Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberries

Lemon Pound Cake | The Secret Life of Bee

So I think I have the only grandmother in the world that had to pay overweight luggage when she flew across the country to visit me because she’d stuffed her bag full of lemons from her tree.

So to say thanks to granny I baked her one of her favourites. She always tells me she wants a cake that is rich, moist, light, airy and slightly fudgy. Well by some miracle this lemon pound cake does all that.

You can add whatever berries you prefer. I have a budding little strawberry plant that needed some pruning and so my choice was easy. This cake also works exceptionally well with blueberries and a dash of apricot jam as a glaze.

Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberries

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 170g icing / powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 170g plain flour
  • 3g baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • zest of 2 large lemons
  • a handful of fresh strawberries (or berries of your choice)

Method:

Preheat oven to 170˚C. Grease a loaf tin well with butter.

Whisk eggs, sifted icing sugar and vanilla well.

In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt together to incorporate.

zesting lemons

Place butter in a small saucepan. Zest lemons into your butter and place on a low heat to melt. Do not boil the butter or you’ll just have to end up making clarified butter and use it for something else!

Once all three of your mixes are ready start incorporating all three a little at a time. Do so gently and quickly as you do not want to over mix the batter.

Batter prep for lemon pound cake

Chop your strawberries into quarters and arrange evenly throughout the batter.

Lemon Pound Cake | The Secret Life of Bee

Pour into your prepared loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes depending on your oven. The cake should be golden brown and ‘just’ done, with your knife or cake tester not coming out completely clean. It’s a genuine crime to over bake this cake. It will loose it’s glorious moreish-ness! (If that’s even a word!)

Lemon Pound Cake | The Secret Life of Bee

Let cool slightly in the pan, turn out gently and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Dust with powdered sugar and try not to eat the whole cake in one go!

Lemon pound cake with strawberries

 

Brazilian Cheese Bread – Pão de Queijo

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Pão de Queijo

The husband is half Brazilian and has taken me to Brazil a few times to meet his family, experience the culture and enjoy the beaches and coconuts in Rio de Janeiro. Turns out i’m a bit obsessed with fresh coconut water.

His family is from the state of Minas Gerais and that is where Pão de Queijo is said to have originated from. I learnt to make this insanely addictive cheesy, chewy ball of goodness from his father.

It was a complicated process. The recipe being in his head and hands. How much cheese do I add? Oh just a handful or so. And how much oil? Meh- just a splash and a bit. Until it’s the right consistency he would say.

So once we finally got a recipe going I started practising my Pão de Queijo skills. Turns out they are super easy to make which is a good and bad thing. Good because they’re totally delicious and I score big time with the husband for making them. Bad because now I want to make them ALL THE TIME.

They’re gluten free which is a bonus. They’re made using Tapioca flour, aka cassava flour, aka manioc starch aka aka… you get the picture. There are a lot of names for this one versatile vegetable and it’s various forms.

Read up about Cassava here.

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Pão de Queijo

makes about 24 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 250g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 380g tapioca flour 
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 125ml full cream milk
  • 125ml water
  • 90ml olive oil and more for greasing
  • knife point of cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Using a stick blender, puree the parmesan, eggs and egg yolks together. This will form a slightly odd looking cheese paste. Don’t fret. This step incorporates the cheese in magically.

(I grated 125g Parmesan & 125g French Comté. Not traditional but super yum and great cheesy flavour. Play around with your favourite cheese combos.)

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Place tapioca flour and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Place the milk, olive oil and water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Start your stand mixer on the slowest speed.

As soon as the mixture comes to the boil, pour into your dry ingredients and continue to mix on low speed until everything is well incorporated.

Add your cheese paste and spices to the mixer. The spices are not traditional but I think they add some really great flavour.

Continue to mix the dough on low speed for about 10 minutes. The dough will lighten in colour and will be incredibly elastic and sticky.

