mixed berry tart

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

This mixed berry tart is the perfect dessert for a summer gathering and with Christmas around the corner i’m already starting to plan our menu and test out some old favourites. Summer in South Africa brings with it my happiest time of year. Berries are in season and beach days are in full swing!

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

So because we spend Christmas at the beach and not building a snowman we love having a seafood braai with plenty of fresh salads, a lot of white wine and something fresh and light for dessert. This berry tart satisfies the sweet tooth rather perfectly with its super creamy luxurious almond cream filling and bursts of fresh tart berries. It’s also supremely easy to make so more time to frolic in the sea and concentrate on nursing your wine bottle glass.

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

I know blind baking is a pain but just do it. Especially with this tart. You really want a nice crispy tart shell to contrast the velvet like filling. If berries aren’t your thing or not in season you can use plenty of other fruit! Plums and apricots would be a dream! Poached pears are also a winner! Spice them up with some cinnamon and red wine and tummies will be very happy indeed.

Mixed Berry Tart

serves 6-8



  • 200g flour
  • 100g butter
  • 5g salt
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 5ml cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 egg


  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 25g self raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • two handfuls mixed berries of your choice


Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Begin with the pastry dough. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Add butter and work with your fingers into a wet sandy consistency. Add the egg and vanilla and bring together into a dough. Add the tsp of cold water if necessary. Roll dough gently into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap well in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 min.

To make the filling- Whisk the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk. Finally add the flour, ground almonds, lemon zest and brandy. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry dough. Line the base and sides of a greased 20cm tart shell. Press well into the corners and trim the edges. Fill with baking paper and blind bake the pastry case with either rice or baking beans for 10 minutes. Remove beans and baking paper and blind bake further for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Fill the tart shell with the almond cream and scatter with seasonal berries. Press them into the filling very lightly so they stick out a bit.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and set. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

mixed berry tart | The Secret Life of Bee

*If you’d like to own one of these gorgeous Protea Dreams platters provided by Sugar and Vice then just click HERE!

tuna poke bowl

tuna poke bowl | The Secret Life of Bee

Poke, pronounced ‘poh-keh’, is a scrumptious Hawaiian dish that is basically deconstructed sushi in a bowl. So if you’re really rubbish with chopsticks you can finally eat sushi with a fork and not be judged. Well, judged a bit less. I adore this dish because of the different textures and flavour combos. The crunchy raw veg and creamy avocado are a match made in heaven for the salty fish and sweet rice. It really is such a well balanced dish, takes no time at all to put together and looks darn pretty too. Check out this awesome article from HuffPost for a run down on all you need to know about poke!

tuna poke bowl | The Secret Life of Bee

One of the most important and delicious flavours in this dish is the sesame seed oil. I used the Organic Sesame Seed Oil from Lemcke Oils. It has a subtle nutty flavour and adds depth to the dish without being overpowering. It’s a great oil to eat as is on salads and dishes such as this one but it is also a great oil to cook with as it has a high smoke point. In a dish like this it is very important to use high quality, fresh ingredients because it is such a simple dish, each ingredient really needs to shine.

tuna poke bowl | The Secret Life of Bee

The fish is obviously paramount. Don’t make this unless you have the freshest and very best quality of tuna or salmon you can get your hands on. When I got home with this chunk of tuna I had to stop the husband from eating it straight off my chopping board with a dash of soy sauce. It was sensational. As for the accompaniments… there are no strict rules. You can add and experiment with all sorts of veggies. You can leave out the rice as well for a deliciously healthy low carb meal. Poke can be as versatile as you allow it to be. This has definitely become a weeknight staple for us.

Tuna Poke Bowl

serves 4


For the fish:

  • 400-500g fresh tuna, skinned and deboned
  • 75ml soy sauce
  • 45ml Organic Sesame Oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha or more to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced

For the rest of the bowl:

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 60ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • grated carrot
  • shaved cucumber
  • sliced radish
  • radish sprouts
  • nori
  • avocado
  • spring onions


Begin with the rice. Rinse the rice well in a sieve until the water runs clear and then cook according to package instructions.

*While working at The Mandarin Oriental in Paris I was taught to make sushi like a pro. Granted it was filled with foie gras and mango which was not very traditional but it was delish. Rinse the rice until the water runs completely clear. Cook the rice in just enough water to cover it with a fine layer of water sitting on top of it. About 3mm. Also only ever use a wooden spoon when working with sushi rice and do so gently or you’ll break the grains. We even had a dedicated wooden bowl for mixing the seasoning into the rice if you want to go to extremes!

