Friday, 31 January 2014

French Food Friday....Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

This week's recipe is one that contains red wine and chocolate and the end result is a fabulous cake that I think Marie Antoinette would have been proud of....note I have had to prise the bottle out of French Boyfriend's hand as I by mistake used a bottle of his best red, the first time that I tried out this recipe, enough said on this matter.

Red Wine and Chocolate Cake


  • 18 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 2 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups red wine
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 24 ounces cream cheese (three 8-ounce boxes), at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

To make cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Line the bottom of three 9 round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease parchment and sides of pan. Place butter in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Add brown and granulated sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolk and beat until incorporated, then add red wine and vanilla. (Don't worry if the batter looks a little uneven and grainy.)

In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Sift dry mixture over wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold in remaining dry mixture with a rubber spatula.

Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean. The top of each cake should be shiny and smooth. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on a rack. (If cakes have domed a bit and you want even layers, trim tops using a long serrated knife held horizontally.)

To make frosting: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in vanilla, then gradually stir in confectioners' sugar.

To frost cake, place one layer on a cake stand or plate and spread with
1 cup frosting. Repeat with next 2 layers and spread top and sides with remaining frosting.

.....bon appetit à tous, Leeann

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

one day...

photo from here

I hope to have a dressing area just like this...dreams are free and I am, after all is said and done, a dreamer.

Leeann x

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

a favourite of mine...

photo from here

Blue is a colour that I love, whether it be blue eyes, blue denim jeans, blue sky, blue sea.....I could go on and on as the list is endless. Such a magical colour which conjures up so many beautiful images and I was particularly attracted to this photo with its fabulous French style chair and shabby yet chic blue painted commode.  

Is it a favourite of yours? Dites moi....

Leeann x

Saturday, 25 January 2014

curled up with a good book..

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you are all having a nice weekend. Today it is chilly and rainy, perfect for curling up with a good book. 

The book is called Secrets d'interieurs and is really is a beautiful and most inspiring book and is a "must buy" for those of you that love French decoration and the way that the French display their prized objects....

As you can see from the above photo, it has many stunning photos and is one of those books that you cannot put down. And on that note, it is back to reading I must go....

très bon week-end à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 24 January 2014

French Boyfriend's Favourite...Boeuf à la Guinness

photo and recipe from Home food, Murdoch books

Bonjour mes belles,

This week's recipe is not French but a favourite of French Boyfriends and since our local butcher asked me for the recipe, I have a feeling that the French will soon be adopting this as their own...Boeuf à la Guinness has a nice sound to it. Note the translation into French for our local butcher took me longer than it does to make it.

This recipe is easy but a little  time-consuming but  I guarentee that its very delicious.

    (serves 4)

    2tbsp oil
    1 kg chuck steak, cubed
    2 onions, chopped
    1 garlic clove, crushed
    2 tsp brown sugar
    2 tsp plain flour
    125 ml Guiness (1/2 cup)
    375 ml beef stock (1and 1/2 cups)
    1 bay leaf 2 sprigs thyme
    1 celeriac
    1 potato, cubed
    250 ml milk
    1 tbsp butter
    4 slices baguette, toasted
    1 tsp dijon mustard

    put the oven on to 180*C

    1- heat half of the oil in a frying pan and fry the meat until its browned all over. put the meat in a casserole dish.

    2- add the onion to the frying pan and fry it gently over a low heat. when the onion starts to brown, add the garlic and brown sugar. later stir in the flour and transfer to the casserole dish.

    3- put the Guiness and stock in the same frying pan, bring it to the boil, then pour on to the dish.

    4- add the bay leaf and thyme to the dish and season well. Bring to the boil, put a lid on and put the casserole dish in the oven for 2 hours.

    5- The Puree: peel and chop the celeriac and potato. Put the potato and celeriac in a saucepan with the milk, bring to the boil. Cook for 15'. Then mash them with the milk. add butter. season well.

    spread the bread with the mustard and serve with the beef laddled over and celeriac puree on the side. 

...bon appetit à tous, Leeann

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

busy painting...

