popcorn chicken with chipotle Tabasco & basil mayo

popcorn chicken | The Secret Life of Bee

You will never need fried chicken again. Ever. This popcorn chicken is baked to perfection and has the most delicious textured crunchy crust you’ve ever experienced. Yes- this chicken is an experience. So chuck out the frying oil and bid Colonel Sanders adieu. Popcorn chicken is about to become your best friend.

popcorn chicken | The Secret Life of Bee

Corn flakes are the hero here. They create a crisp and crunchy crust that has layers of texture. When blending them up don’t go wild and end up with powdered corn flakes. You want some variation. Some bits bigger than others and mostly the texture of what’s at the bottom of a bag of cereal. Crushed up crumbs. The buttermilk replaces a traditional egg wash to get everything to stick. Buttermilk is rich and tangy and adds more flavour while the acids in the buttermilk also tenderise the chicken. All this delicious crunch needs something to be dunked into and the smokey chipotle Tabasco and basil mayo is it! It’s creamy and delicious but refreshingly herby and gives you that BBQ, braai flavour of something cooked over coals.

popcorn chicken | The Secret Life of Bee

Popcorn chicken with chipotle Tabasco & basil mayo

serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 500g free-range chicken breasts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g flour
  • 100g cornflakes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 15g freshly grated Parmesan
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • chipotle Tabasco

Mayo:

  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • chipotle Tabasco to taste

Method:

For the mayonnaise: Combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and mustard in a small container that fits the head of an immersion blender snugly. Blend until light and frothy. Begin pouring in a very thin stream of the neutral oil slowly while constantly blending. Once you have gone through about half of your oil you can speed up the pouring until you have your desired thickness. Now blend in the basil leaves and a healthy dollop of chipotle Tabasco and adjust seasoning. Keep in the fridge.

For the chicken: Slice the chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Finely grate over the garlic cloves and lemon zest, mix well. Leave to rest.

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Combine the cornflakes, paprika, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until chunky different textures of crumbs have formed. Place this mixture into another bowl.

Add the seasoned chicken into the bowl with the flour and coat well.

Mix the buttermilk and a dash of chipotle Tabasco in another bowl. Add the floured chicken pieces to this and coat evenly.

Finally coat the buttermilk chicken with the cornflake mixture. Place the chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with foil and brushed with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Serve with the homemade mayo and a wedge of lime.

popcorn chicken | The Secret Life of Bee

popcorn chicken | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer- this post has been sponsored by the awesome folks at Tabasco SA

 

Tabasco bloody mary sorbet

bloody mary sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

Bloody Mary sorbet. What a glorious thing. Not overly sweet, perfectly spicy and very refreshing! This sorbet is a wonderful dessert or palate cleanser. Throw on an extra few shots of vodka and serve it poolside as an adult slushie. (You can tell i’m really excited about winter)

bloody mary sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

The trick with this sorbet is using top quality tomato juice. So none of that horrid stuff in the tin! Same goes for normal Bloody Marys and everything else in life. Top quality ingredients will give you a top quality result. You can spice it up as much as you like. Taste as you go and you can squeeze in some extra lemon or add a crack of freshly ground black pepper. You can also serve the sorbet with something fun like a celery salt cookie or black pepper shortbread.

bloody mary sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

Tabasco Bloody Mary sorbet

Ingredients:

  • 750ml tomato juice
  • 110ml water
  • 110g sugar
  • 45ml vodka
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • pinch celery salt
  • a dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Red Tabasco

Method:

Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until it becomes syrupy. If you have a thermometer it should read 112˚C when the syrup is ready.

