Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Memories from 2014

I have decided to put some pictures on of our year here at Grand Marel.
Its been a whole year since we moved to this wonderful house and the time has flown.
We haven't done half the things we wanted to do for instance the main veg plot ,but we did produce some great potatoes Runner beans, and Tomatoes.
2015 will be different and we are determined to grow more, we have had so much to sort this last year Ed with his gardening business and my Wedding hair and  Holistic business as well as finding our way through the French red tape,but we are getting there very slowly.

So here is a small montage of our first year @ Grand Marel
 Part of Grand Marel
 Lake at bottom of our garden
 Our view from Conservatory
 Some of our girls
Summer has arrived @ Beaumont's square
 Duras  summer night market
 View from bottom of garden of house
 Eymet square
One of my stunning brides

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Prawn Curry and Homemade Naan Breads

Home made Naan (flat bread)

I know its  only the day after Boxing Day but I fancied a change after two days of Free range Turkey which was delicious. So here is a quick prawn curry recipe

This recipe is really quick!
You will need 
1 large non stick pan
1 medium size pan of salted water for rice

Ingredients for curry

200 grams of cooked prawns
Finely sliced root ginger
1 ounce of ground coriander
1 ounce of cumin
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 whole birds eye chilli finely chopped
Chopped garlic
1 small onion finely chopped
A glug of oil
2 ounces of butter
A dash of tomato ketchup 
Some fresh coriander leaves to garnish

1) Melt the butter and oil in frying pan when it's starting to sizzle add the onion, garlic, chilli , ginger and ground coriander.
2) Then add the tinned tomatoes ground black pepper and a dash of tomato ketchup!
3) Let it simmer gently for 10 minutes then add the cooked prawns.

Boiled rice

1) In the saucepan add 1 cup of your preferred rice I use Jasmine, to 2 cups of  cold water .
2) Set pan on high heat and give a quick stir, as soon as rice is boiling turn off the heat place a tight lid on pan and let the rice absorb the water gently without going sticky.

To make Naan Breads

1 cup of flour
1 pkt dry yeast
2 tsp of salt
1 cup of hot water
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 free range egg
2 tbs of oil
1 tbs of sugar/honey
1/2 cup of flour for dusting

1) Combine cup of flour yeast salt into a mixing bowl stir in the water, yogurt, egg, oil and sugar/honey.
2) Beat until smooth,stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
3) Turn out onto a floured  surface and knead to form a stiff dough like bread.
4) Continue to knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Takes about 5 minutes.
5) Place dough back into an oil coated bowl, cover  and leave somewhere warm to rise to double its size.
6) Punch down the dough and cut into 8 balls, roll out each dough ball and place on a baking sheet and bake at 450 F Gas mark 3 for roughly 8 minutes.
Please note:
There is no second rising of the dough as this is a flat bread.

Friday, 27 December 2013


It's  the day after Boxing Day but I am already thinking about my veg plot which is turned over and covered in the well rotted straw bedding from our chickens.
I have some seeds and I have also taken seeds from flowers we grew last year, so it will be interesting to see if I manage to produce some lovely plants/flowers for nothing !

I have Broad Beans, Peas, Garlic that I will be planting very soon if the ground isn't too wet and heavy.
But if the frosts come I am just going to have to wait it out.
And in the mean time I will put another log on the fire pour myself a glass of Red and order the rest of my seeds for the coming months.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Mince Pies

I am not a big fan of the mince pie,but this year because we have been invited to a couple of Xmas Aperos with neighbours and friends I thought I would make and take some homemade mince pies.
As the custom here in France is when you are invited for drinks ( Apero) which I might add lasts no longer than 2 hours it is impolite to overstay your welcome.
You do not take wine normally it's a little gift like flowers or cake as a kind gesture.
Well I decided on mince pies as the evening was French/English mix.
 I hate the heavy thickness of some pastries that you can buy so I rolled my pastry quit thinly and made smaller pies which worked well.

The quantities are for making 12 but because I like the pastry thinner I made 16.


