chef’s table experience at Table Seven

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to experience the chef’s table dining experience at Table Seven in Salt River, located in the new and trendy Salt Orchard Precinct. Husband and wife team Luke and Katie Wonnacott have created a private dining experience that’ll knock your socks right off.

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

As you walk into the space you notice the massive open plan kitchen on one side of the room and then the most magnificent 20 seater table down the other side of the room. So while you sip, chat and eat, Luke is cooking away right in front of you. Pots steaming, sizzling noises coming from the grill and flour flying as he rolls out beautiful fresh pasta.

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Our meal was exceptional. Everything looked exquisite and Luke’s flavours pack a punch. Luke and Katie source the very finest produce and treat it with the utmost respect. It’s the kind of food you want to keep going back for. Again and again. The burrata made my knees weak and there was almost a table fight over the last piece of grilled octopus. We left very full and very happy.

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Here’s a look at our incredible meal:

Lightly smoked Lüderitz oyster, watercress pesto, seaweed granite & oyster jelly

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Wood fired baguette, olives, rosemary, chilli & fennel

Chorizo piperade

Duck Rillette, pickled beetroot, almonds & cranberries

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Grilled octopus & sauce vierge

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Burrata, nectarine, Parma ham, lavender vinaigrette & basil

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Butternut, goat’s cheese & sundried tomato ravioli, salsa verde & pickled waterblommetjie 

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Saffron & orange glazed lamb shoulder, braised carrots & artichokes 

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Whole roasted cauliflower, nori, cashew nut, caper & sultana beurre noisette

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Madeleines straight out of the oven – HEAVEN

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

 

To book for this amazing experience contact Luke or Katie here.

spiced plum tarte tatin with shiraz reduction

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s not often I make something, eat it, and then make it again the next day. This tarte tatin will do that to you! It is an utter delight. The shiraz reduction was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I wasn’t expecting it to blow my mind. Of course I thought it would be yum and a fun way to use some shiraz in the recipe but I had no idea it would knock my socks off completely. The husband and I were eventually spoon fighting post shoot to see who could get the last drop.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

FAT Bastard Wines asked me to create a dessert that would pair well with their shiraz for their upcoming 21st birthday. The shiraz has a pure fruit character and gives off hints of red fruit, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. This spiced plum tarte tatin is a match made in heaven for the shiraz as I used all the spices to toss the plums and get their juices flowing as well as in the sauce. I also added some orange zest to liven things up in the reduction and hey presto you’ve got a concentrated liquid gold version of the best sangria you’ve ever tasted.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Two little tips… Remember puff pastry must stay very cold when you’re working with it. So cut the ring of pastry out and pop it straight back into the fridge. When it’s time to bake place it quickly onto the plums and into the oven. This will ensure a good puffy crust. Do not start drinking vino and get distracted, your pastry will suffer. Secondly there’s a butter zone of when you need to flip the tarte tatin once baked. Flip it too soon and all the caramel will be liquid, you’ll probably burn and make quite a mess. Flip it once it’s too cool and it’ll have solidified and you won’t get it out. If that happens fear not- just gently reheat the bottom of the pan on the stovetop. So aim for room temp. Check the caramel is sticky enough but the tarte is loose and wiggles around the pan.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

One last thing… if plums aren’t in season nectarines will work beautifully for this too. Enough blabbing. Watch the video. Read the recipe and happy cooking!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin

Ingredients:

7 large ripe plums
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla seeds
1 sheet puff pastry
100g sugar
50g butter

For the shiraz reduction:

300ml FAT Bastard Shiraz
100g sugar
The zest of 1 orange
4 cloves
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks

Vanilla bean ice cream to serve

Method:

Preheat oven to 220˚C.

Choose an oven safe round saucepan / buffet casserole dish.

Measure the diameter and cut out a ring from the sheet of puff pastry that will fit snugly in the dish. Place in the fridge.

Slice plums in half and remove pips.

Place in a large bowl along with the orange juice, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well and set aside.

In your saucepan melt the butter and add the sugar. Stir until they become homogenous, foamy and the sugar begins to caramelize. Switch off the heat and add the plums snugly. Keep the delicious juices from the bowl to add to your sauce later.

Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and cover the plums. Tuck the edges in around the plums.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.

While the tarte is in the oven make your sauce.