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you are having a fabulous week. Ours is being spent on getting our new shop ready and of course it involves painting, in one form or another. 

Guy has been busy painting the front door and also the background of the sign, for the facade of the shop and I have been busy painting furniture. I much prefer painting furniture but lets keep that entre nous.

We will be open tomorrow, the address is: 

No.1 Antiquites et Decoration
 1 Quai de la Navigation,
24500 Eymet 

à demain, Leeann

Monday, 20 January 2014

I adore tulips...

Tulips make me happy, I do not know what it is about them but they have a magical allure and it is for that reason that I adore them. Love the colour of these ones that French Boyfriend bought me at the weekend, they work really well with the grey coloured walls of our new dining room.

This post is later than usual as it has been one of those whirl wind days with everything happening at the same time hence I am about to open a nice bottle of red of the joys of living in a region reknown for its wine, there is always plenty to choose from.

très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

Friday, 17 January 2014

French Food Friday...Caramel Rice Pudding Recipe

recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I love rice and caramel is also a favourite of mine, so this recipe has my name on it...

Caramel Rice Pudding Recipe

Level of Difficulty:
Prep Time:
30 minutes

Servings: 20
Rice pudding
1 cup short-grain pudding rice
1 vanilla pod
3 3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups caster (superfine) sugar
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
Caramel sauce
3/4 cup light soft brown sugar
scant 1 cup double (heavy) cream

    Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the rice and cook it for 2 minutes. Strain and set aside.
    Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Place the pod and seeds in a large saucepan with the milk, sugar and salt and heat to a gentle simmer. Pour in the rice and stir well. Cover and simmer for 30–40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat when all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
    Remove the vanilla pod. Add the egg yolks, return to the hob and heat gently for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool.
    To make the caramel sauce, heat the sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently to ensure the sugar doesn’t burn. When the sugar has melted remove the pan from the heat, leave to cool for about a minute, then slowly pour in the cream and stir until you have a smooth sauce.
    Pour the rice pudding into individual small serving dishes. Serve the caramel sauce on the side for guests to add their own.
              ...bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

progress on our new boutique; No. 1...

Bonjour from a grey SW France,

It is perfect weather for painting and I have quite a lot of it to do. We have been busy getting our new shop ready and I thought that I would share a few photos with you. It is slowly coming together and I am loving the lightness of the shop even on a grey day.....

In the background of this photo you can just make out a few of the items going being transformed with one of my favourtite colours, a lovely blueish of finished products to follow later in the week.

Louis XIII canape with wall sconces and a fabulous parclose mirror, I love them as do a lot of our clients hence they always sell quickly.

The shop is a large industrial style space which Guy is filling full of antiques and I have taken an alcove which I am making cosy and it is now the new home for Fabulously French

As you can see from this photo, the light is amazing even on an overcast  day.....

à demain, Leeann x

Monday, 13 January 2014

new dining room...

Bonjour mes belles,

Hope that you all had a nice weekend and that those of you in the US affected by the very cold spell, are staying cosy and safe.

Yesterday was spent moving stock out of my wee boutique into our new shop and the end result is that we now have a dining room. last night we christened our new dining space by inviting friends over for dinner and to say that it all came together at the last minute was an understatement. I was up a ladder painting in the new shop at 6pm and 10 minutes later was piling cartons of stock out of the "would be" dining room into the car.

Fast forward 50 minutes later to a much different scene, table laid, music playing and nice cold bottle of champagne awaiting our arrival.

I am still looking for some a dresser and a small desk but plan to take my time looking for these items until I find exactly what I am looking for.

So in a nutshell that is how I spent my Sunday, how did you spend yours? Dites moi....

amicalement, Leeann x

Saturday, 11 January 2014

bon week-end à tous...

Where ever you are, what ever you are doing, 
très bon week-end à tous....

amicalement, Leeann x

Friday, 10 January 2014

French Food Friday...Spinach, Ricotta and Parmesan Tart

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you have all had a fabulous week. Here in SW France it has been warm but the weather is set to return to normal next week. This week there was an abundance of spinach on the market stands so I was very happy when I found this recipe on my favourite food blog.