Pour the sugar syrup into the tomato juice and mix. Add the vodka, lemon, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco all to your taste.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine- pour the mixture into a zip lock bag and freeze. Remove when frozen and blend it a few chunks at a time in a food processor or using a stick blender. Return to the freezer in a container and freeze until firm.

bloody mary sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

bloody mary sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer- this post has been sponsored by the awesome folks at Tabasco SA

fig and frangipane tart

fig and frangipane tart | The Secret Life of Bee

Homemade frangipane is one of the most delicious and versatile fillings you will ever make. Butter, eggs, sugar, ground almonds and a sprinkle of flour. That’s it. This simple creamy almond filling marries incredibly well with fruit and you can use it in tarts, galettes, stuff pastries with it and so much more! You can also spice it up with some rum or Calvados and add extracts like vanilla and orange blossom.

fig and frangipane tart | The Secret Life of Bee

I adore figs. I do not adore how much they cost most of the time. Luckily it’s season and I bought a kilogram of figs from a local grocery store for R39! That’s insanely cheap. So we have had a lot of fig filled salads, desserts and even cocktails in our house the past week. I do really love the way figs cook. Their skin allows them to hold their shape but they get oozy and juicy and create little pockets of tender goodness. Get a forkful of that with some crisp pastry crust and frangipane and you’re in heaven.

fig and frangipane tart | The Secret Life of Bee

Fig and frangipane tart

serves 8

Ingredients:

Sweet shortcrust pastry:

  • 75g icing sugar
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 150g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 75g butter, cold
  • 30g free-range egg, beaten (about 1/2 a large egg)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

Frangipane:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 25g self raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • figs
  • flaked almonds
  • jam of choice

Method:

Begin with the pastry dough. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the butter into little cubes and then ‘rub’ into the dry ingredients using your fingers. Once you have a wet sand like texture add the beaten egg and vanilla in the centre. Mix until the dough barely comes together. Turn out onto a clean work surface and bring it together into a ball. You do not want to over work this dough. Flatten slightly and wrap well with cling film. Leave to rest in the fridge.

To make the frangipane- Whisk the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the egg and whisk. Finally add the flour, ground almonds and lemon zest. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Roll out your pastry dough and press into a greased tart pan. Blind bake the tart shell for 10-15 minutes until golden. Let the tart shell cool.

Spread some jam of your choice (apricot and raspberry work beautifully with the figs) onto the base of the tart shell. Spoon over the frangipane, spread and flatten it neatly with the back of a spoon. Cut the figs in half and press them into the frangipane. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 30-40 minutes until the frangipane is golden and set. Allow to cool before slicing.

fig and frangipane tart | The Secret Life of Bee

fig and frangipane tart | The Secret Life of Bee

fig and frangipane tart | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Tabasco deviled eggs

Deviled eggs | The Secret Life of Bee

Get your retro dinner party on and devil some eggs! Deviled eggs remind me of my grandmother’s dinner parties. Just add some fish mousse (moulded like a fish of course) complete with cucumber scales and you’ve really nailed the evening. Just don’t forget the sliced olive for the eye- that was my best. There’s something so nostalgic and fun about deviled eggs. They look merry and always remind me of festivities.

Deviled eggs | The Secret Life of Bee

So this old fave is a crowd pleaser for any occasion. They’re easy to make, easy to eat and you can really go wild with the fillings. Deviled eggs lend themselves well to helping you empty out those almost finished jars of mustard, pickles, chutney and horseradish in the fridge. You can go fancy with caviar and prawns/shrimp or keep it simple with good old fashioned tomato sauce, mustard and mayonnaise. You can also boil your eggs ahead of time, make your fillings in advance and assemble everything just before your guests arrive. What a great host you are!

Tabasco deviled eggs

makes 18- 6 halves of each flavour

Ingredients:

9 eggs- hard boiled

Avo & bacon:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • a few generous glugs green Tabasco
  • 3 crispy bacon rashers
  • paprika

Mexican salsa:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small red chilli, diced
  • 1 small green chilli, diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato, diced
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • corn, cooked
  • chipotle Tabasco
  • salt
  • pepper

Prawn cocktail:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • red Tabasco
  • black pepper
  • 6 cooked prawns/shrimp
  • chives, chopped

Method:

Slice hard boiled eggs in half and remove the yolks.

For the avo & bacon: Place all ingredients except the bacon in a container and blend smooth using a stick blender. Adjust seasoning and add enough Tabasco for a good kick! Dice the crispy bacon. Pipe your avo filling into the egg whites, top with bacon and a sprinkle of paprika.