  • 350g/12oz jar of mincemeat
  • 200g/7oz plain flour 
  • 40g/1½oz golden castor sugar
  • 125g/4½oz unsalted butter
  • 1 large free-range egg from our hens
  • milk to glaze

  1. Lightly butter a 12-hole bun tin I tend to use a shallow tin. Empty jar of mincemeat in a bowl and mix, I add some orange liqueur to mine for an extra kick and sweetness.

  2. Place the flour, sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and with cold hands break up the butter with tips of fingers until the ingredients resemble breadcrumbs then add the egg. 
  3. Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in cling-film and chill in fridge for at least an hour .
    Roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Cut out 12 circles with a pastry cutter large enough to fill the base of a lightly greased bun tin.Gently press into each hole, then fill with the mincemeat.
  4. Cut out 12 more slightly smaller circles and use to cover the mincemeat. Press the edges together to seal and make a small slit in each pie brush lightly with milk.
    Leave to chill for 30 mins
    Then bake in oven 200C/Gas 6 for 20 mins or until the tops of pies are lovely and golden.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


It is 4.30 a.m. and I couldn't sleep, I have been thinking about my blog and feeling rather guilty!
It has been almost a year since I have written anything, their have been lots of reasons which I won't bore you with, but we have moved and I have set up my own business and will also be doing B&B next year.
So all in all 2013 has been busy many ups and a whole lot of downs,.
We have also been adopted by a little cat from our previous home who turned up in our barn one night and never left! She is a beautifully natured cat and the dogs love her, her name is Minuit.

This is what I saw from my kitchen window yesterday at dusk.

Wish I had time to get a little closer.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Strawberry Tart

 Our local shop had just taken a delivery of fresh strawberries this morning, and the smell was so intoxicating that I had to buy some.
I just wish that the weather would improve, it is very wet here in the Lot and I'm beginning to think that I am back in Cornwall!!

We ate one punnet with some creme fresh and the 2nd punnet went into creating this Tarte aux Fraises.

The recipe has been adapted from "The French Kitchen" cookbook.

Strawberry Tart

Serves 6

For the pastry
225g plain flour
75 g  ground almonds
200 g of cold butter cut into cubes
150 g light brown sugar (unrefined if possible)
2 large free range eggs

The filling
1kg strawberries washed and destalked
2 Large free rang eggs
175 ml of double cream

1.In a large bowl mix together sifted flour and ground almonds.
2.Add your cubed butter to the flour mix and rub together using your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs
3.Add the sugar
4.Add eggs and mix together one at a time
5.Bring your ingredients together with a pallet knife or a round ended knife until it resembles a ball.
6.With floured hands and work surface, gently knead your pastry for a minute wrap in cling film and put in fridge to rest for 1/2 hr.

Lightly grease a 25cm flan tin .
Roll out pastry on floured surface, line the tin and put back in fridge for another 10/15 mins.

1.Heat the oven 180C/gas mark 4
2.Line the pastry case with lining paper and cooking beans and bake in the oven for 20 mins.
3.Remove the lining paper and beans leave to cool for 5 minutes.
4.In a clean bowl add your eggs cream and beat together .
5.Slice  your strawberries in half and cover the base of pasty case.
6.Add your egg and cream mixture to the strawberries, lightly scatter some sugar over tart and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
7.Serve cold, simply yummy!!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Moules marinière

At the weekend we usually go to the markets, saturdays at Villereal and Sunday is at Issigeac which is a small medieval village  dates back to roman times, located in the Périgord and is approximately 20 km (12 mi) south of Bergerac in Aquitaine in southwestern France. It is a commune of the Dordogne department.

We either go saturday or sunday, and this weekend we decided to go to Villereal.
The fish monger there is lovely and the Mussels were looking  deliciously plump and fresh,so that was our saturday nights supper decided...

Moules marinière with a side serving of frites.

Heres the recipe for two people

1 kilo of mussels washed and debeard
24 g unsalted butter
2 shallots finely chopped
50 ml dry white wine
A handful coarsely chopped parsley
Crusty bread to serve

1. In a large deep pan melt the butter and add the chopped shallots and white wine

2. Add the mussels and place lid on pan cook on a high heat for 5 mins, shake the pan occasionally until the mussels have opened.

3.Serve mussels in warm bowls add parsley to the stock stir then spoon juices over the mussels.

4. Serve with white crusty bread or/and if you're really hungry a bowl of french fries.