Spinach, Ricotta and Parmesan Tart
1 1/2 cups flour
100g butter, chilled, chopped  1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp chilled water

1050g frozen spinach, defrosted, drained in a colander and squeezed dry (I substituted Fresh and it worked well)
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
250g fresh ricotta
2/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup cream
good grinding black pepper and sprinkle of sea salt
good grating fresh nutmeg

For the pastry, pulse the flour, butter and parmesan in a food processor until the mix resembles fine bread crumbs. Add egg yolk and water and pulse to combine. Tip out onto the bench and press together into a dough round. Wrap in glad wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F). When the pastry has rested, roll it out into a circle wide enough to line a 26cm deep, removable base tart tin. Line the base and sides with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Cook for 15 minutes, remove baking paper and weights, and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.

So easy - whizz everything in the blender! Next step, reduce the oven temp to 160˚C (325˚F) and pour thick spinach filling into base. Cook for 45 minutes so that the tart is just set. Spinach tart can be eaten hot or at room temperature, but I would advise resting it for at least 10 minutes before removing from the tin and cutting. Beautiful with just a little lovely bread and a glass of red wine on the side - an antioxidant feast! (If you are going for a healthier version, just leave the parmesan out of the base if you must, and add an extra 1/2 cup of ricotta in place of the cream in the filling).

...bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

Thursday, 9 January 2014

love this room...

photos from here

How gorgeous is this room? It is part of a small hotel located in Sicily, each room is stunning.

We watched a programme about the history of the Roman empire last night which must have had an effect on me. Love Rome and Sicily and this maybe just the push that I need to return......

If you want to see more photos of this lovely hotel, click here.

As for me, it is back to packing boxes I must go, it appears to be a never ending task.

à demain, Leeann x

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

fabulous and very inspiring...

photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I am sure that some of you have heard about Patricia Atkinson, an English lady who bought a vineyard in teh region and despite the odds, managed to produce some of the best wine in France.

You can learn a little about her story by watching this fabulous short film.

Just an inspiring story that we can all learn a lot from, no matter where we live in the world.

très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann

Monday, 6 January 2014

an interesting find...

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend. Ours was spent shifting stock into the new boutique and I have a feeling that is a lot more of this to come. We have two garages full of stock and this combined with a lot of boxes that arrived from a chateau in Normandy, is resulting in space issues and we thought that we would have trouble filling what we initially thought, was a large space. 

One of the first items that I unwrapped was the fabulous antique benitier that you see in the photos above and below. 

It is the first that I have ever come across from Notre Dame de la Delivrande and it is not an subject that I am familiar with so I searched on the internet and this is what I found......

The Tradition:
It says that the first chapel of Our Lady of Deliverance was built by St. Regnobert in the 3rd century. The saint was the closest disciple and successor of St. Exupère, the first evangelizer and bishop of the area. It is said that while Regnobert and his parents were still Pagans, his mother and father would often go worship “idols” on Mt. "Phaunus", while their son preferred a little Christian chapel in the village. Latter place had been dedicated by St. 

Exupère by turning a Pagan holy site into one consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Later, when St. Regnobert himself was bishop, he followed in the footsteps of his spiritual father and turned another important Pagan holy site into a sanctuary of the Mother of God, installing in it the original Madonna of Délivrande. – Again, they don’t sound like idol smashers, but like idol baptizers.
St. Regnobert’s 3rd century oratory was burnt and destroyed by Norman invaders in 830. But as it turned out later, the statue of the Madonna, though darkened by the smoke of the fire, had survived the attack and lay buried under the rubble for three centuries.