For the mexican salsa: Use a fork to squash the egg yolks. Add the lime juice, chillies, tomato, coriander, chipotle Tabasco and season well. Finally toss in the cooked corn and scoop the filling into the egg whites.

For the prawn cocktail: Place all ingredients except the prawns into a container and blend smooth using a stick blender. Spoon the filling into the egg whites and top with a prawn and a sprinkle of chives.

Serve your deviled eggs on a bed of lettuce with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Deviled eggs | The Secret Life of Bee

Deviled eggs | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer ~ this post has been sponsored by the awesome folks at Tabasco SA

mushroom & pulled pork sliders

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

I love sliders. I love pulled pork. I love any cutesy burger that packages itself well with the right ratio of bun, meat and fixings. The bun is a soft little pillow of brioche that is the finest vehicle for theses toppings. The pulled pork is a revelation. The addition of mushrooms is amazing and from now on my pulled pork will only ever be like this. The mushrooms add a punch of umami, moisture and flavour.

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

The folks at The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association have got a cool concept called ‘blendability’. They’re encouraging people to eat less meat and more veg by subbing in 50% of your meat dish with 50% mushrooms. It’s rather nifty as mushrooms are yum but also packed with nutrients, they’re cheap and best of all low in calories. If this dish is anything to go by then they’re seriously on to something!

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

Mushrooms are like meat in more ways than one. Don’t crowd the pan or they’ll sweat. So cook them on a very high heat with a dash of olive oil and salt and they’ll brown beautifully. This sauce is delicious but you can add as much or as little to the pork and mushroom mix as you like. Reserve any leftovers in the fridge to spice up another dinner. I find the pork and the bun are rich and flavourful enough so I went with a clean and crisp slaw using just vinegar and seasoning as opposed to the American mayonnaise style slaws but you can always add some if you like. Most importantly just make sure you invite some friends over when you make this. It’s a little bit effort intensive but it’s so worth it and you’ll be so chuffed with yourself you’ll want to share this!

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom & pulled pork sliders

makes 12 sliders

Ingredients:

  • 500g Portabella mushrooms
  • 500g pork shoulder meat (so with bone in & fat cap: +- 1kg)

Buns:

  • 250ml warm water
  • 45 ml warm milk
  • 8,5g dry yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 13g salt
  • 55g butter, softened

Rub:

  • 1Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp Muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250ml beer
  • 1 tsp garlic flakes
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

BBQ Sauce:

  • 180ml tomato sauce
  • 25g Demerara sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 60ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Tabasco to taste

Slaw:

  • 1 baby red cabbage
  • 1 baby green cabbage
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 green apple
  • apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method:

For the buns: Preheat oven to 200˚C. Mix the warm water, milk, sugar and yeast together and leave to get frothy and foamy for about 5-10minutes. Mix the two flours, salt and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture as well as one of the eggs, beaten, to the flour mixture and let the mixer do the work for you on medium speed for about 7-10 minutes until a silky, elastic dough has formed. Place in a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm. Once the dough has doubled in size turn out onto a floured work surface and divide into twelve. Roll into balls and place onto a lined baking sheet. Once again let them double in size. Don’t rush this second rise! It’s super important. When the buns have doubled in size brush them with an egg wash. Mix the remaining one egg with a teaspoon of water and brush all over the surface of the buns. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the pork: Preheat oven to 225˚C. Score the fat of the pork shoulder. Combine all the rub ingredients well. Massage the pork with the rub making sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies. Discard excess. Place the pork in a roasting tin lined with tinfoil. (leave some excess tinfoil hanging over the edge)

Place the pork on the tinfoil and roast at 225˚C for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Turn the oven down to 125˚C. Add the beer, garlic flakes and liquid smoke to the roasting pan. Seal the pork into a parcel with the tinfoil and continue to cook for another 4-5 hours. Remove and let it rest for 30 minutes before pulling it apart using a fork.

Clean the mushrooms by brushing them with a damp pastry brush. Slice them very finely into long strips. Fry the mushrooms on high heat in several batches with a touch of olive oil and sea salt until golden brown.

Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

For the slaw- slice the cabbage very finely. I use a spiralizer and it works like a charm. Grate the carrots and julienne the apple. Mix everything, drizzle with apple cider vinegar and season well.

Mix the pulled pork with the mushroom slices. Add some BBQ sauce and mix well. Serve on the buns topped with the crunchy coleslaw.

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

Tabasco mac and cheese bites

Tabasco mac and cheese bites | The Secret Life of Bee

There are few dishes quite as ridiculously yum as deep fried mac and cheese. Crispy crunchy cheesy goodness. It’s like arancini went on an American vacation and never looked back. You can make these bites as spicy as you wish. I added quite a generous whack of Tabasco and also made a Napoletana sauce for dipping with Tabasco in it too.

Tabasco mac and cheese bites | The Secret Life of Bee

The components are all pretty simple. Make a roux, add milk so it becomes a béchamel and add a whole lot of cheese and spice to the mix. You’ll see a lot of recipes online will tell you to heat your milk before adding it to your roux. This will make all my old French chefs stick their noses up in disgust. It’s always hot roux cold milk or cold roux hot milk. This prevents your béchamel sauce developing any lumps. Just add the milk in little by little and whisk well in between additions.

Tabasco mac and cheese bites | The Secret Life of Bee

Tabasco mac and cheese bites

makes 24 bites

Ingredients:

  • 350g elbow macaroni
  • 55g butter
  • 55g flour
  • 480ml full cream milk, cold
  • 300g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 60g freshly grated parmesan
  • 2-3 tsp Red Tabasco 
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 small bunch spring onions, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 60g flour
  • neutral oil for frying

Method:

Boil the macaroni in salted water until al dente. Strain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Once it begins to sizzle, add the flour and whisk until fully incorporated. Continue to whisk and cook the roux until it begins to smell like freshly baked biscuits. That’s when you know the flour is cooked. Add the cold milk in small amounts and whisk thoroughly after each addition to avoid lumps. Season well with salt and pepper.

Pat yourself on the back- you just made Béchamel- one of the French mother sauces.

Now add the grated cheddar, Parmesan, mustard and Tabasco. Whisk until the cheese has all melted. Stir in the macaroni and spring onions. Pour into a deep dish and place in the freezer for 1-2 hours.

Remove the firm mac and cheese from the freezer. Using an ice cream scoop or dessert spoon, scoop out little ping pong sized balls and use your hands to smooth and round the edges.

Place the balls on a tray lined with baking paper and freeze again until firm. 1-2 hours.

Whisk the eggs in a little bowl. Season the breadcrumbs well with salt and pepper and place in another bowl. Place the flour in a third bowl and prepare your little production line.

Keep one hand for the egg and the other hand dry for the flour and crumbing.

Dip the mac and cheese bites into the flour, then into the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Now dunk them back into the egg and breadcrumbs again for a super crunchy coating.

Flour- Egg-Breadcrumbs-Egg-Breadcrumbs.

Fry the bites in neutral oil at 180˚C until golden brown. 2-3 minutes.

Drain them on paper towel and serve piping hot with a Napoletana sauce spiked with Tabasco, a wedge of fresh lemon and a defibrillator.

Tabasco mac and cheese bites | The Secret Life of Bee

Tabasco mac and cheese bites | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer ~ this post has been sponsored by the awesome folks at Tabasco SA

 

caipirinha ice cream

Caipirinha Ice Cream | The Secret Life of Bee

A dear foodie friend of mine sent me a link last week to Nigella’s no churn margarita ice cream. He said that it looked like his kind of ice cream and I have to agree! Booze and food are two of my favourite things in the world and putting them together is always a marvellous combination. I needed to make this ice cream with a touch of speed but found my liquor cabinet lacking the essential Tequila. However I am never without the ingredients for my favourite cocktail on earth. Enter the caipirinha.