While the rice is cooking mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pan. Heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Cool.

Once the rice has cooked and cooled gently fold in the seasoning using a wooden spoon.

Prep the veggies.

Finally mix all the seasoning ingredients for the fish in a large bowl.

Slice the tuna into cubes and toss gently in the marinade.

Assemble the poke bowl with rice, veggies, avocado, nori, tuna, toasted sesame seeds and little extras like pickled ginger and wasabi if desired.

tuna poke bowl | The Secret Life of Bee

tuna poke bowl | The Secret Life of Bee


*Disclaimer: Delicious oils supplied by the awesome folks from Lemcke Oils


chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

If you’ve ever wondered what carbohydrate heaven looks like… it looks like this. Swirls of melted chocolate with hints of cinnamon in between layers of soft fluffy dough clouds. Bliss. This loaf came about because I wanted to make a babka. Babka requires some patience which I lack most of the time (especially while driving) so this is my solution to a sweet treat that’s rather similar, but a lot faster.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

Some of my friends are probably reading this and thinking, “how’s the diet going B?” Just splendid. Thanks.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

This recipe makes a large loaf. Don’t be like me and insist it can fit into a smaller one. You will regret it and make a mess. If you don’t have a large loaf tin rather make two smaller ones. The one I finally and wisely used was 23 x 13 x 8 cm. You can also make quite a few variations of this loaf by adding some nuts and other spices to the chocolate layer. I think even crumbling something like a crunchie chocolate bar into the swirl layer could be divine. So get baking and be prepared to lick the spoon. A LOT.

Chocolate & Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

makes 1 large loaf


  • 375ml warm water
  • 10g instant dry yeast
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 560g flour, divided in two
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste

For the filling:

  • 150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 120g butter
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2-4 Tbsp cinnamon sugar


Pour warm water into a bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes until foamy. Add the brown sugar and mix.

Place 280g of flour and the sea salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until well combined. Add the butter in dollops and mix in well. Add the vanilla and mix.

Now add the second half of the flour a little bit at a time. Once all the flour has been well incorporated scrape down the dough into a ball and change the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until silky and elastic.

Place dough in a large oiled bowl and leave to rise somewhere warm for 1 hour. Once the dough has doubled in size it’s good to go.

For the filling: Place the chocolate and butter into a double boiler and melt. Allow to cool and then mix in cocoa powder. Place in the fridge if you need it to firm up a little into a spreadable paste like texture.

Punch down and roll out dough onto a floured surface into a long rectangle. Try keep the short side as long as your loaf pan for ease later on.

Spread with chocolate paste and then dust with cinnamon sugar.

Roll into a log starting at the short side of the rectangle. Slice the log in half lengthways and then criss cross the two sliced logs together. Cut off the pointy ends of the log.

Place in a well greased loaf tin and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Bake loaf for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee


freekeh beet burgers with avonaise

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

I was recently invited to take part in Faithful to Nature‘s Organic Recipe Challenge. It had to be something vegetarian, seasonal, family-meal friendly and made with organic produce and pantry items from Faithful to Nature‘s online organic shop. Perfect timing then for me to have fallen in love with a new, yet ancient grain. Freekeh. It’s absolutely delicious and so I decided that my recipe would involve it somehow. It’s basically green wheat that gets roasted, rubbed and cracked, creating a smoky, savoury and nutty flavour. It has a very high protein and vitamin B content so I mixed it up with some quinoa, chickpeas and roasted beets and seriously you’ll never need a beef burger again.

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

Food and family go hand in hand for me as meal time has always involved everyone in and around the kitchen, chit chatting at the dining room table or perched on the kitchen counter. Burgers were a firm favourite growing up as everyone had a job, did their part and then built their own burger just the way they liked it. They were always deliciously messy and ruined granny’s snow white table cloth every time. This freekeh beet burger is perfect for a family lunch or dinner and is really easy to put together!

OZCF Market | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s difficult not to fall in love with everything at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market where I bought my produce for these burgers. Their gorgeous organic veg is the stuff food porn dreams are made of. I might have gone a little bit wild and ended up with zero space in my fridge for anything other than glorious seasonal veggies. Beetroot is one of my all time favourite veggies and apart from its tremendous colour it’s full of antioxidants, fibre, folic acid and helps lower blood pressure. Could these burgers get any healthier?