Add all the sauce ingredients into a medium sized saucepan along with all the spices, vanilla and juices from the plum bowl. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce has reduced by half. Strain out all of the aromatics and pour into a serving vessel to cool.

When the tarte is baked remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don’t let the tarte cool completely or the caramel will set and you won’t be able to flip it and remove it from the pan.

So once the tarte is around room temperature place your dish on top of the pan and flip it.

Serve the tarte with vanilla bean ice cream and a super generous drizzle of the shiraz reduction.

Enjoy!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Proudly sponsored by FAT Bastard Wines.

 

lunch at la petite colombe in Franschhoek

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Last week Friday I had the pleasure of experiencing the winter special menu at La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek. The food was exquisite. The attention to detail on every dish was inspiring. This was hands down my favourite fine dining experience in the country so far. Every single course was a celebration of its ingredients and it was evident that a lot of love and care went into each element. The winter menu is exceptionally good value for money and runs until 31 August so if you haven’t been I suggest you get yourself there with a touch of speed.

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

We were also fortunate enough to be treated to the wine pairing along with the winter menu. Andrew, the sommelier, was outstanding and the wine choices were flawless. They complimented each dish beautifully, some were old favourites while others I had never experienced before. The Saxenberg ‘Limited Release’ Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon 2011 (Stellenbosch) was a particularly delightful white blend that I am still dreaming about today.

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

It is almost impossible to pick my favourite dish. The tortellini of prawn, quail, curried hake velouté, cauliflower and coriander was as good as it gets. The textures and flavours sang together. The tiny little angel hair like wisps of fried sweet potato were a revelation. They were so good we asked one of the chefs how to make them!

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Another highlight for me was the “meet the chefs” which is a R70 supplement and you get to head to the kitchen (glass of wine in hand of course) and enjoy a surprise course right next to the pass. Ours was a play on eggs & soldiers. The soldier was toasted brioche with a foie gras filling. Let’s just say I could have eaten one hundred of those fine morsels. It was sublime!

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Another major ‘ooooh’ moment was after dessert when we received our La Petite Colombe Treasures. That little nugget of gold was something else. It was full of creamy chocolate ganache, nuts and popping candy! We were all utterly charmed and it left you with a feeling of delight and playfulness. 

Here’s a look at the utter perfection we were lucky enough to experience:

Caraway sourdough, home churned butter, sesame and roasted yeast

Môreson Solitaire Blanc de Blancs (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Poached oyster, pernod, grapefruit, verjuice, dill, apple, celery

Colmant Brut Chardonnay 2006-2013 (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

or

Yellowfin tuna, aubergine, miso, kalamansi, avocado

Mullineux ‘Old vines’ 2016 (Swartland)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Tortellini of prawn, quail, curried hake velouté, cauliflower, coriander

Saxenberg ‘Limited Release’ 2011 (Stellenbosch)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

“Meet the chefs”

Eggs & Soldiers

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Palate Cleanser

Blood orange sorbet

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Linefish, soubise, smoked mussel, squid, endive, chorizo, creamed leeks

Rickety Bridge ‘Paulina’s Reserve’ Semillion 2015 (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

or

Seared duck breast, turnip, Jerusalem artichoke, rhubarb & lavender

Haut Espoir Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Foxenberg goat’s cheese, goats milk caramel, kouign amann, guava, tamarind

Vonderling ‘Sweet Carolyn’ 2007 (Voor-Paardeberg)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

or

Valrhona Itakuja crémeux, pineapple, mango, macadamia, passionfruit, lemongrass

Thelema ‘Late Harvest’ Semillon 2014 (Stellenbosch)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

La Petite Colombe Treasures

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

It was an absolute delight eating chef, John Norris Rogers‘s carefully constructed menu. It’s not often that I leave a restaurant and immediately start thinking of when I can go back! Take advantage of this amazing winter special menu and allow your taste buds to be treated to some of the finest food in the land. The service is flawless, the setting is beautiful and it really is an all round wonderful experience.

Winter Menu:

R395 / with wine pairing R795
There is also an entire vegetarian menu so veggies there is a whole lot of deliciousness for you too.

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Thank you to the La Petite Colombe team!