One day around 1150, a shepherd noticed that one of his rams kept withdrawing from the herd. He would go to a certain place and strike the earth with his feet and horns, digging until he’d tire and go to sleep on the spot. He wouldn’t eat during this time and yet remained the fattest of the sheep. Eventually the owner of the meadow recognized the strange behavior of the ram as a sign from Heaven and ordered the hole the animal had started to be excavated further. That’s how the statue of the Black Madonna was found. She was carried in a joyful and solemn procession to the parish church and installed there. But soon she miraculously appeared back at the place of her discovery. So a church was built for her on top of the ruins of the original Pagan holy site, where she insisted on dwelling.Only a couple of Romanesque arches remain of this church. It was replaced by the present basilica in the 19th century. There Our Lady of Deliverance rests on a pillar on which are carved angels pulling souls out of purgatory. 

For more on the significance of the pillar
On the wall behind the Black Madonna is a case containing a set of hand cuffs. This commemorates a well attested 16th-century miracle concerning a merchant who found himself at sea as the prisoner on a Turkish ship. He prayed to Our Lady for Deliverance, promising he would make a pilgrimage to her shrine if she heard his prayer. Suddenly his irons came free from the wall of the ship and he was able to flee. 

As promised, he went straight to the feet of Notre Dame de la Délivrande, with a seemingly irremovable iron ring still around his neck. As he prayed, the neck-piece fell to the ground with a clatter.
The Black Madonna of Deliverance’s feast day is celebrated on the Saturday following August 15th. The shrine and its pilgrims are taken care of by a special order of priests, the Missionaries of the Délivrande. They did a good job spreading her fame. In the late 19th century a bishop from Brittany, a neighboring region, brought a copy of the Black Madonna of Normandy to Senegal and founded a sanctuary in her honor, where she continues to be loved and revered by her African children. 

There are not a lot of religious souvenirs from Delivrande remaining so this is a rare and interesting piece and the history makes it that little bit more special....

Back to the boxes I must go, très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x

p.s. I am happy to report that the fabulously french domain name is back up and running!

Friday, 3 January 2014

French food friday...Vanilla-caramel éclairs with chocolate glaze

photo and recipe from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I hope that you are having a fabulous start in 2014. Mine has started with putting lots of items into boxes along with a domain name that is not working....enough said but if anyone wishes to purchase anything from fabulously french, please use the link on the right hand side of my blog.

We are kicking 2014 with one of Guy's favourites, he adores eclairs and the more imperfect looking, the better they taste according to him.

Vanilla-caramel éclairs with chocolate glaze


  • 165 gm (¾ cup) caster sugar
  • 140 gm dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 70 ml pouring cream
Vanilla-caramel crème pâtissière
  • 220 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 450 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 45 gm cornflour
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) thickened cream, whisked to soft peaks
 Choux pastry
  • 75 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 110 gm plain flour
  • 3 eggs


  1. For vanilla-caramel crème pâtissière, stir 150gm sugar and 80ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook, without stirring, until dark caramel (3-4 minutes). Remove from heat, add milk (be careful as hot caramel will spit), then vanilla bean and seeds, return to heat and whisk to combine. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl until pale (2-3 minutes), add cornflour and whisk to combine. Strain milk mixture over egg mixture, whisking continuously, then return to pan and whisk continuously over medium heat until thick and smooth (2-3 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cover closely with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill. Whisk until smooth, fold in whipped cream and refrigerate until required.
  2. For choux pastry, preheat oven to 220C. Bring butter and 185ml water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, ensuring all butter melts. Add flour, beat continuously until mixture is thick and smooth and pulls away from sides of pan (1 minute), remove from heat and stand to cool (10 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 12mm plain nozzle and pipe into 10cm lengths on an oven tray lined with baking paper, leaving space between each for pastry to puff. Bake for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 180C, prick bases with a skewer and bake until golden and dry (15-20 minutes). Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, combine sugar and 60ml water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves, then cook, without stirring, until light caramel (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat, add cream and 60ml water (be careful as hot caramel will spit), add chocolate, return to heat, stir until smooth and combined, set aside and keep warm.
  4. Halve éclairs horizontally with a bread knife, carefully dip tops in chocolate glaze and place on a tray to set. Transfer vanilla-caramel crème pâtissière to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle, pipe over éclair bases, sandwich with tops and serve.
 .....bon appetit à tous, Leeann x

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