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

If bread is not your friend then just enjoy your burger in a lettuce wrap. That’s exactly how the husband and I devoured these! So they’re vegetarian, vegan, low GI, healthy and darn pretty! I used a food processor to make life a tad easier but if you don’t have one no problemo. Just use a fork to mash the roasted beetroot and chickpeas. Same goes for the avonaise. I used a stick blender to combine all the ingredients but you could easily mash them up and have a chunkier guacamole style sauce. So pop on an apron (because beetroot) and get cooking!

Freekeh beet burgers with avonaise

makes 6-8 patties depending on size



Preheat oven to 200˚C.

Place the freekeh, quinoa and water in a pot. Bring to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes until the grains are tender. Remove from the pot, drain and place in a bowl to cool completely.

Roasted beets | The Secret Life of Bee

Wash, trim and peel the beetroot. Slice into wedges and place in a roasting dish. Season well with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender.

Roasted beets | The Secret Life of BeeRoasted beets | The Secret Life of Bee

Place beetroot into a food processor and pulse until chunky. Alternatively mash with a fork. If using a food processor add the chickpeas and pulse. Next add the cooled freekeh and quinoa. Pulse gently to mix. Alternatively mash chickpeas and mix grains by hand.

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

To the grain and beet mix add the garlic, ginger, fresh coriander, fresh parsley, chilli, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried origanum, lemon zest, onion, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

Shape the mixture into patties by hand. Place onto a lined and oiled baking tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 180˚C and bake the patties for 20 minutes until they have a crisp outer layer.

For the avonaise:



Place all the ingredients into a jug. Season well and then blend using a stick blender or mash with a fork for a chunkier texture.

Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeAvonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

To serve:

Assemble your burger with a wholewheat bun, fresh organic mixed greens, the freekeh and beet patty, plenty of avonaise and eat with your hands!

These are also super delish served in a lettuce cup. Spread the avonaise onto the lettuce first and then top with greens and the patty.

I also served mine with some delicious dukkah roasted carrots and sweet potatoes. I just seasoned them well with olive oil, salt, pepper, organic dukkah and popped them in a 200˚C oven for 30 minutes until golden and cooked through. All that plus a bottle of homemade Kombucha and tummies were very happy indeed!

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Pantry items sponsored by the lovely folks from Faithful to Nature. Go check out their amazing online organic shop!

Faithful to Nature Online Organic Shop | The Secret Life of Bee




raspberry financiers

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Financiers make me nostalgic for Paris. I miss walking into my local boulangerie first thing in the morning and being hit by the sweetest smell in the world. Freshly baked bread and pastries that would make a diabetic weep. The French take such pride in their pâtisserie. From the identically sliced figs on a massive tart to the expertly glazed raspberry on a macaron. It’s perfection.

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Financiers are it for me. They’re my Achilles’ heel of the pastry world. Specifically raspberry financiers. The slightly tart and super fresh raspberry is the perfect accompaniment to the buttery,  and indulgently rich ground almond based treat. I know it’s a forbidden word but deal with it… They’re incredibly moist. So don’t over bake them. It would be a crime of pastry passion.

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Lastly when you get to the recipe and you think i’ve made a typo with the amount of butter… I haven’t. Just deal with it. Butter is life. While at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris I learned it was possible to use several kilograms of butter in one meal. God bless the French. For financiers I like to make my own almond flour. I find freshly grinding the almonds make the little cakes more moist. OMG I said it again. Breathe. If you don’t have a Nutribullet or a little coffee grinder don’t bother- bought will do just fine. Now make these babies and share them with people you really love.

Raspberry Financiers

makes 18


  • 300g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 350g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g flour
  • 9 egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • pinch sea salt
  • 250g fresh raspberries


Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease 3 x 6 mini cupcake trays or similar moulds.

Brown butter in a saucepan and set aside to cool.

Place ground almonds in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the icing sugar and flour. Mix together.

Whisk the egg whites lightly just to combine them, not whip them.

Add them to the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix thoroughly.

Finally add the vanilla, pinch of salt and the cooled butter. Mix well.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour before ladling it into the moulds.