 

 

pumpkin puttanesca

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

I should probably say upfront this is a Puttanesca ish pasta. This little tart went a tad rogue. Well in my book the addition of a some smoked chipotle, shallots & olive caviar is hardly all that rogue but some peeps takes the classics very seriously. I was delighted so many people also love this classic combo and wanted the recipe after I made it on an insta-story the other night. Full disclosure- the husband does NOT!

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

The other blindingly obvious thing here is the bright orange pasta. Its a fabulous pumpkin noodle situation that allows me to pretend i’m enjoying a bowl full of carbs. You can of course make this with whatever pasta or zoodle your heart desires. Spaghetti being the classic choice for Puttanesca.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

One of the reasons I adore this pasta ever so much is because you can always find capers, olives, anchovies and tomatoes in our household. Oh and an excessive amount of garlic. Like actually ludicrous. Vampires beware. These simple ingredients pack quite the punch when put together. No wonder Neapolitan prostitutes lead customers to their doors with this little number. Jokes.

This mighty combo also takes minutes to whip together and is utterly scrumptious. Do not salt it until the very very end IF necessary. You shouldn’t need to with all the salty goodness that goes into it, just lots of freshly ground black pepper is your friend here. Pepper and a generous glass of something delightful like a well chilled Pinot Noir to wash it all down.

Pumpkin Puttanesca

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g veggie noodles of your choosing or of course +- 400g dried spaghetti
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely diced (or ½ red onion)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp smoked chipotle flakes
  • 100g capers, drained
  • 100g pitted black olives, chopped if desired
  • 2 x 390g boxes Italian crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh Italian/ flat leaf parsley
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive caviar for serving

Method:

Cook pasta according to package instructions until quite al dente as you are going to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.

Meanwhile, combine a generous glug of olive oil with the onion, garlic, anchovies, red chilli and chipotle flakes. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is lightly golden and the anchovies are broken up into bits.

Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the tomatoes reduce and the sauce thickens.

Add the capers and olives and stir to combine.

Using tongs, transfer pasta to sauce. If using vegetables noodles add them into the sauce now.

Cook, stirring and shaking the pan until the pasta is perfectly al dente, or the veggie noodles are tender. Stir in the freshly chopped parsley and season well with plenty of black pepper and taste for salt if necessary.

Serve straight away with freshly grated Parmesan or some crusty bread because carbs on carbs are the way forward in life.

And if you want to be a little bit extra a sprinkle of olive caviar is just the greatest thing ever on this delicious little number.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

This isn’t a sponsored post but if you want to know where to find the delicious olive caviar I buy click HERE and then click HERE for the pumpkin noodles.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

brown butter ice cream with easter egg bark

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

There are few things more delicious than brown butter, and few things more delicious than well made ice cream. Combine the two and boom you have yourself a winner! The brown butter adds richness and nuttiness to this creamy vanilla base. The Easter egg bark is fun and festive and can be subbed for any kind of bark all year round. All sorts of nuts, dried fruit and other chocolates will work perfectly too.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

This ice cream base is a goodie and if you don’t have an ice cream maker no problem! Use the freeze- blend- freeze method and you’ll achieve a great consistency. If you are able to temper the chocolate- it’ll give you a much better snap and the chocolate will remain hard and breakable for much longer. But if you plan on digging in with some speed then no need!

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark

Ingredients:

  • 120g (½ cup) Lurpak butter
  • 200g (1 cup) demerara sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 500ml (2 cups) cream
  • 250ml (1 cup) full-cream milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 150g white chocolate
  • Speckled eggs

Method:

Melt the butter over medium heat until foaming. Swirl the pan often until butter turns a rich nut brown. Pour into a jar and set aside to cool.

In a medium sized pot- bring milk, cream and vanilla to a simmer.

In a large bowl- beat egg yolks and demerara sugar until thick and pale.

Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Pour back into the pot. Stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the custard is cooked and thickly coats the back of a spoon. If you have a thermometer cook until the custard reaches 85 ̊C.

Pour custard into a bowl and stir in the brown butter. Combine.

Place in the fridge until cool.

Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to instructions. *If you do not have an ice cream machine- freeze the custard in a zip lock bag. Break the frozen custard into bits and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Then scrape into a tub and freeze again.

Scrape churned ice cream into a tub and freeze until firm.