Scrape into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour or even overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C. Lightly grease a baking sheet with some olive oil. Grease your hands well with the olive oil to prevent sticking and begin rolling out ping pong sized balls of dough.

(At this point you could freeze the balls and place in a zip lock and bake them from frozen when cheesy hunger strikes. They will keep for about 2 months.)

Bake your cheese bread until golden brown- about 15 minutes. It’s a very gentle golden brown. Do not over bake them. It’s a crime. They must be gloriously chewy inside.

If you can wait long enough remove them from the baking tray and leave to cool ever so slightly. You want to serve them warm.

But realistically I wolf them down straight out of the oven. Burn my tongue and do it all over again.

My sister in law has Celiac Disease and very cleverly makes delicious little sandwiches with the cheese bread. So enjoy them as they are or once cool slice them open and stuff with even more cheese, ham or whatever floats your tastebud boat.

Bom apetite! 

And here’s a snap of the real deal from our last trip to Rio. Seriously. It does not get better than this. This pão de queijo was from a little deli near our Airbnb. Every single morning we would walk there for breakfast and proceed to the beach for coconuts and caipirinhas. Tough life.

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Chewy cheesy perfection

Parmesan Crisps

If gluten is not your friend or you’re a tad carb conscious then these Parmesan crisps are just what you need as a vehicle for even more cheese. Cheese on cheese. Amen.

Parmesan crisp canapés
Parmesan crisp canapés

Parmesan Crisps

Ingredients: 

  • Parmesan, finely grated (Yup, it’s that simple)

toppings of choice

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200˚C and prepare a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat.

Using metal ring moulds as a guide drop about a heaped teaspoon of Parmesan into every mould and using the spoon distribute it evenly into your circle. If you do not have any moulds go for a more rustic look and just shape the parmesan as much as you can by hand.

Shaping the Parmesan into rounds
Shaping the Parmesan into rounds

Place the Parmesan rounds into the oven and set a timer for 5 minutes.

You want to make sure the Parmesan is golden and bubbling like crazy. Depending on your oven this might take an extra few minutes. Don’t stress if there’s a bit of smoke when you open the oven door. It happens.

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Remove your crisps from the oven. Allow them to set on the baking tray for a few minutes before you transfer them to a cooling rack. Do so gently with an off-set spatula as the crisps are fairly fragile.

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Chorizo, caper & Brie Parmesan crisp canapé

Top your crisps with delicious vibrant goodies. Play with textures and colours. Smoked salmon & mango, olive tapenade, grilled artichokes or even serve them with accompanying dips like hummus or tzatziki.

Bon appétit!

 

Vanilla & Orange Blossom Panna Cotta with Ginger Crumble & Berry Compote

Vanilla & orange blossom panna cotta with ginger crumble & berry compote | The Secret Life of Bee

My go to dinner party dessert. So simple to make but gloriously rich and decadent to eat. The best part is all the components of a panna cotta can be made well ahead of time and you can carry on being the host with the most and keep a well topped glass of wine in your hand. I made these for supper with my mum the other night and let’s just say there were no leftovers. I believe less is more when it comes to gelatine in a panna cotta. Not a major fan of those ones you can play bouncy ball with. The texture you’ll achieve with this ratio is set, but still gloriously creamy and luxurious in texture.

Panna Cotta

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 500ml cream
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 2.5 leaves gelatine (2 leaves if you aren’t going to unmold)
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract or ground vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water

Method:

Submerge your gelatine leaves in very cold water. I add a few ice cubes just to be safe. (If the water is too warm the gelatine will disintegrate.)

Place cream, sugar, scraped vanilla pod and orange blossom water in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Once the cream is ready squeeze all the water out of your gelatine leaves, add them to your pot and whisk the gelatine in well. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and prepare your moulds or ramekins.

Pour equal amounts of your mixture into each vessel. I like to put my moulds onto a baking tray before I pour in the cream. It’s much easier to transport them all to the fridge like this!