Press three raspberries into each mould and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Turn out onto a cooling rack and try resist eating them all at once.

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee




oysters 3 ways

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

When I was tiny a family friend paid me R20 (which was A LOT back then) to eat an oyster because I thought they were the nastiest things i’d ever seen. Today the husband has to stop me ordering more before we have to declare bankruptcy.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

My favourite places to eat oysters in Cape Town are Chefs Warehouse and The Duchess of Wisbeach. So this weekend after many an oyster and many a bottle of wine I called up my favourite fish shop to place an order for some fresh oysters that we could enjoy at home.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

I am a big fan of just a squeeze of lemon and a tiny dash of Tabasco. But for the sake of some fun i’ve done them three ways. Mignonette which is a classic, a punchy Asian style sauce and Bloody Mary oysters. I got the idea of the Bloody Mary oyster from Sweet Paul Magazine and had to try it. I did mine a bit differently but it’s definitely a winning idea.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

Oysters 3 ways

each recipe makes enough for a dozen oysters


  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sushi vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and allow to to sit for at least an hour before drizzling over freshly shucked oysters.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee


  • 1 Tbsp pickled ginger, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sushi vinegar
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • dash of Sriracha
  • finely sliced spring onions

Combine all the ingredients and spoon onto freshly shucked oysters.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

Bloody Mary:

  • 60ml tomato juice
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • about 10 good dashes of Tabasco
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 celery stick, finely diced

Combine everything except the celery. Dress oysters with the sauce and then finish with a sprinkle of the diced celery.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

If shucking your own oysters is a tad daunting head over to Serious Eats for the very best oyster shucking step-by-step guide i’ve ever come across. (picture a big thumbs up emoji)

Bon appétit!

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

I recently received the most gorgeous bouquet of kumquats from my neighbour with very sexy ankles. I ate one immediately and it burst with flavour! The kumquat is ever so perfectly sweet and tangy. You can eat these delicious little citrus treats peel and all. The peel tends to be even sweeter than the flesh. Their bright colour and zingy flavour made me think of warm weather, the beach and summery things like ice cream. 

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

The kumquat’s tart and tangy flavour profile also got me thinking about the tub of gooseberries in my fridge. They turned out to be a match made in heaven. Both flavours sang together as they bubbled away into a zesty compote. Making a compote and then stirring it into the vanilla base gives this ice cream a wonderful texture and pockets of sweet and sour.

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

As mentioned in the recipe if you don’t have an ice cream machine do not fret! Pour the vanilla mixture into a ziplock bag and freeze. Remove and break into chunks and whizz in a food processor, blender or with a stick blender if that’s all you have! Most of the time you can get around any fancy equipment required in a recipe with a little bit of a MacGyver attitude.

Kumquat and gooseberry ice cream


  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml cream
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 4 free-range egg yolks

For the compote:

  • 200g kumquats, deseeded, sliced into quarters
  • 200g gooseberries, sliced in half
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml water
  • splash of brandy


Place kumquats, gooseberries, caster sugar, water and brandy in a saucepan. Slightly mash the fruit into the sugar and leave for 30 minutes.

Place saucepan on medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft and jam like. Around 15 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and place in the fridge to cool completely.

*prep an ice bath

Pour the milk and cream into a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla pods and scrape in the seeds. Pop in the pods as well and bring to a simmer.

While the milk and cream are heating whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until pale and fluffy.

Just before the milk mixture starts to boil pour about a cupful into the eggs and whisk as you pour to temper the eggs. Pour the rest of the hot mixture in and whisk well.

Return the mixture to the heat and using a spatula cook the mixture gently until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (85˚C for those with a thermometer.)

Sieve the mixture into the bowl and place in an ice bath. Stir until completely cool to stop the cooking process. Pop in the fridge if necessary.

Transfer the ice cream base into an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.

*If you do not have an ice cream machine pop the mixture into a ziplock bag and freeze. Once frozen break into chunks and pop in the food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Scoop ice cream into a bowl once completing either method. Fold cooled compote into the ice cream base to form compote ripples and freeze.

Scoop and serve with fresh gooseberries and kumquats.