To make the bark- Melt dark and white chocolate separately. Pour dark chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Using a spatula spread it out thinly. Drizzle with white chocolate and swirl them together. Scatter with speckled eggs. Place in the refrigerator until set and serve broken into shards with the ice cream.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

Sponsored by the awesome folks from Lurpak South Africa

spiced rum & raisin pancakes

These spiced rum and raisin pancakes are quite honestly the most delicious pancakes ever. They’re like naughty, fluffy, hot cross buns… that are ready in minutes! Serve them piping hot with a dollop of butter shmelting away and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Heaven.

Pancakes were funny enough one of the very first things I ever learnt to cook. My grandad would put the little step ladder next to the stove and help me ladle in batter and not burn the house down. Thankfully I didn’t set anything on fire and my love of pancakes only grew stronger.

The lovely folks from Lurpak South Africa are giving away a hamper of goodies. Watch this recipe video and head over to my Instagram page to enter the competition!

 

Spiced Rum & Raisin Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 70g (⅓ cup) Lurpak butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 500ml (2 cups) milk
  • 300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 75g (½ cup) raisins
  • 1 -2 tots rum

Method:

Melt butter in a small saucepan and set aside.

In a small bowl- combine eggs, milk and butter. Whisk.

In a large bowl combine flour, caster sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice. Whisk.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry and whisk well until smooth and incorporated.

Fold in the raisins and finally a shot or two of rum if desired.

Fry pancakes using clarified butter until golden brown and fluffy.

Serve with a dollop of butter, maple syrup and cinnamon sugar.

Spiced Rum & Raisin Pancakes | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Featured On CTInsider

buttery date and walnut cookies

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

If you find yourself in the kitchen after dinner on the hunt for something sweet… If you find your afternoon cup of tea lacking a little accompanying treat… If you find yourself just in need of baked goods in a heartbeat, these cookies are for you!

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

They are ludicrously simple. They’re based on a basic cookie dough we were taught at Le Cordon Bleu. I love the addition of dates as they add some chew and the nuts add great texture. You can really add whatever floats your boat or add nothing at all and keep them a dead simple butter biscuit.

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • about a cup of chopped walnuts
  • about a cup of pitted, chopped dates

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and salt.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and stir gently until combined.

Fold in the nuts and dates.

Form the dough into little balls. Place onto a lined baking tray. Spread them out well spaced and press down lightly on each cookie.

*if your hands are quite warm pop the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill

Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly golden. Don’t even bother allowing them to cool. Tuck in immediately!

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

This portabellini mushroom, pesto and bocconcini flatbread is a super speedy way to get something utterly delicious on the table. The meaty mushrooms add a fabulous umami punch and great texture. Tailor these as much as you like by playing with your favourite toppings and flavour combinations.

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

The husband and I have been steadily reducing our intake of animal products and meat specifically. So mushrooms have become a large part of our diets. They’re versatile, delicious and best of all cheap! So they really convince you never to want another piece of steak again. On top of that they’re just really good for you. So when asked by the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association whether I wanted to take part in their #festivemushrooms campaign I said hell yes!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

The brief was to come up with a yummy mushroom recipe using our local cultivated varietals. If you’re looking for yummy then look no further. This meal will very easily become a weeknight staple! Keep up to date with the #festivemushrooms campaign and follow the SAMFA blog for more delicious recipes!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

Portabellini & bocconcini flatbread

Makes 2 large flatbreads

Ingredients:

2 flatbreads – homemade or store bought
500g Portabellini mushrooms
1 large white onion, diced
Fresh thyme sprigs
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper
150g Bocconcini mozzarella
Sundried tomatoes
Fresh baby herbs and leaves

For the pesto:
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sea salt
40g fresh basil leaves
40g fresh rocket
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
80ml extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Method:

If you aren’t in a massive hurry to get lunch or dinner on the table then I suggest making the flatbread yourself. It’s deeply satisfying making dough with your hands and there’s something super duper rewarding about knowing you’ve made that baby from scratch. Also it really takes a couple of seconds to throw together.

