Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Bon Poisson d'avril...

Bonjour mes belles,

Wishing you all a bon poisson d'avril. Poisson d’avril is French for April Fools Day.

A bit of background of what happens and how the tradition was started...

Poisson d’Avril is a very popular tradition in France that is celebrated today on April 1st, when all jokes, hoaxes and silly things are allowed and welcome!

Journalists read fake news (which they deny of course by the end of the program if not earlier).

Children clip a paper fish in the back of their parents who lovingly ignore it and roam all day with the fish hanging on their back…they are great April Fools!
Friends make funny jokes with each other; everyone is having a good-humoured day.
April Fools Day is believed to have originated in 1564 when King Charles IX decided to move the start of the year from April 1st to January 1st!
The traditional New Year “Boxing” Day, when gifts were exchanged, had therefore to be moved with it but habits are hard to disappear.
Habits die hard and it took ages for people to adjust and decades later many still kept presenting their family and friends with gifts on April 1st.
The tradition never really disappeared but evolved as eventually people started to exchange fake gifts – in general food – and made fun of it!
And if you wonder why children use a fish on April Fools Day… the answer is simple!
April 1st was encompassed in Lent, the 40-day period during which the consumption of meat was forbidden… but not fish … so people gave fish to their friends!
Eventually “real” fish was replaced with fish-shaped cakes then paper fish, and associated with jokes and hoaxes.

à demain, Leeann x

Friday, 27 March 2015

French Food Friday...Chicken liver & pineau pâté

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

We have had a couple of dinner parties this week and this is a recipe that always goes down well with our guests.
A rich, sweet pâté recipe using pineau - a sherry-like aperitif  that is made in nearby départements of Charente and the Charente-Maritime.
It is popular within the region of production, it is less well known in other regions of France and somewhat uncommon abroad.
It is a fortified wine  made from a blend of lightly fermented grape must and Cognac eau-de-vie. If you use sherry, you will end up with the same result.

Chicken liver & pineau pâté

Serves 6-8 as a starter
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins + chilling time


  • 500g chicken livers
  • 100g butter
  • 100g unsmoked lardons or chopped streaky bacon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
  • 5 tbsp pineau or sherry
  • herb sprigs to garnish, rosemary, thyme or bay
  • toasted brioche or raisin bread and cornichons, to serve

    1. Rinse the chicken livers and cut away any dark patches and small stringy threads. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat 25g of the butter in a frying pan until foaming, then add the lardons or bacon and fry until crisp. Add the garlic, chicken livers and thyme and fry briskly for about 5 mins, until they are evenly browned. They should be nicely browned on the outside, but pink inside and should feel squashy when pressed.
    2. Add the pineau, salt and pepper, then bubble for a few mins. Remove from the heat. Blitz the mixture in a food processor until smooth, then spoon into a jar or dish. Smooth the top.
    3. Melt the remaining butter, put a herb sprig or bay leaf on top of the pâté and pour over the butter, leaving the sediment behind. Leave to cool, then chill until set.4 Serve spooned from the dish with toasted brioche, a bowl of cornichons and a little sea salt.
    très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

    Monday, 23 March 2015

    a fabulous mix...

    photo from here
    Bonjour mes belles,
    I hope that you had a fabulous weekend. I just stumbled across this photo and felt that I had to share it with you. Love the mix of old and new and think that the two matching French chandeliers are the perfect finishing touch.
    très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

    Saturday, 21 March 2015

    bon week-end...

    Where ever you are, what ever you are doing,
    wishing you a très bon week-end à tous....
    Leeann x

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    French food Friday...Reynaud's Black and White Layer Cake

    Chocolate galore! Reynaud's black-and-white layer cake
    photo and recipe from here
    Bpnjour mes belles,

    I hope that you are having a fabulous week. I am in the mood for some chocolate and this week's recipe comes from one of my favourite chocolate recipe books written by Joanne Harris who is the author of the bestseller Chocolat.

      Reynaud's black-and-white layer cake

    Purists – like Mayor Reynaud in Chocolat (played by Alfred Molina in the film), who tries to force the free-spirited Vianne out of his village – believe white chocolate doesn’t count as chocolate at all. This means you can enjoy this layer cake with only half the guilt.

    Serves 8–12

    For the ganache
    500ml (18fl oz) double cream
    500g (1lb 2oz) white chocolate, broken into small pieces

    For the cake
    Butter, for greasing
    190g (7oz) self-raising flour
    40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
    200g (7oz) soft butter, cut into small cubes
    200g (7oz) golden syrup
    1tsp baking powder
    4 eggs, beaten
    125g (4½oz) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
    50ml (2fl oz) shot of strong espresso

    To make the ganache, heat the cream in a saucepan until just simmering. Remove from the heat and add the white chocolate. Stir until melted. Leave to cool and thicken. This will take at least an hour – you can put it in the fridge, but stir regularly. It needs a spreadable consistency, like heavy whipped cream.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Butter two 20cm (8in) non stick cake tins and line the bases with parchment.

    Beat the flour, cocoa, butter, golden syrup, baking powder and eggs quickly with an electric mixer until creamy.

    Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then pour it and the espresso shot into the cake mixture and blend until even.

    Divide between the tins and bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, until a knife inserted into the centres comes out clean.
    Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn the cakes out on to a cooling wire, peel away the parchment and leave until cold. Slice each cake in half horizontally, making four layers. Spread a spoonful of ganache in the middle of a serving plate. Stick one layer on top.

    Spread with a layer of ganache, top with another cake and repeat until all layers are used.

    Finally, top the cake and sides with ganache. Leave to set for at least 30 minutes in a cool place.

    très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x
    p.s. Enjoy the eclipse wherever you are in the world.

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    a fabulous combination...

    photo from here

    I am not sure about you but I love the idea of mixing old with new and this is what we are doing on our latest project.

    This photo is a fabulous example of how you can mix the two styles.

    By doing this instead of having everything the same; all old items or all new items you create the "wow" factor as it is not expected.

    Yesterday another of my chandelier purchases arrived, all I have to do now is decide where to put it.....bathroom, bedroom or lounge.

    As you know I am addicted to chandeliers but I am sure that there are much worse addictions to have...although French Boyfriend may think otherwise.

    The conversation normally goes along the lines of, "How much did you pay? Does it work?" and you can guess the rest.

    I need a light for the stairwell and unfortunately the ceiling is VERY high so I need something that hangs low so that I can change the light bulb/s.

    On that note I will leave you, à très bientôt, Leeann x

    Wednesday, 18 March 2015

    busy getting dirty...

    Bonjour mes belles,

    What have I have doing? One must ask and it is a question that I ask myself daily.

    Yesterday I spent 4 hours cleaning this stone wall. Each piece of stone was black and had to be individually cleaned. A very dirty job and I was pleased when I had finished.

    Whilst  I was doing it  I could hear my  father telling me that anything that boys can do, we girls can also do.  Merci to my darling Dad as it was this that got me through this task and the kiwi in me that refuses to give up when things get tough.

    Not a huge restoration project by any means, but it has had it's moments and I will be happy when it is finished and I am at the hanging chandelier stage....

    Tomorrow the wall is being pointed which means that it will look cleaner with the surface of the stones being left as highlights, if that makes any sense. I will post a photo when it is finished.

    We found this wall when we  gained access to the attic and it now has a new life as a feature wall, on the mezzanine floor.

    I like to think of it as a piece of living history...

    à demain, Leeann x