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee

kumquat & gooseberry ice cream | The Secret Life of Bee


açaí super smoothie

acai super smoothie | The Secret Life of Bee

The açaí palm provides two of my favourite things on earth, açai berries and hearts of palm. The açaí berry is jam packed with antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It’s also delicious. The first time the husband took me to Rio we went to a juice bar near the beach and he got me this massive dark purple açaí smoothie. It was incredibly beautiful and super scrumptious. The berry is quite tart but has chocolatey cocoa undertones which makes it a delicious addition to any smoothie or juice. It also has a magnificent colour.

acai super smoothie | The Secret Life of Bee

I received the most beautiful glass bottle of milk from Consol last week. Not only do I just adore the nostalgia of milk in a glass bottle but the milk inside was the most delicious and creamy milk i’ve ever tasted. Thanks to the sexy Swiss cows from Deneys Swiss Dairy i’m ruined for all other milk. And let’s face it, milk just tastes better in a glass bottle. This awesome colab is getting people to focus on bringing back the pure things in life. This gorgeous glass bottle is pure packaging. It keeps the milk fresher for longer and with no nasty chemicals that could alter the taste of its contents. So chuck out those plastic cartons and decant your milk into a beautiful glass bottle. It’s better for you, it looks darn pretty and it feels like a treat!

acai super smoothie | The Secret Life of Bee

Also- can we have a minute for these amazing strawberries I found at the market. They were almost too pretty to eat… almost. To give the different layers of the smoothie some slushie consistency I sliced and froze a bunch of strawberries and bananas. They also make fabulous sorbet in seconds if you blend them up with a splash of coconut milk. The chia seed layer is a yum and fun textural element but also super duper healthy. These babies are laden with B vitamins, thiamine, niacin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. I mean. I’m feeling healthier just typing this!

acai super smoothie | The Secret Life of Bee

Açaí Super Smoothie

makes 1 large smoothie


Banana layer

  • 1 banana
  • 125ml milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder

Slice banana thinly and freeze slices until hard. Remove from the freezer and place all ingredients in a blender or nutribullet. Blend until smooth and reserve layer in the freezer.

Chia seed layer

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 125ml milk

Soak chia seeds in milk and vanilla until they become porridge like and reserve in the fridge.

Açaí layer

  • 7 strawberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 heaped Tbsp açaí powder
  • 125ml milk

Slice strawberries thinly and freeze until hard. Remove from the freezer and place all ingredients in a blender or nutribullet. Blend until smooth and reserve layer in the freezer.

To assemble smoothie:

Mash some fresh strawberries at the bottom of the jar. Top with banana layer, chia seed layer and then açaí layer. Finally decorate with fresh fruit, toasted nuts and seeds.

acai super smoothie | The Secret Life of Bee

acai super smoothie | The Secret Life of Bee

acai super smoothie | The Secret Life of Bee

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by the awesome folks at Consol Glass



vovo’s oatmeal raisin cookies

oatmeal raisin cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

The husband has been talking about these oatmeal raisin cookies since our early dating days when he only liked me for my washing machine. He explained how his German granny ‘Vovo’ made these for him growing up and no matter what biscuit/crunchie/cookie I baked for him nothing could ever compare to these. At the time I was ever so slightly peeved. How good could these cookies be? Well I recently found out… and they are that good.

oatmeal raisin cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

On our recent trip to the states Vovo arrived at our airbnb one day with a bag full of groceries for me and this recipe. Now no pressure but I had to bake these cookies for the entire family. No problemo. So I get cracking in the kitchen with an oven that keeps tripping, no mixing bowls, no scale or baking utensils and only a 1/2 cup for measuring and one plastic teaspoon. We even had to make a dash to the shops to buy a baking tray. Anyhoo, all that aside and some suspect measuring later the most delicious smell on earth was emanating from the kitchen. This recipe makes about 40-50 cookies depending on their size. They lasted just under 24 hours. They were inhaled.

oatmeal raisin cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

The type of oats you use for these oatmeal raisin cookies is rather important. Try find big, beautiful, large flake rolled oats. Definitely don’t use any instant or quick oats. They will alter the texture and you definitely don’t want that. These cookies are superbly crunchy and chewy at the same time. I found some gorgeous big rolled oats at Wellness Warehouse for those in SA. As for the chocolate- dark chocolate chips are the way forward or else a slab of dark chocolate chopped into chunks that will make glorious oozy gooey pockets of love. Oh and just a warning- the raw dough is ADDICTIVE. I tucked in while rolling the cookies out and actually reduced the amount of work I had to do as I was decreasing the dough rapidly. Whoops.

oatmeal raisin cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Vovo’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

makes A LOT (40-50 depending on size)


  • 225g butter, softened
  • 180g brown sugar
  • 115g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 190g flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 330g rolled oats
  • 170g raisins
  • 100g dark chocolate chips/chunks


Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Cream butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon and sea salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and mix well.