Refrigerate until set which normally takes a minimum of four hours.

Ginger crumble |The Secret Life of Bee

Ginger Crumble

Ingredients:

  • 80g salted butter, room temperature
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 110g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a gentle dash of nutmeg

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200˚C. Prepare a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Very simply pop all your ingredients into a mixing bowl and work the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips. Do so until you have a wet sand like consistency.

Clump little clusters of the sand mixture together using your fingers and palm and then break up the clusters onto the prepared baking sheet. You should have a mix of textures with some pieces of crumble bigger than others.

Pop into the oven for about 10 minutes or so until your crumble is golden brown and cooked through. Leave to cool.

Grand Marnier for berry compote | The Secret Life of Bee

Berry Compote

Ingredients:

250g mixed berries (frozen are absolutely perfect)

1 Tbsp caster sugar

as much Grand Marnier as you are in the mood for!

Method:

Place your berries in a small saucepan on medium heat and sprinkle with the sugar. Pour in your desired amount of Grand Marnier or any similar orange liqueur such as Cointreau and cook until your berries are slightly squishy and have a mix of textures from some whole to some completely saucy.

Vanilla & orange blossom panna cotta, berry compote & ginger crumble | The Secret Life of Bee

To serve:

To remove your panna cottas from their molds, dip the base into boiling water for a few seconds and turn out onto a plate. I like to serve mine in a ramekin or glass as you can easily get all the textures of crumble, compote and panna cotta in every bite.

Spoon some berry compote onto your panna cottas and sprinkle with crumble.

Bon appétit!

Vanilla & orange blossom panna cotta, berry compote & ginger crumble | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

For the love of Cape Town

Just in case you are wondering why I live where I do.

Quite simply, here’s why…

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Not a bad way to start the day. Cucumber ribbons were at the ready!

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And then what beach day is complete without the ultimate picnic?

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Happiness.

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Artichokes with lemon butter

Artichokes with lemon butter | The Secret Life of BeeArtichokes are one of my favourite veggies on earth. The prep work makes them even more enjoyable because you feel like you really deserve them.

Artichokes with lemon butter | The Secret Life of Bee

To prep your artichokes start off by trimming an inch or so off the top and about an inch off the stem. Grab a pair of kitchen shears and trim the leaves of all spiky bits around the stem working your way up to the top. Rub the trimmed tops and stems with a cut lemon.

Artichokes with lemon butter | The Secret Life of Bee

While doing your prep, get a seriously large pot of salted boiling water. Really- it needs to be a very big pot.

Cut one lemon into quarters and squeeze the lemon juice in and drop the flesh into the pot too.

Artichokes with lemon butter | The Secret Life of Bee

Add your artichokes to the pot and set a timer for about 30min depending on how large and young your artichokes are. When your artichokes are done you should be able to insert a knife into the stem with ease and have soft tender flesh.

Drain your artichokes and place them upside down in a colander to drain out all of the liquid in between the leaves.

Make your lemon butter. Start by juicing two lemons. There are many gadgets that are unnecessary in the kitchen, but heavens do I love a citrus juicer!

Juicing lemons from Bianca Davies on Vimeo.

Add the juice of 2 lemons to a sauce pan and reduce it. Add cubes of cold butter- about 110 grams and whisk until incorporated. Season well with salt and get dipping! 

Artichokes with lemon butter | The Secret Life of Bee

And try reasonably hard not to eat them all before the husband gets home from work!

Artichokes with lemon butter | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Cumin roasted carrots

Cumin Roasted Carrots | The Secret Life of BeeRoasted carrots are versatile and delicious and an easy hassle free side dish to any dinner. They get glossy and sweet and are delicious when they still have some bite to them. They’re also ever so accommodating as far as flavours are concerned. Thyme, garlic and oregano or honey, ginger and orange. All work beautifully together you can really make a marriage between your carrots and whatever main course you are serving.