Caipirinha Ice Cream | The Secret Life of Bee

A caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil. It is made with cachaça, lime and sugar. I find myself the owner of some exceptional cachaça thanks to my Brazilian father in law. I made a severe dent in Brazil’s stock of cachaça when visiting in September last year. Lordy they are delicious and sipping them on a beach in Rio makes them taste even better. So out with the margarita and hello caipirinha ice cream!

Caipirinha in Rio | The Secret Life of Bee

I have tweaked this recipe and have also been a bit more heavy handed than Nigella with the hooch. This ice cream is delicious and super rich so this will serve at least 8 people. Best part is- no churning needed so if you do not own an ice cream machine you don’t have to feel left out!

Caipirinha Ice Cream | The Secret Life of Bee

Caipirinha Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 50ml Cachaça
  • 30ml Grand Marnier
  • 125ml lime juice
  • zest of 5-6 limes
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 500ml double thick cream

Method:

Zest and juice the limes. Depending on how big and juicy they are- I used about 6. Place the lime juice along with the cachaça, Grand Marnier and icing sugar in a bowl. Whisk to dissolve the sugar.

Add the double thick cream and the lime zest and using an immersion/stick blender, blend until the cream begins to thicken. You don’t want stiff peaks, just very luxurious thick cream.

Place into an airtight container or cling wrap something like a loaf tin and freeze overnight.

Serve with a caipirinha on the side.

Caipirinha Ice Cream | The Secret Life of Bee

Caipirinha Ice Cream | The Secret Life of Bee

 

baked cheesecake

Baked Cheesecake | The Secret Life of Bee

Cheesecake and I go way back. My mum and gran made cheesecake often when I was little. They let me get involved all the time and I was an expert biscuit crusher. I was first taught the fridge version and made my way up to baked when I was old enough not to burn myself or the house down. I love both types. But there is something incredibly luxurious about the texture of a baked cheesecake. Like silky velvet on your fork with a buttery biscuit crunch.

Baked Cheesecake | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s rich and devilishly moreish. It’s also a super easy dinner party dessert as you have to make it the day before freeing you up to focus more on your other courses or on wine drinking. It’s important to let it set in the fridge overnight as that’s what gives it the velvety texture. You can serve your cheesecake with all kinds of sauces, crunchy toppings or fruit. It lends itself to so many flavour combinations. It also keeps well in the fridge covered up for a few days. Cheesecake for breakfast is the way forward. Figs are in season and one of my favourite fruit and pair so well with the salted caramel. Be sure to use sea salt flakes for those surprise little pops of flavour.

AV6A4447-2

Baked Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 packet (200g) ginger nuts
  • 80g butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1kg best quality cream cheese
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 250ml cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Maïzena
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Salted caramel:

  • 60ml water
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 28g butter
  • 125ml cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

serve with seasonal fruit

Method:

Prepare a 23cm springform pan by greasing it with butter and then lining the outside with two layers of heavy duty foil.

For the salted caramel- Bring the sugar and water to a boil and watch closely until it turns a rich caramel colour. Do not stir it up until this point, just swish the pan around if necessary. Add the butter off the heat and whisk. Be careful- it will bubble up. Finally whisk in the cream and vanilla and sprinkle in sea salt flakes. Set aside to cool in a heatproof dish.

For the base- crush the biscuits and pour in melted butter. Press into the base of a greased 23cm springform cake tin. Place in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 165˚C.

For the filling- in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and then cream. Add one egg at a time and beat in thoroughly. Finally add the Maïzena, lemon juice, lemon zest and the vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Place the springform tin into a large, deep, oven dish. Pour mixture on top of the base, fill the tray half way up with water and bake the cheesecake in the bain marie for 1 hour and 15-30 min depending on your oven. The centre should still have a slight wobble.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the bain marie. (This helps prevents cracking by cooling it slowly) Once the water is cold remove the cheesecake and the layers of foil and let it set in the fridge overnight.

Bring the cheesecake up to room temperature before serving. Slice using  a sharp knife dipped in boiling water. Drizzle with salted caramel and serve with fresh figs or berries.

Baked Cheesecake | The Secret Life of Bee

Baked Cheesecake | The Secret Life of Bee