Finally fold in the oats, raisins and chocolate chips.

Place the mixture into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out scant tablespoons of dough into little balls.

Refrigerate the balls for another 30 minutes and then bake them off in batches for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Dunk in some cold milk and enjoy! 

oatmeal raisin cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

oatmeal raisin cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

the perfect homemade pizza

homemade pizza | The Secret Life of Bee

God bless dough. Dough is king. Cheese and meat on crispy dough is a magical thing. There are few things on this earth I enjoy more than a homemade pizza straight out of the oven. It’s such a social thing. I put the husband to work on rolling out the bases. The mamma bear is generally on wine pouring duty and I get the sauce and toppings going. I have a little Earthfire pizza oven that works like a bomb but we sadly can’t use it at our apartment complex. So we just blast the oven as high as it will go and pop a pizza stone in to get piping hot.

homemade pizza | The Secret Life of Bee

I made this pizza a couple of weeks ago before I went to the US on a foodie extravaganza with the husband. Two of the very many highlights were going to the famous institution that is Joe’s Pizza for the best slice in NYC and getting a serious dose of Italian food porn at Eataly. Walking into Joe’s Pizza is hysterical because no one is talking. They’re all way too busy chewing and munching on one of the best slices of pizza i’ve ever had. The back wall is lined with photos of Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Murray and every other famous person you can think of getting their NYC slice on at Joe’s.  The husband went for the pepperoni and I went for the mozzarella. Both were delicious and perfectly balanced. Thin chewy base with just the right amount of toppings.

Joe's Pizza NYC | The Secret Life of Bee

Joe's Pizza NYC | The Secret Life of Bee

Joe's Pizza NYC | The Secret Life of Bee

We then hit Eataly where the finest ingredients on the planet are all on steroids. The creamiest mozzarella, ripest Italian tomatoes and a cheeky Italian dude making the pizzas and chatting away over the counter added to the vibe. The pizza was delicious and at $25 we made sure there wasn’t a crumb leftover.

Eataly | The Secret Life of Bee

Alrighty. So enough blabbing. Pizza time.

If you don’t have a pizza stone an all natural unglazed tile will do the trick. Or just use a baking tray. The crust won’t be as crisp but it’ll still be fun and yum!

The perfect homemade pizza

makes 2



  • 300g doppio zero “00” flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 200ml warm water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast

Combine warm water, olive oil and yeast in a jug and leave for 5 minutes. Combine salt and flour in a large mixing bowl and mix well to distribute the salt. Pour the water mixture into the flour and mix well with your hands. Knead the dough until bouncy and elastic. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. Split rested dough into two and knead each ball for a few minutes. Cover both with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 2-4 hours at room temperature.


  • 1 tin whole peeled Italian tomatoes, blended
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • sea salt to taste
  • bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped (optional)

Gently fry the garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add the tomato paste, oregano and salt and cook for a few minutes. Finally add the blended tomatoes and sugar and allow to simmer gently for 1 hour until reduced. Stir through the chopped basil once the sauce is thick and check seasoning.

To make the pizzas:

Preheat your oven as high as it will go! Place the rack into the top third of the oven and if you have a pizza stone pop that in there too.

Roll and stretch the dough out on a floured surface. If you have a pizza shovel assemble pizzas on there. If not an upside down baking tray works just fine!

Spoon about 3 Tbsp of the tomato sauce on the pizza. Spread it out with the back of the spoon. Brush the edges of the pizza with olive oil for a great crust.

Add toppings of your choice.

Here I used buffalo mozzarella, asparagus, parma ham and fresh rocket. And I decided to #putaneggonit

If you want to keep your yolk nice and runny pop the pizza into the oven for a few minutes first, then crack the egg on and finish the cooking.

Be careful when transferring the pizza onto the super hot pizza stone. Preferably drink wine moderately until this is done.

Cook each pizza for about 5 minutes until golden, bubbling and crispy!

Buon appetito!

homemade pizza | The Secret Life of Bee