I use a very simple flatbread recipe:
200g self-raising flour
250g full fat Greek yoghurt
1 pinch of salt

In a bowl mix together the yoghurt, flour and salt until it forms a dough.
Transfer dough onto a floured surface. Knead for a few minutes. Cut into 2 or 4 pieces depending on desired size. Cover with a dish cloth and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Roll out each section of dough using plenty of flour to prevent sticking or tearing.
Cook the flatbread in a dry hot griddle pan. Cook each side for 2-4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

For the pesto:
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic clove and teaspoon of sea salt into a puree. Scrape the garlic paste into a food processor for ease; add the basil, rocket, Parmesan and olive oil. Blitz until smooth. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside.
For the flatbreads:
Sauté the diced onion with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt until gently caramelised. Slice the mushrooms and fry them in batches until golden brown. And a few sprigs of thyme as you fry each batch. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 200C and move the rack to the upper shelf.

Brush flatbreads with the basil pesto. Top each one with half of the mushroom mix. Rip the bocconcini mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the mushrooms. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the flatbread is golden brown.

Top with pieces of sundried tomatoes, a few dollops of pesto and fresh baby leaves. Slice, serve and enjoy!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

spiced nectarine cake

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

I’ve always loved a spiced cake. My gran used to make a phenomenal upside down apple cake and the cinnamon smell would fill the kitchen and waft through the whole house. It was utterly mesmerizing. She served it with softly whipped cream and it was like my kryptonite. So as an homage to granny I made this cake the other day but thanks to leftovers from another shoot I had a crazy amount of nectarines in the house and voilà!

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

This cake is awesome because it really has three layers/textures. As you bake it upside down and then flip it you’ve got the nectarine layer which is super moist and buttery, the middle layer which is your perfect sponge like cake and then the base which has a sublime crunchy crust to it.

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

My only warning to you is make this when you have people around to eat it with you. It’s dangerously addictive and ‘just one more sliver’ turned into cake annihilation. It goes as well with a glass of bubbles as it does with a pot of tea. The mother bear and I made sure we did plenty of taste testing and wine pairing!

Spiced Nectarine Cake 

Ingredients:

  • 60g butter, melted
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 4-5 nectarines
  • 315g all-purpose flour
  • 115g sugar
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Brush the melted butter around all sides of a 20cm cake tin. Swirl the butter at the bottom of the pan into an even layer. Sprinkle with the muscavado sugar and mixed spice and set aside.

Slice the nectarines into wedges and arrange neatly over the spiced muscavado.

Combine the flour, sugar, muscavado sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk together the softened butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter over the nectarines and gently flatten it out whilst trying to keep them in their arranged pattern.

Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack with a plate underneath for catching some syrupiness.

Serve with whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream and a drizzle of dulce de leche if you just wanna be naughty.

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

Winter has me firmly in her clutches and comfort food is keeping me going. This mushroom ragù with truffle oil is exactly that. It’s rich and comforting and feels like a warm hug. I give this pasta a hefty dose of garlic and pepper. Mushrooms love pepper! And I finish it off with some crispy sage and Parmesan. It’s dead simple but utterly scrumptious.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

I like to mix my mushrooms up. I went to the farmer’s market on Saturday and found a gorgeous mix but you can use whatever you can get your hands on. Shiitake, king oyster and shimeji mushrooms all work beautifully in this dish. Just cook your mushrooms in batches if necessary. Mushrooms don’t like being in a crowded pan or they sweat- much like meat. So brown them a few slices at a time and then combine them all together at the end.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

I love a good truffle oil and this one from Lemcke is a lovely subtle truffle-enhanced oil. So it’s not one of those that over powers an entire dish. You can use a rather liberal amount and it really makes all the rich earthy mushroom flavours sing. I also made a fried egg using the oil and it was amazing.

Mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 600g mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup mushroom stock
  • 1/2 lemon
  • truffle oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g fresh tagliatelle
  • handful fresh sage leaves
  • butter for frying
  • Parmesan for serving

Method:

Heat olive oil with a knob of butter and fry mushrooms in batches until golden brown. Set aside.

Heat some fresh olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions until soft. Add the crushed garlic, a knob of butter and return the mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the garlic smells fragrant. Add the mushroom stock and simmer until reduced by half. Season well with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and add pasta to the mushrooms. Toss well and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon.

In a small saucepan heat a few knobs of butter and fry the sage leaves until crispy. Drain on paper towel.

Serve the mushroom ragù topped with the crispy sage leaves, freshly grated Parmesan and a generous drizzle of truffle oil.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

Truffle oil provided by the lovely folks from Lemcke