.

The bells talk about death, birth, weddings, baptisms, Easter, Christmas, funerals and special alerts.   They call us to wake, to pray, to work, to arms, to feast and, in times of crisis, to come together. Above all, bells are the sound of freedom and peace as in World War II they hung silently until the day they could ring in the peace.

French Catholic tradition says that on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter), all church bells in France sprout wings and fly down to the Vatican for a visit and to be blessed by the Pope.
So no church bells ring between Friday and Easter Sunday morning, to commemorate the death of Jesus (and because they’re all in Rome, obviously).
After their getaway to Italy, the bells return to France laden with goodies for well-behaved children — namely chocolate eggs. And then during the church services of Easter Sunday, the bells go crazy once again in celebration of Jesus' resurrection. 

On that note I had better go, as soon as the bells chime once French Boyfriend will be here for lunch. Note every half hour they chime once so it is an easy mistake to think that it is 13h when it is infact 13h30.

à très bientot, Leeann x

Friday, 17 March 2017

Friday flowers

This week has been a week filled with lots of lovely sunshine.

We even had a pique-nique lunch mid week which was just fabulous. 

Spotted these lovely daffodils in the park where we were having our pique-nique and I just had to take a photo.

Vive la pique-nique! The French love them and I must admit that  I feel the same way.

bonne fin de semaine à tous, Leeann

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

it's that time of the year

It's that time of the year when the magnificent magnolia bursts into bloom. A truly magical sight and reminds me of the magnolia tree that my nana had in her garden.

Spring is here and we are loving every minute....

à demain, Leeann x

Friday, 10 March 2017

French Food Friday Chocolate Madeleines

recipe and photo from here
Continuing with the chocolate theme, I think that some chcolate madeleines are on the cards this weekend.  This is one of the best recipes that I have come across but  you need to chill this recipe overnight but they are well worth the wait as the result is a plump and moist petit cake.

Chocolate Madeleines


  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (70 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3½ tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • ⅓ cup plus two tablespoons (90 grams) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Grated zest of ¼ lemon (optional)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6½ tablespoons (3¼ ounces; 100 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature


  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and set aside. If using the lemon zest, combine the sugar, salt and lemon zest in another bowl and rub the ingredients together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist, grainy and aromatic.
  2. Using a whisk, beat the eggs with the lemon-sugar mixture until blended. Squish the butter through your fingers and add to the bowl. You will be left with little clumps of butter in the mixture--this is okay. Beat in the butter with the whisk until it is evenly distributed. Whisk in the sifted flour mixture just until the flour is incorporated and mixture is smooth. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and chill overnight. If you can't wait overnight, chill the batter for at least an hour before baking.
  3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a 12-mold madeleine pan then dust it with flour (even if you are using a nonstick pan) and tap out the excess.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the madeleine molds--you don't have to worry about spreading the batter on the molds, the heat will do that for you. Place the pan in the oven and use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar. Immediately turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake the cookies for 13 - 15 minutes, or until the cookies are domed and spring back when pressed lightly. Unmold the cookies and transfer them to a rack to cool to room temperature.

bon appetit à tous, Leeann 

p.s. For those of you looking for a madeleine tin, I have a couple available on my shop, you can find them here.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Friand update

Since Friday I have made two batches of the jaffa friands which have been a hit with guests and French Boyfriend tells me they are his favourite. 

I have been trying to explain to him what jaffa sweets are but he does not really get it hence I may have to try and order some from Australia...

très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 3 March 2017

French food Friday - Jaffa friands

recipe and photo from here

This week  everything that I have made has chocolate in it. Continuing with this theme, I am going to make some friands as I have a lot of eggs on hand. 

I love friands as they they have a fabulous texture which is due to the ground almonds and egg whites. It is an Australian recipe and I have Australia on my mind today as I have a bouquet of mimosa in my hall which smells heavenly.

Jaffa friands

  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
  • 6 egg whites, lightly whisked
  • 185g butter, melted, cooled
  • Icing sugar mixture, to serve


    • Step 1 Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Grease a 12-hole, 1/2 cup-capacity friand pan.
    • Step 2 Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add almond meal, flour and orange rind. Stir to combine. Make a well in centre. Add egg whites and butter. Stir to combine.
    • Step 3 Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre of 1 friand comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar. Serve.
    bon fin de semaine à tous, Leeann x

Thursday, 2 March 2017

fabulously chic

Bonjour from a sunny SW France,

We have sunshine and 20 degrees forecast for tomorrow followed by a weekend of rain so I plan to make the most of the sunshine tomorrow.

I have just added a set of fabulous monogrammed napkins to the shop and thought it was worth letting you know as I have sold all of the monogrammed napkins that I had listed on the shop.

There is 6 of them and they are in excellent condition as they have spent most of their life sitting in an armoire in a local chateau. 

 They really are stunning and make a table look that extra bit special.

In the photo below you can see just how beautiful the linen is and  the detail around the border is amazing yet not too fussy, simpe but chic.

You can read more about them here.

I am off to prepare dinner....simple comes to mind.

à demain, Leeann x

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

a new month....

Wishing you all a happy March.  We are looking forward to the  arrival of Spring as it has been a long winter. 
I think spending a month in New Zealand last year spoiled us but the worst of the cold weather is now hopefully behind us and we can look forward to warm days with lots of lovely Spring flowers everywhere.

à très bientot, Leeann x

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