Roasted carrots

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g baby carrots
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • freshly ground mixed peppercorns
  • honey

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200˚C.

Start off by washing your carrots. There is no need to peel baby carrots. If you have a veggie brush you can use that to give them a bit of a scrub. Dry them off and place in a roasting pan or on a baking tray.

Sprinkle and drizzle them with the salt, spices, rosemary and olive oil. Toss them well making sure all the carrots are well coated.Drizzle with honey to slightly sweeten  the carrots and make them sticky and glossy.

Place them in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Pull them out, toss and turn them and pop them back in for another 10 minutes.

Serve with anything from grilled rib-eye steak to orange & ginger glazed salmon.

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Pancakes with Cinnamon Sugar

Pancakes | The Secret Life of Bee

Cape Town is doing its usual summer tease. “Oh hey it’s warm and sunny!” Gotcha! “It’s freezing, windy and raining.” When the weather is rather gloomy there is nothing that hits the spot quite like a sensational pancake. It was one of the very first things my grandfather taught me to make. He put me on a step ladder in the kitchen and we would make enough to feed an army and by the end of it i’d be covered in batter and flour from head to toe. So here’s a recipe for some super yum and speedy pancakes that hit the spot.

Pancakes

makes 10

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 300ml full cream milk
  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and make a well. Crack in the eggs and whisk them until you begin to form a paste.

Add a splash of milk and whisk that in. Keep adding milk very gradually so you incorporate it well without forming any lumps.

Finally add the oil and vanilla.

*This batter can also be mixed together in the blender for speed. But cleaning one bowl and a whisk is a lot easier to me than cleaning my blender!

Heat a really good non-stick pan and swish it with an oil soaked paper towel.

Ladle in your pancake mix until it covers the surface of the pan. Quickly pour out any excess if you’ve been too generous. No one likes a thick, soggy pancake.

You’ll soon get the hang of it and know exactly how much batter to ladle in.

Cook until bubbling and brown on one side and flip. If you’re too scared to whip them up into the air then gently raise an edge with a spatula, grab hold of one side with your fingers and flip gently.

Toppings:

I love cinnamon sugar & a squeeze of fresh lemon. You can’t get better than that for me.

Pancakes | The Secret Life of Bee

Mix about 1/4 cup castor sugar and 2tsp of cinnamon together. It’s also lovely to add some vanilla powder to this. And then of course a generous squeeze of lemon.

The husband is American and he likes his with maple syrup and a few slivers of farm butter. Not going to lie- I tried it and it was pretty darn delish.

But go wild- fill yours with fruit, cream or even go the savoury route and leave out the teaspoon of sugar in the batter.

Bon appétit!

 

Lunch at The Kitchen at Maison in Franschhoek

Maison Estate is truly a treat for the eyes.

I could definitely make a couple of these with the amount of wine I polish off
I could definitely make a couple of these with the amount of wine I polish off

 

It is just so much of everything I love. From the location and design to the interior and the food. Everything hits the spot. And that’s all before you’ve even tasted the wine! My personal favourites are the Shiraz and the Chenin Blanc. Today we went with the Shiraz as it was a tad chilly and we were all set on some meaty main courses.

These birds know what's up. Living the life.
These birds know what’s up. Living the life.

 

Homemade bread, butternut & cabbage
Homemade bread, butternut & cabbage

 

The butternut was creamy and luxurious and I am such a fun of an unusual accompaniment with table bread.

Lamb & gooseberries
Lamb & gooseberries

 

Pork (not the prettiest dish but packed with flavour)
Not the prettiest Pork dish to snap but full of flavour and excellent texture

 

Handcut chips with homemade tomato sauce & mayonnaise
Hand cut chips with homemade tomato sauce & mayonnaise

 

Chocolate cake & salted caramel with granadilla sorbet & gooseberries
Fudgy chocolate brownie like cake & salted caramel with gooseberry sorbet